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Joint Press Conference by Prime Minister Hashimoto and President Clinton on the Japan-US Summit Meeting

White House, April 25, 1997


I. Opening Statement

President Bill Clinton: Good afternoon. Before we begin a discussion of my meeting with the Prime Minister, let me just say that I have come from signing the instrument of ratification to a Chemical Weapons Convention, along with the Vice President, the Secretary of State and others who have worked very hard for it. Last night's strong, bipartisan vote in the Senate will keep our soldiers and our citizens safer, and it will send a clear signal that Americans of both parties are united in their resolve to maintain the leadership of our nation into the next century. It is very appropriate that the vote took place last night when I was visiting with the Prime Minister, and that the signing took place an hour ago while Prime Minister Hashimoto was here, because Japan set a very strong example for the world by ratifying this treaty more than a year ago. I am particularly pleased on this historic day to welcome the Prime Minister to Washington.

Over the last two years Ryu and I have met many times. We have build a good friendship that reflects the shared values and interests of the world's two strongest democracies and leading economies. Today's discussions were no exception.

The Prime Minister and I continued our work to make sure that our partnership meets the challenges of the new century. Our security alliance remains the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Building on the Joint Declaration we signed in Japan last April, we are strengthening our cooperation while reducing the burden of our bases on the Japanese people. Today we reviewed recent progress in consolidating some of our bases in Okinawa in ways that reflect our continuing sensitivity to their effect on the lives of the Okinawan people. I particularly appreciate the strong leadership and support for our alliance that the Prime Minister showed in passing legislation to enable our forces to continue using these important facilities.

We also discussed regional security, including our joint interest in promoting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. The United States and Japan are united in urging North Korea to accept the standing offer of Four Party peace talks. I want to thank the Prime Minister for Japan's role in the Korean Energy Development Organization that has helped to keep North Korea's dangerous nuclear program frozen.

The Prime Minister and I agreed on the critical importance of cooperative relations with China. We also agreed on the need for the international community to stand firmly behind the progress of democracy in Cambodia.

We both recognized the importance of keeping our economic relationship moving in the right direction. Over the last four years, we have worked hard to open markets and achieve a better balance in our trade and investment ties. I told Prime Minister Hashimoto we need to build on this success to create new opportunities in key sectors for both the workers of our country and broad benefits for the consumers of Japan. We both want to promote strong domestic demand-led growth in Japan, and to avoid a significant increase in Japan's external surplus. These are essential to sustaining the progress that has been made.

I welcome the Prime Minister's commitment to restructuring Japan's economy, including his support of far-reaching deregulation. An ambitious reform program should bring economic benefits to Japan and improve market access for American and other foreign firms. To this end, we have agreed to intensify talks on deregulation under our Framework Agreement.

Among the global issues we discussed were preparations for this June's Summit of the Eight in Denver and how we can work together to strengthen reform in the United Nations. Tomorrow the Vice President and the Prime Minister will discuss our Common Agenda to fight disease, protect the environment, and meet other important common challenges.

Finally, let me say I had the opportunity to thank the Prime Minister for Japan's efforts to bring our young people closer together. The new Fulbright Memorial Fund will send 5,000 American high school teachers and administrators to Japan over the next five years. We welcome the Prime Minister's initiatives to send junior high school students from Okinawa to study in the United States, and will increase our funding for American students to do the same there.

These ties of friendship reflect the shared values that underpin our vital alliance. If you will permit me to quote a haiku poem: "Old friends standing tall / Spring sunlight on their shoulders / Makes them move as one."

Moving as one in this time of challenge and change: that is what Prime Minister Hashimoto and I are committed to seeing Japan and the United States do. Mr. Prime Minister, welcome.

II. Opening Statement by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto of Japan

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: I am pleased to be able to make this official visit to Washington, D.C., and to have had a thorough exchange of views with President Clinton. Last night, the President invited me for drinks and we had an enjoyable evening at the Wine House. There, I conveyed to him my sympathies for the damage caused by the flood in the Midwest. I also was able to express our joint pleasure at the approval of a Chemical Weapons Convention by the Senate. I had close to three hours of frank discussions with Bill as friends and as leaders of the two countries. I believe we had the following four points as the main themes.

The first theme is the security relationship, which is the foundation of the Japan-U.S. friendship and alliance. We fully agreed that we must further enhance the security relationship based on the Japan-U.S. Joint Declaration on Security issued last April. I explained to President Clinton the efforts my administration has been making on issues concerning Okinawa as its top priority task to secure a solid basis for the stable security relationship. President Clinton made it clear that he will continue to be sensitive to and cooperative on issues concerning Okinawa, including steady implementation of the SACO Final Report.

With regard to the review of the "Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation," we will intensify this joint task as we head towards this fall. I would also like to ensure full transparency, both at home and abroad, of the review process. We also reaffirmed our commitment in the Joint Declaration that in response to changes which may arise in the international security environment, we will continue to consult closely on defense policies and military postures, including the U.S. force structure in Japan, which will best meet the requirements of the two governments.

The second theme is the economic relationship. I gave to the President updates on the reforms now being undertaken in Japan by the Government and political parties in unison, especially on structural reforms, including fiscal reform and consolidation, deregulation and financial system reform.

I must say that these reforms do have great relevance to maintaining and enhancing the good bilateral economic relationship we enjoy today. The President welcomed my commitment to restructuring Japan's economy, including far- reaching deregulation.

We both support the common objective of avoiding significant increase in Japan's external surplus by promoting strong, domestic demand-led growth in Japan. Furthermore, we have decided to have the officials of the two governments start discussions on how we could enhance the Japan-U.S. dialogue on deregulation under our Framework.

The third theme is furtherance of peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region under Japan-U.S. cooperation and joint leadership. In this context, the President and I agreed on the special significance of establishing constructive cooperative relations with China. We reaffirmed that Japan, the United States and the Republic of Korea will continue to deal with issues concerning the Korean Peninsula, including early realization of the Four Party talks and promotion of the activities by the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (or KEDO), under tripartite coordination. On Cambodia, there was concurrence of views that the international community needs to send out a political message for the stability of Cambodia through consolidation of democracy. I have dispatched Mr. Koumura, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, to Cambodia to fulfill this task.

The last and the fourth theme is Japan-U.S. cooperation on global issues. It was reconfirmed in our meeting that we will further coordinate our policies on such wide-ranging issues as the Denver Summit, anti-terrorism and anti-crime measures, United Nations reforms, cooperation with Russia, and the Middle East Peace Process. I would like to note here that the seizure of the Japanese Ambassador's Residence in Peru recently came to an end, with three unfortunate casualties, yet with the vast majority of the hostages freed without serious injuries. Today, our two nations renewed their resolve to condemn and fight terrorism without succumbing to it, hand in hand with the international community. I would also like to welcome the approval of the Chemical Weapons Convention in the Senate yesterday, as I mentioned at the outset. I certainly welcome the fact that this document was also ratified today.

The President and I agreed to strengthen our efforts to promote the Common Agenda towards the 21st century. I proposed to vigorously promote environmental education, and I am happy to have President Clinton's agreement. As the President mentioned just now, it gave the two of us much delight that people-to-people exchanges between Japan and the United States have been steadily widening, as exemplified by the teacher exchange through the Fulbright Memorial Program and the high school student exchange between Okinawa Prefecture and the United States.

There is no other bilateral relationship in the world that has any semblance to the Japan-U.S. relationship in breadth and fundamental importance. In closing, I would like to reiterate my determination to further enhance the Japan-U.S. relationship for the benefit of not only the two peoples, but also for the Asia-Pacific region and the world as a whole on the solid basis of my close cooperation with President Clinton.

Thank you very much.

III. Questions and Answers

(I have taken the liberty of carving out large chunks from this section and leaving in place only those questions and responses that relate to Japan-U.S. security issues. John Purves - 4th May, 1997)

Q: You will be completing your review process of the Japan-U.S. Defense Guidelines, and I wonder if this will require new contingency legislation? In case such new legislation is required for emergency cases, what happens to consistency with the Japanese Constitution?

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: First of all, this review will be conducted solely within the confines of the Japanese Constitution, and I would like to make that point clear first. Having said that, let me say that we are working very diligently with this review process of the Guidelines. The purpose of reviewing the Guidelines is to consider Japan-U.S. defense cooperation for a new era, and to make that evident to the entire world. Also, we are trying to establish smooth cooperation and promote new cooperation between Japan and the United States vis- -vis various new and unexpected circumstances that were not considered in the past. Once the review process is completed, what sort of response will be needed domestically, what sort of laws might become necessary domestically? That is a matter I would not like to make any presumptions about. But this is a matter that touches on the fundamental security of Japan. We also would like to proceed with this review process in a totally transparent manner, both at home and aborad. Some time in May, we would like to announce the various views that were expressed in the process of the Japan-U.S. Joint Review and the items that are being considered. By so doing, we would like to avoid undue concerns on the part of other countries and also avoid undue disruptions. Should there be any pieces of wisdom that we could take advantage of, we certainly would like to receive them. I sincerely hope that this will be conducive to building up new, strengthened security relations between the two countries.

Q: Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, you both earlier today said that the China-Russia agreement should not be worrisome as long as it is not directed in any negative way toward neighbors. Given the high profile events in U.S. relations toward both Russia and China, how can you be sure of what the motivation is behind that agreement, and specifically, how can you be sure it is not directed toward either the United States or any of its neighbors?

President Bill Clinton: First of all, let me say that if you look at the map and you look at the history of the 20th century, Russia and China have a lot of things they need to deal with between themselves. They have a rich history: they have a history of both cooperation and significant conflict. If they have a good cooperative relationship in the future that is part of a larger balance of forces working toward security, open trade, and a genuine respect for borders, not only of the parties to any agreement but of any other parties in the neighborhood, I think that is a positive thing. If you look at, for example, the extent to which the politics of India has been dictated partly by the tensions between Russia and China in the past, and how important India is -- soon to become the largest country in the world, already with the largest middle class in the world -- and how important our relationships with India will be, and then with Pakistan, there is so much of what goes on between Russia and China that affects our relations, not only directly but indirectly, that I think it is a very positive thing that they are talking and working together. Again, I will say that as long as they are not making an agreement that is designed to somehow undermine the security or the prosperity or the integrity and freedom of any of their neighbors, I think it is a positive thing, and I look forward to having the same sort of constructive relations with both parties. I think that the Prime Minister is as well.

Q: But do you know that the treaty is aimed positively, or...?

President Bill Clinton: No, I don't know, but I don't know that it isn't either. I have no reason to believe it is not, and I don't think we should approach these things with paranoia. We have no basis on which to conclude that there is some negative connotation to the fact that the Russians and the Chinese are trying to get along. In the periods when they didn't get along, it was more difficult for both of them.

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: A very good model answer has already been provided, so I don't know if there is anything that I could add to this exemplary response. Countries that have adjacent borders, between those countries it is better that cooperation and harmony continue rather than conflict. That would be to the benefit of human society as a whole. Should there be any problems, then of course the two countries concerned should cooperate with each other so that any problem which has arisen will proceed in a better direction. That is my view.

Q: I would like to ask this question of both the Prime Minister and the President. Mr. Prime Minister, you mentioned earlier with your reaffirmation of the Joint Declaration that you will be cooperating with each other with regard to North Korea. In the medium and longer term, when do you think the reduction of U.S. marines stationed in Okinawa will become possible, whether that is difficult. And in the shorter term, is it possible to relocate U.S. military drills from Okinawa to other parts of Japan as a short-term measure to reduce the burden on the Okinawan people?

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto: I think I should start off first on this point, so following my response I would like the President to supplement. First, at the present stage, I believe that the U.S. forces that are deployed in the Asia- Pacific, including those stationed in Japan -- we have no intention of asking for the reduction of these forces. In maintaining the stability and safety of the entire region, we very much cherish the present commitment that we have, and this is a matter of great importance for the President in terms of maintaining security, as well. Now, I need not tell you that there are many spots of instability and uncertainties in the Asian Pacific today. If the U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific, not just stationed in Okinawa, are to be reduced, then we would very much like to, in fact, create an Asia-Pacific region that can allow a reduction, discussing that possibility with smiles. Toward that end, we would like to cooperate with each other. Now, as I have mentioned earlier there is no doubt that we are causing burdens on the Okinawan people, and in order to reduce those burdens, we would like to say that the first step is to steadily realize the recommendations of the SACO final report. Thanks to all the efforts, the live-fire drills across Prefectural Route 104 will be relocated. The KC150 aircraft will now be relocated to Iwakuni Base on Honshu Island.

President Bill Clinton: The only thing I could add to what the Prime Minister has already said is just to reaffirm my strong support for the SACO process. The United States is very aware that our presence, while it has enhanced the security of our country and Japan and the stability of the Asia-Pacific region, has imposed burdens on the people of Okinawa. We have been very sensitive to it; since I have been President, I have done what I could to change that. We now have a SACO final report and a process underway which will lead to significant changes designed to reduce the burden on the people of Okinawa while permitting us to do what we need to do together to maintain stability in the region. I would like to let that process play itself out. I think that you will see we are proceeding in good faith and we will work hard to make that process end in a success for the people of Okinawa.



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