You don't know how nice it is to be home.
This is our second Sunday, July 1st. We spent the first one in Seoul, Korea, and worshiped there in a new church and then had meetings with the President and the leaders of that country, close allies of ours. And if I had to pick one place on Earth that I would rather spend my second Sunday, it would be Hawaii with you.
It was a pleasure to be welcomed by Governor Ariyoshi and his wife. I've asked him, by the way, later on this month, to go out and represent me at the new Republic of Kiribati, formerly the Gilbert Islands, on their first independence day. And, Governor, I hope you can do that for me. Thank you very much. He'll be a great representative for our country.
And Senator and Mrs. Matsunaga, Sparky Matsunaga, has been with me on this entire trip. He's been a special good will ambassador. And when I've been closed up in those rooms trying to negotiate about energy and defense and human rights and other questions, he's been a special representative for the State of Hawaii and for the United States of America. And, Sparky, I want to thank you for doing such a superb job, you and your wife both.
Congressman Akaka, Congressman Heftel, thank you very much for being with me this morning. And I particularly want to say to Mr. and Mrs. Hirabara, thank you for helping me become President.
We are really coming back home. As you know, my wife and I and my first son came to live in Hawaii in December of 1948. Rosalynn got here, I think, in March or April of 1949, and we spent two of the best years of our lives here, and it's one of the places on Earth closest to our hearts.
My former pastor in Plains, Bruce Edwards, and his wife, Sandra, are here to meet us this morning, and there are many things that cause my heart to fill with gratitude to God for being so good to us and so good to our country.
I'm particularly eager to shake hands with each one of you individually and to thank you for your friendship and for your coming out to welcome us today. But I particularly wanted to say that this trip has been a good one for me personally, for me as President, and for our Nation.
We went first to Japan, a great nation, one of our closest allies, which has had literally a rebirth since the Second World War. We share many things in common. And I would guess that except for two nations that join one another physically, there is no nation, no two nations on Earth who are any closer now than we and the people of Japan.
I went to strengthen our partnership. I'm only the second United States President in history who's ever visited Japan. We had a wonderful visit with the Emperor, with the people there, a kind of person-to-person effort which I thought was highly successful.
We also went from Japan to Korea. I spent the first night with our troops near Seoul. This is a nation that we joined in the early 1950's when I was still in submarines in the Pacific Fleet. Fifty thousand of our American young men gave their lives in Korea for freedom, for a chance for the people of that country to live in peace and to meet the constant threat of aggression.
The troops there have a very high morale. The 2d Infantry Division has the highest reenlistment rate of any military force in the United States, anywhere in the world. And I was privileged to see them, their dedication, their courage, their heroism, their commitment to the same principles that have always made our Nation great. And I know the military means so much here in the State of Hawaii as well, where I served as a young naval officer. It reminded me again of what patriotism really means and what a great debt we owe to our military forces throughout the world, who stand for peace and who stand for freedom still.
I talked to President Park frankly about our military alliance, which is strong and which will stay strong, about our firm and permanent commitment to continue to join with them in the defense of freedom on the peninsula of Korea. I talked to him very deeply about human rights, some of my own concerns about the need for improvement in the administration of the rule of law, of personal freedom, freedom of the press, and I thought those meetings, those frank discussions, were very, very fruitful.
I would guess that the most significant part of the trip, however, was meeting with the leaders of other industrialized nations at the economic summit in Tokyo. I won't go into detail, because this was a very difficult and very complicated negotiation. But I thought we made some historic decisions there. It may be that this meeting will go down in history as one that has affected the lives of almost every person on Earth.
We have very serious problems with energy. We decided first of all to set rigid targets on imports, to cut down on the unwarranted control of our lives by the OPEC nations. Since December, the OPEC countries have increased the price of oil an average of more than 60 percent, from $12.50 per barrel back in December to as high as $22 a barrel now.
We have got to take action. We can take action. Our country is strong enough to take action to make us energy independent in the future. And all of our nations bound ourselves together to cut down on imports, to remove the unwarranted increases in price resulting from the distribution system, and to commit ourselves individually and collectively to develop new sources of energy and to develop our own existing sources of energy so that we can rest with assurance that we will take care of our own energy needs in the future.
There is no other place in our country. which has best exemplified this than the State of Hawaii. On the big island, Hawaii, on Kauai as well, now almost 50 percent of all the energy used comes from biomass, primarily from sugarcane. There'll be a new ocean temperature energy project that will begin in just 2 or 3 days, the first of any size anywhere, and this is another very great credit to this island.
I talked to Sparky Matsunaga the last few minutes before we landed. I would like to see the State of Hawaii become Completely energy independent by the year 1990. And if all of us continue to work together with the same spirit and dedication which we've shown so far, we have an excellent chance to do that.
You have geothermal energy, and obviously from the sugarcane wastes there can be ethanol, methanol made to take care of gasoline replacement.
So, I'm very excited about what has gone on here and what will go on. Photovoltaic cells from solar power directly are another tremendous potential source of power for Hawaii. So, you are really in the forefront of what can be done on a nationwide basis.
I'd like to just add one other thing and then I'll close.
I had planned to stay 2 or 3 days here to get some rest and to be with you, my friends. I believe, however, that the economic problems of our Nation and the energy problems of my Nation require me to go on back to Washington.
Between 1973 and 1977, we did absolutely nothing as a nation to meet the rapidly changing energy shortages and the rapidly changing energy price increases. In 1977, as you know, I presented to the Congress a comprehensive energy policy. Had it been passed expeditiously, many of our energy problems now would not exist.
The Congress has not yet passed a single piece of legislation, a single line of legislation, dealing with oil. Now with apparent energy shortages, with gas lines the Congress is beginning to move. We are moving as partners.
The windfall profits tax will establish a multibillion dollar fund, an energy security fund that will let us develop alternative sources of energy and existing sources of energy to be expanded in the years ahead, to give us a better rapid transit system, and to meet the special needs of the poor.
We also are moving toward higher technology in energy and a means by which we can expedite the construction of projects that will give us energy more quickly. I have no doubt now that the public has been so aroused about the direct threat that we will act without delay.
I'll be meeting immediately with my staff when I return to Washington and then with groups of House and Senate leaders in the field of energy and also in the field of inflation control as soon as I return to Washington.
Our country has been blessed, as you know, by God with tremendous human resources and tremendous natural resources. There's no way for me to look at a welcoming crowd at the airfield or to look on your faces without realizing that Hawaii not only has a great natural beauty but also a great human and political beauty.
Ours is a country of immigrants. It's a country of refugees. My parents and all of yours, except the native Hawaiians, came here from other countries seeking a better life. It's the kind of spirit that has bound our Nation together in the past, and it's the kind of spirit that's given us strength.
This is the first time in history when our Nation has been substantially inconvenienced without a direct threat to our security, like during a time of war or massive depression. I think Americans can stand it. I think we can weather difficulty. I think we can meet challenges. I think we can answer questions if we live and work together as we have in the past.
It is not easy being President these days. But I feel renewed in my own commitment and strength when I know from history how great a nation we have and, looking on your faces, see what a great nation we have in the future.
Working together, we can meet any difficulty and any challenge. And with your help and with God's help, we will do it again.
Thank you for coming out to meet me this morning. I love you all. God bless you.