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Interview With the President Question-and-Answer Session With Members of the Japanese Press.

June 20, 1979


Q. Mr. President, it has been widely assumed that energy will be one of the key issues in the Tokyo summit. I wonder if you would delineate for us what is it you would like to accomplish in the coming Tokyo summit? What is it you think is significant in this particular summit as compared to the past four previous summits?

THE PRESIDENT. This will be the first opportunity that the major Western nations' leaders will have to address the energy question as a top item on the agenda. In the past, we have dealt primarily with macroeconomic matters. Obviously, some of them still prevail. Inflation, unemployment, enhanced trade are of importance to our country and will be discussed. But energy will be the major topic.

We have done a great deal of preparatory work among the nations who will be represented in Tokyo. I will spend a day or two with Prime Minister Ohira before the other leaders arrive in Japan. We will be sharing our ideas in preparation for the summit.

Obviously, some of the considerations will be a continuation of our past discussions. We have committed ourselves, a major consuming nation, to reduce our imports of oil by 2 million barrels per day by the end of 1979, compared to projected use. We will discuss means to implement this commitment and also to extend the conservation effort through 1980 and subsequent years.

Additionally, we will explore new ways to increase the production and use of nonfossil fuel supplies of energy. Coal, nuclear power, solar power will all be discussed quite thoroughly. We are, obviously, interested in safety and the preservation of the quality of our environment.

A special consideration which I would like to explore with Prime Minister Ohira and others is the international sharing of responsibility for technological developments, liquefaction, gasification of coal, the use of renewable energy sources, and direct use of sunlight, and how to assure that nuclear power is both safe and efficient.

These are the kind of issues we will be exploring in energy among ourselves. The last point is we will try to provide a common approach to the OPEC nations and others who export energy, oil, so that there will be an assured, stable supply of oil and natural gas on the international market, and so that there will be a stable and predictable price for energy.

These are some of the considerations we will explore, both bilaterally and among the entire group at the summit.


Q. Mr. President, you are going to meet Mr. Ohira twice within a month or so. What do you expect to accomplish by this meeting vis-a-vis your Japanese relationship?

THE PRESIDENT. The most important thought in my mind is a tremendous amount of commonality between Japan and the United States. We have the same basic goals: to preserve peace in the Asian region, to enhance exchange of goods and people and ideas, to provide a greater security for the people in our country, Japan, and in other Asian nations.

We share a common interest in commerce, scientific development, technological advances, international trade, the reduction of protections—barriers to trade, stable and a sound international monetary system, tourism. We explore common ideas of education and culture. So, the overriding consideration is how much we share, both now and in the future.

The second point is that we have a few problems between us, because we are highly developed, technological nations. We have very aggressive outlooks on life, great confidence about the future, hardworking people, innovative. We, therefore, on occasion, compete with one another. We have developed a very beneficial habit of discussing our problems quickly—without timidity or restraint—and openly, so that the people of both countries can know what the difficulties are and what progress is being made.

Quite often, the focus of publicity is on these few differences and how we struggle to resolve them without delay and without embarrassment. What we forget is how relatively insignificant these differences are, compared to the great area of cooperation and mutual advantage.

I was pleased at the result of my discussions in this room with Prime Minister Ohira in May. I found him to be a sound and experienced and enlightened leader, and a warm and forthcoming, friendly leader. And I felt the progress that we made to alleviate some of our trade differences was very beneficial and encouraging. We will continue with that progress.

I have no doubt that we will both have a more fruitful experience with the economic summit because of our meetings on a bilateral basis before the economic summit begins.


Q. In his recent speech in Washington, former Governor John Connally accused Japan of still closing its market to certain American products, particularly citrus, beef, and grain. Specifically, he stated, and I quote, "If I were President of the United States, I would say to the Prime Minister, 'Unless you are prepared to take American goods and services, you better tell your people they better be ready to sit on the docks of Yokohama in their own Toyotas watching their own televisions.'" My question, first, is how do you respond to Mr. Connally's statement, and also, thus far, to what extent do you feel the issue of trade imbalance between the U.S. and Japan have been alleviated or resolved?

THE PRESIDENT. In the first place, I would not respond to Mr. Connally's statement. [Laughter] This is a free country, and we have freedom of speech, as is the case in Japan. I would like to point out Mr. Connally holds no public office, and perhaps when you analyze his statement, you will see why he holds no public office. [Laughter] But he has a right to speak.

We would point out with gratification the progress that has been made in the so-called Tokyo Round of economic discussions. Just this week, I have submitted to the Congress legislation to implement the Multilateral Trade Negotiation results, and my prediction is the Congress will approve these legislative proposals without delay. This will help to lower protectionist trends that were of concern to us, and I think the downward trend in protectionism will extend several years in the future.

We do import a great quantity of Japanese goods, more than we export to Japan. There have been several voluntary agreements reached to look to lessen this disparity. We are pleased with the progress that has been made. We would like to see more opportunity for us to sell American goods in Japan, not only finished goods, where we are highly competitive with the Japanese producers, but also coal, timber, citrus, grapes, other things that we have to export.

I might point out the proposal that involves American citrus, since you raise that issue, only amounts to 2 or 3 percent as much as Japan produces in citrus. And the months that we would like to have a chance to sell more citrus are during June, July, and August, for instance, when Japan citrus production is at its lowest point.

So, when we can have an open market for our goods without damaging the farm economy or the economic economy of Japan, we would certainly like to increase our sales to Japan. But we have explored those possibilities with a common respect, and we have made good progress.


Q. Mr. President, partly because of the growing threat from the North, the Japanese attitude toward security matters has changed so much that Japan can now cooperate with the U.S. even in the security field. Can you tell us your views on the role Japan should play in the security field? Is it more desirable for the United States that Japan's role be confined to the defense of Japan herself, or should Japan, along with the United States, play a regional security role to maintain peace and stability in Asia?

THE PRESIDENT. It is obvious that both the United States and Japan want to see peace and stability in Asia. Our own military involvement in Asia will not be decreased. We want to do our share in assuring the security of our own people and the people of Japan and our other allies and also enhancing peace for all who live in the Western Pacific area.

We are very proud of our alliance with Japan, carefully formed voluntarily by the leaders of both nations. We have been pleased at the commitment of Japan to provide for its own defense. The level of defense expenditures by Japan is a decision for the Japanese people to make, not for us to try to influence. We respect this independent decisionmaking process, and we have complete confidence that Japan and its Government will make wise decisions.

So, we share common goals, we work together in harmony, we respect the independent decision rights of one another, and we are very pleased with the present arrangement and the future prospect.


Q. Mr. President, let me ask two questions about our neighboring country Korea. First of all, the CIA has just completed the reevaluation of North Korean military forces, and, based on the result of the reevaluation, I wonder what you are going to do with the South Korean troop withdrawal plan? The second question is, while you are in Korea, are you going to see some opposition party leaders in Korea, including Kim Dae-jung?

THE PRESIDENT. We have been concerned about the new estimates of North Korean military strength, which are higher than we had previously supposed. I will be discussing this matter with President Park and also with our own military commanders in South Korea. Whatever decision I make about the level of American forces, I will keep the commitment that I originally made, that is, not to do anything to disturb the military balance or to create instability on the Korean peninsula.

My custom has been on all my foreign visits to meet with opposition leaders. And while I am in South Korea, my intention is to meet with the opposition leaders there, both those that are actually involved directly in politics and those that might be outside the political realm, both religious leaders and others. So, I do plan to continue this process while I am in South Korea.

My own hope is there might be fruitful meetings directly between the leaders of South Korea and North Korea in the near future, either with or without an American presence during those meetings. I think this is the ultimate solution to the present divisions of the people of Korea. But in any case, we will do our part to maintain stability there, the security of our allies, and to let the world know we resolutely will maintain our responsibilities.



Q. Mr. President, as my colleague mentioned earlier, there is growing concern in Japan about the Soviet major buildup in the Far East, the possible deployment of the Soviet military carrier Minsk, and Soviet military activity in Vietnam. How do you assess this Soviet military buildup in this region, and how do you react to this situation?

THE PRESIDENT. We have no fear of Soviet military presence there. We are concerned about a buildup whenever we consider it to be excessive beyond what is required for Soviet security. I discussed the South Vietnamese question with President Brezhnev this week, and particularly the Soviet presence there, both ships and airplanes. He assured me personally that there would be no establishment of Soviet bases in South Vietnam and that the present ship and plane use of the ports and airports is of a routine nature.

We will maintain American military presence in the Western Pacific, adequate to protect American interests and to protect the interest of our allies. I think in our alliances—with South Korea, with Japan, with New Zealand, with Australia, new leases on Philippine bases, our growing friendship with the ASEAN group, the honoring of their independence, the normalization of relations with the People's Republic of China, plus the new SALT agreement with the Soviet Union and the prospect for better relations between ourselves and the Soviet Union brought about by the summit conference this past weekend-all of those factors combined lead me to expect increased stability in the Far East.

I think we have made great progress since the Vietnam war. And our whole thrust has been to ensure peace, to respect the individual rights of people in the Far East, to do what we can to decrease tension, to eliminate combat with respect to the national borders, and to ensure that those people who live there have the right to self-determination.

We have been concerned about the invasion of Kampuchea by the South Vietnamese; they have continued presence there with large military forces. And we are especially concerned about the plight of the refugees who are now being forced out of Vietnam in increasing numbers. These are issues that we will be discussing with the Japanese leaders and with the other leaders on my visit to Japan.


Q. You said earlier that the level of the Japanese defense expenditures should be decided upon by the Japanese themselves, but I would like to pursue this question by putting it into a more American prospective. In your view, Mr. President, will Japan be able to fulfill the defense goals, as expected by the United States, to have a more equitable and more effective security bilateral relationship, by adhering to the policy of maintaining defensive expending to 1 percent per GNP?

THE PRESIDENT. AS you know, because of the dynamic growth of Japan's national product, the actual level of expenditures within the 1-percent guideline has been increasing substantially. Japan, in my opinion, has spent its defense funds very wisely. And we have confidence that the Japanese military strength is adequate to provide for the defense of Japan.


Q. Mr. President, you mentioned some kind of a collective or concerted effort being made which would be discussed at the Tokyo summit meeting. Could you outline more specific approaches or specific products to cope with the energy shortage situation, corrective measures?

THE PRESIDENT. We will be sharing with Japan ideas on building design, the efficiency of automobiles, new types of machinery and the use of such machinery, other measures that can let the consumption of energy be much more efficient.

Secondly, we will explore with Japan the increased technological ability of the consumption of energy to be more efficient, safer, and more compatible with clean air and water.

Third, we will be exploring with Japan the financing and the sharing of basic research data in nuclear power; the conversion of coal to liquids and gaseous fuels; more efficient burning of combustible materials; increased use of solar energy in all its forms, including hydroelectric; the production of methanol and other materials from replenishable growing plants, animal waste; the conversion of solar energy directly into electricity, for instance; new forms of the use of geothermal power; the sharing of basic research on metals, friction. These kinds of ideas can be explored jointly by Japan and the United States and, of course, with other nations.

In some instances, these experimental efforts are quite expensive, and there is no reason, if Japan is taking the leadership role in a certain area of experimental work, for the United States to duplicate what Japan is already accomplishing. The exchange of basic research data and the sharing of the financing of pilot projects is a very fruitful opportunity for the future.

Recently, for instance, Japan and Germany have agreed to join in with the United States in a project concerning the liquefaction and gasification of coal. We would obviously like to see Japan increase its purchase of American coal in the future, with the knowledge the coal can be burned cleanly and efficiently.

So, these are the kinds of areas where we can cooperate fully in the future.


Q. Mr. President, both the United States and Japan have expressed the willingness and intention, desire, possibly, of cooperating with the modernization program by the People's Republic of China. In so doing, however, isn't there a possibility that your country and Japan might end up competing over the Chinese market?

THE PRESIDENT. I might say that we favor the modernization program of the People's Republic of China, an attitude shared by the leaders of Japan. We see nothing threatening about this, and the turning toward Japan and toward the United States by China, we believe, is a very good recent development for stability and peace in Asia.

Obviously, there will be some competition for markets, but this is a benefit to both countries. We have the same competition with each other for markets in Canada, in Europe, in Asia. This is nothing new for us.

We are able to compete successfully in the technological field. There are some areas of science and industry where the United States is preeminent; there are other areas where Japan is preeminent; and there is a third category of areas where we are roughly equivalent to one another in our progress and we can compete successfully. We believe there is enough market throughout the world to meet the expanding production of both Japan and the United States.

I might point out there are a few realms of economic development in China where Japan and the United States will be cooperating. But this is of benefit also to both countries, 'but we have no fear of this. We believe that, overall, a friendly competition for the increasing markets with China will be of benefit to both our countries. And it is obvious that the openness of China's attitude and its economic developments is better for the entire world.


Q. Going back to the Indochinese refugee issue that you briefly referred to earlier, specifically, what would be your expectations concerning an increased Japanese role in this international problem?

THE PRESIDENT. All countries must play a larger role. The United States is accepting a very large number of refugees, tens of thousands of refugees. Japan has accepted very few. [Laughter] I think when Prime Minister Ohira was over here, the total number of refugees accepted in Japan was only three. [Laughter] This, however, has been combined in Japan with very generous contributions to the U.N.'s effort to alleviate the refugee problem.

We recognize Japan has a very homogeneous society; ours is quite heterogeneous. We are a nation that is comprised of refugees or immigrants. It is easier for us to accept refugees, perhaps, than Japan. But there is no doubt in my mind Japan can do more, and there is no doubt in my mind the United States can do more.

We would like to turn this critical problem into a much more wide ranging area of responsibility among numerous nations. Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand have been heavily burdened with an excessive number of refugees. And I would hope the People's Republic of China and Japan, the United States, European areas, and others can do more in the future. This is one of the items that will be on the agenda for the next summit conference.


Q. Mr. President, are you going to jog while you are in Japan?

THE PRESIDENT. I have a habit of jogging every day.

Q. With your wife?

THE PRESIDENT. With my wife, yes.

Q. In Tokyo?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, that is our present plan. There are a lot of excellent runners in Japan.


Q. Mr. President, if in fact you might be seeing Mr. Kim Dae-jung in Korea, would you?

THE PRESIDENT. My intention is to meet with opposition leaders. I have not established a definite agenda yet, but that has been my custom.

REPORTER. Thank you.

Note: The interview began at 2: 45 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House.

As printed above, the item follows the transcript of the interview, which was released on June 23.

Jimmy Carter, Interview With the President Question-and-Answer Session With Members of the Japanese Press. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249078

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