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Remarks at a Dinner Hosted by Emperor Akihito in Tokyo, Japan

April 17, 1996

Your Imperial Majesties, Prime Minister and Mrs. Hashimoto, distinguished guests. I want to thank you for your extraordinary hospitality to Hillary and to me and to all of our delegation.

Your Majesties, when we met 2 years ago, you visited our Nation and charmed all of America. As you crossed the United States you reminded all Americans of the character and dignity that distinguished the Japanese people and their rich culture. Tonight you have honored us again with your hospitality, much as you honored our Nation with your presence. You have received us with the exceptional grace and elegance for which Japan is renowned throughout the world.

More than 1,200 years ago, one of your great poets, Ootomo No Yakamochi, wrote of an "imperial setting wonderful, in its spaciousness so superb, so vast. Seeing it, I know why the rulers have dwelt here since the age of the gods." We, too, have been greeted in a setting that is so superb and that speaks of a tradition of graciousness toward friends that reaches back to antiquity.

Let me also thank the Japanese people. The welcome we have received in Tokyo, for the second time in my Presidency, speaks eloquently about the friendship between our peoples. You have made us all feel very much at home.

In a relationship as vast and complex as ours, one that has been analyzed by so many in so many different ways, no number or statistic can begin to capture the value of this friendship to both our nations. History is filled with changing alliances between states. But history offers very few examples of two peoples who have forged such a powerful relationship in the short period of half a century. We have indeed traveled far together. We have been able to cover such distance because we are joined by universal values and seek the same ends: freedom for all our citizens, the blessings of peace and prosperity that enables Japanese and Americans to make the most of their own lives.

Working side by side, we have created in modern times a great democratic tradition, one of unity and cooperation in the service of our people's highest aspirations. In only these five decades, we have reaped enormous benefits, building the two largest economies in the world and creating a tremendous force for security and stability during an era of constant change and frequent upheaval. Today we carried forward that tradition. We revitalized the alliance that has provided such crucial stability in Asia. We continue the hard work on economic issues that will open opportunities for the future, and we've moved ahead with our common efforts to address the new problems we face around the world.

We have achieved much. For the new century that lies before us, if we maintain our resolve, we can accomplish much more.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us raise a glass to the health of the Majesties and the friendship between the peoples of the United States and Japan, which has become such an extraordinary force for progress and hope at the dawn of this new age of possibility.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:30 p.m. in the Imperial Palace. In his remarks, he referred to Empress Michiko and Kumiko Hashimoto, wife of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Dinner Hosted by Emperor Akihito in Tokyo, Japan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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