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Remarks at a Luncheon in Honor of a Japanese Trade Delegation

December 03, 1962


I want to express a very warm welcome to all of you. This exchange of meetings came out of a conference which we had with your Prime Minister and myself more than a year and a half ago. You were the first host and were most generous to us.

We are glad to have you here because these meetings, if they are going to be useful, should be much more than a formality. They really ought to get down to the very hard business which concerns both Japan and the United States, which is the maintenance of our felicitous relationship and also decisions about what actions we ought to take in common and in partnership in the whole Pacific and Asiatic area.

A good deal of attention is given in the United States to the miracle of the Common Market. But I must say that the Japanese program of the last 10 years and the results it has brought really is the most extraordinary, modern industrial miracle; a crowded island and a people who seemed a decade ago to be at almost a standstill have brought about an economic growth rate which is higher than any industrialized country in the world, and which shows no sign of diminishing. This is really the result of the effort of the Japanese people themselves, and the very effective leadership which they have had.

It is a source of satisfaction to me that the United States has played at least a supporting role in this emergence of Japan as a great, free, and quite rightly proud country. As I said when we had the occasion of the meeting in September which the Economic Minister attended, at a luncheon here, the United States looks for its security east and west and south; to Europe, to Latin America, and to Japan, and beyond Japan to the maintenance of the independent nations in Asia.

It seems to me that our two countries need to talk about two matters, or at least two levels. One is this direct question of trade and economic policy, and there are a good many matters which concern Japan and also concern the United States. They cause irritants in our relationships, there are bound to be clashes of interest, they are inevitable. We should attempt to smooth them over without permitting them ever to mar the basic self-interest which we both have in maintaining these very strong ties together, and we recognize that every action which we take in regard to trade or every action which Japan takes is bound to cause discontent in some elements of our two countries.

Those problems can be dealt with. They are bound to cause some adjustments. They are bound to cause difficulties, but they, in my opinion, are not the major problems we are faced with, but they deserve attention periodically, and I am glad they are going to be talked about at this meeting.

In the East, because of the development of Western Europe and of NATO, the combination of Western Europe and the United States seems to me to give assurance against an advance by the Soviet Union into Western Europe. Our problem now, of course, is that with the rise of the Communist power in China combined with an expansionist, Stalinist philosophy, our major problem, in a sense a major problem, is how we can contain the expansion of communism in Asia so that we do not find the Chinese moving out into a dominant position in all of Asia, with its hundreds and hundreds of millions of people in Asia, while Western Europe is building a more prosperous life for themselves.

Now, this seems to me to concern Western Europe, but it also most directly concerns the two countries who are in the strongest position, really, Japan and the United States. The United States, as you know, bears responsibilities in Latin America to attempt to contain the expansion of communism, in Western Europe itself and through the SEATO treaty in Southeast Asia, as well as its commitments to South Korea and to the Republic of China, but we are only 180 million people. We are spread very thin around the world.

There are a billion people in the Communist empire operating from central lines and in a belligerent phase of their national development. So that I think this is a period of great danger for Asia, and I hope that in the months ahead thought can be given to what role we can play as partners, because Japan and the United States are partners, what role we can play to attempt to prevent the domination of Asia by a Communist movement which is in its essence today a believer in not only the class struggle, but also in the international class struggle of a third world war.

So that we want you to know you are most welcome here at this time. We regard ourselves as very commonly committed to this great effort--Japan, the United States, Western Europe--and expanding from these vital areas, all those other countries which desire to be independent, so that you are most welcome here.

I hope that you will go home realizing that the United States regards as essential to its security your security. We hope that you feel the same way and that we can move in the sixties, Japan and the United States, playing a useful role in the defense of freedom in a most important part of the globe.

I will say that we have a mountain available to any of the Cabinet Ministers who want to indicate their friendship to the United States by climbing it as a compliment to Secretary Udall--perhaps the Finance Minister. In any case, I hope that you will all join with me in toasting the Japanese people, to their welfare and prosperity and peace, to the Prime Minister and to his leadership, and to the members of the government who are here, and most of all to the very good health of the Emperor.

Note: The President spoke at a luncheon in the State Dining Room at the White House. Mr. Masayoshl Ohira, Japan's Minister for Foreign Affairs, responded with brief remarks.

The trade delegation was in Washington to attend the meeting of the Joint United States-Japan Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks at a Luncheon in Honor of a Japanese Trade Delegation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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