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Remarks at a Luncheon Hosted by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto of Japan in Tokyo

April 18, 1996

Prime Minister and Mrs. Hashimoto, the distinguished Japanese citizens here present, and my fellow Americans: Let me begin, Mr. Prime Minister, for thanking you for hosting this luncheon, and thanking the Emperor and Empress for the magnificent state visit, and all the people of Japan for making Hillary and me and the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Commerce, and our entire delegation feel so very welcome here.

Over the last 50 years the United States and Japan have built a remarkable partnership for peace and security, for prosperity, and for freedom. We devoted ourselves at this meeting to planning for the next 50 years of that partnership, reaffirming our security ties, talking about a Common Agenda to lead the world to a period of greater peace and prosperity.

But I want to say at this luncheon that I fully realize that the work that each of you has done to bring our people closer together, dayin and day-out, over years and decades, has made possible the progress that we have achieved these last 2 days.

As the Prime Minister noted, the friendship between our peoples began well over a century ago. The first known Japanese citizen to live in the United States was a young sailor named Nakahama Manjiro. He was shipwrecked in 1841, rescued by an American whaleboat, sent to school in Massachusetts. Now, Mr. Prime Minister, some of our delegation think it's a pretty good thing to be sent to school in Massachusetts. [Laughter]

Ten years later, he returned to Japan and became one of the few Japanese-English interpreters in this country. Then he was chosen to accompany the first Japanese diplomatic delegation to the United States in the spring of 1860. President Buchanan hosted these Japanese envoys with a state banquet. Tens of thousands of Americans turned out to see them in Baltimore and Philadelphia, hundreds of thousands of Americans filled the streets of New York City as their parade went by, and our great poet Walt Whitman immemorialized this event in a poem called "A Broadway Pageant."

Today, our contacts are more common so they don't attract so much notice, but they are very important. We see them in the Japanese students who attend our universities, in the American schoolchildren the Emperor and Empress met when they came to the United States who spend half of each day learning Japanese. We see it in your great gift to American baseball, Hideo Nomo, and in Americans like Terry Bross who come to Japan to play baseball. We see it in the Fulbright program that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and more than four decades here in Japan.

We see it in the business leaders who come from America to Japan to work and in the fine Japanese business leaders who come to the United States and establish plants and put our people to work. We see it in the friendships which have developed over time. One such friendship was celebrated last night when a delegation of Americans headed by our former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young and Mrs. Coretta Scott King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, came here and met with Japanese friends to honor the life and the service of the late Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown, and other Americans who perished in that terrible crash in Bosnia just a few days ago. And I thank you on their behalf for that friendship.

As I said to the Diet a few moments ago, because of the power of our economies and the depth of our devotion to freedom and democracy, Japan and the United States must forge a partnership for leadership in the 21st century. But we should all remember that if we are to succeed as partners and as allies, we must first be friends. It is that friendship which I honor today and which I dedicate myself to strengthening.

I ask now that we join in a toast to the Prime Minister and Mrs. Hashimoto and to the people of Japan.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:20 p.m. at the Hotel New Otani.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Luncheon Hosted by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto of Japan in Tokyo Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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