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Remarks at the State Dinner for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan

June 13, 1994

Ladies and gentlemen, Your Majesties, our other distinguished guests from Japan, ladies and gentlemen. We are honored and privileged to welcome this evening the Emperor and Empress of Japan.

You are no strangers to the United States, but it gives me particular pleasure to host you here at the White House on this, the occasion of your first visit to America since you ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

As citizens of a relatively young nation, we Americans are honored by your presence, and we deeply value the rich culture and history you represent. You embody a tradition that stretches back century after century and a people who have brought the world a civilization of great elegance.

At a time when the call of tradition so often clashes with the demands of the modern world, Your Majesties revere your ancestors and your past and, yet, revel in your own people's extraordinary ability to innovate for tomorrow.

Your personal interest in your nation's cultural heritage is matched by your vital curiosity about the world around you. And your travels have surely taken you far and wide. You have fully pursued professional knowledge, and yet, in your devotion to your family, you have set an example for us all. Through your words and deeds, Your Majesties have earned the respect and the admiration of the Japanese people. But those are sentiments we Americans also share.

Today, the ties that bind our two nations have never been stronger. The miracles of technology and the common search for democracy, prosperity, and peace have brought us together. Exchange between our two peoples has opened windows and shed great light. Yet, there is always more to learn. And as we gather here tonight in 1994, our relationship is still unfolding.

The Japanese poet Basho put it well in a haiku that sums up the distance ahead:

Nearing autumn's close,
My neighbor—how does he live?
I wonder.

May Your Majesties' visit provide new answers to that question and bring our peoples closer still. May your journey across our land be enjoyable and leave you wanting to visit us again. And may the sea that separates us be also a shining path between us.

Your Majesties, Hillary and I thank you for gracing our Nation's home tonight. It is with deep admiration and respect for you and the great nation you represent that I now ask all of us to raise our glasses to join in a toast to you and to the people of Japan.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:58 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at the State Dinner for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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