Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan

June 13, 1994

Your Majesties, distinguished guests: On behalf of the people of the United States, I am deeply honored to welcome Your Majesties to Washington and our Nation for your first visit since you ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

When Hillary and I had the great pleasure of visiting your beautiful country last year, we were honored by your invitation to the wonderful banquet at the Imperial Palace for the G- 7 leaders. The people of Japan welcomed us with open arms and left us deeply impressed by their warmth and their society, which blends the most ancient traditions with the most modern technologies.

During the next 2 weeks, as you make your way across our land, the American people will have the opportunity to return the hospitality that you showed to us. From the great cities of the East to the peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the ports of the West, we welcome you not as visitors but as honored guests and old friends.

In the next 2 weeks, you will see much more than vistas, landscapes, and monuments. You will also meet, as Your Majesty said on your last visit here, as many people from as many walks of life as possible. Our people, after all, are the essence of America. I know they look forward to welcoming you into their homes and communities. And I am certain you will be impressed with them and that they will be impressed with you and your great knowledge of our Nation, our culture, and our history.

You will also witness the tremendous contributions that Japanese-Americans have made to our society and the growing influence of Japanese cultural heritage in America. The list is long. It includes distinguished artists and musicians. It includes athletes. It includes business leaders and eminent leaders of our political system.

In your travels, you will find that almost every American city boasts buildings inspired by the fluid and elegant lines of Japanese architects. In millions of American homes you will see the works of Japanese printmakers and gardens that might well fit in Kyoto. And in our elementary schools and colleges, you will meet thousands of Americans struggling to learn and to master your wonderful Japanese language. These studies, in fact, are among the fastest growing courses in our schools today.

Think how different the world was when Your Majesty first came to America more than 40 years ago. Nations were rebuilding from the devastation of war, and vivid memories of that conflict divided our two people. Misunderstanding and even ignorance divided us, and more than borders blocked the sharing of ideas. When you visited New York in 1953, you were shown a demonstration of a brandnew technology. Your eager American hosts called it color television. Today, as we gather here, millions and millions of Japanese citizens are watching us as we speak because their households are linked by sets to us through the miracle of satellite.

Today's ceremony is but one symbol of what the combined talents and ingenuity of our two people can produce. Surely we have come far since the days when one of our great teachers on Japan, your friend and our Ambassador, Edwin O. Reischauer, observed that our two countries were using the same set of binoculars but looking through opposite ends. Today, we share a common vision.

It is a vision of democracy and prosperity, of a world where we trade freely in ideas and goods, a vision of a world that protects and secures the rights and freedoms of all human beings, a vision of a world at peace. You have called the era of your reign, Heisei, "fulfilling peace," and nothing could be more important to our Nation than working with you to achieve that goal.

Your Majesties visit us at a moment when it is clear that the destinies of our two peoples are inextricably linked, a moment in history when every day yields new challenges. But those challenges bring with them the opportunity for us to carve new paths together.

Let us listen to the elegant words left to us by the Japanese poet, Tachibana Akemi: "It is a pleasure when, rising in the morning, I go outside and find a flower that has bloomed that was not there yesterday." That verse is more than a century old, but its message is timeless.

Every day brings with it the promise of a new blossom: the prospect of progress and growing friendship between our two peoples.

Your Majesties, our commitment to common ideals is firm. Our determination to work with you is strong. Our welcome to you today is sincere and heartfelt. We are privileged to receive you in the United States.

Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:14 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House.

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

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives