Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi of Japan

May 03, 1999

Prime Minister Obuchi, Mrs. Obuchi, members of the Japanese delegation, my fellow Americans. Mr. Prime Minister, we welcome you to America and to the White House, and to greet you in the spring when the cherry blossoms every year remind us of the generosity and friendship of the Japanese people.

The cherry blossoms—or in Japanese, sakura—have made it through changing times, environmental challenges, and even most recently, the attention of our local population of beavers. [Laughter] They have endured, as our friendship has endured and will continue to endure forever.

For a half century, our friendship has been a bedrock of security in Asia. It remains so. But now it is proving itself in the face of new challenges, as well, from protecting the environment to fighting AIDS to stopping the spread of deadly weapons. We are allies today because we share common values and a common vision of the future, rooted in democracy, human rights, and political pluralism.

Mr. Prime Minister, you have been in office less than a year, but already you have taken important steps in meeting the challenges that face you and reaching the goals that unite us. Our nations are proud to reaffirm our partnership for the new century. We value our security relationship, what it does to build peace in northeast Asia, our common efforts in Indonesia, and Japan's consistent contributions to relief efforts so far from your shores, from Central America to the Middle East and, now, to Kosovo.

The economic difficulties of recent years have been a challenge to many people in Japan and throughout Asia. But with the right choices, Japan—and Asia—will emerge stronger, more open, more democratic, better adapted to meet the 21st century.

In just a few years, we will mark the 150th anniversary of our relationship. The Japanese and the American people have come a great distance in that time together. We work together; our children study together; our Armed Forces have served together. We even share a national pastime. In fact, just last Saturday, at a time when American Major League Baseball teams all across the country are competing for Japanese pitching talent, a new pitcher from across the Pacific threw out the first ball at Wrigley Field. Mr. Prime Minister, you did a fine job. [Laughter]

Mr. Prime Minister, the Japanese-American friendship is testament to the basic truth that with trust and understanding and genuine partnership, we can meet the challenges of the new century and give our children a more peaceful and prosperous future.

Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Obuchi, you honor us with your visit and, again, we welcome you to the United States.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:55 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House, where Prime Minister Obuchi was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. In his remarks, he referred to Prime Minister Obuchi's wife, Chizuko. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of the Prime Minister.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi of Japan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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