Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki of Japan

May 07, 1981

The President. Mr. Prime Minister, Madam Suzuki:

It's a great honor for Nancy and me in behalf of the American people to welcome you to the United States. We're delighted to be your hosts during your first visit in both our administrations.

The people of Japan and the people of America are friends of separate pasts. We have a different language, different ancestry, and yet together, our actions have helped to shape the future. Today, we have a chance to bring freshness and a new direction to the deep friendship between our peoples.

The custom when leaders of our two nations meet is to look back, to measure how far we've come. It's true that we've accomplished much in a relatively short period of time. Today, however, you and I will look forward. We'll chart the future course of our friendship for peace.

You and I hold a sacred trust, a sacred trust of two of the world's greatest nations. Our countries are economic leaders in the world of sophisticated technology, industry, and science. And because we're leaders, great tides swirl around us, forces of independence, progress, and friendly competition. As you have said, the choices we make will determine the fate of generations. What we create must blend into the future as the poet Shelley described the west wind—a "tumult of [thy] mighty harmonies."

You have said that harmony is the keynote of your government's philosophy, and harmony is a philosophy I admire very much. Harmony requires differences to be joined in pursuit of higher ideals. It is the philosophy that you have said you want to share with the world. It is the foundation of a philosophy necessary to mold strength into greatness. Japan has been a harmonious and loyal ally whose people understand that free societies must bear the responsibility of freedom together. And Japan and the United States understand and work with each other because of the strong ties that we have built upon the principles of a harmonious relationship.

We in America are grateful for the strong measures that you have taken to penalize the Soviet Union for its violent aggression in Afghanistan. You have come to the aid of countries resisting Soviet expansion. You have rescued refugees, imposed sanctions against tyrants, and offered economic assistance to the oppressed. The people of Japan stand with Americans, Europeans, and people of other democracies in a community of free powers. But even in this world community of leadership, Japan and the United States stand out in their achievements.

The economic forces at our command are the basis of a powerful guarantee of progress in peace. They are the essential tools with which we can help others to advance and to ensure freedom. Our most valuable resource, our people, have the strength to carry out their dreams, and in our dreams, we both yearn to be the best. Our mutual search for excellence, for achievement, for genuine security is conducted in the spirit of harmony.

There is a hill in Boston where dreams are made and sometimes shattered. Runners beaded in sweat and panting for breath must conquer that hill to win-demanding foot race known as the Boston Marathon. It is called Heartbreak Hill. About 2 weeks ago, a young man from Japan raced up that hill and won. His name: Toshihiko Seko, a sales clerk from Tokyo. After the race, he told us that he was motivated by respect for the American who had won last year. In Japan, he said, when you respect somebody, you show it by going beyond his achievements. Well, Mr. Seko is not only an awesome athlete, he is a gracious and wise man. And let me say, Mr. Seko has earned the respect of a pack of American runners who look forward to the pleasure of meeting him again next year.

Let us continue to be challenged by our accomplishments, by the accomplishments of each other. Let us compete in the same contests with each victory becoming the next goal to conquer. But let us also always remember and let the world be aware-Japan and America will go forward together.

The Prime Minister. Mr. President, thank you very much for your very warm welcome. Let me express my heartfelt thankfulness for your truly remarkable recovery from the unfortunate incident and my delight that you are now standing here in very good health and with that winning smile that is now known throughout the world.

Mr. President, the world is now beset by unprecedentedly complex political, economic, and social challenges. I am convinced, however, that the industrialized democracies, by strengthening their cooperation and solidarity and by addressing these challenges with firm determination, can dispel misery, oppression, and violence from the face of this Earth and can bring peace, justice, freedom, and prosperity to the international community. Japan and the United States are great powers whose combined national products account for one-third of the world's total. Close coordination between our two countries can contribute immeasurably to the peace and security of the entire world.

I have come, Mr. President, to hold a candid exchange of views with you about the responsibilities Japan and the United States should discharge and the roles we should play in the current international situation. It is also my earnest desire to consolidate the bond of friendship and expand further the horizons of cooperation between our two countries. I must add that the opportunity to talk with you so soon after you have assumed the Presidency in such trying times, but with the full and sacred trust and mandate of the American people, I regard as very timely and significant.

Mr. President, the moment I set foot on American soil this time, I sensed the aspirations of the American people to build a society filled with vitality. The Japanese people have profound respect for the American people who are now embarked on the new beginning under your leadership. We wish to advance hand in hand with you toward realizing the aspirations of the international community by expanding our cooperation with your country and by strengthening the ties between our two peoples, both of whom aspire to peace and to societies filled with vigor and vitality.

I know that the talks that will begin shortly will mark an important step forward in our common enterprise.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:05 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House, where the Prime Minister was given a formal welcome with full military honors. The Prime Minister spoke in Japanese, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Following the ceremony, the President and the Prime Minister met privately in the Oval Office and then with their delegations in the Cabinet Room.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki of Japan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives