Jimmy Carter photo

Toast at a State Dinner in Tokyo, Japan

June 25, 1979

Your Majesty, you do my country and the American people great honor by receiving me, my wife, and my party to this beautiful room. There is a strong sense of history here: the history of your ancestors as Emperors of Japan stretching back to the very beginning of the nation; the history of Japan's development as a nation with great world influence, that began with the reign of your grandfather; and, the history of relations between Japan and the United States, reaching back to the visit of Commodore Perry in 1853.

We are proud to be part of this great flow of history, to build on the exchange of visits begun in 1974 by President Ford and continued during Your Majesty's memorable trip to the United States in 1975.

The American people still remember fondly the warmth and the friendship of your visit with us. The past century and a quarter has seen the relationship between our two countries and between the peoples grow to be as busy and as close as between any two nations on Earth. Together we have developed a combination of unmatched productivity and economic strength and a strong, shared devotion to the ideals of freedom, democracy, and the betterment of mankind.

Our relationship has seen times of great trouble and tragedy. But the close partnership we have forged in the last generation, in the Pacific region and around the world, amply justifies the common vision of the Japanese and Americans who saw in the 19th century that the future of our two nations would inevitably be 'linked.

Our achievements together over the years—in trade, in education, in science, in culture, in sports, in the cause of peace and friendship among nations—are a triumph of determination and hard work.

Your grandfather expressed that spirit eloquently in one of his poems. He said: "Even up a mountain peak which seems to reach the skies, we dare to say for him whose will is set on climbing it, there is a way."

We have much to learn from you. You've succeeded in preserving the best of your own traditions while harnessing the opportunities offered by change. You've maintained a sense of community bonds, the closeness of families, a special grace and civility and gentleness in your relations with each other despite the noise and the pressures of an industrial society. You've preserved the special Japanese ability to create and discover delicate beauty and harmony in every aspect of life, from the simplest, most natural things, to great architectural structures.

At the same time, you've grown to be an economic super power. You've harnessed the ingenuity and the creativity and energy of your people to gain the fruits of industry, technology, productivity, vigorous trade, prosperity, and growth.

Most important to Americans, you've achieved all of this in one of the most open, democratic, free societies on Earth. You've found a harmony between the dignity and worth of each individual human being and the responsibilities of shared effort and common purposes that a democracy demands.

We live in a world of rapid, sometimes bewildering change. People in many nations are struggling to preserve the values of their cultures and their traditions while they meet the complex challenges of development and growth. Japan offers a model of hope from which all nations can learn.

Your Majesty, I understand that at the beginning of each year you plant a tiny rice seedling as a symbol of your hope that your people will enjoy a bountiful future. I am a farmer. I know about the hard work, the attention, the care that successful crops require. I share your faith that working together, both our peoples can enjoy a more hopeful, more prosperous future, and that together with our allies and our friends who meet with us this week, we can do much to spread the blessings of prosperity and peace to disadvantaged peoples around the world.

During the next few days, leaders of great nations will represent the. industrial democracies at the economic summit. It would be easy to focus only on the magnitude of the challenges we face in energy, in our own economies, in helping to meet the needs of the developing nations, in working together to build a more secure and a peaceful world. But I also think about the tremendous resources of our seven nations; the resources of our economies, the strongest, most vital, most dynamic in the world; the resources of our farmland and agricultural systems, the most productive on this Earth; our achievements in technology and science, in which we are unequaled; and the resources of our centers of learning and education and research, which attract students from almost every land. Most of all, I think of the resources of the spirit of the more than one-half billion free people in the major industrial democracies. I think of the strength of the ideals of freedom and individual dignity that our nations embody, ideals that still exert an almost magnetic attraction to disadvantaged people all over the Earth.

I have no doubt that together we have the resources, the skill, and the dedication to assure that people everywhere can be adequately fed; that our factories and farms and homes can draw on abundant, secure sources of energy; that the prosperity so many of us have enjoyed can be shared by others for whom life is little more than the struggle to survive from day to day. I'm confident that together we can build a world in which all peoples can live in peace.

Drawing upon the strength and the flow of history uniting our two nations, we shall together reach the goal that Your Majesty set in a poem you wrote for the new year nearly 40 years ago, and you said then:

"We pray for the time to come
When East, West and all
Making friends with one another
Will share in a prosperous future."

Your Majesty, with this goal in mind, I offer a toast to the health and wellbeing of Your Imperial Majesty, your family, the great people of Japan, and the harmony and friendship which binds us all together.

Note: The President spoke at 9:02 p.m. in the Bright Abundance Hall at the Imperial Palace in response to a toast by Emperor Hirohito.

Earlier in the afternoon, the President visited the Meiji Shrine and the nearby Iris Gardens.

Jimmy Carter, Toast at a State Dinner in Tokyo, Japan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249198

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