Ronald Reagan picture

Toast at the Imperial Banquet in Tokyo, Japan

November 10, 1983

Your Imperial Majesty, Mr. Prime Minister and Mrs. Nakasone, distinguished ladies and gentlemen:

You have honored us with a magnificent and unforgettable occasion this evening, and we express our sincere thanks to you.

One hundred and thirty-one years ago our ancestors began gradually laying the foundation for one of the most significant relationships between two countries anywhere in the world. When our people first met on shores not too far from here, we had difficulty understanding each other. Few cultures and histories could have been more different than our two were in the 1850's.

And today, the language of our two countries is still different, but we understand and appreciate each other as never before. We, in fact, depend on each other and benefit beyond calculation from our relationship. We're not only major trading partners; we're also cooperating in a host of international and political endeavors to strengthen peace and increase prosperity beyond our own borders.

Basic to all our efforts are the close and cooperative ties that we've built between our people, from young students who study in each other's schools and universities, to the daily interaction of our businessmen, politicians, scientists, creative artists, and athletes. The multitude of personal and professional relationships is like millions of threads binding us together with a strength and resilience that will not be broken.

The ties between our people are based on common ideals and values. But beyond this, our people like and admire each other. Americans appreciate the energy and hard work of the Japanese. And while in the arena of business we're indeed competitors, we are friendly competitors, and we respect one another.

If friendship has meaning, it can be found in the genuine feelings and commitment between our two peoples. As the American philosopher Emerson wrote, "The only way to have a friend is to be one." The American people admire Japan, its great progress, its people's fortitude and dedication, its splendid and delicate culture, its increasingly vital role in world affairs.

We admire you, Your Majesty, because you symbolize this nation's history and traditions and represent the dramatic transformation of these beautiful islands and stalwart people. Your love of country and for Japan's democratic institutions, your devotion to science, to the search for truth, your deep attachment to nature around you-these and many other aspects of your life and that of your splendid family, give your people strength and unite them in their beliefs and ideals.

Your Majesty, every spring from all over the United States Americans come to their capital in Washington, D.C., to view the beauty of cherry blossoms. This beauty is a gift from Japan. The cherry trees were presented to us by the city of Tokyo in 1912.

Last year the Flower Association of Japan presented 1 million flowering cherry tree seeds to the people of the United States so this beauty could be spread throughout our country. In January of this year, our National Arboretum presented flowering dogwood seeds to your country.' These flowers can serve to remind us of the beauty of our friendship. Unlike these trees which blossom only once a year, let the flower of our friendship be never ending.

Our two countries, beginning their relationship in confusion and uncertainty, now are the closest of friends and partners. My visit to your country has reaffirmed my confidence in the future of our relations. May they ever be as close as they are today.

And, ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to join me in a toast to Their Imperial Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan.

Note: The President spoke at 9:13 p.m. in the Banquet Hall at the Imperial Palace in response to a toast by Emperor Hirohito. Following the dinner, the President and Mrs. Reagan returned to Akasaka Palace, where they stayed during their visit.

Ronald Reagan, Toast at the Imperial Banquet in Tokyo, Japan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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