John F. Kennedy photo

Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Ikeda of Japan

June 21, 1961

It is a great pleasure and honor to welcome the Prime Minister and his wife here to the White House. A year ago the President of the United States and Mrs. Eisenhower welcomed the Crown Prince and his wife who visited the United States on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of the relations between the United States and Japan.

It is therefore most appropriate that we should on this occasion welcome the Prime Minister and his wife to America, and also to welcome back to the White House President and Mrs. Eisenhower.

I think the fact that they are here today among this group of distinguished Americans indicates the extraordinary importance that we place on the Prime Minister's visit, and also the great significance which this country attaches to its relations with Japan.

We believe in this country that the Pacific Ocean does not separate Japan and the United States. Rather, it unites us. And we have the greatest admiration for this extraordinary people, who have conquered the sea and the land and in the most energetic and productive way have built a life for themselves.

Their influence in Asia, their influence in the Pacific, their friendship for us, all these things are basic to the security and prosperity of the people of this country. Therefore, Prime Minister, in welcoming you here we want you to know that we welcome you as a distinguished spokesman for the free world, as the leader of an outstanding nation that is playing a most important role at a climactic time in the life of our two countries and in the life of the cause of freedom.

We welcome you because of your own distinguished service to your country, and we welcome you both also because you have been generous enough to entrust to us several hostages of fortune in the case of your daughters who have come to the United States to teach as well as to learn.

So that I hope that all of you will join me in drinking a toast to the Emperor of Japan.

Note: The President proposed the toast at a state luncheon at the White House. Prime Minister Ikeda responded (through an interpreter) as follows:

Thank you, Mr. President. Your remarks reflect an extraordinary insight, and it is for this characteristic of your leadership that the people of all countries have come to regard you with special esteem. The words of wisdom you addressed to the American people reach us, too, with undiminished force as they echo throughout the world.

Please be assured, Mr. President, that we share your determination to preserve world peace, as well as your faith in the ultimate triumph of the free way of life.

Toward this end, and to reexamine matters affecting our relations, I took forward to further meetings with you and the members of your administration.

And we are encouraged, Mr. President, by the warmth of the hospitality extended by you and the charming and gifted First Lady, and by a series of what I believe are highly fruitful talks.

I am also grateful, Mr. President, for the honor you have accorded my wife and myself by the presence at this luncheon of the esteemed citizen of the United States, General Eisenhower and Mrs. Eisenhower.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I now propose a toast to the President of the United States.

John F. Kennedy, Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Ikeda of Japan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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