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Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Sato of Japan

November 19, 1969

Mr. Prime Minister, Madame Sato, and our guests from Japan and from the United States:

It is a very great honor for me to welcome the Prime Minister and Mrs. Sato and the members of their party to our country and to this house, and in welcoming them, to do so both officially and personally.

I cherish memories of my visits to Japan when the Prime Minister has been my host. We are very honored to have him here in his capacity as Prime Minister of a great and friendly country in the Pacific and in Asia.

I have been trying to think of something that would be appropriate to say to this company made up of so many people from the United States and Japan who are so deeply interested in Japanese-American friendship.

I think first of our honored guest, the Prime Minister. I think of his leadership of his country which goes back over many years. He has been Prime Minister now for 5 years. And I think that perhaps the success of his leadership is best indicated by what I understand is the literal translation of his first name, Eisaku Sato. Eisaku, as I understand, means to "create prosperity," and Japan has created prosperity under Prime Minister Sato.

We who have visited Japan and we who have read about it know that Japan is the modern miracle of economic progress. We know that its economic growth at 10 percent a year is the highest of all the advanced countries, if not the highest in the world.

We know, too, that looking down to the end of the century, that there are those who predict that if the present rate of growth continues, that Japan may well have the highest per capita income of all the people in the world 25 years from now.

I could dwell on those subjects which are usually the subjects emphasized when our friends from Japan are present, because in economic growth and economic statistics, Japan leads the world.

But I think for our guests tonight it would be well to point out a very different aspect of this great country, this friendly country in the Pacific, something that I know from knowing the country and from knowing its people.

We should not think of Japan as simply a nation of statistics, of economic growth, an economic giant, but we should think of it as it really is. It is a great country though a very small country.

I think it could well be said that never in the world's history have so many people done so much with so little in the way of resources.

I think, too, that it can be said by those who have visited Japan that it is a country that captures the imagination, captures it because of the magnificent landscapes, landscapes that I think Mr. Andrew Wyeth, the great American painter who honors us with his presence tonight, would agree cannot be captured except in a Japanese painting.

We know Japan, those of us who have visited it, because of the incomparable hospitality and the friendship of the people that we have met there, and we know Japan, and I emphasize this particularly tonight, for another reason: because of the character of its people.

I saw Japan with my wife in 1953. I saw a people who were recovering from the devastation of war. And I knew then what the future would be for Japan, although it exceeded even my own predictions and those of my colleagues as to what would happen. I knew it because of the people that I met, people who did work hard, yes, but people who had the will and also the character of greatness. And it is that character of greatness that is represented by our honored guest tonight.

I said when the Prime Minister arrived, that looking to the future, in the last third of this century, whether peace and freedom survive would depend more on what happened in Asia than in any other section of the world.

I think we could put it another way. As we look at the Pacific, the Pacific and Asia is the area of the greatest promise and also the greatest peril. Whether Asia and the Pacific becomes an area of peace, as the Pacific literally translated means, or an area of devastation for Asia and the world, will depend upon what happens between the United States and Japan more than between any other peoples in the world. That is because we are the nations with the greatest wealth; we are the nations with potentially the greatest power.

This is not the time to discourse at length on the great problems that are involved in that future as we look down to the end of the century, but this I know: As I think of the people of Japan, as I think of the character that has brought Japan now to the pinnacle of economic power and wealth which it now has, I look upon this great country not in terms of its richness economically but in terms of a wealth that money cannot buy, of the character and strength and courage of a great people.

That is why, Mr. Prime Minister, we in the United States, the American people, are proud that we stand with the people of Japan, working toward the progress and harmony for all mankind which is the slogan of Expo '70, the Osaka World's Fair of 1970.

I know that all of us will want to raise our glasses, not only to those thoughts and to our honored guest, but particularly to His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Japan.

To the Emperor.

Note: The President proposed the toast at 10:05 p.m. at a dinner in the State Dining Room at the White House.

See also Items 447, 452, and 453.

Prime Minister Sato responded in Japanese. His remarks, as translated by an interpreter, follow:

Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon, Mr. Vice President, Mrs. Agnew, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

I wish to express my deep appreciation to you, Mr. President, for this warm and cordial reception extended to us this evening.

First, I should like to take this opportunity to offer you my heartiest congratulations on the successful landing on the moon of the Apollo 12 spacecraft. As you may have already heard, the Japanese people were greatly excited by the lunar landing of the Apollo 11 spacecraft. Almost all of the 100 million Japanese people, young and old, men and women, were glued to their television sets the whole time, as long as they could, watching the astronauts' activities on the moon with breathless suspense. They shared a feeling of great joy when they saw you, Mr. President, smiling a welcome to the three astronauts upon their return from the Pacific.

They were fascinated by the revelation to human sight of the mysterious lunar world, and wholeheartedly applauded the United States success. This event gave the Japanese people the opportunity to witness the advent of the space age as a personal experience and to be able to imagine in all its vividness the future development of human society.

It can be said that the United States has created a sense of solidarity among mankind by appealing directly to the hearts of the peoples of various countries in the world through this project. In my opinion, this is not only the victory of the superb power of organization of the United States, but also the victory of the imagination and courage of the American people.

Only a short time ago, when they visited Japan, I had the opportunity of hearing in person from the three astronauts the story of their experiences. It therefore gives me special pleasure to be informed of the successful landing on the moon of Apollo 12 during my stay in Washington.

Mr. President, at this time, when United States-Japan relations are about to make a new development, we have found it extremely heartening to have you as the highest leader of the United States, especially since you have visited Japan as many as six times after the war and have such a deep understanding of the actual state of our country.

Your reference to my name is but another demonstration of your great knowledge of our culture of which I am deeply appreciative.

I had the pleasure of first meeting you, Mr. President, when you came to Japan in your capacity as Vice President under the administration of the late President Eisenhower. Please allow me to confess here frankly that since then, I have always had a sense of special closeness to you, by drawing an analogy between your relations with the late President and my own relations with the late Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida.

In recent years, Japan's national strength has been greatly enhanced through steady economic growth and technological innovation. Our development up to the present time represents the fruits of the Japanese people's many years of diligent effort, but, at the same time, it owes a great deal to the close cooperation between our two countries which many of our predecessors have done so much to promote.

On the other hand, the difficulties confronting the present world are numerous and deep-rooted. I feel, Mr. President, that the amount of painstaking effort you expend in carrying out your responsibilities as the President of the United States cannot be measured. No person can help respecting you for your faith, your indomitable stateman's spirit, so to speak, in overcoming the many difficulties you have faced, by exercising your firm will, and in finally reaching your present exalted position. We have also heard that behind your successes there has always been the warm presence of Mrs. Nixon.

Unshakable faith and untiring aspiration: These are the two qualities of which the present world is in the utmost need. I am convinced that your excellent leadership combined with the wisdom and power of action of the American people as symbolized in the Apollo project, will not fail to contribute to the reduction of international tensions and to the enhancement of the progress of mankind.

We are also firmly determined to establish a relationship of mutual trust between the United States and Japan on this foundation, to carry out such international responsibilities and roles as would be commensurate with our national strength.

It is my sincere hope that, under the leadership of President Nixon, the United States will continue to achieve even higher development as the vanguard of world civilization.

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish now to ask you all to join me in a toast to the good health and further success of the President and Mrs. Nixon, as well as to the everlasting friendship and mutual trust between the United States and Japan.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Sato of Japan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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