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Written Responses to Questions Submitted by Japanese News Organizations

May 02, 1986

Tokyo Economic Summit

Q. What are the primary American objectives at the Tokyo summit? How do you think this summit will be different from the previous summits? What would be the greatest accomplishment the summit could achieve?

The President. United States objectives for the Tokyo summit are to promote policies that will assure further convergence of economic performance and a strong and stable global economy. We will stress the importance of actively pursuing the strategies laid out at Williamsburg, London, and Bonn for dealing with the interrelated problems of growth, debt, trade, and finance. We will emphasize the importance of working together to assure implementation of the Program for Sustained Growth, proposed by Secretary [of the Treasury] Baker in Seoul, through the adoption of growth-oriented economic reforms in debtor nations, policy and procedural reforms within the international financial institutions to permit increased disbursements in support of growth-oriented economic reform, and adequate net new lending by commercial banks. In addition, we will emphasize the importance of completing the preparation of a new round of multilateral trade negotiations and ensuring the successful launching of such negotiations.

We also hope that this convocation of democratic leaders will be an opportunity to further collective action on combating terrorism. The scourge of terrorism has profoundly affected the peoples of our country. We must look for ways to deter states such as Libya from supporting, directing, and sponsoring terrorism while we concurrently look for ways to ameliorate the root causes of such activity.

Q. We understand you have a close personal relationship with Prime Minister Nakasone, who has said he wants to make this summit a "summit that sends a bright message to the future." What role should Japan play at the summit? Do you believe this summit marks the beginning of a more assertive Japan, inclined toward increased leadership in world affairs?

The President. In the five summits I have attended before, each nation has sought to play a constructive role in bringing the major industrial democracies closer together while conveying its own perspectives on global economic and political issues. I expect this will be Prime Minister Nakasone's approach to the Tokyo summit, and it will be mine. Japan has been an important participant in the economic summits and hosted the summit once before in 1979, so it is fair to say that Japan has had a very prominent leadership role in world affairs for quite some time now. In recent years Japan has quite rightly taken on more responsibilities in global affairs, as appropriate for an economic superpower. It should continue its efforts in this direction. Prime Minister Nakasone has made it clear that Japan is prepared to continue to assume more of the burden of its own defense, to import more and provide a larger and more open market to her trading partners, and also to continue to increase development assistance to important needy friends in the developing world.

Q. Some fundamental disagreements between the United States and its Western European allies have surfaced recently over the Libyan crisis. When unity is essential for negotiations with the Soviets and for economic coordination among Western nations, how do you plan to solidify Western unity at the summit?

The President. One of the great strengths of the yearly economic summit is the opportunity it provides for leaders of the free world to meet together and discuss candidly the major issues we face as democracies. It is this very process of continued consultation and dialog that allows us to stand unified behind the basic principles and values we share. And while we may differ on tactics, the countries represented share both a revulsion to terrorism and a common commitment to a dialog with the Soviets based on strength and realism.

On economic issues, a broad consensus has emerged on the shared responsibility to continue to implement sound and compatible domestic policies which promote convergence of strong noninflationary economic growth as a prerequisite for sustainable world economic expansion. As a group, the summit economies are entering the fourth year of real expansion; and inflation fell below 4 percent in 1985. Improved economic fundamentals in many summit countries have been reflected in the appreciation of nondollar currencies, facilitating the adjustment of large external imbalances. Moreover, new cooperative efforts are being made to address the debt situation, and preparatory work is underway for a GATT ministerial with the goal of launching a new trade round.

Strategic Defense Initiative

Q. Japan appears ready to join you in your efforts to build a strategic defense against nuclear weapons. When do you expect Japan to make a final decision on SDI? What could Japan gain from participation? Is Japan's participation essential for the political or technological success of SDI?

The President. The United States would welcome the widest possible Japanese participation in the SDI research program. There are a number of areas where we believe Japan's advanced technological capabilities and expertise could provide valuable contributions to the SDI research effort. We also believe that participation would be beneficial to Japan by contributing to advances in technology and knowledge which might otherwise not take place. As you know, a group of Japanese Government and industry officials recently visited SDI research facilities in the United States. We hope they will reach similar conclusions. While we do not see participation by any of our allies as essential to the success of the SDI research effort, the widest possible allied participation will help to ensure success. As to the timing of a Japanese decision on SDI, as well as the decision itself, that of course is a matter for the Government of Japan to consider. We have set no time limits for such a decision.

Japan-U.S. Trade

Q. The Japanese Prime Minister told reporters after his meeting with you that he hopes the trade imbalance between the United States and Japan will improve. Do you expect progress on this front? Specifically, how do you expect this to be achieved, both on a macroeconomic scale and bilaterally between the United States and Japan? Regarding Japan's recent blue ribbon report which recommends far-reaching structural changes for the Japanese economy, what recommendations of the report do you regard as most promising?

The President. I share Prime Minister Nakasone's hope that the trade imbalance between the U.S. and Japan will improve. It is essential that this balance improve. I am convinced that with strong efforts and perseverance on both sides we will overcome our trade problem. We should keep in mind, however, that the imbalance results from complex factors that will take time to correct. There are no quick and easy fixes.

The Prime Minister told me Japan is adopting as a priority national goal the steady reduction of its trade surpluses. He said he is determined to bring about a fundamental shift in Japan's economy: a shift from reliance on exports for growth to a more balanced economy leading to a significant increase in imports, particularly manufactured goods. This was the central message of the Mackawa report, and Prime Minister Nakasone indicated that a Cabinet committee would be empowered to ensure followup. Implementation of these actions, coupled with increased Japanese economic growth and Japan's continuing efforts to open its markets, should help to alleviate our bilateral trade tensions. Also, the shift in exchange rates should help.

Soviet-U.S. Relations

Q. In the wake of the U.S. attacks on Libya, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union have deteriorated further. Are you confident there will be another summit between you and Mr. Gorbachev this year? You have stated clearly you will not compromise on SDI and that underground nuclear testing is necessary to maintain U.S. deterrence. Besides on-site inspection, on what areas, if any, are you prepared to compromise with the Soviets?

The President. General Secretary Gorbachev and I agreed at Geneva to hold a summit in the U.S. this year and in the Soviet Union next year. For our part, this agreement stands. Unfortunately, the Soviets have been reluctant to go ahead. They still haven't answered us about dates for a summit. They have now suspended our agreed foreign ministers' meeting. We see no reason for delay. There are a lot of issues between our countries that need work, and holding back on talks doesn't contribute to progress. Our action in Libya was antiterrorist, not anti-Libyan, anti-Arab, or directed against the Soviet Union.

We have advanced good positions in arms control, including nuclear testing, strategic offensive and defensive weapons, and intermediate-range forces. These are not take-it-or-leave-it positions. We want to work to reach mutually beneficial agreements. We also want to continue useful discussions on regional issues, human rights, and bilateral issues such as cultural contacts and trade. The Soviets have not answered all of our proposals, but have advanced some ideas of their own. We'd like to accelerate the process by getting on with scheduling the high-level meetings we have agreed to.

U.S. Air Strike Against Libya

Q. What did the United States gain and what did it lose when it bombed Libya? Will the United States take similar action against other nations if you have conclusive evidence of their involvement in terrorist acts?

The President. There can be no question about direct Libyan involvement in a number of recent, heinous terrorist acts which injured and killed Americans, such as the bombing of a disco in West Berlin. These indiscriminate attacks and those planned by Libya must be dealt with firmly to prevent even more indiscriminate attacks on innocent people. It is my duty to take action to protect the lives of Americans. Military operations on April 14 were specifically aimed at installations of direct relevance to Libyan terrorism in an effort to preempt further acts of this kind. Our action underscored to Qadhafi that his actions will not go unpunished and cost-free. This was a principal goal, and it was achieved.

We did what we had to do. We tried peaceful options such as economic and diplomatic sanctions before resorting to force, but Qadhafi did not grasp the seriousness of our determination to bring a stop to terrorism. I took no pleasure in ordering the attack on military targets in Libya. U.S. servicemen performed with valor. Sadly, two gave their lives in this service, a loss which we feel deeply. Terrorism is a worldwide problem. If we are to defeat it, sacrifices by all affected nations are necessary. I hope that this action will have been enough to convince Qadhafi to change his policies. If not, I will not hesitate to act again.

China-U.S. Relations

Q. Since you visited the People's Republic of China in the spring of 1984, countries surrounding China have keenly watched U.S.-China relations, especially in the field of military and technological cooperation. The U.S. Government has recently decided to provide China with advanced electronic equipment for its air force, and talks are underway to provide China with additional military hardware and technology. How far can such U.S.-China cooperation go without seriously alarming Taiwan and the Soviet Union?

The President. Since the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China on January 1, 1979, the development of an appropriate military relationship has been seen as one element of the overall political and economic relationship. Great strides have been made in both the political and economic areas of the relationship. Not surprisingly, the military dimension of U.S.P.R.C. relations has also progressed. An objective of U.S. policy is to build an enduring relationship with the P.R.C., including a military one, which will support China's national development and maintain China as a force for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world. We believe a more secure, modernizing, and friendly China, with an independent foreign policy and economic system more compatible with the West, can make a significant contribution to peace and stability.

Q. Also, last year China refused a U.S. port call from the 7th Fleet because some ships in the fleet are nuclear-capable. How will the United States respond to the Chinese request for a guarantee that ships entering its ports not carry nuclear weapons?

The President. We view a U.S. ship visit to China as one symbol of progress in developing an enduring, long-term military relationship. A U.S. naval port call to China in the future is still under active consideration. I remain hopeful that we will reach an agreement with the Chinese that will allow a visit to take place.

The Philippines and the Republic of Korea

Q. Are you satisfied with the new Aquino government in the Philippines? Do you believe it has firmly established its control? Related to this, the Philippine "revolution" seems to be influencing the opposition in the Republic of Korea, which has stepped up its demonstrations for constitutional reform. How do you assess this situation? Are you satisfied with the Korean Government's handling of the opposition?

The President. The new government of the Philippines enjoys the overwhelming support of the Filipino people. The United States is ready to cooperate with and be helpful to the new government in any appropriate way. President Aquino has declared a timetable for the early return to full democracy. The timetable includes a plan for a new constitution to be submitted to the Filipino people for ratification this year and legislative and local government elections thereafter.

The Philippines and the Republic of Korea are two very different countries. In Korea President Chun has promised to step down at the end of his term, less than 2 years from now. The economy is doing well. And the military is doing a very professional job of encountering a serious external threat. This sort of environment makes incremental progress possible. We have encouraged further democratization in Korea and will continue to do so. We have welcomed the Korean Government's eased policy toward the opposition since President Chun's February 24 meeting with opposition and party leaders.

Ronald Reagan, Written Responses to Questions Submitted by Japanese News Organizations Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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