Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT STATE ARRIVAL OF THE EMPEROR AND EMPRESS OF JAPAN
The South Lawn
10:14 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Your Majesties, distinguished guests: On behalf of the people of the United States, I am deeply honored to welcome Your Majesties to Washington and our nation for your first visit since you ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne.
When Hillary and I had the great pleasure of visiting your beautiful county last year, we were honored by your invitation to the wonderful banquet at the Imperial Palace for the G-7 leaders. The people of Japan welcomed us with open arms and left us deeply impressed by their warmth and their society, which blends the most ancient traditions with the most modern technologies.
During the next two weeks as you make your way across our land, the American people will have the opportunity to return the hospitality that you showed to us. From the great cities of the East to the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, to the ports of the West, we welcome you not as visitors but as honored guests and old friends.
In the next two weeks, you will see much more than vistas, landscapes, and monuments. You will also meet, as Your Majesty said on your last visit here, as many people from as many walks of life as possible. Our people, after all, are the essence of America. I know they look forward to welcoming you into their homes and communities. And I am certain you will be impressed with them and that they will be impressed with you and your great knowledge of our nation, our culture, and our history.
You will also witness the tremendous contributions that Japanese Americans have made to our society and the growing influence of Japanese cultural heritage in America. The list is long. It includes distinguished artists and musicians. It includes athletes. It includes business leaders and eminent leaders of our political system.
In your travels, you will find that almost every American city boasts buildings inspired by the fluid and elegant lines of Japanese architects. In millions of American homes you will see the works of Japanese printmakers and gardens that might well fit in Kyoto. And in our elementary schools and colleges, you will meet thousands of Americans struggling to learn and to master your wonderful Japanese language. These studies, in fact, are among the fastest growing courses in our schools today.
Think how different the world was when Your Majesty first came to America more than 40 years ago. Nations were rebuilding from the devastation of war, and vivid memories of that conflict divided our two people. Misunderstanding and even ignorance divided us, and more than borders blocked the sharing of ideas.
When you visited New York in 1953, you were shown a demonstration of a brand new technology. Your eager American hosts called it "color television." Today, as we gather here, millions and millions of Japanese citizens are watching us as we speak because their households are linked by sets to us through the miracle of satellite.
Today's ceremony is but one symbol of what the combined talents and ingenuity of our two people can produce. Surely we have come far since the days when one of our great teachers on Japan, your friend and our ambassador, Edwin O. Reischauer, observed that our two countries were using the same set of binoculars but looking through opposite ends. Today, we share a common vision.
It is a vision of democracy and prosperity, of a world where we trade freely in ideas and goods; a vision of a world that protects and secures the rights and freedoms of all human beings; a vision of a world at peace. You have called the era of your reign, Heisei, "fulfilling peace." And nothing could be more important to our nation than working with you to achieve that goal.
Your Majesties visit us at a moment when it is clear that the destinies of our two peoples are inextricably linked, a moment in history when every day yields new challenges. But those challenges bring with them the opportunity for us to carve new paths together.
Let us listen to the elegant words left to us by the Japanese poet, Tachibana Akemi: "It is a pleasure when, rising in the morning, I go outside and find a flower that has bloomed that was not there yesterday." That verse is more than a century old, but its message is timeless. Every day brings with it the promise of a new blossom, the prospect of progress and growing friendship between our two peoples.
Your Majesties, our commitment to common ideals is firm. Our determination to work with you is strong. Our welcome to you today is sincere and heartfelt. We are privileged to receive you in the United States.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
EMPEROR AKIHITO: Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, ladies and gentlemen: I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for your gracious words of welcome. I would also like to thank you for your cordial invitation for this visit.
It has been 140 years since the first treaty was concluded between your country and mine. When Japan ended its period of national seclusion and embarked on a course of development while maintaining its independence, the knowledge and technologies it learned from the United States and other countries were indeed of great importance.
One example of the depth of interest Japan had in your country at that time is the fact that the Empress Dowager Shoken , the Empress of my great grandfather, Emperor Meiji, composed 12 Waka poems on the theme of Benjamin Franklin's virtues. I recall with deep emotion that this was only 20-odd years after Japan established diplomatic relations with your country.
Today, our two countries have overcome the deplorable rupture brought about by war and have forged a close and cooperative relationship by dint of the wisdom and unremitting endeavors of our two peoples. This, I believe, owes much to the broad range of exchanges long fostered between our two countries despite differences in historical and cultural backgrounds.
The Japanese people will not forget the generosity of the support which the United States extended to my country after World War II in providing material support, as well as in caring for the next generations of Japanese by accepting exchange students and other means; nor will they forget the indispensable role played by the United States in ensuring Japan's security and world peace for the past half-century.
The American people have succeeded in building their nation based on the tradition since independence and the tolerance ensured by democracy buttressed by the underlying spirit to defend individual freedom. In the international community, your country surmounted the numerous difficulties and put an end to the Cold War. And today, your country assumes the role of leading a new age of great change.
Long exposed to foreign cultures via the sea from ancient times, Japan has assimilated them into its own culture and has reached where it is today through its history of tradition and change.
After World War II, democracy firmly took its root in Japan amid its people's strong aspiration for peace. As greater stability was achieved, its national vigor increased.
Japan and the United States are facing major tasks for the future to build on the achievements of the past half-century and consolidate their relations further by drawing on their respective histories and characteristics to meet in partnership the new needs of the post-Cold War era and to contribute together to the peace and prosperity of Asia and the Pacific.
At the end of the last century, Dr. Inazo Nitobe, who was later to become Under Secretary General of the League of Nations, crossed the ocean and came to your land to fulfill his youthful dream of becoming a bridge over the Pacific.
I am told that about a century later, Dr. Edwin Reischauer, former United States Ambassador to Japan, who had spent his formative years in Japan and rendered great service as a bridge between our two countries, was constantly gazing at the Pacific from his hospital window in La Jolla where he lived his final years.
Many great individual efforts such as these sustained and strengthened the ties that bind our two countries together. It is my earnest hope that peaceful interchange will continue to flourish for many more years to come and that the Pacific will become a true ocean of peace.
More than 40 years have passed since I first visited the White House to call on President Eisenhower. Since then, the Empress and I have visited the United States several times. We are full of warm and pleasant memories of these trips in which we always came into contact with the goodwill of the American people.
During this visit the Empress and I will tour various parts of your country, including places which we will visit for the first time. We will try to meet many people and deepen our understanding of the path which your country has chosen and where it stands today. I sincerely hope that this visit will further contribute to the promotion of friendship between our two peoples.
Finally, I would like to express my best wishes for the greater prosperity of the United States and the happiness of the American people, and wish to conclude my remarks by expressing my heartfelt gratitude. (Applause.)
END10:41 A.M. EDT