THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
INTERVIEW OF THE PRESIDENT BY NHK TV OF JAPAN
The Roosevelt Room
12:30 P.M. EST
Q Thank you very much, Mr. President, for joining us. The Japanese people are greatly disappointed that you have suddenly canceled your visit to Japan. Was it really inevitable?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it was inevitable. And let me begin by saying that I am greatly disappointed -- more disappointed perhaps than I can even convey to you and through you to the Japanese people -- to cancel this trip. My first overseas trip as President was to Japan. One of the first actions I took as President was to try to elevate the Asian Pacific Economic Council to a leaders meeting so that we could all work more closely together throughout Asia. And I have had many, many meetings and telephone calls with not only Prime Minister Murayama, but his predecessors. When I ran for President, I said the Japanese-American relationship was of supreme importance to the United States. And so I am very, very disappointed.
But I would ask the Japanese people to understand what is happening here. We are having a debate here, which will have great implications for the United States for decades to come. And our government is closed down for the first time in history for this length of time. This is unprecedented. So that if I were to leave the United States now, the American people, and particularly the employees of the federal government, would not understand how the President could leave the country while the government was shut down and when the Congress might be passing bills to me that I would either have to veto, disapprove, or to sign.
I will go to Japan as soon as I possibly can. I look forward to rescheduling this trip. And I can only ask the Japanese people to understand that this has nothing to do with Japan and America's relationship, and everything to do with the pressing emergency that I must now deal with.
Q Mr. President, we all know that you will always come back, even to Japan.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Q But we would like to know exactly when you will be able to go there. January or --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't know. We have begun to look over the calendar. And I have talked this morning with the Vice President. I called him on the airplane. He's on his way -- he's almost in Japan. And I talked with Ambassador Kantor this morning, who is in Japan now -- again, reaffirming my desire to come as quickly as possible.
As I'm sure you know, we're about to begin our Thanksgiving and Christmas season here, a major holiday time -- the major holiday time in the United States. And then next year we begin the Congress in early January and all the presidential primaries. But I will come as soon as I can. This is very, very important to me. And I want -- I have conveyed my deep regrets to Prime Minister Murayama, and I appreciate his understanding.
But I -- again, I want to say I hope the Japanese people will understand this is no expression of disrespect by me either to the government or the people of Japan. As a matter of fact, my wife and I had looked very much forward to being with the Emperor and Empress again in the Imperial Palace because we had such a wonderful time with them when they visited us and stayed here. So I'm anxious to have that experience, and I'm looking forward to it.
Q Any guesstimates as to when -- like spring?
THE PRESIDENT: I can't say. We're in the middle of this difficulty now, and we have to resolve -- see our way through it. And I'm looking at the calendar. I will set the date just as soon as I can. I will come as quickly as I can. But I want to make sure we have a good visit, and we have enough time to do it right. I think it's important when I do come that we have the time to do it right.
Q But you're going to get busier and busier next year.
THE PRESIDENT: Not necessarily. There will be certain down times in our schedule next year. And it doesn't matter, I will put some of my business aside to come to Japan. I would happily put some of my business aside. If it hadn't been for this unprecedented emergency, I would have put this aside.
Q Well, your cancellation is especially significant since the Okinawa incident by the three Marines and emotions are running high. And people are starting to question the most -- the linchpin of the U.S. security -- linchpin of the U.S.-Japan relations, which is the security treaty. How would you define the treaty after the Cold War, the importance of the treaty?
THE PRESIDENT: If I might, I'd like to first say something about the incident at Okinawa. On behalf of the American people, we want the Japanese people to know that we share their outrage and their pain. And I want to express my personal regret and outrage to the family, to the young woman, to all the people of Okinawa. This was -- it's a terrible thing. And every father in the world of a young daughter, including the President of the United States, was struck by the incident. The United States, obviously, has cooperated and supported the turning over of the people who were charged. We have tried to improve our procedures for cooperating in these criminal matters, and we will continue to do that. So I feel very strongly about this.
Now, however, I think that, notwithstanding this terrible incident and the end of the Cold War, we shouldn't minimize the importance of continuing this partnership. We've had 50 years of relative security in Asia because of the partnership that the United States and Japan have had for security. We still have an unresolved situation on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has more than a million people under arms. We have an agreement, thanks to the cooperation of Japan and the United States, with China and Russia and others to dismantle North Korea's nuclear program. But it isn't finished yet. And there are many uncertainties in the future.
We also know we're going to have to deal with problems of proliferation of weapons of destruction, of terrorism, of organized crime. Both Japan and the United States have been victimized by terrorism recently. So there are still very compelling reasons for us to maintain our security partnership. We are reviewing that. We want to clarify that in the form of a declaration.
As you know, we have established a high-level committee to review the specifics of our relationship with Japan, and particularly the problems in Okinawa. We want to show the people of Okinawa that we can continue to respond to the specific objections. But the need for a security partnership, I think, is still very, very strong. And I hope it will remain one of the real pillars of our relationship.
Q I think very few people suspect about the need of the continued security partnership between Japan and the United States. But many people think that since the treaty was written 35 years ago based on the conditions prevailing in the Far East then, maybe this is a time to review the entire system and check it and modify it if there is a need.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think -- I would say there are two things that I think we should do. First of all, we should make clear to the people of Japan and the United States and all the people in Asia who are affected by this what we believe the security, the common shared security interest and the common values we share are as we look toward the 21st century. Then I also believe that this group of people we have put together to work with your people on the specifics of the relationship within Japan and on Okinawa, that we should finish that and do this over the next -- do that over the next year, and look at whether there are further things we could do in our operating procedures to accommodate the people of Okinawa; look if there is something we can do in the size and the distribution of our forces on Okinawa; look at the size of the land we occupy and how we occupy it; and then consider whether maybe even we could transfer some of our forces elsewhere in Japan.
You know, there are all these things we need to look at in a very disciplined way. And I think that we will do that. But I don't believe we should, without great discipline and care, just revise a relationship that has plainly contributed to economic growth and political security and stability not only for Japan, but for the rest of Asia as well.
Q What do you think about the Governor of Okinawa, Mr. Ota? You used to be the Governor of Arkansas. I think he is presenting a good case that Okinawa people are having unfair burden by excessive concentration of U.S. bases.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I believe that his concerns have to be carefully considered. You know, we have -- for example, in the last few years, we've tried to change our training schedules, reducing the firing of live ammunition, for example, trying to be concerned about the impact of noise on the people of Okinawa. I think that we have to consider his concerns very carefully. And as I said, I think we have to look at what our options are. I think the United States should be open-minded about that. I think that we will discuss with the government of Japan what other options we might have within Japan for pursing this relationship.
But his job as the Governor of Okinawa, like my job when I was a Governor, is to represent the real concerns of the people there who have a right to want to carry on their daily lives, to make the most of their own lives and to take care of their families. And we should be careful to listen to them and see whether or not we can resolve this. And I believe we can do better.
Q One more point I want to ask you, Mr. President, is the so-called free-ride argument in the United States. The asymmetry where the United States protects Japan, but Japan cannot fight for the United States constitutionally is the course of nation we chose 50 years ago under the guidance of the United States. And Japanese are, to be frank, quite proud of their peace constitution. Is the United States growing -- becoming dissatisfied with such Japanese course?
THE PRESIDENT: I don't think so, for two reasons. First of all, the Japanese people have been willing to bear an appropriate level of cost for the location of our troops in Japan. And we cannot complain about that -- and have improved that cost ratio over the last couple of years. And the United States needs to recognize that. Secondly, Japan has become increasingly willing to assume other kinds of global responsibilities. You have been very forthright and strong in Cambodia. You have even committed to help in the reconstruction of Bosnia, a long way from home, and many, many other examples I could cite. So my view is that this is still a fair partnership for security matters. And barring some dramatic change of circumstances, we should try to modify the partnership to meet the demands of this time, not have a dramatic departure from it.
Q In that sense, Mr. President, do you think Japanese peaceful constitution is still viable for peace?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I believe it is because I believe that one of the things we ought to be trying to do is to get the rest of the world to move toward less armaments. You know, Japan is working with the United States, for example, and we hope we'll be able to persuade the rest of the world to join us in a comprehensive test ban treaty, nuclear test ban treaty, next year. We hope that we'll be able to do more together in the world to reduce the danger of chemical and biological weapons. We worked very hard just a few months ago, Japan and the United States, to get almost 180 countries to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. So our objective in the world should be to reduce the volume, the danger of arms, to reduce the millions of land mines that are in the ground in places that your people in Cambodia have been subject to, for example, not to try to have a massive arms buildup everywhere.
Q Going back to Okinawa, you sympathized with the burden of the Okinawan people having bases concentrated there. Would you bring a specific package, a concrete proposal, in reducing the bases, the U.S. bases there?
THE PRESIDENT: That depends on what the alternatives are. And that's why I think it -- for me, I should leave it to our negotiators. I have gotten -- I have put a high-level team in place -- Mr. Lord, Mr. Nye and others will be working on this. And I think that they need to see what the options are. I do not know enough to know what the alternative options are to make a specific proposal. All I can say is that I have followed very, very carefully here the specific concerns of the people of Okinawa. And I know what it's like for people to feel that they are being oppressed by those over whom they have no influence. And I don't want that to be the feeling of the people of Okinawa. I want this to be a partnership of which they can be proud as well. And, therefore, we're going to work very hard to, in total good faith, to try to resolve this.
Q Are you in agreement with Secretary Perry when he says that the number of 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan as a whole will not be reduced? Bases in Okinawa could be withdrawn, but they would have to go somewhere else in Japan -- is that your stance?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, my feeling is that that is the general consensus not only of the United States but of other nations as well, that we should -- that we would be sending the wrong signal at this time if we had a substantial reduction in our overall commitment, either in Japan or Korea; that this is the time for stability, for working toward reducing the possibility of any kind of war, any kind of exchange of missiles, any kind of military problem, whatever. And that is what we're trying to do. We believe that there's a consensus among our allies to try to maintain a sense of stability. And we don't want to do anything that could send the wrong signal there.
Q Do you have a vision as to the post security -- post-Cold War security vision in Asia? So far it has mainly been characterized by bilateral relationship with Japan and the U.S., South Korea and the United States. Do you have a vision or a plan that would stabilize that part of the area?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, of course, I hope that we will have more and more cooperation with other countries which could lead us, eventually, to regional agreements like the regional trade relationship we're attempting to develop through APEC.
For example, we have had military-to-military contacts with China which we are now resuming. And while we still have some concerns, and we hope the Chinese will issue a white paper on defense and be very forthright about it, the truth is that the Chinese have put most of their emphasis into growing their economy, not growing their military. So we hope that we can see further progress there. There are many issues to be resolved there, as you know, and we saw some of them in the recent flare-up of tensions with Taiwan and the testing in that area. But my hope would be that by early in the next century we would see other countries coming forward to work with Japan and work with South Korea so we can broaden the responsibilities that we all share there.
Q So you can envision maybe a military exercise together with four or five different countries?
THE PRESIDENT: It could well happen. That's what we've tried to do in Europe. In Europe, if I could just draw a parallel, as long as nation states have existed on the continent of Europe, there's always some sort of political or military division. We are now trying to work with the Europeans to try to create a united Europe for the first time in history through something called the Partnership for Peace, among other things. But the Partnership for Peace is a NATO security partnership.
We've done military training with Russia. We just had, in Kansas, a Russian-United States military training exercise. We have had military exercises in Poland. We have all these countries working together to reinforce each others security, instead of planning to fight with each other. That's what I hope will happen throughout the world.
Q So I gather you have recognized that U.S.-Japan security treaty has become more important?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. I think it would be a great mistake to think it is less important. If you look at the economic power of Japan and the United States, at the fact that we are both great democracies, at the fact that our -- I believe -- I know this is not the prevailing opinion, perhaps, but I believe our relationship has grown much stronger in the last few years, just since I've been President because we are now more open about our differences and more steadfast in holding on to our strengths and the things we share. That is the way great democracies have to behave. And I think until we live in a very different world than we now live in, we should maintain our security relationship, as well as our economic partnership and our political commitment to democracy and freedom. The things go together and it's not time to change that.
Q If I may turn the topic a little bit more to economics. The small, tragic incident in Okinawa flared up into such a major diplomatic incident. Perhaps it is because for the past two and half years while you have been in office, Japan and United States has been engaged in very severe trade negotiations that maybe -- concentration on the economy has brought adverse feelings among us.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you see, I believe that -- let's take it back to where we were. When I became President, the United States had just experienced the slowest job growth rate we'd had in four years, in the last four years -- since we had a Great Depression -- for 60 years. The feelings of resentment in the United States were building up over the enormous trade surplus Japan had in our dealings. And the feeling was that nothing ever happens.
So what I did was to launch a broad-based outreach to Japan to reaffirm the security relationship, to reaffirm our political partnership, to say that ultimately we needed a regional and a global approach to trade. So we had this world leaders meeting at APEC, and Japan and the United States helped to resolve the GATT World Trade Agreement so we'd have a global trading system. And we had an aggressive approach to our individual bilateral trade differences.
But look what's happened. Because of good faith efforts in Japan and the United States, we have conducted and completed an unprecedented 20 trade agreements. The Japanese trade surplus with the United States has gone down for five months in a row. We have a bid increase in our exports in the 20 areas where we have agreements, and overall. And the Japanese, at a time of economic difficulty for Japan, have gotten a wider choice of goods at lower cost. So I believe we are working toward a much stronger and more balanced partnerships.
Again, I would say, I would hope the people -- there is no American who ever would defend or be insensitive to what happened in Okinawa. We felt the same way about that the Japanese people did. And, again, I would say that's why I so much wanted to come now, to say these things directly to the people of Japan. But these trade difficulties should be seen in the context of our long-term partnership. And we are working through difficulties in the way that mature democracies must. So I see it as a plus, not a negative, over time. No one likes to read about conflict or hear about it on the evening news, but conflict is also a part of life -- that mature and disciplines people resolve their conflicts in a way that is consistent with their values and the long-term interests of their people. And I believe that's what we're doing.
Q I think you are right in saying that there have been many economic progresses, but there does seem times the level of inflammatory rhetoric has, unfortunately, gone up, partly because we lost a common enemy, partly because of our protracted trade imbalance. People are seeing that the "special relationship" -- quote and unquote -- does no longer exist between the two countries. In that case, we have to lower our mutual expectations. What are your comments?
THE PRESIDENT: I think that's very wrong, at least in the United States. It's my experience -- you know, we have a few politicians here who still engage in inflammatory rhetoric against Japan -- but not just Japan. If they -- anybody here who engages in inflammatory rhetoric against Japan is probably engaging in inflammatory rhetoric against a lot of other places, too --
Q That's right.
THE PRESIDENT: -- always trying to blame America's problems on someone else. What I tried to do was to preserve and strengthen this special relationship by setting up a system through Ambassador Kantor, who is in Japan today, to handle the trade problems in a very disciplined way in the context of our overall partnership with Japan. It is a very special relationship.
We are still the world's two most powerful economies. We are still committed to democracy. We have this unusual, wonderful security partnership that has helped to keep war out of the lives of the people of Asia for the last 50 years. These are major, major important things. And we cannot abandon our special relationship until there are others who have as much commitment to the future of the world as we do, and who have the same ability we do to secure peace and prosperity. No one else can do that in the way America and Japan have. So to me, the relationship is more important than ever. And I hope it would not be abandoned just because the Cold War is over. We still have our affirmative responsibilities.
Q Well, we are very much gratified to hear your comments. But still, some people think that the major cause of imbalance is a rather microscopic savings investment imbalance, whereas too much political emphasis has been given to individual trade issues.
THE PRESIDENT: My own view is that they're both to blame. And if you look at what I have done since I've been President -- we had one of the highest deficits of all the large economies in the world when I became President -- trade deficits -- and a very low savings rate. We have now taken our deficit down to the point where, this year at least, it's the lowest of all the G-7 countries.
And we're committed to balancing the budget. Our debate here is over how to balance the budget, not whether. We are looking at ways to increase the savings rate. We are trying to increase our own productivity. And we know that we will never, ever have an overall balance of trade in the world until we have done something about our government deficit, done something about our savings and investment rate.
But we also know that's it's important that, insofar as possible, all countries move toward open, transparent trading systems and treat each other fairly. So to me, both things must be done. And I have tried to ask Japan or any other nation to do anything as an excuse for not having America do what we must do as well.
Q So would you like to concentrate next phase on structure issues like debt regulation with Japanese counterparts?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think as Japan goes through its deregulation program, prices will drop in Japan, and the quality of life for average Japanese families will go way up. It will also lead to the purchase of more American products, and that will create more good, high-wage jobs for Americans. But you ought to pursue these policies primarily because it's good for the Japanese people. Incidentally, it will help our people. But great nations must obviously look after the interests of their own people first.
At this point, your economy is so advanced and so powerful -- you even have Japanese countries now, if you will, out-sourcing some of your manufacturing in other Asian countries that are still developing.
The reason for opening your economy and deregulating now is not to make me happy, although it will create a lot more American jobs and I want you to do it for that reason, but because it's also good for the Japanese people. The Japanese people have worked so hard for so many years and now, with these changes, you can bring the benefits of their hard work to them in the form of a better quality of life. That's why I think it should be done.
Q Another bad news that came from the United States to Japan recently was the fact that one of the Japanese commercial banks, Daiwa Bank, was ordered to stop their operations in the United States. Your view on that decision?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, because it's under active investigation here, under our system I can't really comment on it, except to say that I regret it very much. But it should not be taken as a signal that we do not welcome Japanese investment in our financial institutions or the establishment of Japanese financial operations here. You have a lot of other extremely successful operations in America -- the Mura Securities I just think of as one I could mention off the top of my head.
So we have to enforce our laws in the way we think is -- we are required to. And I can't comment on that specific case. But please do not believe we do not want your country to have the opportunity to send its people here to compete, because we do.
Q But in general, Japan has been suffering -- the Japanese Bank has been suffering with huge amounts of bad debt. Are you concerned about the Japanese economy, where it's going and what effect it might have in the global economy?
THE PRESIDENT: Obviously, we're concerned about the financial system problems that are reported here. But keep in mind, we went through a terrible situation here 10 years ago, where because of a lot of imprudent things that were done in many -- 10, 15 years ago, we had a collapse of our savings and loan sector. It cost a lot of money to fix it, but fundamentally, the American people were working hard and becoming more productive. And we got through it.
And I think that you'll -- I'm not familiar enough to know the details and what the options are, but this is something the Japanese people will have to address. But don't forget, fundamentally, you have this enormously powerful economy. You have a great technology base. You have an enormously competitive citizenry. The underlying health and power of the Japanese economy is great. So you'll just have to figure out what has to be done, and I'm sure the people will do it. And it won't permanently weaken the country.
All these problems -- I find that whether we have them or you have them or some other country has them, people will always have problems as long as we live on this planet. And the important thing is to address them quickly and in a disciplined way and so that the underlying strengths of the people involved can rise to the top.
Q May I tell you on a negative case, Japanese companies have had bad investment here in the states like yours in Whitewater -- I might be wrong --
THE PRESIDENT: If you invest money you might lose it -- that's the way the market system goes. (Laughter.)
Q And the result is that more Japanese companies are investing more into Asia. What would you like to think about that?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think, partly that's quite understandable because in those rapidly growing countries which are near to you, if you put more investment in it is logical to assume that they will become better markets for your products. And a lot of those countries are close at hand and they have rapidly growing economies.
In our country, some of the Japanese investments which were, just like a lot of Americans, somewhat speculative in nature in certain areas, when the markets turned down a lot of money was lost. On the other hand, I think there will always be a healthy level of Japanese investment in America because of the importance of the American market. And the long-term stable Japanese investments that are tied to production and to productivity are doing very well in this country, and I expect they will continue to do well.
And I might say, the American people have benefitted from that. We have learned a lot in our own efforts to improve the productivity of our people, especially in manufacturing, from the investments of Japanese companies in the United States and from watching how your companies operate and the relationships between management and labor, and the power given to the workers in the productive sector to grow the economy. So I think it will be quite good in the future.
Q Well, let me complement the question by asking you something more positive. As you say, the productivity in this country is going up. The basis of manufacturing industry has become robust. Consumer confidence is back. But what we are seeing is your phenomenal growth in export performance. Is the United States transforming itself from import-oriented country to an export-oriented country?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I think what we want is a more balanced economy. That's what I work for. And you're right, it's working. We have the stock market at an all-time high in this country, the creation of small businesses at a record pace. And we have the lowest combined rates of unemployment and inflation we've had in 25 years, because we're following a balanced approach -- bring down the deficit, invest in technology and education, push for more exports, do it in a balanced way.
Our exports have increased in only three years by something like 35 percent to the world, and even more in Asia. So there, again, I would say the special relationship is important. Over half of America's exports go to Asia. Over three million American jobs are tied directly to the health and welfare of the Asian economies. And, again, that makes our partnership with Japan, from my point of view, even more important.
But if I could bring it back at home, that's one reason, unfortunately, I have to stay here now -- because what we have done is to follow a balanced approach; bring the deficit down, work to balance the budget, but keep investing in people and technology, and keep the power to promote America's business interest and the workers' interest around the world.
And so, if you look at the fight we're having here, I want the Japanese people to know we're not fighting about whether we should balance our budget and be more responsible so we don't take so much money out of the world's economy. We agree we must balance our budget. But I think what we have here is how to balance the budget is a debate between two different visions of the future for our own society. I want a society where we grow in strength together, and I believe the alternative proposal would have us growing apart.
I don't -- for example, I don't think we have to balance the budget by raising the medical costs of our poorest senior citizens. I don't think we have to balance the budget by depriving our younger people of the opportunity to be in Head Start programs. I think it's a mistake to say we have to balance the budget by reducing the number of college scholarships or raising the cost of university loans, or by cutting aid to disabled children and their families. These are matters really important to debate here. I know we don't have to do that to balance the budget, and I think that would be bad for our economy.
I believe the strength of the Japanese economy rests more than anything else in the disciplined pursuit over a long period of time of a responsible investment policy, a responsible production policy, a responsible export policy, and the investment into people -- education, technology, and having all the people do well. That's what we have to do in the United States. That's the debate we're having here. That's why, in a way, the people of Japan are better off if I stay here now, because a strong Japan needs a strong America to be a good partner. We have to grow together.
Q Since you mentioned the importance of Asia for the United States I'd like to ask a question in relation to APEC. You convened a summit meeting two years ago in Seattle, and this year you're not present. Perhaps your leadership and credibility in Asia might diminish.
THE PRESIDENT: It might. And I had to think of that. But when the President of the United States takes the oath of office of the President he must first promise to be -- to deal with the responsibilities that the Constitution of our country imposes. If I were to leave now, I would be running away from decisions that I have to make here imposed on me by the oath that I swore to uphold.
I have already called not only Prime Minister Murayama, but President Kim of South Korea, President Soeharto of Indonesia. I'm trying to reach President Jiang Zemin now. I'm going to talk to as many of the APEC leaders personally as I can to apologize for not being there and to say the Vice President's going to be there, because we -- this APEC leaders partnership is very important to our country and very important to your country; because what we want is a growing Asia in the context of a global trade system and the agreement -- and I want to say one thing before we run out of time. Prime Minister Murayama and his government have done an excellent job in leading APEC this year. And the agreement that will be announced there to deal with comprehensive trade issues, to do it in a flexible way, to have regular reviews of how we're doing and moving toward an integrated economy, it's a very, very important agreement. And it proves that we need APEC.
And I hope that my one-time absence will not be interpreted by my colleagues and friends, the leaders of the other nations, as a loss of interest, because this is a big APEC meeting, thanks largely to the leadership of your government.
Q Mr. President, we have two great native Arkansans -- one is the President, the other one is General Douglas MacArthur. Both of them gave us great influence. What would you like to do to the Japanese?
THE PRESIDENT: I would like to do as President with regard to Japan, I would like to be known in the future as the President who created a partnership with Japan that took the world beyond the Cold War into the global village of the 21st century; that together we led the world to be a more peaceful and a more prosperous place where more people enjoyed freedom and could make the most of their own lives; and that this is something we did together. That because of our wealth and because of our vision and because of our values, that together we were the driving forces in making the global village of the 21st century the kind of place we would all be proud for our children to grow up in.
Q The year 2000 will presumably the last year in your reelected office. And your dreams about the 21st century -- short of the United States becoming world's policeman, how are you going to bring about the safer world?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, my dream for the 21st century is that people, nations will define their greatness not in terms of their military power, but in terms of the quality of life their people enjoy, their ability to preserve their -- our common natural environment, and our ability to give every person the right to make the most of his or her own life -- that that's how we'll define our greatness.
My vision includes the ability of nation states to open up their systems enough to have a global trading system, but to still be strong enough to stamp out the organized forces of destruction; to stamp out those who would use terrorism and organized crime and drug trafficking to kill innocent people. That really is going to be our great challenge -- to take advantage of all these forces that are pulling the world together -- essentially, economics and culture -- pulling the world together, and to stamp out these forces that are threatening to tear of apart -- the forces of racial and religious and ethnic hatred -- what we're trying to deal with now in Bosnia, hoping to bring peace there; the forces of terrorism, organized crime and drug trafficking. Those things are the great security challenges of the 21st century, along with the proliferation of weapons.
Those people that want to proliferate weapons -- we've got to do something about it. We can't -- when Japan went into Cambodia to try to help make the peace, there is something like 10 million land mines there. We have to do something about that.
But if we can deal with our differences -- our cultural, racial, ethnic differences -- and deal with the organized criminal and the terrorists, then I think the 21st century will be the greatest time in all of human history.
Q But, Mr. President, he meant you'll be reelected next year.
THE PRESIDENT: I hope he's right. (Laughter.) I let it pass, but I hope he's right. (Laughter.)
The main thing is that in a time of change you can't predict the future. And you can't predict what will be popular next month, much less next year. The important thing is for us to say, here's what we believe in, here's the future we're trying to achieve and the work to achieve it. And the elections will take care of themselves.
Q Finally, we are running out of time so I'd like to ask you if there's anything else that you left out to tell the Japanese public.
THE PRESIDENT: I just want to say that I have been coming to Japan for many years, first as a governor, then as President. I have enjoyed and been moved by every trip I have ever made there. Again, I personally regret that I cannot come now. But I'm doing the right thing for our country and for our relationships with Japan by staying here in this unprecedented moment. I will come as soon as I can.
But the important thing is that the Japanese people must know that our partnership with Japan is secure and must grow stronger. We owe it ourselves; we owe it the rest of the world. It is the right thing to do and I will do everything in my power to see that we achieve it.
Q Mr. President, we'd like to thank you very much for joining us.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Glad to see you.
Q Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
END 1:15 P.M. EST