THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Tokyo, Japan) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release April 17, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY, SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR ASIAN AFFAIRS, NSC, SANDY KRISTOFF AND ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EAST ASIAN AFFAIRS AMBASSADOR WINSTON LORD
ANA Hotel Tokyo, Japan
5:45 P.M. (L)
MR. MCCURRY: Good afternoon, everybody. The President has just ended, except for the state dinner this evening, a very extraordinary day for him. I asked him a short while ago what were the high points of this long and interesting day. He cited two things. First and obviously, the visit he just paid to the USS Independence, which he was very moved by and excited by and obviously invigorated by. He was especially tickled that at the very end of the long, inexhaustible rope line that he worked they had assembled all the sailors from Arkansas. And he had a little mini reunion with the First Lady with some fellow Arkansans at the end, and he enjoyed that immensely.
His remarks there Ambassador Lord will put in some context in a minute, but I think he felt it was very important to address really two audiences, the audience at home looking for explanations about why this reaffirmation of the security alliance with Japan is so important to our security interests, and then the larger audience in this region in which the presence of the Independence recently near Taiwan played a real role in asserting U.S. security interests in this region.
The second high point the President cited was his visit to the Imperial Palace. He was -- he said, found it stunningly beautiful. He said, "When I saw the gardens through the glass windows I literally gasped at how beautiful it was." And those of you who have seen that before know that they're beautiful picturesque gardens that you can see just outside the very large picture windows. And the President with the Emperor and the Empress and the First Lady spent some time enjoying the very beautiful spring scenery.
The President also -- some personal observations on Prime Minister Hashimoto at the end of his now second series of meetings with the Prime Minister -- he said he likes him very much; that the first name basis that now defines their relationship also defines a first-class ability to get work done. The President described the Prime Minister as being "feisty and unconventional and someone who I now have a very familiar way of doing business with."
With those initial observations, I'd like first to introduce Ambassador Winston Lord, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. As we wind up these stops in Asia, he will place that in context. And then I will turn the podium over to Sandy Kristoff, the NSC Senior Director
for Asia, who is the notetaker for the President's meeting with the Prime Minister today and who will offer some additional readout on those meetings.
AMBASSADOR LORD: Thank you, Mike. Let me just make a few comments to put the Korean and Japanese stops in a broader context of the President's policy toward the Asia Pacific region.
Almost three years ago, the very first trip abroad by the President overseas was to Japan and Korea, the first time that an American President's first trip overseas was to this region. Now, of course, he's come back again.
If you think back to that summer in 1993, there were three big questions facing us during that trip. First, we had the very severe North Korean nuclear challenge on the Peninsula; secondly, there was a question about our most important partnership -- U.S.-Japan ties. There were trade problems. There is the issue of whether the alliance was relevant with the disappearance of the Soviet threat, et cetera. And, third, there was a general question of America's staying power in this region, more generally.
In the last couple of days, I think we've been reminded how each of those questions have been responded to. In Korea, we have, over the last couple of years, frozen the North Korean nuclear challenge. It's the dog that hasn't barked. It was considered the most pressing security challenge in this region when the President took office, if not in the world, and we've effectively frozen that and hopefully will dismantle it over the coming years.
On that basis and on this trip, the President, working closely with our South Korean allies, was able to make a proposal to try to move toward a more permanent stable situation on the Peninsula and the four-party conference proposal that you are familiar with.
With respect to the second question, our relationship with Japan, you've heard not at some lengthy progress on the trade front, which we went after these problems. It was the weak part of the alliance three years ago, and as a result, although there is still very important unfinished business, you know about the 21 agreements the President mentioned, the fact that the trade figures are moving in the right direction, et cetera.
All of this has allowed us to highlight the broader partnership in the broad communique that was issued today, illustrating all the elements of our cooperation and a security declaration specifically. I think if, two or three years ago, you said the following events were going to happen over the last couple of years, I think you would be surprised that not only is our alliance in good shape, it's in even stronger shape and we have the security declaration today.
You had the disappearance of the Soviet threat, which was the major glue in many ways that held the alliance together. You had trade frictions and acrimony over the last couple of years. You had a Socialist-led government here until very recently, with the Socialists essentially being against the alliance. You had sensitive anniversaries of World War II which could have caused problems in either country. You had the terrible incident -- rape incident in Okinawa. You put all that together and, yet, the alliance, I would argue, is in more solid shape than ever, and the Security Declaration makes clear why it's still relevant in the post-Cold War environment.
Thirdly, the third question about the American staying power in Asia by maintaining our force levels, we have demonstrated our engagement in this region beyond the presidential trips and the rhetoric and the alliances and the diplomacy that I've already mentioned. We have as many forces out here now as we do in Europe.
And not only the Security Declaration, but the visit to the Independence today symbolizes why this is important, not only for our two countries, but for the entire region. There is not one country out here with a probable exception of North Korea that does not want the U.S. to stay on, to stay engaged, to maintain our force levels as a balancing element, as a force for stability and prosperity.
And so on the Independence, as Mike has mentioned, the President was addressing several audiences. He was addressing the American audience and why it's in our interest to be out here. He was addressing the Japanese audience, but he was also addressing the wider audience in the Asia Pacific region, underlining the fact we are going to stay on, symbolically, on the Independence, which played this important role in the recent tensions in the Taiwan Strait. Those tensions plus the DMZ problems in Korea, South China Sea and other elements have reminded this region and reminded us of our security interests and our stabilizing presence.
Tomorrow the President will be speaking to the Diet and he will sum up again the importance of the partnership with Japan. He'll be speaking directly to the Japanese people through their elected representatives, and he will be covering not only as we've worked together the last 50 years and paid tribute to Japan's amazing progress since the war and our partnership with it, but looking forward to the next 50 years as the two largest economies and two strong democracies that Japan and the U.S. have the opportunity to forge an alliance for the 21st century for our two peoples, for the region and for the world.
One final note, and I'll turn it over to my colleague, Sandy Kristoff. There are two other key players in the Asia Pacific region, particularly North Asia, and those, of course, are Russia and China. And they will also be addressed in our diplomacy over the next couple of days. As you well know, the President is going from here to Russia. Russia is a Pacific power, and many of the items on the agenda here will also be discussed in Moscow.
Finally, the Secretary of State will peel off from Russia on April 19th, on Friday, for a lengthy working session and dinner with the Chinese Foreign Minister to cover many of these regional as well as our bilateral problems with China -- that other very key actor out here in this region.
So with that broad framework, let me have Sandy Kristoff give you more of a feel for today's bilateral meeting.
MS. KRISTOFF: Thank you very much. The President and the Prime Minister had an opportunity to meet in a small group meeting for a little more than an hour, and then moved into a larger meeting. Some impressions from the outset: I think it's clear that Hashimoto has made an effort to engage in personal diplomacy here. These are two men who are on a first name basis that are building a good personal rapport. It was evident in Hashimoto coming to Santa Monica for the first ice-breaker, and last night's private dinner which was largely social conversation. This is a Prime Minister who wants to be able to pick up the phone and talk to the President on matters of importance.
Hashimoto exuded a great deal of confidence in these meetings. He's clearly in charge. As a consequence, I think they covered a lot of issues, did not speak very much from notes. It was a much wider-ranging discussion than they had, I think, in Santa Monica.
In the private meeting Hashimoto made the points that this was a wonderful opportunity to show to the Japanese public and the American public as well as the region the importance of cooperation between these two countries in the security area and the economic area, and in the important area of the Common Agenda.
On the Security Declaration, the President made the point that he believed the signing of this revitalized alliance was a clear signal to the region that the United States and Japan, operating on the basis of common interests rather than containing common enemies; that the U.S. is cemented to Japan and to Asia; that we intend to stay engaged.
The President complimented Hashimoto on the leadership that he exercised in pulling together the Security Declaration, and in working out the challenge of keeping American forces located here in Japan. There was a brief discussion of Okinawa and an expectation expressed on the parts of both men that the Special Action Committee on Okinawa would continue its work through the end of the year to press forward on some of the remaining issues.
On the Security Declaration, they each called attention to the alliance as the cornerstone of the security strategy for Asia, but spoke more, I think, of the way in which the security relationship has matured and how we're beginning to transform it and get it ready for the 21st century, where, as I said, it's an alliance that's based on common interests rather than trying to contain common enemies.
They spoke about Korea. Hashimoto welcomed the peace proposal that was announced in Cheju and the President thanked him for the very quick public support that Hashimoto provided that announcement.
There was a good deal of discussion on China, recognition that this is a country in the midst of a leadership transformation, and the importance of both Japan and the United States working, coordinating policy, working together to ensure that that transition is smooth and that China is integrated into the international community.
In that regard, there was also a discussion about Taiwan. Hashimoto expressed appreciation for the deployment of U.S. naval forces off the coast of Taiwan during the recent tensions in that region. The President spoke about that as an effort on the part of the United States to encourage calm in the region. He repeated his own policy of seeking MFN renewal this year and went into some detail about the importance of being engaged with China on a wide range of issues.
There was, still in the private meeting, a short discussion of Yugoslavia and the upcoming Moscow summit. The President thanked Hashimoto for the recently-announced Japanese contribution of $500 million over four years for reconstruction and humanitarian assistance in Bosnia.
In the larger meeting -- actually, in the smaller meeting at the very end, there was a discussion of economic issues, both macroeconomic and trade. This is probably the one area where the two leaders did not see quite eye to eye, although each of them made the points that needed to be made on the trade and economic issues and agreed that we have a good system for addressing problems and that we need to continue to build on the progress that we've had particularly over the last year and try to make more progress on, in particular, semiconductors, insurance and film.
In the larger meeting, additional items that were discussed: The importance of supporting democratic reform and economic reform in Russia, the contribution of Japan to the Middle East peace process, the importance of Japan and the United States working together to counter terrorism, and then again a review of the Common Agenda, with particular notice of the five new initiatives that we've put out and special emphasis on environmental activities, cooperating on environmental issues, on health initiatives such as working together to eradicate polio worldwide by the year 2000 and special mention of cooperation on natural disasters -- not trying to prevent them, but trying to work on quick response.
On economic issues, again, each of the men made the expected points. On insurance, the U.S. that we would expect Japan to live up to its agreement on semiconductors, hope that negotiators would be creative and try to work out a framework. And both men commented on the importance of industry-to-industry discussions on film and explicit recognition that our positions were far apart, but that, having set the pattern for trying to solve problems, both men agreed that we would continue to work on the film issue.
And in civil aviation, recognition that we've announced the cargo agreement, but Hashimoto posed the request that we begin passenger service negotiations as soon as possible. The President replied that we need to ensure that existing rights are being implemented, hopes that we can resolve this, and that we can expand aviation to the benefit of both countries.
The press conference I think everybody was at and focused heavily on the security side of things which was followed up, as Mike indicated, during the event at the USS Independence. It strikes us, therefore, that what we have is a summit that -- a summit meeting that has set the course for the alliance for the next several years. We have a good Security Declaration that provides a vision for enhancing cooperation between us that advocates continued cooperation on arms control, peacekeeping and humanitarian relief.
We have a solid set of initial measures out of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa that returns significant amounts of land, that adjusts training and operational procedures, that implements noise abatement procedures, that adjusts status of force procedures, and also has a work program to carry us through to November.
We also signed an acquisition and cross--servicing agreement just before the President arrived, an importance peacetime, logistical cooperation effort between our military forces, a comprehensive communique that celebrates the robustness of the relationship and the myriad of diplomatic and political activities in which the two countries are engaged, and finally, an active set of over two dozen projects in the Common Agenda, as I mentioned, ranging from environment through education to health issues.
I think our conclusion is that it was a successful summit, and to date, a successful visit. The President, as Mike suggested, is very happy with his first day in Tokyo.
Q I wanted to ask you the question -- you said Hashimoto had opposed the passenger talks, starting soon -- why?
MS. KRISTOFF: The Japanese government takes the position that the civil aviation agreement between our two countries is imbalanced, that it favors United States carriers and want's to renegotiate the agreement to rebalance it. The United States takes the position that Japan -- that existing rights are existing rights. We're not going to negotiate away existing rights. If we were talking about something like an open skies agreement between the United States and Japan, certainly, we would want to move in that direction.
Q Did you get any sense when talks on this might start?
MS. KRISTOFF: No, no, there was not that level of detail. Hashimoto laid his marker. The President replied and we'll leave it to the State Department to go from there.
Q When the Prime Minister says that the Declaration on Security will be the starting point for our bilateral cooperation in the future, what resonance, if any, does that have with the whole discussion about collective security in Japan?
MS. KRISTOFF: About collective security?
Q About collective security arrangements in Japan.
MS. KRISTOFF: It's not a segue into a -- the Security Declaration is not a segue into some proposal for a collective security arrangement throughout the region or an alliance in Asia like you have in Europe. What the Joint Security Declaration does is confirms the continued support of Japan for forward deployed forces and underscores the importance, I think, of Japan and the United States cooperating more closely, both militarily, among our militaries, and politically on issues that go beyond either country -- global peacekeeping issues, regional security issues.
And I think that that stems from recent events in the Taiwan Straits, recent concerns on the Korean Peninsula. That sort of has brought home, I think, to the Japanese public the importance of the alliance to them.
Q What I'm trying to get a feel for there is what you're saying, taken in the context of what Prime Minister Hashimoto said about people are too bogged down about definitions and what we need to do is take a look at our interpretation of what we can do without necessarily worrying about amending the Constitution or whatever. It sounds like there's a lot of convergence here, that military cooperation can be enhanced without getting into this definitional rankle.
MS. KRISTOFF: I will leave it to the Japanese to speak to their own domestic constitutional issues. I do think that what you have in this declaration for the first time in 25 years is a clear statement of the seeing eye to eye that you're suggesting between the United States and Japan on what the challenges are in the security area and what it is that the United States and Japan together have to do to meet those challenges. And as I said, I believe that those were brought home because of recent actions in the Straits and on the Peninsula.
Q Would you say that the medium and long-term would be to build such a collective security and that some foundations have been laid on this trip?
MS. KRISTOFF: No. I think that what I would say is that this represents a bilateral statement -- a statement of bilateral cooperation in service of regional and global goals. There are multilateral or regional security discussions underway here in Asia through the ASEAN regional forum, through the Northeast Asia security dialogue. Those regional dialogues will continue. They overlay one another; they're not mutually exclusive, the regional and the bilateral, they operate to support and complement one another.
Q You speak about this represented a bilateral cooperation or bilateral statement about cooperation in the service of regional and global goals. It also does at some level enhance and fine-tune Japan's contribution, particularly as far as this peacetime logistics is concerned. Was there any discussion at all, was there any mention at all of the constitutional implications, the repercussions that Japan is going to have to face somewhere down the line?
MS. KRISTOFF: No, there was no discussion during either the private meeting or the expanded meeting on those essentially Japanese domestic issues. It is fair to say that the President complimented Hashimoto on his leadership on security issues on several points. It's also clear that these two men have a good rapport, that they leaned forward to speak to one another, they did not use notes, but there was no discussion of Japanese domestic constitutional issues on the security declaration.
MR. MCCURRY: Our intent is not to brief here further this evening. There will be someone available who attends the state dinner tonight with the President to give a quick color readout to the pool at some point during the evening. But otherwise, we don't intend to do any further briefing here.
Are there any other subjects that come to mind? Mr. Hunt?
Q If you could give us more of a preview of tomorrow's speech, more of a look ahead, a little bit of a bite of that? How often is this done -- American presidents addressing the Diet -- and also the purpose of the thing to the Chrysler showroom.
MR. MCCURRY: The question is, the wires are looking for something to move into the next cycle on the preview tomorrow, basically. The President is very anxious in his speech to the Diet tomorrow to draw together for the people of Japan the importance the people of the United States attach to the subjects we've covered during this summit -- our enduring commitment to this security alliance, our commitment to engagement cooperation with the people of Japan as we address global issues, and our willingness to engage in commerce in a free and fair way that improves the quality of life for consumers both in Japan and the United States. He will touch on each of those subjects, but really celebrate an alliance that has been reinvigorated in the course of this summit.
I would have to check. Maybe our local embassy staff can tell you how rare it is for an American President to address the Diet. I don't believe --
Q Reagan did.
MR. MCCURRY: Reagan did. I had a recollection. I believe that's the only time that's happened in the post-World War II era. So there is one prior occasion. But the President is very much looking forward to that.
The event at Chrysler is an opportunity again for the President to celebrate the success we have had in the agreed framework related to the auto sector. He obviously is going to a dealership that now is participating in part of the successful reentry into the Japanese auto market of U.S.-manufactured autos, and continuing really sort of bracketing this trip with the event the President had at the White House last Friday, prior to departure, and then marking -- we picked up some of these vehicles on the shipping end. In a sense, we now see them on the delivery end at the showroom floor as they become available to Japanese consumers.
Q Mike, is there any chance of getting excerpts on an embargoed basis for the a.m. cycle?
MR. MCCURRY: The President was going to work on the Diet speech. I think it's going to be hard to do an advanced text. I reminded him that everyone here is working under -- everyone that is working back in the U.S. news cycles will have a lot of deadline problems tomorrow. And he will see what he can do. He looked pretty pooped at the end of the day today, and I think he wanted to just have some -- he was, originally, with his burst of enthusiasm planning some further sight-seeing, but I think he and the First Lady decided to take a little down time before the dinner tonight. And I'm not certain he was going to have an opportunity to work on the speech. But if we got anything, or at least some excerpts that we feel confident in, we will try to get them out earlier in the day tomorrow, because I know everyone will be right on deadline at that point.
Q You said he's still working on the speech?
MR. MCCURRY: No, he was declining a brief moment of spare time to work on it so that he could most likely work on it tomorrow.
Q He did not go out --
MR. MCCURRY: He did not go out touring. He had some initial thought that he would do that, he had wanted to do that, but I think they decided to stay in at the palace. You will have to double-check that with the pool, though, to make sure that is indeed what they did.
All right. Any other hot subjects bothering you?
Q Anything further on the Middle East from the morning?
MR. MCCURRY: There is nothing further on the Middle East other than what the President reported to you at the press conference. Secretary Christopher remains very engaged in those discussions that he has been having, principally with his counterpart in Syria, exchanging information at various levels with the government of Israel. The President in his press conference earlier today indicated that there was no progress to report. I can tell you that Secretary Christopher agrees with that sentiment. There is publicly no progress to report, but the Secretary has been encouraged by the course of some of the discussions that he has had.
Q Can you shed any light on the reports this morning on Deputy Treasury Secretary Summers comments on the dollar against the yen?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe Treasury officials have made it clear that anyone suggesting specific currency rates in his name, those reports were in error, and the Treasury Deputy Secretary, as do other official in our government, don't comment on those types of market fluctuations. The Deputy Secretary did say, of course, that a strong U.S. dollar remains in the economic interests of the United States, the longstanding U.S. view.
Q What about the ebola epidemic?
MR. MCCURRY: The President -- you may have gotten some of this from Ginny -- the President got an update on the two monkeys that are in quarantine in Texas from Leon Panetta, who spoke to Dr. Shalala. Do you want me to monkey around with this further? (Laughter.) Did the President make some offhand reference to the Dustin Hoffman movie, "Outbreak"? I decline to comment.
The President's confident that Texas public health officials are working closely with federal public health officials from the Centers for Disease Control, they've seen nothing to indicate any cause for undue concern at this point.
This is a test. This is going to see how many subjects. Why don't you come up with some other -- just test me. See if I know. Probably don't. Wolf, wake up.
Q A successful trip so far?
MR. MCCURRY: I think you gather that the White House is delighted with the trip. We've had now both in Korea and Japan very important, successful stops that underscore the thrust of U.S. diplomacy. We are -- this President has successfully managing the large power relationships that are central to the post-Cold War era that we live in and also successfully managing those regional sources of concern and instability that threaten the type of stability that the United States can play a leadership role in this world, whether it's the Middle East, whether it's the North Korean issue, these issues, in the environment of no bipolar superpower conflict, really do take on importance in our diplomacy, but you should not say that they overshadow in any way the very important large relationships, such as the U.S.-Japan relationship that must be managed effectively and with discipline and creativity and vision.
Q Mike, has there been or would you expect there to be any high-level debriefing on the various security issues? Do any of the Okinawan government officials, like the governor of Okinawa -- he wanted to actually meet the President. But will there be any debriefing at any senior level?
MR. MCCURRY: I am not aware of any plans to do so, but you might want to check with the embassy staff and Ambassador Mondale. Typically, that type of briefing might come from the government here in Tokyo, but I imagine that our embassy staff, being the very effective staff that it is, probably has, at some counselor level or otherwise, contact locally.
Certainly, there will be an effort, and there has been an effort as the Special Action Committee has worked through those issues to be very aware of and very familiar with the views of both the citizens and the local government on Okinawa.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 6:20 P.M. (L)