Thank you so much. That was really inspiring, and thank you, Ambassador Sasae, for your thoughtfulness in sharing that and arranging that, as well as the tea ceremony that we had earlier, which was a wonderful introduction to the spirit and culture of Japan. Your hospitality, your support, your friendship throughout this process have really meant so much to me and to my husband Ed.
I look forward to working closely with you in the coming months to further strengthen the bonds between our two countries. And I’m so honored that Secretary Kerry is able to be here. I want to thank you for making this such a special day by taking the time to swear me in this afternoon and coming to celebrate the U.S.-Japan relationship tonight.
I’m grateful to all of you who work to bring our nations closer, and I’m grateful to all those who have gone before us – distinguished ambassadors, political leaders and diplomats, scholars and students, soldiers and citizens. You have spent time in each other’s countries and returned home committed to work on behalf of this critical alliance.
I am most grateful to President Obama for entrusting me with this important mission. It’s a momentous time in history and a critical time in U.S.-Japan relations. As the United States rebalances toward Asia, Japan remains our most important ally. The U.S.-Japan relationship is the cornerstone of regional prosperity, stability and security, and Japan is America’s most important partner in humanitarian efforts and civil society initiatives around the world.
As my own family story bears witness from our common history, our countries have forged a path towards peace. And I can think of nothing more important than to be able to help us travel further together on that path. I am honored to serve my country in this important endeavor and I pledge to work as hard as I can to strengthen our alliance, to increase understanding both in Tokyo and Washington, and come back home and encourage all Americans to visit Japan.
As the great poet – Japanese poet Basho wrote about preparing for his journey to the distant north, “The guardian spirits of the road beckoned, and I could not settle down to work.” Hundreds of years later, I believe the guardian spirits are beckoning me, and I can’t wait to get to work in Japan.
Thank you so much. Nihon de O-ai shimashou. (Applause.)
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