Good morning. It is truly an honor to be with you today.
I want to express my gratitude to Irene Hirano-Inouye for her extraordinary leadership of the U.S.-Japan Council and her tireless dedication to the future of the U.S.-Japan relationship. Our governments and our people owe you an enormous debt.
Over the course of my more than three decades as an American diplomat, I have never encountered a finer public servant, a prouder American, or a more effective advocate of the U.S.-Japan alliance than Senator Daniel Inouye. There was no bigger believer in the promise of America. There was no one who lived that promise more fully. And there was no one who left a more lasting legacy in the U.S.-Japan relationship.
We are in the midst of a dramatic period in American diplomacy. Despite all the challenges facing the United States -- a global economy still recovering from crisis, a Middle East in tumult, nuclear dangers, climate change, and international terrorism -- our commitment to the Asia Pacific remains undiminished. There is no more dynamic and consequential part of the world today -- and in the decades ahead -- for America’s interests, and for the shape of the global system, than the Asia Pacific.
As Secretary Kerry emphasized in his first trip to Japan this past April, as a Pacific nation in the midst of a Pacific century, we will continue to build on our active and enduring presence in Asia. And as we do, we will continue to look to Japan to be the fulcrum of our strategic rebalance to the region.
Yesterday, Secretaries Kerry and Hagel were in Tokyo for a historic “2+2” meeting that laid out goals for the Alliance over the next decade – reinforcing again our deep, long-term commitment to our Alliance with Japan to our broader strategic rebalance.
Indeed, our treaty alliance with Japan is – and will remain – the cornerstone of our engagement in this vital region. Our alliance is built on the strong foundation of shared interests and values, democratic ideals, respect for human rights and the rule of law. Ours is a truly global partnership – from our bilateral security alliance to our common efforts on regional and transnational challenges, to our incredibly important economic relationship, to the friendship and people-to-people ties that enrich our respective cultures and bind us together ever closer.
All the elements of our partnership are undergoing a historic transformation. Our security ties are stronger than ever. Through Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the region’s economic renewal is poised to accelerate. And the ties between our people are growing more plentiful and more meaningful. The themes of this year’s conference – risk, reward, and innovation – offer a useful lens through which to examine this transformation. Let me say a few words about each.
There is no question that Japan and the United States face many risks and challenges -- both in the region and ocean we share, and beyond.
North Korea’s nuclear program, proliferation, and provocations continue to be major sources of regional instability. Ongoing maritime and territorial issues remain sources of concern. And nontraditional threats such as those to our space and cyber networks pose new and potentially catastrophic risks.
But there is also no question that as the challenges become more complex, our alliance is only becoming stronger. This week’s Security Consultative Committee meeting marked an important milestone in our relationship. This was the first-ever meeting in Tokyo with the participation of both the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense – a powerful demonstration of the importance both countries place on our alliance.
Prime Minister Abe speaks of a Japan that is a “proactive contributor to peace.” We welcome that vision. And this week in Tokyo, we worked together to translate that vision into practice.
To achieve a more balanced and effective alliance, we agreed to revise – for the first time in over a decade and a half – our Bilateral Defense Guidelines. We agreed to accelerate implementation of a new U.S. force posture in Japan. And we agreed to enhance our cooperation on a range of pressing regional and global issues – from the transition in Afghanistan to the crisis in Syria to our work in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, economic development, and peacekeeping operations.
Our joint response to Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami two and a half years ago is a vivid example of what we can accomplish when we work together, as friends and allies. Operation TOMODACHI was not only the largest joint military operation in our history. It was also a comprehensive undertaking between our people – our foreign affairs and civilian aid agencies, our charities, our scientists, and our medical professionals.
We need to bring that same resolve and partnership to what is the most important challenge in both of our countries – domestic renewal.
The foundation of our alliance and leadership remains economic strength at home. To reap the full reward of our alliance, we need to deepen further our mature economic relationship, harness the dynamism of growth in the Asia-Pacific region, and put it to work for our people.
In Prime Minister Abe, we have a partner who is committed to strengthening Japan’s economy. We have a partner who is committed to strengthening the architecture of regional economic cooperation. And we have a partner who is committed to strengthening the foundations of our rules-based, free, transparent, and market-oriented global economic order.
The centerpiece of this effort is the Trans-Pacific Partnership – a cutting-edge, high-standard, multilateral free-trade agreement under negotiation with some of the most dynamic economies in the world. The TPP will not only accelerate economic growth and job creation. It will not only deepen regional economic integration, enhance regional stability, and strengthen our capacity for global leadership. But it will also ensure that the high-standard rules of our free market economies will become the standard for global trade and investment.
Together, TPP countries make up 40 percent of global GDP. And combined with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership we are negotiating with the European Union, high-standard, modern trade agreements could cover two-thirds of the world’s economies.
As the world’s two largest free market economies, we have a deep strategic and economic stake in the success of the Trans- Pacific Partnership. President Obama made it clear that he expects negotiations to conclude this year. With continued focus and leadership, we can get this done.
Trade and investment are critical. But we all know that the essential ingredient for economic growth and the vitality of our partnership is innovation.
Through the educational exchanges of our scientists and researchers, the United States and Japan are bringing about monumental breakthroughs in science and technology, from cancer research to building the International Space Station.
We are expanding information sharing and research and development between our national laboratories, research institutes, and universities to explore innovation in biomass, hydrogen, geothermal, smart-grids, and off-shore wind projects. Out of the rubble of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, we have made innovations in disaster risk mitigation, response, and recovery. As the world’s first and second largest Internet economies, we are working on ways to make e-commerce more dynamic and more secure.
Today’s lunch speaker, Dr. Yamanaka, is living proof of the value of these exchanges. After getting his medical degree and doctorate in Osaka, Dr. Yamanaka came to San Francisco for his postdoctoral fellowship. Twenty years later, building on the knowledge, ties, and networks he forged in the United States and around the world, Dr. Yamanaka won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his work on cutting-edge stem cell research.
Like our security and economic ties, the ties between our people are strong – but not self-sustaining. We need to do more to meet the challenges and make the most of the opportunities in the century unfolding before us.
Few tools are as powerful or leave a more lasting impact than when we send our young people overseas to learn each other’s languages and cultures. Unfortunately, the number of Japanese students studying in the United States has dropped nearly 60 percent since the mid-nineties, and the number of American students studying in Japan, while growing, remains low.
Last year, we formed a bi-national educational task force that has issued an excellent report identifying impediments to studying abroad in both countries, and listing actions both countries can take to increase two-way exchanges. Japan has made increasing English language education and encouraging international exchange part of the so-called “third arrow” of economic revitalization.
Here in the United States, we are hard at work at making it easier for Japanese students to come to the United States and for Americans to learn about opportunities in Japan.
To achieve these goals, we need support from the private sector and civil society. This is where the U.S.-Japan Council, programs such as the Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange and the TOMODACHI Initiative, and all of you come in.
Under the leadership of the U.S.-Japan Council, and with the support of our governments, businesses, foundations, and private citizens, the TOMODACHI Initiative is making investments in people-to-people exchanges to empower the next generation of Japanese and American artists, athletes, leaders, and innovators. There is no better investment in the future of these young people and in the future of this alliance. Thanks to the exceptional efforts of Irene Hirano-Inouye and of our extraordinary former Ambassador, my friend John Roos, TOMODACHI is off to a strong start and we can fully expect it to continue to flourish in the years ahead.
The U.S.-Japan relationship has underwritten the peace, security, and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific for decades. It is deeply in the interest of Japan and the United States – and of the entire region – for that partnership to endure and prosper. That is exactly why we are strengthening our alliance – to overcome the risks over the horizon, to reap the rewards of our trade and investment partnership, and to expand the opportunities for our people to innovate and lead together.
If we work together to see this transformation through, we will leave future generations of American and Japanese not only a safer and more thriving Asia-Pacific, but a safer and more thriving world. This is the legacy left to us by Senator Inouye and members of his great generation. We should aim for nothing less.
Thank you very much.