Thank you very much, and I am delighted to be back in Tokyo. I have come to Asia as my first trip as Secretary of State to convey that America’s relationships across the Pacific are indispensible to addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities of the 21st century. By strengthening our historic Asian alliances, starting right here in Japan, and forging new partnerships with emerging nations, we can begin together to build networks around the world to help us solve problems that none of us can solve alone.
The bilateral relationship between the United States and Japan is a cornerstone of our efforts around the world. I will be speaking with Japanese leaders and citizens during my visit, and we will be looking for ways to collaborate on issues that go beyond just our mutual concerns to really addressing the global concerns, including climate change and clean energy, Afghanistan, Pakistan, nuclear proliferation, and other common concerns.
The U.S.-Japanese alliance is vitally important to both of our countries, to the Asia-Pacific region, and to the world. And our partnership stretches back half a century. Its foundation has been and always will be a commitment to our shared security and prosperity. But we also know that we have to work together to address the global financial crisis, which is affecting all of us. And we have to work together, as we are doing, to try to assist those around the world afflicted by poverty, natural disasters, and disease. We have a longstanding tradition of exchange and cooperation between our two countries, and between the people of our two nations. We have cooperation in the fields of education and science, and through programs such as the Fulbright Exchange and the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program.
With us this evening are some of the Japanese citizens who have been part of the exchanges. We have two preeminent Japanese astronauts, both space pioneers whose work is indicative of the ongoing scientific cooperation between Japan, the United States, and our other partners around the world. It is an honor for me to meet Dr. Mukai, who is known and admired for her participation in two space shuttle missions. And I wish to acknowledge and welcome Ms. Yamakazi 1, who is on her way to becoming the first Japanese mother to fly in space when she joins the International Space Station next year.
I am also pleased to be joined by members of Japan’s Special Olympics Committee, the leaders and the coaches and the other officials, and most importantly, the athletes who have just returned from the 2009 Special Olympics World Games in Boise, Idaho. I want to congratulate all of the athletes. We salute you for your accomplishments in the athletic arena, as well as the message of peace and kinship that your participation in the Special Olympics sends around the world.
I am looking forward to my opportunities to meet with government leaders and citizens in Tokyo. I look forward to these discussions, and to do the work together with the government and people of Japan that will continue our long friendship and alliance, and will enable us to move forward with confidence and optimism into this new century. Thank you for this gracious and generous welcome back to Tokyo and Japan.