Well, I am excited to be here with all of you, and I thank you for being part of the Tomodachi Generation and for the work you are doing with each other and between the young people of Japan and the young people of the United States. There is no doubt in my mind that the way Japan has demonstrated resilience and determination after the terrible earthquake and tsunami is a great indicator of what the future for the Tomodachi Generation can be.
There is a great deal of work to be done in the world today, whether you are in the Foreign Service or you are studying or you have some other dream that you are pursuing. And experiences like what you went through with your losses, the tragedy that afflicted so many thousands and thousands of your fellow Japanese citizens, gives you a perspective on what is important in life that can be extremely useful for yourselves personally, for your country, and for the world.
I was very pleased to be able to come to Japan shortly after the disasters. And working with the Ambassador and the excellent team here at the Embassy, and the United States military and the private sector of our country, and many, many American citizens worked to support Tomodachi and provide an understanding of what Japan had gone through and what now the United States Government and the American people could do to continue working with you.
So exchange programs like the one you will be going on, reconstruction projects, the kind of personal assistance that some people still need because they lost so much, is part of what Tomodachi does. But even more than that, it is a statement of commitment and concern between our countries that is about the future, and particularly about the future of young people.
The United States and Japan are allies. We are partners. But we have a special responsibility to keep creating a better world, not just for ourselves but for those who have so little and who need so much. Today I spent at the Tokyo Conference that the Japanese Government has done an excellent job in preparing and holding today. And Japan has been very generous to Afghanistan, a country far away, over the last 10 years, because there was a commitment by the Japanese Government and people to help someone else in need. And Japan historically has been very generous with aid and support to people who were suffering.
When the disaster of the earthquake and the tsunami and then the nuclear plant meltdown happened, it would have been very easy for Japan to say we can’t continue helping anybody else because we have so many needs ourselves. But as we heard today at the conference, Japan did not stop helping Afghanistan and other people, even while you had to do so much for your own citizens. I think that is the spirit of Tomodachi, and I think Japan has set a great example for the world.
So I was proud last year to come and support Tomodachi, and I am very proud to be back here today to hear from two of your members, but to know, from what I have been told, so much more about what each of you is doing. And I feel very positive – optimistic – about the future of Japan because of the young people and your response to the need that your country had and what you’re doing to build a better future for yourselves and for people not only in Japan but even around the world, to build bridges of understanding, and I think the Americans who are part of the Tomodachi initiative, because that’s what it’s going to take to build the kind of world that we need to have in the 21st century – much more understanding, much more connectivity and communication, more mutual help and efforts on behalf of each other.
So it’s a great honor for me to be here, Ambassador, and to see the continuation of what you have achieved with Tomodachi. And I hope that it will keep going for many, many, many years to come. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)