MS MCGUINNESS: Good afternoon, and welcome to NASA Headquarters. I’m NASA Press Secretary Jackie McGuinness, and we’re honored to be joined today by leaders from the United States and Japan to sign a framework agreement that recognizes our nations’ mutual interest in peaceful exploration. The Framework Agreement Between the Government of Japan and the Government of the United States of America for Cooperation in Space Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, For Peaceful Purposes covers a broad portfolio of joint activities between our nations, including exploration, science, aeronautics, technology, and much more.
First, I’d like to welcome NASA Administrator Bill Nelson to deliver a few words.
MR NELSON: Thank you, Jackie. Is the microphone coming through? Okay. Welcome, everybody, and on behalf of the deputy administrator, Colonel Pam Melroy, on behalf of our entire workforce at NASA, which is a group of wizards – they make the impossible possible, as you have seen in some of the extraordinary things that have happened just in the last year – on behalf of all of these, I want to welcome you, Mr. Prime Minister here, your delegation. It’s an honor to have you, the foreign minister, Mr. Ambassador. It’s also our JAXA President Yamakawa, and it’s great to have our astronauts, Aki and Anne. So thank you all.
And of course, JAXA’s Koichi Wakata, a very experienced astronaut, is on the International Space Station as we speak, and he has flown with us five times already. I also want to thank the Secretary of State. I want to thank my old buddy, Ambassador Emanuel, who I’ll get to see in just a few weeks in Japan, and I want to thank all of you for being here.
The principles of diplomacy, democracy, and discovery are the core cornerstones of the U.S.-Japan alliance. Our nations are both spacefaring nations, nations poised to unlock the secrets of the universe. And today, we are once again reaffirming that Japan and the U.S. explore openly, explore peacefully, and explore together. And this framework that will be signed by the Secretary of State and the foreign minister, this framework deepens our partnership.
Space unites us. In this era of space exploration, every announcement and advancement is not an achievement for just a single country – it is a victory for all of humanity. And that is how the U.S. chooses to lead in this effort with Japan and others in the 21st century, on Earth and in the heavens.
Deputy Administrator Melroy and I are looking forward to visiting Japan next month, and we are going to be there to grow the bond between NASA and JAXA. Our space programs have storied histories of barriers overcome and new worlds understood, and so today we chart a new chapter in a continuing adventure together as allies and partners. Welcome.
MS MCGUINNESS: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, Administrator. Next, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio will deliver remarks.
PRIME MINISTER KISHIDA: (Via interpreter) Well, hello, everyone here. I am Fumio Kishida, prime minister of Japan. I am truly pleased that the framework agreement on Japan-U.S. space cooperation is being signed today.
The U.S.-Japan space cooperation has entered a new era with the Artemis project and many projects, including lunar activities, are already in the works by Japanese and U.S. astronauts. But I strongly hope that this agreement will robustly promote our space cooperation even further and also further expand the field of cooperation under the Japan-U.S. alliance, which has become stronger than ever under the leadership of President Biden, Vice President Harris, and myself.
Allow me to commend the efforts of everyone from both sides in developing this Framework Agreement, and I am committed to continuing to working lockstep with the United States to deepen this collaboration.
Arigato gozaimasu. Thank you so much. (Applause.)
MS MCGUINNESS: Thank you, Prime Minister. Next we will hear from Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, thank you very, very much. And good afternoon, everyone. It’s wonderful to be with you. It’s especially wonderful to be here at NASA. I take a point of – as you would say in the Senate – personal privilege to say how good it is to be with the administrator. I can’t help but thinking of him as senator for the many years that I had the honor of working, in effect, for him as staff director of the Foreign Relations Committee. So, Mr. Administrator, it’s wonderful to be here with you and with the women and men of NASA at Headquarters together with friends from JAXA. And I realize that I’m actually sharing this podium with three people who have been to space – the administration[i] included.
Mr. Prime Minister, it’s an honor to sit with you, with my friend Foreign Minister Hayashi, and with our ambassadors as well. This week, our governments have been holding incredibly productive and wide-ranging meetings that underscore that on virtually every issue of consequence to our people in Japan and the United States alike, we are stronger together.
Our bilateral partnership is among the strongest in the world – in part because we’re always adapting it to meet the evolving challenges of our time. And that’s the case on everything from advancing security and stability in the Indo-Pacific, to bolstering our economic and energy security, to defending the rights at the core of the United Nations Charter.
We’re also expanding the horizons of our partnership in a very literal way: through space cooperation. And here I also want to thank Vice President Harris for her leadership as chair of the National Space Council.
For decades now, Japan and the United States have worked together to extend humanity’s reach in space. We’ve long collaborated to support the International Space Station. We were two of the first signatories of the Artemis Accord that the prime minister referred to. We’re partners in the Artemis Program, which will return astronauts to the lunar surface – including the first woman and the first person of color. We just signed a new arrangement to support the Lunar Gateway, which will prepare for future missions to Mars.
The Framework Agreement that we’re about to sign will take our cooperation to new heights. It’ll strengthen our partnership in areas like research on space technology and transportation, robotic lunar surface missions, climate-related missions, and our shared ambition to see a Japanese astronaut on the lunar surface.
In the last century, the space race electrified the world – seizing the imaginations of millions of people, awed by the men and women who dared to go into the unknown. It inspired generations of scientists, researchers, innovators, dreamers. And it paved the way for countless technological advances – in computers, satellites, GPS, camera lenses, medical equipment, and so much more. And these advances have improved the daily lives of people across the planet.
Now, we’re entering a new chapter of space exploration. And our ambitions are no less soaring than in President Kennedy’s time, when he declared his commitment to “landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth” within the decade. And our achievements, I believe, will be no less impressive, or important, for the benefit of humankind.
But even more than in the past, we will reach new frontiers through an approach that is fundamentally collaborative.
We’ve seen what international space collaboration can achieve. Just in the last two years, it put a rover on Mars and launched the most powerful space telescope ever, the James Webb Space Telescope. Just this week, that telescope confirmed the existence of an exoplanet for the first time – an Earth-sized planet located 41 light-years away from us. With Japan, our countries will soon make similar incredible discoveries, as we prepare to send a probe to Mars’s moons, explore the South pole of our Moon, and more.
Agreements like the one that we’re signing today help create and strengthen the partnerships that are at the heart of this extraordinary progress. We need to harness the world’s collective vision and all of our strengths to reach these new horizons.
Major General Bill Anders, a member of Apollo 8 – the first human spaceflight to reach the Moon – said, and I quote, “We came all this way to explore the Moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.”
He understood that one of space exploration’s greatest powers – maybe one of its greatest gifts – is to bind people together, across continents, across oceans, in pursuit of knowledge, in pursuit of understanding.
It’s in that spirit that the United States and Japan take this step.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MS MCGUINNESS: And now for the main event. Secretary Blinken and Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hayashi Yoshimasa will sign the Framework Agreement for the United States and Japan.
For our participants on stage, please rise to join Secretary Blinken and Minister Hayashi.
(The Framework Agreement was signed.)
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.
MS MCGUINNESS: Thank you. Please be seated.
Next we will hear from Minister Hayashi.
FOREIGN MINISTER HAYASHI: Thank you. This is my honor to sign this historic agreement for Japan-U.S. Space Cooperation with my dear friend Tony here. With the exploration and the use of outer space growing increasingly active, the signing of this agreement is of extreme significance. I understand that as part of Artemis program, Japan and the U.S. are planning development of lunar exploration vehicles, lunar activities by Japanese and American astronauts. And so with the conclusion of this agreement between our two countries, numerous cooperative projects – including the above-mentioned plans – will be conducted efficiently under this agreement.
I sincerely hope that Japan-U.S. space cooperation will further deepen based on this agreement, and it will benefit the future of all mankind. I anticipate more activities by both of our countries’ experts working on space. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MS MCGUINNESS: Thank you, Minister.
And last but not least, Ambassador Rahm Emanuel, the floor is yours.
AMBASSADOR EMANUEL: I think this is on. I got this. It’s all right.
When you’re the fifth and final speaker, you’re reminded of what Lyndon Johnson once said, which is that everything that needs to be said has been said; it just hasn’t been said by everybody that needs to say it. (Laughter.)
Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your visit here. To my good friend – he’s Administrator Nelson, but I have to call him Senator Nelson; he always was a senator as we worked together. And to Tony and to Hayashi-san, it’s a pleasure to see you here.
It’s been – this is a historic week in the United States and Japan relationship. And I cannot think of a more fitting way to conclude the prime minister’s visit, for his heroic leadership, but to have this signing that symbolizes not just the exploration of space but the partnership and the friendship between the United States and Japan doing something in a peaceful way.
When I think about back in May when the President was in Japan and launched the idea that we would have an incredible space partnership between Japan and the United States – he did it at the Kantei, pledged that there would be a Japanese astronaut as part of Artemis to go to the moon. A few months later, we signed the Gateway Agreement. A few months later, we signed this agreement, the Framework Agreement that initiates and lays out the roadmap for the next 10 years. And then in a couple of weeks we’ll have Administrator Nelson in Japan. It’s been quite a busy and active but productive nine months in the relationship.
And I don’t know about the rest of you – I mean, I’m a little cynical – but when you see the pictures from the Webb program, if you had to close your mind eye and think, “What does the heavens looks like?”, those are the photos. It’s the barrier of what – the sublime and the beginnings of what science looks like, and it captures the imagination. So whether it’s a child from Tokyo or Topeka, a child from Chicago or Chiba, or a child from New Orleans or Nagoya – I just wanted to prove that I knew the cities of Japan – (laughter) – and the United States – I’m sure a lot of you didn’t think I knew a city outside of Chicago. (Laughter.)
MR NELSON: But you included —
AMBASSADOR EMANUEL: Yeah, yeah, but I left everything out of Florida, just for the record. (Laughter.)
You want them to feel a part of what we’re exploring rather than apart from what we’re exploring. Today is the beginning of another day, a different future, one of peace, one of prosperity, and one of partnership. This is a new beginning. Thank you. (Applause.)
MS MCGUINNESS: Thank you, Ambassador. Today you’ve witnessed a bit of history with the signing of this latest agreement between our two nations. Thank you and congratulations to all of those who have worked so hard to make this agreement a reality, and thank you to our participants and guests. I hope you have a great day. (Applause.)
[i] …Administrator [back to i]