SECRETARY BLINKEN: Joe, thank you so much, and I think everything you said is accurate, except for the use of the word “accomplished” for musician. But I appreciate it nonetheless.
It’s really wonderful to be with everyone today, and Joe, thank you for the introduction, but thank you also for what you’re doing every single day to lead this mission and to lead it so well. Deeply, deeply, appreciate it.
And Melinda, thank you very much for moderating this conversation, for helping to bring us together today. And to all of you, let me say I really want to be in listening mode this morning. I want to use this time as much as possible to hear from you, to learn from you. But let me just say a few things at the outset to try to kick off the conversation.
This is the first event of my first overseas travel as Secretary of State. And there’s a reason for that. The topics we’re going to talk about today are critical to our economies, to our workers, and to our people. And the entire focus of our foreign policy is trying to make sure that everything we’re doing is seen through the prism of: Are we making things just a little bit better for our own people? And of course, their economic well-being, their opportunities – all of these are front and center in our thinking.
The economic relationship between the United States and Japan is, as you know very well, one of the strongest in the world. We’re top trading partners, we’re top investors in each other’s economies; more than 900,000 American jobs are tied to Japanese investment. So it’s in all of our interests to make sure that we’re doing all that we can to keep our bilateral economic relationship strong and growing, and to make smart decisions and investments to keep the economies moving forward and thriving into the future.
Of course, we’ve all been living with the pandemic, and among other things, it’s exposed vulnerabilities in our global supply chains for critical products, including medical equipment, supplies, semiconductors. We need to build secure and resilient supply chains for the future. This is a critical task that President Biden has put a lot of emphasis on.
And of course, the pandemic also had significant economic impacts on the world economy. We need to lead a sustainable recovery – and even better, a green recovery. Because that’s the best way to meet the climate goals we share.
More broadly, now is a really good time to work together to make sure that as technology and innovation move forward so quickly, consumers are protected, privacy is protected, and those who steal intellectual property are held accountable for it. We need a systematic approach to building the industries of the future while protecting against unfair and illegal practices.
Those are just some of the issues, and there are so many more, but those are just some of the headline issues that will affect Japanese and American workers, businesses, and families in the years ahead. And it’s a top priority for the Biden-Harris administration to address them (inaudible). President Biden, as I said, wants a foreign policy that actually delivers results for our workers, for their families, for our businesses, and finding ways to deepen our economic cooperation is exactly what he has in mind.
So with that, Melinda, let me hand it back to you, and we can have a conversation.