Town Hall at Tokyo University

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Town Hall Meeting at the University of Tokyo
Tokyo, Japan
February 17, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much. It is such an honor to be here at this great university, and I thank your president for his warm welcome and for his remarks about sustainability and gender equality.

I am delighted to be here at Todai to have this opportunity to exchange views with students and to hear your ideas and concerns. I’m also pleased to be here at a time when training is already underway for this year’s World Baseball Classic. (Laughter.) It reminded me that 75 years ago, some legendary members of the New York Yankees toured Japan and drew huge and enthusiastic crowds. Now, as a former senator from New York and a lifelong Yankees fan, I want you to know that it’s exciting that a baseball player by the name of Ruth came here in 1934, and a baseball player by the name of Matsui plays for the New York Yankees today.

Now, I’ve come to talk about many things beyond baseball – (laughter) – but I think it’s important that we recognize the extraordinary work that the students at this university are involved in – those of you already studying, those of you old enough to have celebrated Coming of Age Day a few weeks ago, those of you taking exams this month in hopes of joining this great university, and those of you who will be graduating soon.

I had the opportunity to meet several of the students before I came in, and what I heard was very impressive: students looking for ways to help in international relations and on sustainability; the young man who has already spent a year in Afghanistan working with the Red Cross. There is so much that we look to you for, and I’m well aware that your generation will grapple with many serious issues. And part of my trip here today is to hear your views, because I believe strongly that we learn from listening to one another. And that is, for me, part of what this first trip of mine as Secretary of State is about.

I know that we are living in an age of fast-moving change. Our new president, President Obama, spoke about change. Well, change will happen whether we want it to or not. The challenge for us is to harness the forces of change and to make change work on behalf of a more sustainable, peaceful, progressive, and prosperous world.

When you think about the kind of changes that you have already lived through – today, advances in science and technology allow doctors to treat patients thousands of miles away, students to take university courses on their home computers, cars to run on electricity and biofuels, researchers to detect the tiniest particles of matter and see planets in the distant reaches of space.

But we also know that other advances can be used for more nefarious purposes: to organize the illicit trafficking of drugs or human beings across oceans and continents; to coordinate terror attacks, as the Mumbai terrorists did, using cell phones; to facilitate the sale, acquisition, and spread of weapons of mass destruction.

So we face an inescapable fact. Global problems require global solutions, none of which can be achieved by any one country alone. I believe strongly that our partnership, the United States and Japan, is at the center of the positive advances that we need to see more of as we move into the future. How do we come together to seize the opportunities of our interdependence and to address the challenges?

I’ve been talking a lot about what we call smart power, not only building new global networks or engaging in government-to-government interactions, but relying on the wisdom and the common sense of people around the world. In addition to my official meetings that I have held here in Japan, as well as those I will hold in Indonesia and South Korea and China, I want to stimulate more conversation with students and civic activists, with religious leaders and academics, with business people and others, who are striving to expand human rights, good governance, healthcare systems, educational opportunities, religious tolerance, and an end to hunger and poverty.

And America is ready to listen again. Too often in the recent past, our government has not heard the different perspectives of people around the world. In the Obama Administration, we intend to change that. And I hope that today is the beginning of a long and productive dialogue. Exercising smart power obliges us to be realistic about the world we inhabit. We must acknowledge our own contributions to global problems and then resolve to work as hard as possible to find solutions. And the world will need your help, not as bystanders or witnesses, but as active participants.

Let me talk briefly about three problems of particular urgency. First, the financial crisis. I realize that remaining optimistic is difficult when people across Japan, the United States, and indeed the world, are experiencing economic hardship. Now, we cannot wave a magic wand and be rid of the crisis that we face, and we certainly can’t pretend that the problems don’t exist. But we can find ways to act together.

In the United States, we have just passed a very significant stimulus package. We’ll be working to correct the housing market problems and to restore the banking system. And I know that other nations, including yours, are similarly either taking or considering steps to jumpstart demand and stimulate their own economies. This is important. We need a coordinated, global response. We cannot afford to enter a contest to erect trade and other barriers. We have to remain committed to open and fair trade.

But in order to do that, we have to reassure our own people and people around the world that their leaders care about them, that we will work hard together to find answers. In an age of nuclear proliferation and terror, we have to think globally about security. Our relationship between the United States and Japan is enduring and unshakeable, but it requires constant action on the part of present and future generations. I’m pleased that today Foreign Minister Nakasone and I signed the Guam International Agreement, and we discussed broadly the other areas that we can cooperate in.

One of those was with respect to North Korea and its nuclear program. I have made it clear that the Obama Administration is committed to working through the Six-Party Talks, and we will insist that North Korea completely and verifiably eliminate its nuclear weapons program. And earlier today, I had the honor of meeting with two of the families of Japanese citizens who were abducted to North Korea. This is also on the agenda of the Six-Party Talks.

And finally, I want to commend this university and your president for your emphasis on sustainability. We have just received a report that climate change is advancing more quickly than we had thought. We have to redouble our efforts to discover and use and bring to market scale available sources of clean energy. We do this to protect our health. We do this because our security demands it. We do this because if we are committed to a new energy future, it will create new jobs and spur more economic growth. And we do it because of our environment.

Japan is to be commended for your foresight and leadership. We’re meeting in this green building, and it is a testament to the innovative spirit, not only at work in this university, but across Japan.

And I thank you, Mr. President, for your efforts in the field of global environmental engineering and in your leadership in pushing us toward a clean energy future. The president gave me a copy of his book about a vision for 2050. Now, I’m not sure that the President or I will be here to realize that vision – (laughter) – but the vast majority of you will be, and you have a great stake in making sure that it is a positive vision, it is a vision of what we can do together as a world committed to making a difference.

All of these are certainly challenges, but I prefer to think of them as opportunities. At this time in our history, many people are probably wondering: How can you be optimistic? Many of the concerns we face are grave ones, with deep implications for the quality of life and even the sustainability of our planet. But as President Obama said in his inaugural address, even in tough times, we must keep our eyes fixed on the road ahead and remember the strength and character that resides in free people to make decisions that will turn any situation around. There isn’t any problem we face as human beings that we cannot address if we act in good faith and we remain determined and optimistic, and work hard.

I know that the futures that you face, individually and together, are part of the history of Japan. I started my day this morning at the Meiji Shrine, and was struck by the historical and religious significance. Here, at this great university, you walk through the Akamon, the red gate on campus that serves as a symbol of transition from the past to the future. You can use your educations at this great university to pass through a gateway of opportunity to help us create a more promising world. That is certainly what I believe and what I hope can be a message from our new Administration and our country to one of our friends, our partners, and our allies. The United States and Japan together can help to chart this new course, and it is imperative that we do so. The world is looking to us, the first and second largest economies – principled, creative, resilient, intelligent, determined. It is truly up to us, and I believe we are up to the challenge.

Thank you all for being here. (Applause.)

Now, I believe we are going to have an opportunity to talk. We have two students with microphones, so if you raise your hand, they will take turns (inaudible). We’ll start here.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for a great speech. It’s truly inspirational, and it’s such an honor to have you here and to have an opportunity to meet you at the University of Tokyo. My name is Kai. I’m currently attending the graduate program on human security. I’ve always been a great fan of yours.


QUESTION: My question is about U.S. sanctions against Burma, or Myanmar. The U.S. policy of imposing trade and investment sanctions against Myanmar does not seem to be making the Burmese Government realize that – what the people really need. And many have pointed out that this policy has been – this policy has been affecting American business interest and denies Burmese citizens the benefit of increased investment by American entities, multinational corporations that bring new technology, better working conditions and ideas that would help change the lives of the people over there. I thought, as a Burmese citizen, I am thankful that U.S. Government and the people care about our people and help promote human security in our country. My question is: What are the alternatives to – what do you think that the freedom of – political freedom and economic freedom can be effectively promoted and all those ordinary citizens’ choices can be made more freely?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a very good question. And because we are concerned about the Burmese people, we are conducting a review of our policy. We’re looking at what steps we could take that might influence the current Burmese Government, and we’re also looking for ways that we could more effectively help the Burmese people.

As I said in a speech I gave at the Asia Society last week in New York, we want to see a time when citizens of Burma and the Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi can live freely in their own country. So we are taking seriously your challenge: What is it we could do that might work better? And I’ve spoken with many people already who are strong supporters of the Burmese people, who have all said let’s look to see if there is a better way. So we are doing that, and I hope we will be able to arrive at a policy that can be more effective.

Thank you.
QUESTION: Good morning. Nice to meet you. (Laughter.) My name is Ken Sakakibara belonging to the department of engineering. Today, I want to know how you think about atomic energy, which is controversial topic because it is convenient energy source, but at the same time, there is possible danger of conversion into military technology and difficulty in nuclear disposal. I want to know how you think about this issue.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s another very important question. Nuclear power poses a real dilemma. Let me ask you: How many of you believe there should be more nuclear power for civilian energy uses? And how many of you are worried about the consequences of civilian nuclear power, even if you favor its use?

Part of the challenge is, it is a carbon-free form of energy. We have not yet figured out how to dispose of the waste. It is expensive to build nuclear power plants. So I think it is the kind of challenge that engineering students here at Todai should be taking on – (laughter) – to figure out how we could have safe, limited waste-producing nuclear power as a part of a new energy future.

Now, it is also the case that even civilian nuclear power in the hands of rogue regimes, like North Korea, creates the potential for misuse. And so the proliferation consequences of civilian power have to be carefully considered.

And I believe we should enter into any broad-based commitment to civilian nuclear power with all of these difficult questions in mind. There is a rush in some countries to build many more nuclear power plants. And on the one hand, that makes sense, given the need for energy and the reality that it is emission-free in the carbon sense. But let’s try to use our best minds around the world to figure out how to harness the power of the atom in a way that doesn’t create the potential for misuse, for waste. And that is the challenge to your generation, and so I would hope that engineering students would take that on because we need your – you know, we need your intelligence to deal with that.

QUESTION: I’m Kanako Kawasaki, a junior at the Faculty of Law. We often connect the fight against terrorism means the conflict between the West and Islam world. Are there any ideas to eliminate the prejudice towards Islamic world?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I believe that it is unfair for anyone to characterize the struggle against terrorism as being in any way prejudice against or conflict with the Islamic world. Every religion has people who misuse that religion. You know, I’m a Christian, and through the centuries we’ve had many people who have done terrible things in the name of Christianity. They have perverted the religion. And I think, similarly, you can look at what is happening in the world today and see that the misuse of Islam has led to extremists who have many agendas that they are promoting.

So I believe we have a responsibility to speak out and to work with the Muslim world on behalf of positive change and to enlist the help of Muslims around the world against the extremists. And it is very difficult in many parts of the world today to do that, but we should be determined and find ways to break through to speak directly to Muslims.

Now, President Obama gave his first interview to an Arab station, al-Arabiya. He spent time in his childhood in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, which is where I will go tomorrow. And I think you will see from President Obama and those of us in his Administration a concerted effort to present a different position to the Islamic world without, in any way, stopping our efforts to prevent terrorism, which affects people from every walk of life. But this is one of the central security challenges we face as to how better to communicate in a way that gets through the rhetoric and through the demagoguery and is heard by people who can make judgments about, you know, what we stand for and who we truly are.

If you look at the United States in the last decade, we have gone to war to protect Muslims in Bosnia and in Kosovo and in Afghanistan. We have sacrificed young men and women on behalf of the effort to prevent terrorization and ethnic cleansing and other horrors that were inflicted on Muslim populations. So I think that the war in Iraq made our argument more difficult, because although they just had peaceful elections, as you know, which they never would have had under Saddam Hussein, the process was extremely controversial. And the United States became involved in Iraq for a number of reasons, but it was viewed as wrong by many in the world, not just in the Muslim world. So we have to make clear that we will stand up for people’s rights around the world and that we will stand up for the rights of Muslims around the world in order to provide a counter-story to the one that the extremists put out. So I hope that we can begin to eliminate the idea of prejudice or of any kind of attitude that would give comfort to the terrorists, and to isolate them as the extremists which they are.

One other point I would make, and it goes back to something the President said. In so many of these settings where you find the extremists, one of their goals is to prevent women from being educated and from having equality in their society. It is a part of their underlying agenda. And so for me personally, the struggle to win the war of ideas with the extremists has a lot to do with recognizing the human dignity of girls and women. And so I want to make that case and to provide an opportunity for other voices, particularly other Muslim voices, to join in saying the same thing.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Madame. Thank you for having – to have me. My name is Su Qiu from graduate program of sustainability science, originally from China. And as we see, the new U.S. Government has already demonstrated its leadership in many ways. And in your speech you also mentioned about the climate change issue. And I would like to know how are you going to demonstrate to your leadership in the future climate change negotiation, especially in the upcoming COP15 in Copenhagen? So thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Well, one of the people who have come with me on this trip is our Special Envoy for Climate Change. The President and I decided we wanted to elevate the issue of climate change, because it had been neglected under the previous administration. And so we appointed a special envoy who will be negotiating in the lead-up to Copenhagen.

But we want to do more than that. We want to work on ways of creating bilateral relationships so that there are different approaches that countries can take, all aimed in the same direction. And let me take China as an example, because I will be talking about this along with Mr. Stern, our special envoy, with Chinese officials at the end of this week.

China has the goal of improving the standard of living of the Chinese people. And I think we would all agree, living in countries like Japan and the United States, that, you know, that is an important goal to try to give people a better life. But what we know today is that if Chinese people went through the same process of industrialization and growth that the American and Japanese people did, then we would overload our environment with carbon-based emissions.

Now, historically, the United States is the biggest emitter of harmful emissions – carbon, mercury, and the like. But in the last year, China has exceeded, for the first time, the United States. So here’s an opportunity for Japan and the United States to work in partnership with China to help them leapfrog over the harmful pattern of development. You know, Japan is, as you know, a leader in clean energy, and there is an opportunity for Japan, working with China, to help make buildings more energy efficient, to help create more energy efficient vehicles, and there is an opportunity for the United States to enter into partnerships with China.

So my hope is that we are able to work – Japan and the United States together with China – to encourage development, because it would be not only unfair, but it would not be productive for either Japan or China, or Japan and the United States, to go to China and say you can’t develop, you know, we went through all that, we polluted the skies and then you have to clean it up, and we polluted our water and then you have to clean it up, so you can’t do that, so you have to have a lower standard of living.

Well, those countries aren’t going to say, oh, okay, we will do that. That’s not going to happen. So instead, we need to come and say we want to help the Chinese people have a continually rising standard of living, and here are some ways we believe in partnership we can do it without adding to the emissions that are so harmful, and improving their economy at the same time.

Start thinking about manufacturing Japanese designs, start thinking about creating a market internally for clean energy and efficiency in houses and buildings of all kinds. That, to me, is the approach we should take, because if China and India don’t join with us in our efforts to control emissions and begin to stop and reverse the damage to the earth from everything we have already done, I don’t think we can achieve the sustainability goals that we must set for ourselves. So that’s why I’m looking for that kind of honest partnership among the United States, Japan, and China.

Yes, over here. There’s a young woman right there. Yes.

QUESTION: I’m Hanae Kondo, a major in natural environment. I belong to baseball club – (laughter.) I can’t play as strong as boys. I want to know how as strong (inaudible) as strong as you. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’ve played a lot of baseball – (laughter) – and I played with a lot of boys. (Laughter.) You know, I’m asked often by young women who are looking for a path to a future that is the one you want for yourself - how to do it and what to do. And it is very hard to come up with one answer for everyone, because we are all different – our family backgrounds, our interests and experiences. So the most important advice is to be true to yourself, to do what you believe is important and meaningful in your own life.

Now sometimes that will be a path that everyone around you thinks is perfectly suitable and sometimes it won’t be. Sometimes it may not be what your parents want for you or your friends want for you. But it is very important to try to stay as true to yourself as you can. And you’re doing something right now, which will give you more options than most women in the world, by attending this great university. And education is still such a key to self-realization and fulfillment. It’s true for young men as well as for young women.

When you think about all of the people in the world who are struggling just to survive, or you think about all of the schools that the Japanese Government and the Japanese people have built in Afghanistan - I saw the statistics today. You have built 500 schools for children in Afghanistan. And many of those schools were intended for girls. And in parts of Afghanistan today, it is dangerous for a young girl to go to school.

There was a terrible incident a few months ago where girls on their way to school were attacked by Taliban members and had acid thrown on them. And I saw an interview with one of the young girls – I don’t know, she might have been 12 or 13 – now disfigured from some extremists who wanted to deny girls an education, who disfigured her. And all she could say was how anxious she was to continue her education.

So for young women like you and for myself, we’ve had more opportunities than our mothers or grandmothers. And it’s important that we use our education, not just for our own benefit, but for society’s as well. And from what I’ve heard, as many of you have stood up and talked about what you are studying, that is exactly what you intend to do. So be true to yourself, get the best education you can, stand up for yourself and your own dreams, even against some tough odds. I have some experience in that – (laughter) – and know that you can make a difference. You certainly can make a difference in the lives of those close to you, but you can also expand that difference far beyond. And I wish you well, as you make your decisions. And playing baseball from time to time keeps your – keeps your mind free. (Laughter.)

Let’s see. Back here. Yes.

QUESTION: My name is Koichiro Kawaguchi, a senior at the Faculty of Law. My question is what challenges do you face to develop U.S.-Japan relations from a regional alliance to global partnership?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Well, I’ve been discussing the possibilities today with ministers in your government, and I will be meeting with your prime minister, who is the first foreign leader invited by President Obama to the White House. Prime Minister Aso, representing the government and the people of Japan, will meet with President Obama next week on February 24th, so that we obviously take very seriously the potential for deepening and broadening our relationship. Our security alliance will be 50 years old next week – before you were born – and it has been unshakeable between our two countries. We have extended deterrents to Japan as a way to deter attacks and to make it clear that the United States stands with Japan and is ready to defend Japan.

I signed an agreement today with the foreign minister about the relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam, as part of our efforts to modernize our military posture in the Pacific. But we also discussed how we can work together to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden, how we can combat terrorism by giving people a better opportunity - the work that Japan is doing in Afghanistan.

Japan will hold a conference to bring people from around the world together to decide how best to support Pakistan, which is a very important issue to both of our countries. Japan is working to support the Palestinians in the Middle East. Japan is working to help Africa develop. And I met with Ambassador Ogata and talked with her about the development aid that Japan is providing. So Japan is already deeply involved in working with other nations on a bilateral basis and a multilateral basis. And I’m looking for new opportunities to further that relationship, one we just talked about: clean energy and efficiency and climate change with China.

But I think there are a number of ways that we can be creative. There are a lot of student exchanges. Some of the students that I met earlier said that they might go to the United States for graduate work. And I think that we’ve had a very rich education exchange between Japan and the United States going back years. The Fulbright Program, the Japanese Education Exchange Program. There are just so many opportunities.

But we should be looking for new ways that, particularly young people from our two countries, can work together on development projects or clean energy projects. Because as we deepen our relationship on a government-to-government basis, it’s critically important that it not just stay up here, but that it go all the way down. I want more Americans to know all of the work that Japanese are doing around the world, and I want to have the conversation with all of you about what more we could do together.

I made it clear when I went on this first trip that as important as my meetings were with government officials, that getting out and talking with citizens, and particularly young people like yourselves, was equally important. So we’re going to look for creative ways. And any of you who have ideas, I hope you will let us know because we think there are a lot of projects and, you know, good ideas that can come from beyond government calls, and we would welcome that from you.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Secretary of State. My name is Daniel Yuan Yu. I’m a senior at the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Economics. You mentioned one of the first major problems is to combat the financial crisis. And what do you think – United States – has the U.S. considered Japan and their role basically in solving this financial crisis? And also my second question is – are there any things that you would like to ask the Japanese students? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good question. Thank you. I know how serious this financial crisis is for Japan. Much of Japan’s growth over the last several decades has been export-driven. And you have a higher percentage of your economy and your workforce in manufacturing. And so as the economy drops and people in my country and elsewhere cannot afford to buy new cars
or new energy-efficient appliances, or electronics, you are going to see the impact here in your country.

I believe that, because Japan is the second largest economy, the Japanese Government is looking for ways to try to stimulate internal demand and diversify your economy. I am not in a position to give you advice about how to do that. That is a decision that the government and people of Japan must make.

But again, think creatively. One of your government officials told me earlier today that an opportunity for Japan lies in the aging population. I mean, this is a good news story, that we are living longer. But we need to live longer in a healthy way. We need to live longer in an involved way. And this government official said, "You know, there are so many services that could generate economic activity in being provided to those who are aging in Japan." And it would be a source of jobs, and it would provide a service, and it would stimulate demand, all at the same time.

I discussed this with the Empress, who I am very personally admiring of, and very fond of. And we were laughing about how we first met 15 years ago, and how we each have gotten a little older, but how this is a problem society has to address.

It is also an economic opportunity. How will we do it?

Japan, once again, can lead the way. You know, I’ve read about some of the robots that maybe are being developed right here at this university to help elderly people living alone. I mean, that's a growth industry, because people want to stay in their own homes. And if they can be taken care of with either human help or robotic help, that's a positive. And it's also a job creator.

So, I would hope that as the Japanese Government and the Japanese people think through how to ride out this economic crisis, that there’s a lot of new thinking. We are trying to do that in the United States. We are behind you when it comes to clean energy.

So, in the stimulus package, President Obama asks that we spend a lot of money to try to do more on energy efficiency, and on cleaner energy cars and longer gas mileage, and all of the other things that you have been ahead of us on. So that will mean that you, then, have to get ahead of us on something else.

But that will be good for both of us, because, given our alliance, you know, for Japan to be pushing on what you already do, and trying new things you haven't, and for us to be pushing to catch up and compete with you, that creates economic activity and growth and prosperity, and incomes rising again.

So, this is a difficult time right now. There’s no argument about that. But let's seize it as an opportunity, as well.

And, you know, I – that was one of your two questions, but I should probably take the last question from over here, if that's all right. Okay? Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you for coming, and very impressive speech. My name is Hiromi Sakamoto, senior in the Faculty of Law.

I am also interested in gender equality or children’s rights. And from this spring, I will work for a consulting company, and I want to be trained, myself. So would you give me some advice to work for children’s future or gender equality?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don't think you have to make a choice between contributing to the children's future or gender equality, because a woman should be able to be involved with the lives of children -- her own, if she so chooses, or other children -- and to do so in a way that demonstrates gender equality.

I think a lot of young women believe that it's an either/or choice. Now, it does require supportive families, so that you can be committed to children and leading a life of independence and equality in the workplace. But society has to do more to enable women to make that choice, because if we don't enlist the best minds that we have in today's world, we will not be as successful as we need to be.

And there are still a lot of barriers to women being at home, caring for children, and in the workplace. I think it should be a personal choice. I have friends who have been full-time mothers and are very happy, and I have friends who have been full-time in the workplace without children and are happy. But for most women in the United States today, you will do both. You will have children and you will balance your family responsibilities with your work responsibilities.

And society has to help that work better than it does, because what happens today is that most women are on, like, a balance beam, trying to be true to their responsibilities at home and in the workplace.

So, I would hope that part of what you would think of doing is working to change some of the ways that society and governments and businesses look at women in the workplace, because women should be judged on the work they do. And there is room for more women in any society to be actively involved in the world of work, without giving up on having children.

Now, I have written and said that being a mother was the most important thing I ever did. And I am very proud and grateful that I have been. But I also feel very fortunate that I could work over many years while raising my daughter, with the help of my husband, who understood the importance of that, so that I could have the opportunity to stand before you today as the Secretary of State of my country.

So, I hope that that will be possible for the young women here, and I hope that the young men will contribute to making it possible, so that Japan has the full benefit of the extraordinary intelligence that is represented in this room and at this university.

Thank you all very much.


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PRN: 2009/T1-9