Remarks on a 21st Century Pacific Partnership

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Tokyo Institute of Technology
Tokyo, Japan
April 15, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very, very much. Thank you very much, President Mishima, for a generous introduction. It's a great privilege for me to be here. Thank you. And thank you all for coming to share some thoughts this morning.

I understand that Tokyo Tech has been referred to as Japan’s M.I.T. So even halfway around the world from Boston, I feel very much at home, and thank you. (Applause.) I hate to tell you, but it’s probably that familiar feeling of knowing there isn't a chance in the world that I could have gotten admitted here. (Laughter.)

But anyway, I want to thank the distinguished members of the Diet who have joined us here this morning. I’m very honored to be joined by members of the Japan-U.S. Parliamentary Friendship League, including Chairman Nakasone and also Chief Secretary Kosaka, as well as New Komeito Party Leader Yamaguchi. I appreciate your being here very much. Thank you for the work you do to promote parliamentary exchanges that deepen the bond between our countries.

I also want to recognize leaders of the American business community who are here today, including Larry Bates of the American Chamber of Commerce -- Chamber of Commerce here in Japan, obviously, and Charles Lake of the U.S.-Japan Business Council. And I want to say particularly hello and congratulations for the job well done to my friend, the ambassador, John Roos, who I think has been a good leader during a difficult time here.

So we begin by allowing me to say how much of a pleasure it is for me to be back here in Japan. I have been here before, and I am reminded that you all have been through some difficult periods of time here. Our friendship is essential to peace in the region, and America is very grateful for the strength of our relationship.

I was reminded at the Embassy yesterday that I actually have some family connections here. A long time ago, my grandfather’s cousin William Cameron Forbes served as the ambassador here in Tokyo, and today I have a cousin working here on the TOMODACHI program while her husband helps to defend Japan as a Navy aviator based at Atsugi.

So I really feel like I have personal connections to Japan, past and present, and I'm among family when I visit here. That makes it even more meaningful to be here today to share some thoughts with you about America’s vision for the Asia Pacific.

Some people might be skeptical of America’s commitment to this region. Well, let me be clear: President Obama made a smart and a strategic commitment to rebalance our interests and investments in Asia. My commitment to you is that as a Pacific nation that takes our Pacific partnership seriously, we will continue to build on our active and enduring presence.

I want you to know that right now while I'm here, back in Washington right now, Americans are enjoying the blooming of the sakura, the flowering cherry trees you so generously gave us 101 years ago. And I hope that if you haven't seen them in person, you could at least have been able to see photographs, the beautiful ribbon of color that surrounds our memorial to America’s third President, Thomas Jefferson, who also happened to be our first Secretary of State. I can't tell you how beautiful those trees are. As a senator, I've gone down there many times to see them, and those trees are an enduring and deeply loved symbol of the great friendship between our two nations.

We are now very happy to be reciprocating by planting thousands of American dogwood trees across Japan as a token of the Friendship Blossoms program my predecessor, Secretary Clinton, began last year. So we have a special relationship, my friends.

Decades after our modern partnership rose from the ashes of war, this relationship has matured into one of the strongest on earth. Our alliance has underwritten the peace, stability, and prosperity of the Asia Pacific. Ours is a global partnership, based on common values, with a strong bilateral security alliance and common approaches to regional and to global challenges. As Prime Minister Abe said in Washington, no one should ever doubt the strength of our remarkable alliance.

Today I come here to reiterate, on behalf of all Americans, our continued commitment is to stand with the people of Japan in preventing conflict and ensuring safety and security, especially as you continue the difficult and sometimes dangerous work of recovering from the Great East Japan Earthquake. As you say here: nana korobi ya oki; fall down seven times, get up eight. So that is exactly what you have done, and we admire the strength of the Japanese people as you undertake this difficult task of rebuilding.

The past few generations have produced an extraordinary period of prosperity in Asia. It has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty across the entire region and it has fostered dynamic, innovative economies that today are fueling global growth. Today, it is fair to say that Asia is quite simply the world’s most dynamic region.

Equally as important, Asia is showing the world what can happen when you look forward. That’s a lesson that I learned from a colleague that I came to respect immensely, Senator Dan Inouye . Some of you may have known him personally, remember him well. He was a special friend of Japan. He was the first Japanese-American elected to the United States Senate. But before that, despite the incredible injustices he endured in his own country, Dan volunteered to fight for his nation, losing his arm in World War II. In the three decades that I had the honor to work with Dan, I came to know a quiet optimist who always looked ahead, who was never a prisoner of the past. He was informed by the past, but never locked by it. And there's a lesson for all of us in his life and in his wisdom.

Throughout Asia, I have now seen that very same spirit firsthand, people overcoming conflicts that seem to be locked in time. Indeed, much of my work personally over 29 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was about trying to resolve the lingering questions of the 20th century.

In the Philippines I worked with people who struggled to shake free the yoke of dictatorship and who fought for the fullness of democracy. I will never forget being in Manila during elections, seeing women come out of the voting booth with tears in their eyes, knowing that they now had the power to change their own country for the better and to buy a different future.

In Burma I met Aung Sung Sui Kyi in the very home in which she was imprisoned for nearly two decades for the simple crime of speaking her mind. Today, President Thein Sein and a resurgent parliament, one that incredibly includes former military officers working alongside Aung Sung Sui Kyi. They together have launched a journey toward democracy that was unthinkable just two years ago.

I was also deeply engaged in and witness to this same work in Vietnam. Decades after the war had left the battlefield, it still lived on in the hearts and in the minds of so many. Vietnam faced an embargo and an absence of true peace. But our two countries reached out and found the will to try to move forward, to find answers to important questions about prisoners of war and missing servicemen, and to move beyond the emotions in order to normalize relations. Our evolving relationship today is about the future, including the latest U.S.-Vietnam human rights dialogue that we held in Hanoi last Friday. Unimaginable not so long ago.

But still we all know, everybody understands some of the challenges of the last century have survived into the 21st century: the pursuit of nuclear weapons, maritime disputes, climate change. They all threaten stability. We have a choice. We can either stand still and see them as obstacles, or we can join together and move forward and see them as opportunities.

I believe and President Obama believes that we have a duty to make sure that we learn the lessons of a century in which so many lives and so many years were lost to war. We have a duty to look ahead and define a path toward progress in the Asia-Pacific. And that means making the most of this opportunity.

Now you have all heard, I know – and I say this without presumption that we're proud of it – you’ve all heard of the American Dream. It is embodied by no one more than by Barack Obama. Now Beijing’s new leader has introduced what he calls a “China Dream.” Today I’d like to speak with you about our opportunity in this increasingly global age to design and define our dream for the Pacific region, one in which nations and people forge a partnership that shapes our shared future.

President Obama said right here in this very city in the first year of his presidency, that the Pacific Ocean doesn’t separate us so much as it connects us. I feel the same way about our shared principles and values, which bring us closer, closer together than we often imagine.

Quite simply, people everywhere share the same values, share the same universal valued, and they resonate in every single human heart. Those values don’t belong to any one country. They don’t belong to a party. They don’t belong to one leader. They don’t belong to an ideology. And any leader who tries to suppress those leaders will find that they resist even the worst oppression.

And we see these values come to life every day. You see it in the hard work of a parent who struggles to give a child a good education, you see it in the dignity that comes with a decent job, you see it in the common desire to live in a safe neighborhood and a secure nation, you see it in the demand that leaders protect the rights of people and be responsive to our needs and aspirations. Those are the things that connect all of us no matter what nationality or country we live in.

Our job, all of us, as governments and as citizens, is to keep these universal values at the forefront of our international efforts so that they guide leaders at all levels in all countries, so that they help break down the resistance to change, so that they illuminate a beacon for people everywhere. And these shared values I respectfully say to you today should become the foundation of a new era of collaboration guided by clear rules of the road.

Our Pacific Dream is to translate our strongest values into an unprecedented security, economic, and social cooperation. We can break new ground in how we keep countries safe, help economies to mature, create new jobs and embrace partnerships for the future. And we can do it while empowering people to make these choices for themselves. We can turn our potential and our promise into widespread prosperity and opportunity, and in doing so, we can pass the test by which every generation is judged.

Now I’m not speaking about a static set of commandments. I’m talking about a mutual recognition that we are all in this together, otagai-sama – (laughter) – and a conversation that begins with the realization that cooperation can benefit us all. It is increasingly clear that what happens around the Pacific matters around the rest of the world now more than ever before. After all, this region is home to both enormous opportunities and enormous challenges at the same time, and how we handle them together will be felt for a long time everywhere in the world.

So to make our shared vision a reality for the region and to ensure that Asia contributes to global peace and prosperity, together I submit to you that we need to organize ourselves around four principles: strong growth, fair growth, smart growth, and just growth. Let me talk about that for a moment.

First, the successful region we can build as partners must be stable, peaceful and a contributor to global security. The presence of the United States in the Asia Pacific and our network of alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand, these have already formed a fundamental platform. But many challenges remain, and the most immediate among them, as we all know, is North Korea.

In the last few days I have consulted closely with the leaders of the Republic of Korea and China and with your Foreign Minister, and I will speak again today with Prime Minister Abe. One thing is certain: We are united. There can be no confusion on this point. The North’s dangerous nuclear missile program threatens not only North Korea’s neighbors, but it threatens its own people, and it threatens this concept of the Pacific Dream. The United States remains open to authentic and credible negotiations on denuclearization, but the burden is on Pyongyang. North Korea must take meaningful steps to show that it will honor commitments it has already made, and it has to observe laws and the norms of international behavior.

At a time when the world is moving toward fewer nuclear weapons, not more, when President Obama has articulated a clear vision for nonproliferation the last thing we need is one or two states bucking the trend of history and common sense. The world does not need more potential for war. And so we will stand together, and we welcome China’s strong statement of its commitment two days ago to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Moving forward together means it is time also to put long-festering territorial pursuits behind us. The stakes are far too high and the global economy is too fragile for anyone to allow these inherited problems to divide the region and to enflame it. Unilateral action and the failure of diplomacy would carry too great a cost, so we need to follow the example of the students at this school, think creatively and innovatively, and work together to find peaceful and diplomatic solutions to these differences.

And moving forward also means that people must be free from the fear of human trafficking, narcotics, and other transnational threats like cyber attacks. Some of the most serious cyber threats to businesses emanate from this region, and they threaten the entire global economy. That is precisely why we have established a cyber working group with Japan and another with China in order to ensure that the Asia Pacific will be part of the solution.

Working cooperatively and proactively to peacefully resolve these issues I know will provide the security this region needs to build the Pacific Dream.

Our second shared challenge is ensuring Pacific economies create prosperity in marketplaces that are fair, meaning that they are open, transparent, and accountable. The collaborative region that I envision must enjoy sustainable economies, free trade, fast growth, but it must offer every nation, big and small, a seat at the table and a clear sense of what everybody’s responsibilities are.

Japan is America’s fourth-largest export market, and the nearly 300 billion trade and investment relationships that our workers have spent decades building is especially critical in an interdependent world. Last week, the United States and Japan reached an important bilateral agreement that marks a significant step toward Japan joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations. I can’t tell you, this is really an exciting opportunity, a great opportunity for Japan and for the region and for the world. With Japan onboard, this trade agreement would represent 40 percent of global GDP. And as we continue to work together through the next steps, I assure you the United States and its TPP partners are committed to having Japan join us at the negotiating table as soon as possible.

But we need to do more to make this vision real. Like any profitable enterprise, growth requires investment, investment in the neighborhood and investment beyond. Japan knows this, and I think can be very, very proud of the extremely high standard that it has set with its contributions to development and international assistance.

In the United States, we share this tradition of trying to help people throughout the world to help themselves. Your neighbor South Korea is a case in point. On Friday, I met with business leaders in Seoul and saw the extraordinary economic gains that they have made. It’s remarkable in their own right, but I’ve got to tell you, it’s even more remarkable when you just consider that a few decades ago, South Korea was an aid recipient of the United States. Today, that nation is one of the most modern and advanced economies, and it gives aid to other countries. That’s what this kind of partnership means. That’s how you build a future, believing in the possibilities of investment and in the possibilities of other people coming to the table.

Like foreign aid investments, education – need I say it here at this famous university – education yields enormous dividends on relatively small down payments, and international educational exchanges pay some of the best social dividends. Only by immersing ourselves in each other’s languages and cultures can we truly understand each other and build partnerships. Tokyo Tech President Mishima understood that when he went to study in California. And we were talking about his years at Berkley just before I came out here. Our Fulbright scholars understand this around the world. So do the hundreds of international students who came to Tokyo to pursue their degrees at this prestigious university.

And I invite all of you at Tokyo Tech to reverse the troubling trend of fewer Japanese students studying in the United States. Come and learn in our universities. The value of educational exchanges can never be underestimated. It is so important to us, and the more of these exchanges that there are, the faster our vision can become a reality. I can’t tell you how many foreign ministers I have met and finance ministers and prime ministers around the world who proudly tell me of the years they spent in the United States learning at one of our universities. And it creates an understanding that helps us build this kind of common enterprise.

Yesterday I saw this actually in some of your contemporaries, those of you who are students here, because I met with a bunch of students from the TOMODACHI exchange initiative. And this is a groundbreaking public-private partnership. It was started by Ambassador Roos, and it invests in the next generation of Japanese and American leaders. I found these students exciting, interesting to listen to, inspiring. They were curious, and they were caring about our shared future, and they were engaged in the issues of the world. Most important, as one young Filipino-American studying in Tokyo said to me yesterday, they aren’t bound or burdened by the past. Her generation, she said, is a clean slate, looking outward and forward, and I think we would do well to follow that example.

Now I said we need to grow smart, too. As the world’s biggest consumers of energy and the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, Pacific nations – and that includes us – have an enormous responsibility to lead a transformation that can save lives and property and create jobs at the same time. My friends, I cannot say this to you more seriously. I cannot emphasize it enough. This is not a choice. This is something we have to do together, because climate change grows more and more serious and threatening and challenging by the day, and it is one of the most obvious shared challenges on the face of this planet.

People on the streets of Beijing – you’ve been hearing from them this last few years – they want to breathe clean air just as much as people on the streets of Tokyo or the streets of Boston do. Farmers in India and Indonesia, they lose sleep over droughts just as much as farmers in Indiana do. So this is not a local problem. And I’ll tell you in a more collaborative Asia Pacific, I am absolutely confident we will find the solutions, we will push the curve of discovery, and we can do it without jeopardizing our economies. We will grow our economies.

Every – the most important thing to remember about this is the solution to climate change is not some pie-in-the-sky, complicated, hard-to-find policy. Energy policy is the solution to climate change. It’s staring us in the face, and the energy market is a $6 trillion market now with 4 billion users today, growing to 9 billion users in the course of this century. That is the biggest market of all markets of all time, folks.

And a far-sighted and a sure-footed approach to energy, including exploring new kinds of energy, will do extraordinary things for business, and it will mean sustainable growth for the long term. So to grow smart, we have to be willing to try new things.

I want you to know that we greatly appreciate Japan’s partnership as we begin to realize the mutual benefits of natural gas and what that can offer to both of our economies and to the world. We also appreciate China’s exploding investments into clean and alternative and renewable energies. A couple of nights ago, I stood in Beijing alongside U.S. and Chinese companies that are working together on green technologies that can benefit the environment and markets all over the world. And just think, 10 years ago, Chinese companies were investing $1 million in energy projects in the United States. Last year, that number was $9 billion. That’s the future, and we all need to grasp it.

And I also want to say we not only appreciate the work that Tokyo Tech is doing, but we admire you for having set the gold standard for green living, including the Environmental Energy Innovation Building that you opened on this campus last year, and it’s covered in solar panels and generates almost all of the energy that it consumes. That’s the future. And in the conversion of our buildings, there are millions of jobs to be created, new products to be sold.

It just underscores something else, too. We can learn a lot from each other. It takes the average Japanese household about three years to use as much energy as an American household uses in just one year. We have to do better. And with President Obama’s leadership we are doing better than ever before to combat climate change, but we know we need smarter energy policies to live up to the responsibility before us and in order to contribute to this critical, collaborative effort.

Finally, we must use our Pacific partnership to build a region whose people can enjoy the full benefits of democracy, the rule of law, universal human rights, including the freedom of expression, freedom of association, and peaceful assembly, freedom of religion, conscience and belief. Human rights are quite simply are the foundation for a free and an open society. And history shows us that countries whose policies respect and reflect these rights are far more likely to be more peaceful and more prosperous, far more effective at tapping the talents of their people, far more capable of being innovative and moving rapidly and innovatively in the marketplace, and they are better long-term partners.

Now I will say to you we are well aware of all the challenges that remain. But the truth is the trend lines in the Asia Pacific are heading in the right direction, the direction of reform and responsive government. And countries that have succeeded are now beginning to serve – excuse me – are now beginning to serve as examples to other countries. Just look at Mongolia, a young democracy. It’s about to host a meeting of the Community of Democracies in its own capital, an event that you would have thought was impossible just 10 years ago. Indonesia, which embraced democracy after decades of dictatorship, and now reaches out to the region through its own Bali Democracy Forum.

The transformations that the world has witnessed in those countries, and in Japan and South Korea, or what I saw in the Philippines and that is now beginning in Burma, are powerful simply because they grew from within. Blood and battle are not the only catalysts of change. Other countries can similarly choose to replicate the transitions of their neighbors. And they can do so peacefully, inspire the world, and join us in the Pacific community we’re building for the future.

In each of these efforts – growing strong, growing fair, growing smart and growing just – China is, of course, a critical partner.

As I told President Xi this weekend, the United States and the world benefit from a stable and prosperous China that assumes the responsibilities of a great power, a China that respects the will of its people, a China that plays a key role in world affairs, but that also plays by the rules. We all have a stake in China’s success, just as China has a stake in ours.

I’m pleased to tell you that we have had more high-level engagement and dialogue with China than ever before, and I believe it is constructive and productive. I’m pleased to say we enjoy unprecedented people-to-people ties, and I hope that that will grow stronger. And even as we are clear-eyed about our differences – and we will be, and there are differences – we are committed to building a comprehensive and a cooperative partnership that allows us to work together in mutual respect.

Just imagine – imagine how different today’s challenges can look tomorrow if we embrace this concept of a dream, if we go from job growth to climate change to pandemic disease to the proliferation of dangerous weapons and with all of us acting as full and constructive partners, we tame the worst elements of those challenges. We simply must work together.

Half a century ago, President John F. Kennedy urged Americans to look intercontinentally instead of inwardly, to bridge oceans with purposeful partnerships. Well, he said we must “look outward to cooperate with all nations in meeting their common concerns.” Today I am here to say that we are just as committed as we became then to looking outward. We’re still committed to an Asia-Pacific partnership that does the same, and we are still committed to cooperating with all nations in meeting our common concerns.

To ensure these partnerships succeed, we need to reach agreement on the real rules of the road through both bilateral discussions as well as through multilateral institutions where all voices can be heard equally. Forums like ASEAN, the East Asia Summit, APEC, the Pacific Islands Forum, they all provide important institutional architecture that helps us creatively solve global problems. And I personally look forward to attending the ASEAN Regional Forum in June, and am optimistic we can agree on tangible steps to enhance security and stability in the region.

All of our partners – all of them have a role to play in supporting regional peace and prosperity. And that includes trying to ultimately make a partner out of North Korea and make it part (inaudible). India, the world’s largest democracy and a nation with a booming young population, is building an Indo-Pacific economic corridor that can promote development, trade, and security in a crucial part of the world. And we strongly believe that our cooperation with our friends in Europe and the West enriches our effort in the East. They are not separate. They are complementary.

Ladies and gentlemen, tackling the challenges that I’ve discussed today requires a region-wide partnership that harnesses the dynamism, the growth, the energy, the resources, the creativity, the dreams of all of our people. We must learn from each other and enrich the common knowledge base that drives global security for growth and progress.

I mentioned Thomas Jefferson earlier. He was not only America’s first Secretary of State and third President, as I said, he was also was a scientist and the founder of a prestigious university like yours. So he would no doubt have strongly supported the innovative mission of Tokyo Tech. And when he died, he didn’t want President and Secretary of State, all those things on his tombstone. He just wanted Founder of the University of Virginia. Jefferson once spoke about the beauty of lighting one’s candle with another person’s candle. And he said that when that happens, both people gain light, and none loses any. Jefferson understood long ago the folly of zero-sum thinking. He appreciated the contagious quality of shared knowledge.

Japan and the United States are no strangers to this kind of cooperation, and that is the story I want to leave you with today.

If you take a map of the United States and drop a pencil right in the middle of it, you would point to a tiny, little town called Greensburg, Kansas. In 2007, a tornado wider than the town itself flattened 95 percent of it; homes, schools, stores just disappeared. You could fit nearly the entire remaining population right here in this room.

But the people in Kansas have the same DNA that you do, that all of us do. They share the same instinct to rebuild better than before. So those who stayed started to create a green city that lives up to its name, Greensburg. And now Greensburg is rising from the rubble of disaster, generating its power from wind turbines and constructing energy efficient buildings. It gets better.

Then, a few months ago, community leaders from towns that were destroyed by the tragedy in Tohoku traveled to Greensburg to learn how they did it. And the communities formed a bond of mutual understanding, kizuna, and through their similar experiences, they went to work. And the people of Tohoku came back here inspired to respond the same way Greensburg had, to rebuild better, smarter, greener, focused firmly on the road ahead.

I know the story is not going to end there. In time, America and others will learn from how you rebuild Tohoku, and we will all continue to share light from one candle to another.

That’s the promise of the Asia Pacific, a region that comes together to make its partners better, knowing there is more that unites us than divides us; a region built for the future, not bound to the past, that answers danger and difficulty with courage and collaboration, that knows that what happens over there matters over here, and what happens here matters over there.

Though our journey may sometimes seem a million miles long, my friends, it is fully within our power to choose how we take our next step. We can only realize the promise of this Pacific Dream if we choose to take that step together, building a partnership that grows strong and fair and smart and just. And if we achieve that together, we will have lived up to our responsibilities for future generations. Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)

PRN: 2013/T03-20