Meeting With Staff and Families of Embassy Tokyo

John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy Tokyo
Tokyo, Japan
April 15, 2013

AMBASSADOR ROOS: Well, let me just briefly tell you how honored we are to have Secretary Kerry here. This is the end of a whirlwind, worldwide trip for the Secretary, and he’s getting on a plane to head back to Washington.

But let me just say one thing about the Secretary. I’ve had the honor and the privilege to have known him for years, and when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, every time I went back to Washington since I’ve been the Ambassador, I’ve spent time with him where he’s asked about what’s going on here in Japan and what you and the Embassy have been doing. And so when he became the Secretary of State, not only was he incredibly well-versed on the whole Asia Pacific area, but in particular, he has a real appreciation for what all of you do in Japan.

So it is really my distinct honor and privilege to turn the microphone over and introduce you to our great Secretary of State, John Kerry.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks, John. (Applause.) It’s really wonderful to be here. I’m happy to see all the kids here. Hi, guys. How are you? Are these young – where, two, three, four, five? The rest are in school. Did you get out of school? (Laughter.) You did? I love it. Thank you. (Laughter.) That’s very smart of you. I’m glad you came by. Thank you very, very much.

Well, hello, and hello, Tokyo. And I gather we’ve got some consulates. Well, how are you guys? In fact, just one consulate? We have four other somewhere. (Laughter.) They’re not being shown, right – oh, there they are. Another one from (inaudible). Hi, guys. How are you? Thank you. Which consulate is that? That’s (inaudible), and where’s the other one?

PARTICIPANT: They’re not on.

SECRETARY KERRY: Okay. They’re not on. And three got lost, sorry. (Laughter.)

PARTICIPANT: Right here.

SECRETARY KERRY: There you are. (Laughter.) Yay, there they are. Give them a cheer, everybody in Embassy Tokyo. (Applause.) We’re cheering for the other ones too. Oh, hi. (Laughter.) Everybody’s included.

Thank you for the privilege of being here with all of you. I really appreciate it very, very much. It’s the last leg and last event before we go to the airport and take off and go home with a brief stop in Chicago, and then back to work tomorrow morning if I can find the Department. (Laughter.) But I really want to thank all of you. It’s a great privilege for me to be here.

First of all, let me just say a huge thank you to my friend, the Ambassador. John and I got to know each other really well when I was running for president in ’04. He was my Northern California chairman of that effort, believe it or not, and I never cease to tell him that if he had just worked a little harder, I would have been president. (Laughter.) And he did a worthy job. It wasn’t his life’s work and mission.

He certainly – as you know, he won an award for the quality of the work that you all did together under the most trying of circumstances after the tragedy of the East Japan earthquake, and I want to thank you for that, but I want everybody here to also thank the team. Susie is part of the team, a huge part of it. Susie, thank you, and John, thanks so much for your leadership. I really appreciate both of you enormously. (Applause.) You’re all so disciplined with this red wine here. (Laughter.) (Inaudible.) It’s too organized for me. (Laughter.)

Anyway, we’ll bring you on afterwards because I want to come by and have a chance to shake hands and say hello to everybody. But I really want to thank you. Look, I had the privilege of giving a speech today at Tokyo Tech, and talked about the Asia Pacific future and the possibilities of the future. And I really believe in them, and you all are part of what the – I get into trouble if I start separating embassies and pointing out the differences, but really, this is one of our most – it’s a flagship embassy, and you all know that.

It’s because the Japanese are such close friends, and Japan is such an important part of our Asia Pacific and global partnership. And Japan is playing in all sorts of remarkable ways today: helping with Afghanistan, helping with Syria, helping with the Mideast peace process. We actually talked about that today with Prime Minister Abe. I mean, there are really unbelievable ways when this partnership shows itself in various places.

And it’s still building. It’s still got unfulfilled possibilities. So you’re on the cutting edge of the President’s rebalancing and the whole focus of building a stronger future Pacific region. I laid out today the different kinds of growth that are really going to define that – the smart growth, the just growth, the strong growth, and fair growth and so forth. These are the keys, and all of you, every single one of you, on a daily basis, whether you are locally hired and a Japanese citizen working for the Embassy of the United States – we couldn’t do it without you; it’s (inaudible) – or whether you’re an American FSO or civil servant or part of one of the agencies that are all cross-fertilized in an embassy.

You are all ambassadors for the United States, because you’re the contact with the American Embassy. And in many cases, that's the only contact some people will ever have with the Government of the United States directly. So how you treat people, and how fast you get back to people, and what kind of experience they have in the Embassy, and what they hear from you is all part of our diplomacy, part of our effort to share our values and our hopes and our aspirations with people around the world. And the very practical things you also do, like help get a joint strike fighter agreement which actually creates jobs at home, even as you strengthen the relationship and strengthen our security here. Or the Tomodachi program, where you’re working with young kids and giving them an opportunity to be able to have a sense of leadership and a sense of the possibilities of the future. So every single part of these things are part of the web that is diplomacy.

Now, I mentioned earlier that I’m going to be stopping in Chicago on the way back. The reason I’m stopping in Chicago is to visit with the parents of Anne Smedinghoff, who we lost just, as you know, a few days ago. And this is a family. Everybody understands and feels that kind of a loss. A 25-year-old young woman, full of idealism, full of hopes, taking books to children in a school so they can learn, and wiped out by terrorism, by the worst kind of nihilistic nothing – violence that doesn’t stand for anything except killing people and stopping the future.

So we’re not going to be deterred. We’re going to be inspired. And we’re going to use Anne’s idealism as another motivation for the idealism that brings all of you to this effort in the first place. We can make this world better. We can strengthen other countries. We’ve seen it happen. I used the example earlier today of what we did only 10, 20 years ago: We were giving aid to the Republic of Korea, and it was still struggling and emerging. Today, Korea is giving aid to other countries, and it’s a strong nation with a vibrant democracy, and it’s a partner in these kinds of efforts. That’s what this is all about. Mongolia today, hosting a conference on democracy; who would have thought about that a number of years ago? Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi standing with the generals, a prisoner of 20 years, and working towards democracy. That’s what this is all about.

So I just want to say a profound thank you to all of you. As long as I’m Secretary of State, I promise you I will do everything in my power to cover your back. You cover mine, and we’ll be a good team together and we’ll get the job done.

Thank you all, and God bless. (Applause.)

PRN: 2013/ T03-21