Good Morning. I am honored to be here today to address the US-Japan Business Conference on the occasion of your 51st annual meeting. I would like to thank Chairman Ishihara and Chairman Lechleiter for your leadership over the past year leading to this meeting. It is a pleasure to be here with Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga and Keidanren Chairman Sakakibara to speak to you, and I would also like to acknowledge the hard work that USJBC President Jim Fatheree and JUBC Deputy Director General Tomohisa Kanaida put into making this happen.
Last year, Secretary Kerry shared with you his belief that foreign policy is economic policy and economic policy is foreign policy. The past 51 years have shown the powerful role of the U.S.-Japan business relationship. Not only does it bring enormous benefits to our two countries, it is the underpinning of a global partnership.
In the coming year, business relationships will be more important than ever. Our countries are preparing to sign an historic trade agreement that will represent 40% of the world’s GDP, and unite the Pacific region in a free trade zone. You are all experts in the U.S.-Japan business relationship, so today I would like to talk about how economics fits into the larger US rebalance to Asia.
But before I get to that, I want to take this opportunity to celebrate an anniversary of my own. It is exactly one year since I arrived in Japan. First, I would like to thank the Japanese government for extending such a warm welcome, and for working so closely with me and the talented Embassy team to achieve our mutual goals.
I would also like to thank the Japanese people for taking me into their hearts. I have never experienced anything like the generosity and warmth I have found here. The admiration for President Kennedy, the affinity for the United States, and the affection for me and my family has made a profound impact on me. It is an honor to serve my country working with our closest ally. Every day is truly a privilege.
Looking back on the year, one moment that illustrates the enduring nature of the U.S. Japan alliance and the evolving strength of the rebalance is President Obama’s visit to the region last April. It was no surprise that the trip started in Japan – our closest ally in Asia. In his meeting with Prime Minister Abe and his press conference in Tokyo, the President strongly reaffirmed our security guarantees. And in his meeting with corporate leaders, some of whom are here today, the President reiterated that America is open for business.
This week, in the midst of a strong U.S. economic recovery, President Obama returned to Asia – meeting in Beijing with APEC, in Burma with ASEAN, with the G-20 in Australia – underscoring the depth and breadth of the U.S. commitment to the region.
Our alliance encompasses political, military, economic, scientific, educational, cultural and personal relationships going back generations. Its profound and powerful impact on global peace and security comes from the degree to which our activities are integrated, and we partner to solve global problems. This is as true in the security realm as it is in the economic.
In terms of our security alliance, the U.S. has deployed its most advanced military assets to the region. To ensure that our future cooperation remains seamless and resilient, Japan and the U.S. are working together to revise our defense guidelines for the first time since 1997. We have made progress to reduce the impact of the bases on Okinawa, accelerated land return, and recently concluded a landmark Environmental Agreement that will promote environmental stewardship on U.S. bases.
Our countries are increasing cooperation in new areas: cyber-security, maritime awareness, counter-terrorism, satellite and ballistic missile defense, and together we lead the world in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The U.S.-Japan security alliance is a force multiplier as we face growing threats around the world.
For example, while the United States is leading the effort to degrade and destroy radical terrorism in the Middle East, Japan is the largest contributor of humanitarian aid to the region. At the United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister Abe and Vice-President Biden co-chaired a session on peacekeeping operations, and Japan is increasing its contributions. The U.S. is going all-out to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in Africa and beyond; Japan recently announced $100 million dollars towards the effort and is testing promising new medicines.
The U.S. and Japan are together working to resist unilateral attempts to change the status quo in Europe through sanctions against Russia and aid to the Ukraine. Here in Asia, we oppose China’s provocative behavior and aggressive land reclamation in the South China Sea. We are committed to denuclearization in Iran and North Korea and to fighting climate change through joint efforts and ambitious targets.
The threats to the existing order are global. No country can address them alone. The U.S. needs partners and allies – and no country is a stronger partner than Japan.
Our partnership was made visible when I visited the headquarters of USFJ and the JASDF which face each other at Yokota Airbase. The commanders meet daily, their forces train together and run joint simulation exercises. Their families share meals and holidays. Visitors to the base see colleagues who share a mission and work side by side to achieve it.
Joint exercises and shared facilities are the way of the future and they are already a success here in Japan. At Sasebo, our largest Navy base in the Western Pacific, U.S. and Japanese ships are lashed up together at the same piers. At Iwakuni, U.S. and Japanese Marines are co-located and conduct the joint training that made it possible for the JSDF to deliver humanitarian aid to the Phillippines on U.S. ships.
And this week more than 30,000 American and Japanese service members are conducting Keen Sword, integrated off-shore exercises, as they do every other year. That’s a long list but it goes to show the solid and permanent architecture of our security partnership.
Our scientific and economic relationship is equally integrated. This joint commitment to excellence extends to our collaboration in science and space. The associated advances in technology continue to provide countless economic benefits to the entire global community.
Thanks to U.S. and Japanese satellites launched last year, we now have real time measurements of the earth’s precipitation. This enables more accurate weather forecasts, storm tracking, drought prediction and monitoring of global warming trends. It also gives us the information we need to tackle climate change. And our two countries are taking the lead, and working closely with key partners around the world, to develop an ambitious and inclusive post-2020 climate agreement at next year’s U.N. Conference in Paris.
My favorite example of scientific cooperation brings together old and new. Kikkoman has been making soy sauce for hundreds of years but now its technology is going above and beyond—literally. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab is interested in using the company’s highly sensitive testing for contaminants in soy sauce production to ensure the sterility of experiments on the International Space Station. According to Koichi Wakata, the first Japanese astronaut to command the ISS, Japanese ramen is the most popular food in space. He said the key to his success as Commander was that astronauts from other countries will do almost anything to get it. So in the future, thanks to Kikkoman and JPL, astronauts may be able to eat sushi on Mars.
My father’s commitment to the peaceful exploration of space makes these examples especially meaningful for me. President Kennedy captured the essence of the U.S.-Japan partnership when he said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.”
That is the spirit that has animated the U.S.-Japan alliance for the past 70 years, and that continues to resonate today. The belief that together we can accomplish so much more than either of us could alone – the mutual respect, commitment to democratic values and economic opportunity – has forged an alliance that supports peace and prosperity around the world.
We need to do the hard things in the coming years in the economic arena just as we are doing in the security area. The institutions that have helped shape the existing liberal market-based order are under stress. In order for the global economy to benefit from the emergence of new economic powers, these institutions need to evolve. As creators and custodians of the global economic system, Japanese and U.S. leadership is critical. We need to invest in institutions like the ADB, the G-20, ARF and APEC, so they are responsive, open and durable, while protecting the core values that have allowed so many people to live a better life.
Our most immediate and important challenge is TPP. Our two nations need to show the necessary flexibility and leadership to ensure that TPP is the high-standard 21st century trade agreement which will unite 40% of the world’s GDP in one free trade zone, and catalyze economic growth and reform in all countries.
Prime Minster Abe and President Obama have shown bold resolve to do what is right for our future prosperity. Earlier this week the leaders of all 12 nations met in Beijing to underscore the importance of passing TPP. The negotiations have been hard, and it is up to all of us to help push our negotiators over the finish line. I want to work with you to build support for this agreement in the Diet and the U.S. Congress so that our people can experience the economic and strategic benefits that will come from this achievement.
It is already a great time for the U.S. – Japan bilateral business relationship. Your councils are doing valuable work across a range of issues and sectors to promote closer collaboration. Last year, Japan was the number one source of foreign direct investment into the United States. Affiliates of Japanese companies contributed 4.4% of U.S. exports, translating into hundreds of thousands of American jobs.
And U.S. investment in Japan is growing. American CEOs of 3M, Micron, Disney, Boeing, and Apple are bullish on this nation’s future. Japan is already the number one export market for American corn, pork and beef, and shale gas is coming soon.
Select USA and Invest Japan are further examples of how our governments are working with business, especially SMEs, to increase opportunity in both directions.
One of our biggest opportunities was highlighted on Secretary Pritzker’s recent visit to Japan, where she was accompanied by representatives from the medical and energy sectors. Energy policy and energy security are the dominant issues of our time. Looking ahead, the U.S. and Japan are best positioned to take advantage of the future global energy market. Right now it’s a $6 trillion market with four to five billion users, and it’s projected to grow to a $17 trillion market with up to 9 billion users in the next 25 years – the largest market ever.
Innovative solutions will bring transformative economic opportunities. Japanese companies are already investing in U.S. LNG terminals, we have a clean energy partnership between Okinawa and Hawaii, and U.S. and Japanese companies are leading in the development of floating offshore wind turbines like the one I visited off the coast of Fukushima. Just last week, our governments signed an MOU to research Methane Hydrate extraction in Alaska and potentially off the coast of Japan one day.
Conservation, efficiency and the development of clean renewable sources of energy are critical for 21st century global security. As the #1 and #2 global patent grantees, the U.S. and Japan are poised to benefit dramatically, and to determine the future of our planet.
In order to lead in the 21 century, we need to innovate. That innovative spirit comes from the continuous infusion of new people and new ideas. Today, in Japan, the most obvious way to tap creativity, talent and ambition is to increase the participation of women in the economy. Prime Minister Abe has demonstrated great leadership on this issue, and people who have been waiting a long time for change in Japan tell me that this is a unique opportunity for Japan. Everyone in this room has a leadership role to play in the transformation of the Japanese economy and the increased prosperity that will accompany it.
We have all heard the statistics – increasing the participation of women will increase GDP. Companies with greater female board representation are better-run and more profitable. Women control 2/3 of the $18 trillion consumer dollars spent worldwide. Companies which empower and appeal to women will gain a greater share of that $12 trillion. Japanese women are highly educated, more likely to travel abroad and speak another language – critical advantages in today’s competitive international business environment.
This is going to take a sustained commitment and require difficult cultural adjustments. Change is hard – but it’s worth it. As President Kennedy said, “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction ….Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” That future should include all the talent in Japan.
I would like to close by describing another moment in my time here that captures what is truly important to the future of the U.S.-Japan alliance, and why we need to keep working at it. For some of us, that work is in our homes and families, others build businesses to create opportunity. Government leaders try to create understanding and cooperation across cultures and generations.
The dedication of our parents and grandparents to this alliance over the past seventy years is a gift to all of us. Everyone in this room has also contributed their own effort and can take a good deal of pride in the results.
As a newcomer to U.S.-Japan relations, I can also see that today, more people need to be enlisted in this effort, most importantly, the next generation. The world around us is changing and this alliance is not a gift we can take for granted.
Young people today have a lot of options, and a lot of opportunities. It is our job to encourage them to spend their time and effort to build on the achievements of the past and pass on the benefits that we have enjoyed. One way to do this is through empowering them to share their ideas – and to express their hopes and dreams.
Last spring, we held a poetry slam via teleconference between high-school students from New York City and Tokyo. Both groups could watch the others on a giant screen as the New Yorkers ate sushi for dinner while the Japanese kids had donuts for breakfast. Then they performed their own work. After that, with no time to prepare, the students had to improvise a poem about the future.
A young African – American girl from the South Bronx spoke the words – “It’s up to you to decide what to do with your life. The future is right there – and I hope that I get to live a good one.”
A few seconds later, a Japanese teenager said, “Miraii – Miraii – The future creates a door that opens anywhere – When the door is open – the world will become one – And when the world becomes one, we – what kind of dream will we have? Miraii.”
They have dreams and the determination to make them come true. I look forward to working with you to open that door to the future so that they can walk through it.
Thank you very much.