THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release|| ||November 19, 1998|
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN "A CONVERSATION WITH PRESIDENT CLINTON"
Tokyo Broadcasting Systems
5:37 P.M. (L)
MR. CHIKUSHI: We have our special guest today who has thebiggest influence and responsibility to the future of humankind. We havethismost important bilateral relations, and he's the most responsible person inall of the United States. We are very happy to have him, to greet him with alarge number of audience. Mr. Bill Clinton, the President of the UnitedStates. (Applause.)
Mr. President, welcome to our program, and I appreciate yourchoice to join us. It's really an honor. I will skip any more ceremonialremarks -- to begin with, you have something to say to the people.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. I will be very brief so that we can leavethe most time possible for questions. But I would like to begin bythankingyou and this station for making this program possible. I thank all of youforparticipating, and also those in Osaka who are joining us.
I would like to open by just emphasizing some things I think weall know. First, the relationship between the United States and Japan isvery, very important to both countries and to the world. We have a verybroadpartnership in the security area, in the political area, in the economicarea.
Over the years there is sometimes greater emphasis on one issuethan another; over the years sometimes America is having particularproblems,sometimes Japan is. But the enduring nature of our democratic partnershipacross all the differencesbetween our peoples is profoundly important. And on the edge ofthis new century and a new millennium, when there is so muchchange in the way people work and live and relate to each other,it will become more important.
That's why I'm here and why I wanted to be a part ofthis town hall meeting. And I thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. CHIKUSHI: There are about 100 people here and 30people in Osaka, the second largest city, and everybody wants todiscuss with you, to make some questions. And also we gatheredquestions nationwide through Internet and fax. To start with Iwould like to ask some casual questions, and I would like toexpect a brief answer. From now on, I'd like to speak inJapanese.
We have many questions from children, many of them -- Iwill pick one from the 5th grader of the primary school. Did youhave good grades at school when you were a kid? (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Mostly. (Laughter.)
Q When Chelsea, your daughter was born, how muchwere you involved in baby raising, child raising?
THE PRESIDENT: I'm sorry, would you read --
Q How much were you involved in raising her?
THE PRESIDENT: When my daughter was born, how involvedwas I with her? I was very involved with her from the time shewas a very small baby, and always going to her events, workingwith her on her homework until it became too difficult for me --(laughter) -- and trying to be a big part of her life. So mywife and I both tried to be very involved in her life and westill try to be, although she has reached an age where I don'tthink she thinks it's always such a good idea. (Laughter.)
Q I am very bad in speaking in front of large numberof people. And also, the same question from the junior highschool student, how can you speak so well in front of the largenumber of people? Could you give us some tip?
THE PRESIDENT: My advice is only to imagine, no matterhow people are in your audience, that you're speaking to a few ofyour friends -- because look at the camera, the camera will takeus to millions of people. I have been in crowds -- the largestcrowd I've ever been in was in Ghana in West Africa. We had,maybe, 400,000 or 500,000 people. But on the television, thereare millions. And if you're in a big crowd, well, the microphoneis your friend. You can speak normally because the sound willcarry.
And I think many people have trouble speaking in publicbecause they think they have to change. And you don't have tochange. You just have to be yourself. Imagine you are at home,entertaining some friends, sharing something with your family,and speaking the way you would when your heart was engaged andyour mind was engaged about something you cared about in your ownlife. That's my only advice.
MR. CHIKUSHI: Well, thank you. So, that being said,let's go into Q&A session. So you spoke very well as President.Now talk about leadership and about your personality. I wouldlike to welcome questions regarding leadership or his personality-- or the President as a person.
Q I'm involved in welfare. I am sure you feel a lotof pressure being President. Have you ever felt that you wantedto get away from these pressures? And also, how are you copingwith these tremendous pressures as President?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, of course, sometimes you want toget away from it. But I think the important thing is not to beoverwhelmed by the work, that only people have these jobs and youhave take some time for family and some time for recreation. Ispend a lot of time reading -- I probably read more than I didbefore I became President. I exercise every day. I play a lotof golf, not as much as I wish, but some, and certainly not aswell as I wish. And I try to stay in touch with my familymembers beyond our home and also my friends around the country.And all these things help to keep balance in my life.
I try to make sure on the weekends I spend time with myfamily. I take time to attend my church services. I do thethings that remind me that I'm a normal person, and I need abalanced life. And I think that's important.
Q I work for Kirin Beer Company. Thank you verymuch for this great opportunity. I really appreciate it. And Iwould like to congratulate you on the result of the midtermelections back in the United States. Now, my question. You'rethe 42nd President of the United States. What would you likepeople in the future to remember you for?
THE PRESIDENT: I would like to be remembered forhaving restored American confidence and opportunity, preparedAmerica for the 21st century, and deepened America's partnershipwith people around the world to create a world more full ofopportunities for ordinary citizens, more committed to preservingthe environment, and more committed to working together for peaceand prosperity.
I believe we're moving into a world where ourinterdependence with one another will be critical to maintainingour independence, as nations and as individuals. And I wouldlike to be remembered as a President who prepared my country andthe world for the 21st century. And I like your beer.(Laughter.)
Q I am from Sony Corporation -- (Inaudible) -- inJapan the leadership is not as good as we would like it to be.What do you think?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I think that, to befair to the present leadership, Prime Minister Obuchi and histeam, they have not had enough time for people to make a firmjudgment. They just recently took office. That's the firstpoint I would make, because the difficulties, the challengesJapan has today will not be solved overnight.
For example, when I became President in 1993, I had tomake some very difficult decisions. And in the midterm electionsin 1994, like the ones we just had, between the presidentialelections, my party suffered great losses. And people who votedfor the tough decisions that I advocated, many of them weredefeated because the people had not yet felt the benefits of thethings which were done. So the first thing I would say is, donot judge too harshly too quickly.
The second thing I would say is I think that the bigthings that have been done here are essentially moving in theright direction -- the banking reform, stimulating the economy.
The third point I would make is that for leadership youneed, first, to know what is going on. You have to have a clearanalysis of the present situation. Then you have to have avision of the future you're trying to create. Without a visionthe rest of this doesn't matter. Then you have to have an actionplan to achieve the vision. And then, finally, in the worldwe're living in where we do things like this, you must be able tohave all kinds of ordinary citizens be able to buy into it, tosupport it, to say yes, this will be good for me, good for myfamily, good for my future, I wish to be a part of this. Andthat, I think, is the great challenge of modern leadership -- howto mobilize large numbers of people, even if unpopular thingshave to be done.
Q We work for Sky Television, the first digitaltelevision. My question is that Jack Welch and other businessleaders, they have a huge income, wealth, tremendous wealth forwhat they did. In 1993, up to the moment, the U.S. stock marketrose in price and historical growth recorded in the stock market.But you are not allowed to serve for the third term. So how doyou motivate yourself? The income as a President will be muchlower than Mr. Jack Welch and the business executives. You'venot making that much money. So the good leaders have to stay inpolitics with relatively limited income. That's different fromthe business. I'm afraid that you'll have trouble having goodpeople in the political area and you are not allowed to work inthe third term. How do you think you can motivate yourself towork hard and work well?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, you're right, Ican't run for a third term under our laws. It's a good thing,because if I could I would, I think. (Laughter.) I like thework very much. But I think, first of all, people who get intopublic service must have a decision that they are not going tomake as much money as they could make if they were doingsomething else. However, it is important that we pay them enoughmoney so they can at least support their families, raise theirchildren, pay their bills. Beyond that, I think that most peoplewho are in public service should just be content, if they canraise their children and pay their bills, to think that when theyget out of public service, they can do a little better.
And that's the way I've always looked at it. It neverbothered me that I didn't make much money. That's not what wasimportant to me in life. And I think that as long as there arerewards to public service in terms of being able to achieve whatyou wish you do -- that is, help other people, help your countrymove forward -- I think good people will wish to do it. I don'tthink that money will ever be able to attract quality people topublic service. But if you expect people to starve, you candrive good people away.
MR. CHIKUSHI: Then we'll switch to Osaka. I guessthey are waiting -- we have 30 people here. They are veryvigorous Osakans -- and 15 involved in retail business and 15ladies that are present here, waiting for the opportunity to askquestions. We will start from a man.
Q I'm involved in the metal business. Mr.President, out of the dishes that your wife cooks, what do youlike best, and how much do you eat with your family a month? Howmany times do you eat with your family a month?
MR. PRESIDENT: Well, of course, our daughter has nowgone to university, but my wife and I have dinner together everynight when we're both home. That is, unless she has to go out toan engagement, or I do, we always have dinner together. I wouldsay probably four times a week we have dinner together, and maybethree times a week one of the two of us is out at night or out oftown.
Over the last 20 years, of course, it's fairly wellknown in America that I like all different kinds of food. A lotof people make fun of me because of that. But I suppose myfavorite dish is a Mexican dish, chicken enchiladas. That's whatI really like the best -- although I like sushi, too.(Laughter.)
Q Very nice to meet you. I have two children. I ama housewife. So nice to meet you, or talk to you. I have aquestion regarding Miss Monica Lewinsky. How did you apologizeto Mrs. Clinton and Chelsea? And I feel I would never be able toforgive my husband for doing that, but did they really forgiveyou, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I did it in a direct andstraightforward manner, and I believe they did, yes. (Laughter.)But that's really a question you could ask them better than me.
MR. CHIKUSHI: Thank you very much. We'll go back toyou, our viewers in Osaka. Let's change the topic now. Now ourbilateral relationship is the most important of all. Bilateralrelationships -- let's talk about U.S.-Japan relationship. Wecollected about 4,000 questions from all over Japan and the mostpopular questions were regarding Okinawa, American base issue ofOkinawa.
There are two independent countries, allies, but onecountry has the military presence in another country for a longtime in such a large scale. Is it good for our relationship --isn't it going to be a thorn of one side, so to speak? How doyou feel about that, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I think there havebeen, obviously, some difficulties in the relationship in ourmilitary presence in Okinawa. Some of them I think areinevitable and I'm very respectful of the challenges that ourpresence has caused the government and the people on Okinawa.
On the other hand, both the government of Japan and thegovernment of the United States agree that our securitypartnership is a good one and that we cannot say with confidencethat there are no circumstances under which American forces wouldever be called upon to defend Japan or our common allies. And ifwe were to move our forces back to Guam or to Hawaii, it wouldtake them much, much longer to come anywhere in the northeastAsia area if there were difficulties.
So the question is, if we do need to be here for someperiod of years, how can we do it in the way that is leastburdensome to the people of Okinawa. That has been my concern.I have worked now with Prime Minister Obuchi's government andwith predecessor governments to try to be responsive to that.And I hope we can do that. I hope we can continue to ease theburden on the people of Okinawa, but stay as long as both Japanand the United States agree that is wise for us to stay.
Q Related to the previous question, the newguidelines have been developed, and Japan, of course, is notsupposed to go into war. But once the United States gets intothe war situation, I'm afraid that Japan might be sort of pulledinto that also, and I've been concerned. Can you comment onthat?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Of course, our strategy is tomaintain a presence in the world so that there will be no war, sothat there is a strong disincentive for anyone to drag anyoneback into a war. There have been so many wars in Asia in thiscentury, but in the last two to three decades, there has been anincreased emphasis in the Asian countries on working on theeconomy, working on the society, working on the education ofchildren, working on trade and other relations with peopleinstead of military relations.
And my hope is that America's military strength will beused to deter any further military action so that we will havemore peace, and in the decades ahead, war will become more andmore unthinkable for everyone. That is what the whole defensivemilitary strategy of our country is designed to do.
Q I will ask about trade. Now, we are asked by theU.S. government to further open our market. Do you have anyJapanese-made product which you daily use, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we have some Japanese televisions.We also have at least one European television, I think, in theWhite House complex. And I have, over time, owned a number ofthem. When I was a governor of my home state, we had a Sanyoplant in my home state that put together televisions that weremostly manufactured in Japan and the component parts sent there.So I'm quite well familiar with that, and I think it's veryimportant.
Actually, we've worked hard on trying to keep ourmarkets during this period of economic difficulty -- not only forJapan, but for all of Asia. And you may know that our tradedeficit has gone way up with Japan, with China, with others.Because of the Asian economic crisis we're buying more exports,but no country can afford to keep buying imports from us if theeconomy is down.
And on the whole, the American have supported this, isour contribution to trying to stabilize Asia and bring it back.I have to say in all candor there are some problems -- Japaneseimports into America of hot-rolled steel, for example, are up 500percent in one year and no one quite believes that that's justbecause of the economic problems. But by and large, there's acommitment in America to keeping open markets and purchasingJapanese products.
Let me also say I believe that in addition to thefinancial reforms, which I think are very important to carry outaggressively, and the economic stimulus, domestically, I thinkjapan could get a lot of economic benefit in terms of new jobs,from greater openness. I'll just give you two examples.
In our country there was great controversy aboutderegulating and opening investment to international investors inairlines and in telecommunications. We did it; it was quitecontroversial. But we have created as a result far more jobs inboth sectors because of the greater competition.
Just since 1993, when we've been aggressive intelecommunications, and a lot of international firms have been apart of this, we have seen hundreds of thousands of jobs createdin America because of the increased competition. So I think itwould be good for the Japanese economy.
Let me say I never consciously asked Japan or any othercountry to do something that is good only for the United States.My belief is that our country is strengthened if Japan is verystrong, because if Japan is very strong that brings back Asia.If Asia is strong, that's good for the American economy. It alsomeans it's good for stability, which means more prosperity andless likelihood of the military conflicts that I was asked aboutby the lady there.
Q This is relating to our economic relationship. InJapan the certificate or consumption coupons will be issued tochildren and old people. Now, including this -- and there areother measures to boost our economy -- what do you think of whatJapan is doing?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I know of no history with thesecoupons, it's a new idea. And so, obviously, I can't have aninformed opinion. But I do believe that anything that can bedone to increase consumption is a good thing because I know theJapanese people are great savers -- and that is also a goodthing. And I know you worry about the population getting olderand having to save more for retirement. But you need a balancebetween saving for your own retirement and growing the economytoday. Because as the population gets older one of the thingsthat will lift up the elderly population is a very strongeconomy. And so I think that anything that can be done to boostconfidence of consumers and to boost consumption is a good thing.
Q I'm a farmer, producing flowers and rice. I verymuch would like you, Mr. President, to understand the differencein farming in Japan and the United States. In Japan, farming isdone by families -- but to produce agriculture products. But interms of culture and social values and human values are alsoimportant. The agriculture in the United States, very muchefficient, enterprise-oriented -- it is difficult to comparethese two in the same vein.
In that background -- the agriculture in Japan basedupon family farming -- and the trade of agriculture products,there is something that we really cannot speak in terms ofeconomic values -- much more broader thing, man-oriented values.But the United States is strongly demanding liberalization of theagriculture products. We import agriculture products a lot andthe Japanese family farming is losing, losing out. That is, inmy view, unfair.
So with this background -- we have this -- oragriculture negotiation coming on next year. I think that kindof thing should be prevented. And we have the agriculture thatfits to each country. And I'd like to have your comments onthis, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, let me say this isa subject about which I think I know something. Before I becamePresident, I was the governor of my home state, which produces 40percent of all the rice grown in the United States. And in ourstate, most of the farms are still family farms.
But we see all over the world today family farmershaving more trouble. For example, to show you the other side ofthis, in the northern part of the United States, in North Dakota,there was a huge drop in the number of family farmers this yearbecause the Asian countries -- not Japan, other Asian countrieswhich had been buying their wheat could no longer afford to buyit. And a lot of them were threatened with going out ofbusiness.
In fairness, one of the reasons I believe we need thisWTO process is so we can have a regular way of deciding how toopen the markets that should be opened in agriculture and thengive countries enough notice so they can figure how they're goingto help the farmers if they have a policy of wanting familyfarmers to survive.
I can tell you, in my country we have tried to push formore open markets and a policy to keep family farmers inbusiness, by -- and I can only say what the situation is inAmerica. In America, the family farmers are as productive as thebig enterprise farms, but the family farmers don't have a lot ofmoney in the bank. And we all know that because of bad weatheror bad prices or whatever, some years are good in farming, someyears are bad in farming. The fundamental problem in the U.S. isthat the family farmers need a system to help them through thebad years. The big enterprises have so much money, they take thebad years and wait for the good years.
So we have tried to design a system that would addressthe needs of both, and we seem to be having some success there.So I think there is a proper compromise here where you can openmarkets more gradually, open them to farming, particularly ifthere are different products. There are some products that Japanbuys that can't be grown in Japan. And if you can open thesemarkets, but do it in a way that preserves to the maximum extentpossible the family farms, that I think is the best way to do it.And that is what we are trying to achieve in the U.S. I don'tknow if we'll succeed, but I think we're doing a pretty good jobnow.
MR. CHIKUSHI: Osaka is very interested in economicissues, so let's switch over to Osaka. Questions?
Q I'm in housing equipment and material. Osaka hasa lot of small- to medium-size businesses, and I boast ourselvesfor having supported the Japanese economy. But we are sufferingright now. It's hard to get loans these days. And the firstblow comes to us first. But in the United States, how are youhelping these small- to medium-size companies?
THE PRESIDENT: We have I think three things that Iwould like to mention. First of all, for small businesses thatare just getting started, we have a Small Business Administrationin the federal government which can provide guarantees of thefirst loans. Now, we have a pretty healthy banking system, quitehealthy, that is pretty aggressive in making loans to businesses.In addition to that, we have something that many countries don'thave. We have a very active system of venture capital, high-riskcapital, higher-risk capital, people who will invest money in newareas or in small- or medium-size businesses that are just tryingto expand.
And having looked at the Japanese situation, I think itwould be very helpful if, in addition to this bank reform, wherethe banks can get public money to protect depositors, and thenthey have to declare the bad loans and work through them, I thinkthat will help because then the banks can start loaning moneyagain, with the depositors protected. So it's very important toimplement that.
But I would like to see some effort made at providingmore of this venture capital, this risk capital, in Japan. Andit may be that there is something we can do to encourage Japanesebusiness people to set up these kind of ventures, because theyhave created millions of jobs in America, the venture capitalistshave. And even though they lose money on ventures, on balancethey make money over a period of years.
Q I am also a merchant, selling kitchen material.Looking at the recent American diplomacy, you tend to go over thehead of Japanese. You're interested in strengthening diplomaticrelations with China. What we are afraid of is that in 2008 wewould like to invite the Olympic Games to Osaka, and a verystrong rival is Beijing of China, for the Olympics in 2008. So Iwould like to have your personal, private opinion about this. IfBeijing and Osaka compete to get the Olympics, I am sure that youwill support Osaka. I'd like to make sure of that. Or would yourather support Beijing? I certainly appreciate your support.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank goodness I will no longer bePresident. I don't have to make that decision. Let me make twopoints. First of all, I did not intentionally go over the headsof the Japanese people in establishing better relations withChina. I think it is good for Japan if America has betterrelations with China. I think it is good for America if Japanhas better relations with China. The Chinese President is cominghere I think on a state visit in just the next couple of days.And it has now been quite a long time since the last world war,and I think whatever remaining misunderstandings there are shouldbe resolved, and that your two great countries should have betterrelations. And I'm going to do my best to see a partnershipinvolving all of us going into the future.
I'm not going to take a position on the Olympics. Butlet me say, before I became President, I spent a lot of time inOsaka because we had two companies in my state who wereheadquartered in Osaka. I even remember the last restaurant Iate at in Osaka, Steakhouse Ron. So if it's still there, maybe Igot them some business tonight. (Laughter.)
Q I teach social studies in junior high school.We've been talking about expanding consumption. The Japanesejunior high students spend so little time with their fathers athome. They have to go to -- school and fathers don't get homeuntil very late. Talking about consumption, I think if they getfathers back, I think we will get a more stable society, becauseif they get more free time, then they have more leisure time,they will spend more money that way. But in the male-orientedsociety of Japan, there is very little discussion regarding moreholidays. What do you think about that?
THE PRESIDENT: I think, first of all, the whole worldadmires both the excellent education system and the hard workethic of the Japanese people, and admires the fact that you havebeen able to keep the family structure as strong as you haveunder the enormous pressures of work and education for thechildren -- especially during this hard economic time. But Ithink that in all societies which are very busy and verycompetitive, the number one social question quickly becomes howdo you balance work and family.
I personally believe that the most important work ofany society is raising children well. And if you have tosacrifice that to have a strong economy, then sooner or lateryour economy and your society won't be very strong.
On the other hand, you don't want to sacrifice youreconomy in the service of raising children. There has to be abalance. We are having that kind of debate in America. I don'thave the answer for Japan. It would be wrong for me to suggestit. But I think you have asked the right question and I hopemaybe your being on this program tonight will spark a sort ofnational debate about it. It's worth asking that question --whether you could actually help the economy by providing peoplemore free time with their children and their families. I neverthought of it in this term before until you said it tonight.Thank you.
Q I'm a housewife, I work at home. This is relatedto welfare. The situation may differ between Japan and theUnited States. I work with Internet at home. I'm a housewife.I have prepared a question. Independence Day is the importantday for the Americans. Then the day that the law for thedisadvantaged was also enacted in the United States -- that wasalso very important. And I write to ask you what you plan to dofor the disadvantaged people in the United States?
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. First of all, youmade a very important point. In 1992, we passed the AmericansWith Disabilities Act, which guarantees all Americans access tocertain public facilities and other opportunities in our society.Previous to that we had tried to do the same thing with ourschools, in educational facilities.
And all of you know, I'm sure, about all the fights wehave in America between the Democratic Party and the RepublicanParty and you see all that in the press here. But you shouldknow that one of the things that we've had almost completeagreement on in the last six years since I've been President, isevery year putting more money into education for Americans withdisabilities.
In the last session of Congress we came very close topassing a bill which would have dramatically expanded jobopportunities to Americans with disabilities, over and abovewhere we are now. So I think it's fair to say -- and ouradministration has been very involved in this -- our position isevery person should be looked at as a resource. Every personshould have all the opportunities necessary to live up to thefullest of his or her capabilities. And our policy is to dowhatever we can to advance that goal. We believe it makes us astronger country.
Q Thank you, Mr. President.
Q I work for a travel agency. Every year manyJapanese youth go to the United States for sightseeing or tostudy. But compared with that, not too many Americans visitJapan. That's how I feel. I think it's important that the younggeneration understand each other, the American youth and theJapanese youth. Why do you think it's fewer American youth visitJapan?
THE PRESIDENT: I think, first of all, it's becauseit's a long way away in the minds of most Americans. Andsecondly, because we have in America, as you know, people ofevery conceivable different racial and ethnic backgrounds, butrelatively small number of Japanese Americans -- a significantnumber -- we have several Japanese Americans in our United StatesCongress, for example. But I think that the Americans, when theytravel abroad, tend to go to places where either their own peoplecame from or they know someone in the school who is from there,or something like that.
But there is an enormous interest in Japan in theUnited States -- an enormous interest among the young people,wanting to understand the society, know more about it. And Ithink what we have to do is to try to facilitate more travelamong older people who have the means to travel, but more studygroups among the younger people.
Most young Americans could not afford to come here tostudy on their own. They would have to come as part of somescholarship program. And in the years since I've been President,we tried to find ways to increase the number of young Americanswho could come here to study.
Our Ambassador here now, Tom Foley, who was formerlythe Speaker of the House of Representatives, has been very activein this whole area of trying to build greater communications andtravel for a long time. And I hope we can do a better job now,because I don't think we've done as much as we should have tobring Americans to Japan, to give them a chance to know theJapanese people, understand the Japanese system, and buildlong-term friendships for the future.
MR. CHIKUSHI: A very tough question tothe President. (Laughter.)
Q I work for a nongovernment organization. I'm ahousewife. Mr. President, there is a book, "Give Us Not LandMines, But Flowers." You autographed this. Do you remember it?Thank you. We have been engaged in the campaign to get rid ofland mines, and we have signed the treaty to completely get ridof land mines. You have not signed that. Why is that? What isyour policy on land mines?
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, my policy is to supportgetting rid of them, and there is a reason that we have notsigned the treaty. I would like to explain why. Number one, theway the treaty is written, the mines that countries use toprotect their soldiers against tanks -- so-called anti-tankmines, not anti-personnel mines -- are protected, except ours,because of the way the wording of the treaty is. And we pleadedwith the people in Oslo not to do this, but they did. Theybasically wrote out -- and they knew exactly what they weredoing. Why they did it, I don't know. But they basically saidthat other countries, the way they designed their anti-tank mineswas protected; the way we do isn't.
The second issue is, the United States has, as all ofyou know very well, a United Nations responsibility in Korea.The border, the DMZ, is 18 miles from Seoul. So there is oneplace in the world where we have lots of land mines, because it'sthe only way to protect Seoul from all the North Korean armyshould they mass along the border. It is heavily marked. As faras we know, no civilian has ever been hurt there. All we askedfor was the opportunity to find a substitute for the protectionthe land mines give the people of South Korea, and we would signit.
Let me assure you all, I was the first world leader tocall for a ban on land mines. We have destroyed almost 2 millionland mines. We spend over half of the money the world spendshelping other countries dig up their mines. So I stronglysupport the goals of the treaty and I will continue to do so. Ihope if we can resolve these two problems we can sign the treaty,because I have spent a lot of my personal time on this land mineissue and it's very important. And I thank you for what you'redoing. Thank you.
MR. CHIKUSHI: Time is running short, so we turn ourattention to the future. Something that is difficult for thepeople in the audience to ask, so I will do it. You have thebutton to destroy mankind five times over with your nuclearweapons. How much do you know about what really happened inNagasaki and Hiroshima? Have you had any personal experience ofgetting in touch with the victims? And on that basis, you stillcontinue to own, possess nuclear weapons.
THE PRESIDENT: No, I have never had any personalcontact with victims, but I have read a great deal about it.After I decided to run for President I began to think about itmuch more than I ever had before.
Since I have been President I have worked hard toreduce the number of weapons in our nuclear arsenal, along withthe Russians; to extend the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Wewere the first country to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test BanTreaty. We are hoping that our friends in Russia will ratify theSTART II Convention so we can immediately start on the next roundof nuclear weapons reductions.
So I have done everything I could do to reduce thenumber of nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war. I haveimplored the people of India and Pakistan not to start a nuclearbuildup with each other, because I never want to see anotherweapon dropped.
On the other hand, if you look at the last 50 years,nuclear weapons have not been used a second time I think becauseof the deterrent theory. And what I want to do is to reduce ourweapons, but always do it in a way that at least provides somedisincentive from someone else using nuclear weapons, as well.
MR. CHIKUSHI: Well, unfortunately, I think the time isup.
THE PRESIDENT: I'll take a couple more.
MR. CHIKUSHI: Two more questions regarding our future.How about a young person, how about over here.
Q I want to ask you -- I'm very sad these days thatteenagers, crime is increasing -- (inaudible) -- what do you hopewe can leave to our children?
THE PRESIDENT: Let me ask you something. I havesomething to say about that, but why do you think the teenagecrime is going up?
Q Well, I think it is a little related to what theother guy asked you about, that no communication in the family,no father, and many times the mother -- does not work in thehome. And this kind of no communication in the family -- andalso the area -- we don't know other people, what they are doing.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I can tell you that in ourcountry, one of the things that happened is that so many of ourchildren were being let out of school, but they couldn't go hometo their parents because there was no parent in the home. And soa lot of this crime was happening between the time school wasover and the time the parents got home from work.
So what we have tried to do is to turn our schools intomore community institutions. And so the children can stay therefor longer hours and they can do their homework or they can gettutoring or they can do other things. In some of our big cities,even they're feeding the children there, if necessary. And whatwe're trying to do is to create as much as we can opportunitiesto overcome the fact that many of these children don't even havetwo parents in the homes in the U.S.
But I think the most important thing is children haveto believe that they are the most important people in the worldto someone. They have to be -- when you're young, you must knowthat you are the most important person in the world to someone.It gives you a root, an anchor in life. Of course, then all thework and the study and all that makes more sense. But in thebeginning you have to be valued just because you're alive andbecause you're in a family and because you're in a community andyou matter, no matter what.
I think that is important. And I worry that in all ofour societies we're working so hard, we're getting so busy, we'redoing so many things that that sense of the innate, inherentworth of people can be lost. We can never afford to defineourselves solely in terms of how hard we work or how much moneywe have or what our grades are or anything else. Children haveto believe that they matter just because they're alive. And Ithink that all or our societies, if we're not careful, we losethat.
MR. CHIKUSHI: The last question, I can only accept onequestion. Would you like to point to somebody, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: If I'm late the Prime Minister willstop speaking to me and this whole thing will be -- go ahead.
Q I have a question about -- you decided not toattack Iraq -- estimate by the Pentagon that more than 10,000people would die -- (inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, the Pentagonestimate was not that high, but it's obvious that if we hadconducted a comprehensive attack directed at their weapons ofmass destruction program, the production capacity, thelaboratories, all the supporting sites and the militaryinfrastructure that supports it, that unless everyone knew inadvance and left the premises, large numbers of people would bekilled. And I believe the United States has a specialresponsibility, because of the unique position of our militarymight, at this moment in history to be very careful in that.
Now, that's why I always said if Saddam Hussein wouldcomply with the United Nations resolutions, we would not attack.Shortly before the attack was about to begin, we received wordthat they were going to send a letter committing to compliance.Then we worked all day to try to clarify it, and I think it was agood thing to try to solve this peacefully. Peace is alwaysbetter than war, if you can do it consistent with the long-termsecurity and freedom of the people. So I feel good about that.
Secondly, I think that the inspection system offers usthe best protection over the long run. But don't forget, youhave suffered in Japan from the sarin gas attack. This is not anacademic issue to you; this is a real issue to you. And Iraq isa nation that has actually used chemical weapons on its ownpeople, on the Iranians, on others; had a biological weaponsprogram of some significance; was attempting to develop a nuclearweapons program.
So this is a very important issue for the world, and Iwould hope that all the countries of the world would continue tosupport an aggressive stance. I hope it will not lead tomilitary action, but we have to be prepared, I believe, to takemilitary action because the issue is so great.
I think that young people like you -- Japan lived inthe shadow of the awful legacy of the atomic weapons, but thelikelihood is that in your lifetime, your adult lifetime, andyour children's lifetime, you will have to worry more aboutchemical and biological weapons put in the hands of terrorists aswell as rogue states. You have seen this in Japan, you knowthis. But I think that if we can do something to stop it now, weshould do it even if it requires military action.
The gentleman behind you there.
Q I'm a private banker for a European bank. In afew years, in many ways, we've come through a lot. We haveincreased investment in the United States. However, things arechanging a little bit. Now you will be the first President ofthe 21st century, but what do you think you have to be mostworried about as we go into the 21st century in terms ofeconomics?
THE PRESIDENT: I think the biggest challenge, long-term, is to adapt the international economic systems to therealities of the 21st century. The International Monetary Fund,the World Bank, all these institutions set up at the end of theSecond World War have facilitated great trade and investment.But they weren't prepared for the fact that once you had tradeand investment, you had to have money crossing national lines,and then that money would become a commodity traded in itself,and then it would be traded at great margins through thederivatives and the other mechanisms. Sometimes the money istraded and you only put up 10 percent of the money you have atrisk.
Today $1.5 trillion crosses national borders every dayin currency trading. And we don't have a system to avoid boomand bust, to keep recession from going to depression in theglobal financial markets. So, long-term, I think that's our bigchallenge. We are all working on it, and I think we'll have overthe course of the coming year some very important things to do.
Meanwhile, we've come up with some short-termsolutions, Japan and the U.S., with the Asia growth fund weannounced -- the Prime Minister and I announced a couple of daysago -- a precautionary finance facility to keep the financialproblems from reaching countries that are doing a good job,strengthening the IMF.
But over the long run, every country after the GreatDepression that preceded World War II devised ways to stop thosedepressions from happening in their own countries. That's whatyou're doing here. You're just a question of whether you'redoing enough to restore growth, right? But you've been able tostop things that happened all over the world in the 1920s and'30s.
Now what we have to do is to develop an internationalsystem that will achieve that goal -- that will allow growth,free flow of money, but won't have these radical swings of boomand bust that devastated the world in the 1930s. That, I think,is the biggest long-term economic challenge that we face.
MR. CHIKUSHI: Finally, you must have something to sayto Japanese people.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I hope you haveenjoyed this evening as much as I have. And I thank you againfor your questions. I thank the people in Osaka for theirquestions. I thank you for your interest in your country and inour relationships with your country.
I would just like to say in closing that the UnitedStates views Japan as our friend, our ally for the future. Weregret that you have the present economic challenges you have,but we don't think you should be too pessimistic about thefuture. These things run in waves over time.
Keep in mind, 10 years ago a lot of people saidAmerica's best days were behind it. And we looked to you and welearned a lot of things from you, and we borrowed some thingsfrom you and they helped us. And so now we're in a period oftime where what we're doing is working pretty well for us andhelping the rest of the world.
But in the last 50 years no country has demonstratedthe capacity to change more than Japan; and to lead and to emergeand to sort of redefine, continually redefine the mission of thenation.
So I would, first of all, say do not be discouraged bythe present economic difficulties, they can be overcome. Thesecond thing I would say is, we had a big financial crisis inAmerica and it cost us five times more than it would have to fixbecause we delayed dealing with it. So now you have the laws onthe books. I would urge you to support your government inaggressively dealing with the financial institutions,aggressively moving to support greater consumption, aggressivelymoving for structural changes that will create more jobs.Because a strong Japan is good for you, but also essential to therest of Asia emerging from its present difficulties.
So don't be discouraged, but do be determined. Thatwould be the advice of a friend. I say that because we have beenthrough our tough times, we have learned so much from you.
And the last point I want to make is the best days ofJapan and the best days of America lay before us in the 21stcentury if we determine to go there together.
Thank you very much.
MR. CHIKUSHI: Thank you very much. I really appreciatethat you spent more time than expected. Thank you very much.