Joint Statements of President Clinton and Prime Minister Obuchi

Office of the Press Secretary
(Tokyo, Japan)

For Immediate Release November 20, 1998


Akasaka Palace
Tokyo, Japan

5:00 P.M. (L)

PRIME MINISTER OBUCHI: Just now I have finished the meetingwithPresident Clinton which lasted for about an hour and a half. Japan and theUnited States are allies bonded together with shared values. It is mypleasure to receive President Clinton in Japan less than two months afterourfirst summit meeting in New York. And I regard it as testimony to theclosecooperation and coordination between the two countries.

The President invited me to officially visit the U.S. duringtheGolden Week holidays next year and I accepted it with great pleasure.

In today's summit meeting the President and I exchanged viewson awide range of topics including international situation and the worldeconomy.Regarding North Korea, we had a substantive exchange of views on mattersincluding KEDO, the suspected underground construction of nuclearfacilities,and missile issues. We confirmed that the two countries will maintain ourclose consultation with each other on various levels and will take acoordinated posture among Japan, South Korea and the United States towardNorth Korea.

The President and I also consulted on major internationalissuesincluding Russia and China. We reaffirmed our two countries' contributiontothe global peace and security which goes beyond our bilateral relations.AndI told the President -- would extend assistance to the Palestinians up tosome$200 million in the next two years in order to acceleratethe momentum for the Middle East peace process created by the WyeRiver agreement in which President Clinton took an instrumentalrole.

With regard to Central America, which was stricken byHurricane Mitch, I explained to the President about Japan'sassistance to those countries. And the President and I alsoconfirmed that the two countries will make closer cooperationtoward the early realization of U.N. Security Council's reform.

The President and I welcomed the enhancement of thecooperation between Japan and the United States to stabilize theworld economy. We are both pleased with the joint announcementof the Asian growth and recovery initiative and we reaffirmed ourcooperation in the area of strengthening the global financialsystem.

The President and I also agreed to continue theconstructive dialogue on the economic management of the twocountries. In this context, I explained to the President thatrecognizing the critical importance of Japan's economic recoveryfor the economic stability and prosperity in Asia, as well as inthe world, Japan is simply implementing measures necessary forthe revitalization and stabilization of its financial system andfor its economic recovery.

In particular, I finalized on November 16th theemergency economic package which aims to recover the economy.And we have also mentioned that the effort on the U.S. side isalso to be welcomed and we considered that the decision -- wehope that these cooperative efforts by Japan and the UnitedStates will bear fruit and that the world economy will head forstability and recovery.

In today's summit meeting the President and I confirmedthe development in Japan-U.S. cooperation on various issues withglobal implications and I would like you to refer to thedistributed paper for the details.

It was a significant achievement of President Clintonvisit to Japan this time that the President and I could reconfirmthe importance of Japan-U.S. relations and promote thecooperation and policy coordination between the two countries.As Japan and the U.S face numerous issues which call for theirjoint effort, I would like to maintain close consultation andcooperation with the President.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Let me begin bythanking Prime Minister Obuchi for welcoming me to Japan, for thewarm hospitality, and for the good talks we have had yesterdayand today.

The relationship between the United States and Japan isthe cornerstone of stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacificregion. That is both a point of pride and a pledge that we willact together to promote stability and prosperity, especially nowwhen so many nations in the region are facing economicdifficulties and real distress.

To be the cornerstone of stability and prosperity, wemust continue to carry our weight. We're going to meet ourresponsibilities first and foremost as allies. The PrimeMinister and I had good discussions on important security issues,including our shared concerns about North Korea. The UnitedStates is reviewing our Korea policy to strengthen North Korea'scompliance with its obligations and, of course, we will beconsulting closely with Japan and others in the region as we moveforward.

We are also going to meet our responsibilities asdemocracies with a common sense of purpose. Today, we issue ajoint statement on our support for democracy and human rightsaround the world. We've agreed to strengthen our cooperation onthe environment. We both welcome Argentina's decision this weekto become the very first developing country to accept bindinglimits on its greenhouse gas emissions, following up on thehistoric work done by Japan at the Kyoto Conference last year.We recognize that there is and there must be no trade-off betweenthe human right to development and the human need to breatheclean air, drink safe water, live a healthy life.

We are also, I am confident, going to meet ourresponsibilities as the world's two largest economies. TheUnited States will do its part with a determined policy to keepgrowth going, markets open to free and fair trade and continuedefforts to stabilize the global economy in the short- andlong-term.

Japan has made important contributions to regionalstabilization -- efforts like the Miyazawa Plan; the new Asiagrowth and recovery initiative the Prime Minister announced atAPEC, to help banks and businesses in hard hit countries emergefrom debt; the precautionary finance facility to help thefinancial contagion not spread to countries with good policies.And, of course, Japan has committed recently substantialresources to repair its banking system and announced new plans tostimulate the economy here.

I believe it is clearly not only in the interest of theworld and the region, but in the interest of the Japanese peoplefor Japan to continue to move forward with Prime MinisterObuchi's strategy, with aggressive implementation of thesignificant bankreform legislation and taking the necessary steps to spurdomestic demand and reignite economic growth. We in the UnitedStates learned a few years ago, often in painful fashion, thatthere is no substitute for decisive action to heal an ailingbanking system so that growth can be restored.

We also believe that it is in Japan's interest tosupport open trade and more open, deregulated markets. Anoverwhelming consensus emerged from this week's APEC Summit:Protectionism is a no-growth strategy that offers no way out ofthe current, economic crisis. If coupled with actions, whichlead to an artificial explosion of exports in other countries, infact, it can promote a protectionist reaction there, furtherslowing growth. The longer we wait to confront this reality, theharder it becomes to escape.

At APEC our nations agreed to pursue at the WTO marketopening measures in nine critical sectors covering $1.5 trillionin global trade,. This is an important commitment and we willcount on Japan's support to see it through in 1999.

I know that are painful choices going on throughoutAsia and difficult challenges for Japan. I would just like tosay as a friend that the United States wants, needs, and believesin a strong Japan; that in the last half century no nation hasdemonstrated its capacity for positive change more dramaticallythan Japan. Today, I believe Japan has, amidst all thedifficulties, a win-win proposition. The steps necessary for thegood of the Japanese people are also good for Asia and the restof the world.

As Japan works to recover its growth and stability, itwill lead all Asia into a more prosperous and peaceful 21stcentury. That is a goal I am proud to share with Prime MinisterObuchi and one we will be working together to achieve in themonths ahead.

Thank you very much.

Q I'd like to ask you a question about economicmatters. It was the economic recovery -- Japanese government hasbeen resorting to various measures. However, we cannot say thatwe have seen any positive result. Mr. President, how do youassess the status quo and also the measures that have been takenby the Japanese government? How do you assess them?

And also, Mr. Prime Minister, how have you beenexplaining to Mr. Clinton about the existing measures that havebeen taken by the government and also the outlook of therecovery?

PRIME MINISTER OBUCHI: Let me respond first. Duringthe Japan-U.S. summit I have explained to Mr. Clinton thefollowing: We are fully cognizant of the fact that it isextremely critical that Japanese economy makes a recovery inorder to ensure the economic stability and prosperity of Asia andthe world. To this end, we have been putting top priority andconsider this to be an urgent matter in order to implementnecessary measures for the recovery of the economy and thefinancial system.

And on the 16th of this month, we have presented theemergency economic stimulus package so that we will be able tostate clearly for the fiscal 1999 that Japan has turned to thepositive growth. And that means that the package includes 17trillion yen on project basis and substantially -- 20 trillionyen, if the permanent tax reduction exceeding 6 trillion yen isincluded. And these are the measures necessary for us to createthe bright 21st century and urgent matters for the economicrecovery, and also must take measures necessary to avoid theglobal economic risks and support Asia.

And the third supplementary budget has to be preparedas soon as possible. And this means that national and regionalfiscal burden would be exceeding 10 trillion yen. So we aregoing to be moving toward the rapid and prompt preparation of thesupplementary budget as soon as possible so that it can pass theextraordinary Diet.

And we believe that President Clinton has well receivedour efforts and has shown understanding and has expressed that heshall extend continued support towards such measures. We're verymuch appreciative of such a stand expressed by Mr. Clinton.

Number one, economic power, the United States, andnumber two, economic power, Japan -- we must take initiatives inorder to ensure the prosperity and stability in Asia and Asianeconomy as a whole. And we have confirmed mutually that weshall, together, exert efforts.

THE PRESIDENT: Let me, first of all, say I think it isunfair to have a negative judgment of the government's effortsbased on the fact that no one feels any results now. After all,Prime Minister Obuchi has not been in office very long. He hasput together his government, he has passed this bank reformlegislation, he has announced a plan to stimulate the economywith tax cuts and public investment.

You asked how I feel about it. I would make fourpoints. Number one, I think the bank reform legislation is quitegood because it puts up public money which financial institutionscan get to protect depositors, but only if they recycle -- or, ifyou will, write off their bad loans and clean up their balancesheets so they can start to loan money again. So I think that ifthis legislation is vigorously implemented it will be a big plus.

On the stimulus package, I think it is quite good.Whether it will be enough or not I do not know, simply becausethe Prime Minister has had to change a policy that was notstimulating the economy -- and sometimes when you have to turn acountry around, it takes more than you think in the beginning. Idon't know, that.

The third thing I would say is we believe that greatertrade and investment will actually generate more jobs and moregrowth in Japan. And, therefore, we think it's important tocontinue with the market opening mechanisms, and we havesuggested that perhaps deregulation in the areas oftelecommunications and airlines would generate more jobs hereonly because they generated far more jobs for us in the UnitedStates when we did it than we could have known.

The last thing I'd like to say is I hope the Japanesepeople have great confidence in their country. And averagecitizens, the kind of people I talked to last night on thattelevision show, they can help. This is not just for thegovernment alone. Average citizens, if they have confidence andthey believe in the capacity of this country to meet itschallenges, can help by purchasing more of the goods andservices, more of the output of the Japan to create more jobs andstabilize this economy. And I would hope that they would also dothat.

Q Mr. President, you mentioned briefly yourdiscussions on North Korea. I was wondering if you could tellus, in light of, first of all, a couple of reports this morning-- one talks about new North Korean missile developments, anothertalks about the North Koreans requesting a sum of money in orderfor an inspection of that suspected complex -- I'm wondering ifyou can give us an update on the report from your representativewho went to the region and what specific areas you two discussedas far as how to approach the situation, whether you need to begoing more toward carrots, more toward sticks, more discussions,more direct negotiations. Thank you.

And I'd also like the Prime Minister, please, if hecould give his input on that as well.

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I think it is importantto keep in mind the difference between the missile program, whichwe have always been quite concerned about but over which we haveno agreement with the North Koreans, and the agreed framework forcontaining the nuclear program.

We're quite concerned by some of the news reports wehave seen -- not all of them, by the way, have been confirmed.But there are some disturbing signs there. It is true that whenI sent a team into North Korea to talk about inspecting sites,there was some discussion of conditions which were completelyunacceptable for such inspections. And I think it's fair to saythat no one can be absolutely sure of whether the North Koreanposition is simply a product of economic difficulties so they'reattempting to get more money out of various countries for doingwhat they ought to be doing anyway, or whether they really aremoving toward a more hostile posture.

We will evaluate that very carefully. I have appointeda former Defense Secretary, Bill Perry, to do a comprehensivereview of our Korea policy and analyze all this and report backto me and to congressional leaders soon.

Now, the second thing I would say is I still believethat we are doing the right thing to pursue the agreed frameworkbecause we know that if we had not been working on that theselast several years, North Korea would have far more nuclearmaterial for weapons productions than it is has because theagreed framework, in that sense, has worked.

And in that connection, I applaud what Prime MinisterObuchi has done in supporting the KEDO project. And we need tocontinue to work together with our friends in South Korea --hopefully, with the support of the good wishes of the Chinese --to try to restrain hostile developments in North Korea and keepworking in the spirit of the agreed framework, and to avoiddestabilizing things like this missile flight over Japan, whichdisturbed us greatly.

PRIME MINISTER OBUCHI: With respect to the North Koreaissue, basically the United States, South Korea, and Japan shouldcooperate in trying to resolve the matter. And on this point, wehave had discussions with the President and I think that it hasbeen confirmed that this kind of trilateral deliberations andconsultations will continue.

The North Korean missile flew over our territory andlanded in the Pacific Ocean, but it was a very shockingexperience for us. And, therefore, in that respect, Japan wouldlike to try to see what kind of cooperation Japan can extend toNorth Korea to these consultations and consultative processes.However, there are some doubts about the underground nuclearfacilities should the North Koreans have, and, therefore, we arelooking forward to the surveys and investigations which will beconducted by the United States and hope that that kind of a doubtwill be cleared very soon.

On the other hand, we have to cooperate on the KEDOproject and, therefore, in that respect, we are trying to extendour cooperation as the President has just mentioned. And asJapan we are going to be thinking of providing a billion dollarsworth of support and, therefore, in that respect we hope thatsuch underground nuclear facilities or facilities that areproducing nuclear material is not there in reality.

Because if that happens it will be very difficult forus to persuade the Japanese people about the kind of cooperationwe would be able to extend to the North Koreans and, therefore,in that respect, we would like to ask for the understanding ofthe United States and we're asking for the cooperation of theUnited States in this respect.

In any case, we do hope that we will be able to seethat North Koreans will be able to coordinate their effortstogether with the people that are involved. Although in theconsultation tables we are not included ever, we hope that theUnited States and South Korea will provide us the neededinformation so that we will be able to pursue our policies intrying to stabilize this area and bring peace and stability intothe region.

I'm sorry, the time is up. Thank you very much.

Speeches on Nov 20 1998

Joint Statements of President Clinton and Prime Minister Obuchi

President Clinton Speaks With American and Japanese Business Leaders

President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House | White House for Kids
White House History | White House Tours | Help
Privacy Statement


Site Map

Graphic Version

T H E   W H I T E   H O U S E