tv Japanese Ambassador to the United States Discusses U.S.- Japan Relations CSPAN October 26, 2021 1:16pm-2:10pm EDT
close to this event. it's about an hour . >> welcome everybody to the annual reischauer memorial lecture. the lecture was established by the center in 2004 in order to commemorate the role that ambassador reischauer played in promoting us relations. the ambassador served as envoy to japan under presidents kennedy and johnson . and devoted his career to deepening our understanding of japan and the united
states. the ambassador mentored our own professor ken calder who carries on the great established tradition and established by ambassador reischauer. it's a distinct honor to introduce this year's honoree . who also has carried on this great tradition from the japanese side. ambassador tomita esser since 2021 and his career in the ministry offoreign affairs has over 40 years . before coming to the us ambassador tomita served as japan'sambassador to korea , prime minister sinzo abe's representative in osaka and as ambassador toisrael . his postings have included washington, london and paris.
ambassador tomita graduated from the university of tokyo and joined japan's ministry of foreign affairs in 1981. i think i've known ambassador tomita since 2001 when he was director of the foreign ministries national security affairs division and i was the minister of our embassy in tokyo and i'm honored to introduce my friend to you today, ambassador tomita. [applause] >> the. >> ambassador tomita i would only add a word to what ambassador she or has already said. it's a tremendous honor to have you with us here at the
reischauer center and here at johns hopkins university. i say that sincerely, particularly in your recent postings of course in your distinguished career across many years with the foreign ministry but particularly in the last 2 postings as ambassador that ambassador she or mentioned. 2 difficult countries. two countries in which reischauer himself had a broken dialogue that was similar perhaps in some ways to that which existed in reischauer stay between japan and the united states and i know in your remarks you will dwell on those things and i don't want to go further in
that direction but let me just say that i can't think of as a student of reischauer myself amongst others in the audience here who are if not reischauer himself, students of reischauer throughout the years as from the very beginning our center has been concerned with propagating that heritage. and so we really do welcome you and we look forward very much to your remarks today. it gives me a tremendous pleasure to welcome you. >> thank you very much doctor . very gracious introduction and thank you very much for inviting me to be part of this tribute to ambassador reischauer.
the reischauer center is just down massachusetts avenue from the embassy but we share the same street. i think we share the same outlook on the world and the same holds for the japan us relationship. and when i was invited to speak today i had the great fortune to be introduced to ambassador reischauer's 1960 essay entitled the broken dialogue withjapan . the piece is brilliant in japanese society. in the wake of great political turmoil caused by the 1960 division of the japan us security treaty.
it shows deep understanding of the underlying force driving the politics of the day. the loss displayed by various actors and student activists etc. i think we present the highest level of scholarship, a tour de force in the. but what is really impressive about the essay is reischauer while giving very detailed analysis to individual actors never loses sight of the totality of society. how the nation as a whole moves forward beyond thegreat political divide . and in the concluding part of this essay, reischauer gives this prognosis for the future
politics of japan and i quote, the obvious distaste of the japanese public for violence, the rapid priming down of the industry judicial balance shown by the press all indicate that the japan politics will probably continue with remarkably little cost. despite the battles pose on leadership of the state. i think anyone who has studied japan's political history over the past several decades. appreciate how prescient he was in predicting the future course of our political development. in fact one would even find a prognosis with today's politics.
what reischauer did in the famous essay but not just to be a very prescient analysis of the japanese society. but also to offer his prescriptions for future policy towards japan. as i noted earlier he had a deep understanding of japanese society helped him recognize the fundamental opportunity in his politics. but it also helped him understand them behind the facade or the continuity existed with diverse forces at work which the traditional american diplomatic engagement had failed to reach. it was in this aspect that he saw the broken dialogue with japan and he proposed to mend it by reaching out to the diverse groups of people, the
people who have not been targets of the us diplomatic engagement. and as you know, once he was installed in tokyo as ambassador in 1961, he went on to put these words in practice. expanding exponentially the number of avenues for dialogue between nations. and his leadership the once broken dialogue would not be fixed but strengthened. to the unprecedented degree. this was his main legacy during his ambassadorship. and we have seen in his debt to this day. now fast forwarding to today, the revolutionary development of medication technology has given ambassadors into vastly
different outlook compared with the time when reischauer began his mission. in the age of instantaneous communication, robust conversation is continually taking place between nations at all levels encompassing all sectors of society. including between government leaders. in this evolution, it may be argued that ambassadors face an increasingly diminished role ininternational dialogue . while i admit there is some truth to this observation, i strongly believe that evolution does not diminish a ambassadors responsibility in funding diplomatic efforts and giving them appropriate
direction accordingly. indeed to my mind the very abrasiveness of international indications is making this role even more critical. how ambassadors responded to this challenge in practice there is of course no general answer to this question. what i can do is to share with you my own personal experience which i hope will give you some insight into how ambassadors try to fulfill their missions. when i was named as ambassador to israel six years ago the appointment came as a total surprise. up to that point i had very limited exposure to the middle east in my diplomatic
career. and in fact i had never set my foot in that country before i took my post. in december 2015. in retrospect however, my lack of expertise turned out to be a blessing rather than a handicap because it allows me to examine my priorities free of preconceived notions. for as soon as i started my mission, it became clear to me that japan's relations with israel were suffering from long-held preconceptions that find no reality in today's world. and among those misconceptions the most damaging one was israel is a very dangerous country.
when i tried to promote japanese direct investment, the biggest stumbling block i encountered was that many japanese companies simply demand their employees to israel on safety grounds. this attitude of contracted chaperoning with many multinationals such as google continue to operate even during the occasional flare along its borders. equally damaging was the preconception that doing business in israel will harm the business prospects of our countries. again, as i studied the changing landscape of the region i realized that the notion was rapidlybecoming obsolete . even before abraham accords
which was signed a few years later. but the reality was that among japanese business leaders, the memory of the breakdown in the 70s were unheard. i found these preconceptions veryunfortunate because the more i got to know the country , the more i was convinced i became the two countries could develop unusually complementary partnership. so the mystifying these obsolete notions became my biggest mission. and i basically adopted the same approach that ambassador tomita had adopted . that is to expand the avenue of mutual engagements . in particular i concentrated my efforts on the task of getting as many japanese
business leaders as possible to visit that country and see the situation on theground with their own eyes . for i knew from my own experience israel was the kind of country younever understand unless you go and visit . fortunately, during my time in tel aviv we had visited israel twice and each time he was accompanied by high-level business relations . i believe that these visits by the ceos of leading japanese companies contributed significantly to the change in corporate mindset and led to the dramatic development of bilateral business partnerships in recent years . during the period between 2015 and 2017, which roughly
coincides with my tenure there, the number of japanese companies operating in israel increased by 70 percent . and the japanese direct investment witnessed a tenfold increase.i hope that my efforts played a modest role in that development. just a minute. i'm having a problem with my laptop. so let me ... okay. here i go. as you know i took out my post in early last year.
but when i did that i was faced with a completely different challenge and the recommendations that exist in the world today, it would be difficult to find any closer exchange than the one that exists between japan and korea. in 2018 a total of 10 million peopletraveled between the two countries . yet at my first conference upon arrival at the temple airport i summarize my forthcoming goals as that of a race dealer. i saw the broken dialogue developed between the two nations . although the nature of the challenge was quite different from the one that disturbed ambassador tomita in 1960.
as you know our relations with korea took a worse turn in recent years and this naturally led to deterioration in diplomatic conversation. i was expecting i needed to bring some tough message to my korean counterpart and receive some tough message in return. but i also realized that as we increasingly focus on sending that message, a lot of things that have been set for mutual reassurance became unset. this would not matter so much as long as the mutual trust between those remain intact but once this distrust starts the road, there's a real danger for the diplomatic exchange with degenerate into a downward spiral.
the excesses focus on the negative also has toxic impact more broadly on public opinion in both countries. it is in the nature of news media to focus on bad news. the trend then reinforces the public pessimism towards the future of the bilateral relations. how can we hope this negative downward spiral. this is no easy task. simply sugarcoating the message would not be a solution. it could be, it could even be a counterproductive if it breeds a false sense of complacency. and in the short term moreover this country needs to concentrate their efforts
to find diplomatic space to resolve the outstanding issues arising from issues in korea. before the judicial process runs its course through to a damaging conclusion. in the longer term however, i strongly believe that sustained efforts will be needed to fix the growing gap in dialogue. unfortunately my tenure as ambassador in korea was too short to make any meaningful contributions to this task but in that short period of time i tried to bring what i would describe as a realistic optimism to public conversation over the future of the issue. this perspective is based on the historical experience
that this despite the political crisis that played diplomatic ambassadors established in 1965, the japanese and koreans have found a way to engage each other constructively. achieving a level of bilateral exchange rarely seen anywhere else in the world. this optimistic outlook needs to be moderated with a dose of realism but i do believe that we should have more confidence in the two peoples capacity to overcome today's challenge. just as they overcame the challenge of the past. now turning to my current mission, what would be my role as ambassador to
washington? the question has become tricky because of the recent political development in japan . i hope doctor carter didn't preemptively chose this date to put me on the spot but i feel rather constrained when speaking about our policy priority just several days before the general election. fortunately here again i can rely on reischauer and his prissy and observation about the fundamentalcontinuity in japanese politics . so whatever the outcome of the general election i am confident that our alliance with the united states will remain a foundational component of our diplomatic efforts. moreover i take a lot of encouragement from the fact that the new prime minister
embodies this continuity because of his long experience in diplomatic policy. if he does win the forthcoming election, he will have a very full plate in front of him. starting with the continued challenge of defeating the pandemic. but i don't think the domestic priorities will diminish his commitment to the diplomatic goals. our country has been seeking in recent years including a free and open region and the best alliance between two countries. that being said, for the reasons i have already stated i feel reticent about talking about specific policies so let me put the discussion of my mission here in the
context of the broad picture surrounding ouralliance . and the big picture i'm talking about is that in nationalization's i increasingly have compression between terrorism. and this frame has been manifested in two factors. which have been shaping the recent evolution international relations. one is a shift in the us focus to the and of pacific region and the other is the quest for new alignment of like-minded nations. which also serve as institutional opinions for us leadership in the
competition. so in the face of the evolving global picture, our two countries, our two governments rather have been deeply deepening the conversation about how our alliance should be focused its mission. and broadly speaking i think we are looking at the following four areas. the first area is therefore to strengthen our alliance by operating on responsive capabilities. in the face of increasingly troubling security algorithms in the region. when prime minister siddhartha visited washington in april, he and president biden shared the concerns about certain aspects of chinese behavior and i read the need to engage china in terms of discussions over
these issues. their concerns were deflected in a very tough message addressed to china in the jones statement issued them. but as you know being cast however is not the same as being ready. to make sure we are ready for very diverse contingencies, we might have to face in the future we need to deepen our conversation on how best we can work together to strengthen our deterrence and response capabilities. this has been one of our main observations after the summit and we will remain so in the coming weeks and months . the second area we need to work together concerns the efforts to strengthen our own resilience and competitiveness.
it is clear that we need to take on competition now from a position of strength. in this respect our two countries are makingserious efforts . first to realize the full recovery from the pandemic and then to make our economy more resilient and competitive . and these efforts should be synergetic. again, given the summit the two leaders need to launch a so-called core partnership. core being the combination of the first two letters of this key objective i.e. competitiveness and resilience. this partnership will focus on modalities, joint efforts to maintain our edge in technology and innovation and
protect strategic products like semi conductors and pharmaceuticals . the third area where stronger partnership is needed is in the efforts to find solutions to wide-ranging strategies facing the global society. and in this area our top priority remains the growing effort to contain and overcome the pandemic. this is often more by the way the recent leaders have a focus on vaccinecooperation . climate change is another challenge calling for serious adaptation and effort.
our two governments have decided to start a new climate change partnership which a focus on among other things development all relevant technologies touch as hydrogen power. and fourth and final area is the diplomatic efforts to create the broader community of nations sharing our values and principles. in particular, the has the united states shifted its focus towards the vision i think japan can play a role in facilitating us engagement with countries in the region to our extensive network that we have nurtured. prime example of this is japan's efforts over the years to deepen conversation with within the framework of a court. and our continued efforts to engage the united states in
regional cooperation in the area of trade and investment is another example. thanks to the robust communication between the two governments i'm happy to report that the policies are being aligned in accordance with these priorities and i look forward to seeing concrete progress in the coming months . as we get beyond the political transition now taking place in japan . and as i look towards the future however i am conscious of that whether or not we succeed in this endeavor will ultimately depend on the health and strength of our bilateral relations. sitting in my office on massachusetts avenue i see incredibly diverse indication
on a very solid foundation for mutual trust. created by our forebears. but i know that we must not be complacent in strengthening exchanges in all aspects of our bilateral relations. in particular what i learned during my 40 years in the foreign service is that the relationship between any two countries ultimately comes down to human connection. ambassador tomita recognized this when he wrote his 1960 as a. so did i. as i tried to fulfill my mission in tel aviv and soul . so my biggest mission here in washington is the same. to force the connection so
that our two countries respond. in friendship and solidarity. to the challenges and possibilities before us. so in closing i think ambassador reischauer would be moved if he could see what the japan us alliance has become and i wish i could sit down with him and tell him all that has happened since he passed in 1990. he'd be amazed by so many things from the size of the cherry blossom elation to japan's possibilities and defense guidelines to the fact that japan is now the largest investor in the united states. i think he would be overjoyed at the face of japan us relations and he would relax
by the work of thecenter that is his namesake .so ladies and gentlemen i'm very gratified by the work of the tomita center. and i thank you for this invitation today. thank you very much. >> thank you ambassador. that was moving to me as a student of reischauer myself and the reischauer center attribute that you paid i think is speaks to the heritage of edwin reischauer but i can remember as others in this audience do no doubt will remember that this as well that even to last his last days he was always worried about the possibility that a broken dialogue might
research in japan us relations. and of course our two countries do have in some ways starkly different circumstances. your directly adjacent to china. we are across the ocean and more. you import 99 percent of your oil and much of it from the middle east . and we are among and we have been recently the largest oil exporter in theworld . at times exceeding saudi arabia . and it wasn't so long ago i can remember when i was working briefly on capitol hill that we had the demonstrations. we had cars being beaten with sledgehammers and things like that on capitol hill.
so it isn't that far in the distant past. the protectionism has been a major factor in us-japan relations. are there some dangers of a broken dialogue researching or do you really i know we would all like to hope that that is the case but maybe put it let me put it differently. what do you think the potential dangers to us-japan relations are against which we should be working. class i'm sorry if that's a difficult question. >> i think my job is to prevent that from happening so but i think our alliance has changed very
substantially from the time of ambassador reischauer. and i can describe this change in many ways the biggest thing is the alliance is gaining increasingly broader regional and global outlook. so this is an opportunity and also a danger. because now we have a situation where not just for each other but also for the global good. so i think the our alliance as this opportunity to contribute to the greater
progress in the international society but at the same time because we have a scope of an alliance has expanded so much, this there is a greater need for us to align our policies. and this is not always possible. and also often times i think we need to issue a very complex set ofobjectives . take the example of china for instance . i talked about the need to engage china in a very candid discussion. but that being said, china is also the second largest economy in the world. deeply integrated into global
society. so that stability in our relations, stability in relations between the united states and china, the stability in the relationship between japan and china matter for the global society. and of course china is also in a position to contribute to the efforts to find solutions to the broad range of issues including climate change. so i think the secretary of state tony blinking described the complexity of this undertaking by breaking down the three aspects of our engagement in china . at an adversarial, competitive and collaborative . so just taking the example of the china, if it's going to
be a complex task ahead so it calls for even closer resignation between the two would you say even if it's not the same sort of tasking. it's very complex coordination problem. there's a broken dialogue and that, not a brokendialogue but the challenge . >> exactly, i'm not seeing that there's, i don't, i'm not suggesting that we go to see a gap in communication but i'm trying to underline the difficulties of how difficult it is to coordinate a position on it so many complex issues. >> i know we have a number of people here who of course our
former policymakers. we have our fellows who been studying policy issues intensively. a lot of students and people who are interested. i don't want to go on at great length myself but i know that we have some questions. i see professor bill brooks right here. bill. >>. >> my question is actually more of the short-range impact of the pandemic. which has created a kind of broken dialogue between the us and japan academic immunities . i teach a course at sites on
us-japan relationships and global context in which the students normally get a research trip to tokyo each year. we haven't been able to do it for two years because of the pandemic and i think this is spread across the entire us. the dialogue of academics, media and other academics in an institution or personal environment has been broken . by the pandemic. and the other estimate, can this be fixed quickly as things get more and more normal over the short term . >> thank you very much for that question and as i said in my presentation, i'm a strong believer in the partisan human connection. so i have been heartened by the dislocation created by the pandemic.
in the area of people's exchange in areas including academic exchanges. and of course, how quickly we can overcome this challenge depends on how we make progress in terms of defeating this pandemic but i'm happy to report that we have slowly made progress in resuming normal exchanges, for instance taking a few examples of traditional avenues of exchange. the fellowship program, we've redeemed the program this summer. we have just spent off the new batch of scholars to japan so the objective is coming back to normal course there's many other programs
continue. i think we will have a better prospect reviewing normal exchanges. >> i think we all understand the election coming up we certainly look forward to getting back to japan whenever that becomes possible. more questions. how about right here. >> my name is kevin, i'm a student studying international nations. i would like to think ambassador for coming here giving remarks on us-japan relations. i'd like to go back to china, it
has increasingly intensified. last friday president biden said the u.s. is defending taiwan if china decides to take action against taiwan. could you provide details on the current japanese under a situation of possible potential between taiwan and china and possibly in this conversation. >> thank you very much. you just mentioned the vicinity of taiwan, i think obviously
taiwan's efforts in the areas mentioned, try to strengthen bilateral corporations, i sent my condolence. >> anchor. a very difficult question, thank you very much. >> thank you very much, i am senior director of us-japan alliance initiative of the peace foundation usa and i wanted to ask about economic security, a very hot topic right now in your referenceable partnership and i wonder if you think current mechanisms or methods of coordination are sufficient to address complexities of economic security to be used two plus two mechanism to handle that or do
we just need to rely on traditional ministry to ministry agency to agency ordination or is this a new approach but useful in that regard? >> i think everyone knows -- i should add -- >> that's a very good question. of course to follow -- [inaudible] try to floor ways to address concern so we are trying to establish conversations on this
subject and of course the traditional lines of communication but ultimately, this calls for stakeholder conversations. we need to engage business to ensure we make appropriate decisions in terms of protecting the supply chains. i think beyond this traditional conversation, i think we need to find ways to engage other stakeholders including the business but at this stage, we haven't reached that stage to
come up with a specific way of doing that but down the road to have that dialogue. >> thank you. the question right here. >> thank you, mr. ambassador. i'm the director of the foreign policy institute here. my question relates to what you brought up about dialogue and i wonder, you've already talked about china and certainly choose to highlight that but my question is, where regionally or globally qc important broken dialogues and how can the united states and japan work together to strategically cut off