Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto in Tokyo on April 17, 2011. Following their meeting, Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Matsumoto held a joint press conference with U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO President Thomas Donohue and Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of the Japanese business association Nippon Keidanren. Mr. Donohue's participation underscored the U.S. business community's faith in Japan's economic recovery. Foreign Minister Matsumoto announced an agreement between the U.S. and Japanese governments to create a new public-private partnership to support reconstruction efforts in Japan.
In his remarks, Foreign Minister Matsumoto expressed appreciation to Secretary Clinton for her visit to Tokyo and to the American people for their support following the devastating earthquakes and tsunami that struck Japan. Via a translator, Foreign Minister Matsumoto said, "...I would like to say how grateful I am to Secretary Clinton for her visit to Japan. As we had a great earthquake already, Secretary Clinton and I had two teleconferences, as well as other talks in Paris, where Secretary Clinton gave us words for well wishes, support, and solidarity. And, once again, in today's meeting for Japan's cooperation she gave us again words for support, and I am very encouraged."
He continued, "We had the great earthquake and tremendous support has been given to us already. We have had support of the U.S. forces, as you are all aware, and also from the U.S. President, Secretary, and many other U.S. citizens, including very small children have given us words of encouragement and support. Also, the donations, the goods in kind, dispatch of experts concerning the nuclear power stations, we have had great support from the Americans. I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation to the Americans, particularly the State Department has given us around-the-clock support at the U.S. embassy here in Tokyo. They put in place a special arrangement whereby they provided us with great support, and that has been a great encouragement for us. Once again, I express my appreciation."
Following Foreign Minister Matsumoto's remarks, Secretary Clinton said:
"Good afternoon. I am honored to be back in Japan. I wish to convey in person to the Japanese people my country's admiration for your strength in the face of this multi-dimensional crisis of unprecedented scope. We pledge once again our steadfast support for you and for your future recovery. We are very confident that Japan will demonstrate the resilience that we have seen during this crisis in the months ahead as you resume the very strong position that you hold in the world today.
"I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to meet again with the foreign minister. As he said, we have been in touch by telephone and had an opportunity to meet in Paris shortly after he took office, and shortly after the earthquake and tsunami hit.
"President Obama has reached out to Japan on behalf of our country. We both were very touched by our visits to the embassy in Washington to leave a personal note for the Japanese people in the condolence book there. And officials across both of our governments have been in constant contact to coordinate our relief efforts. The alliance between Japan and the United States is the cornerstone of peace, progress, and prosperity in East Asia. For 50 years, it has been sustained not only by the actions of our governments, but by the allegiance of our people. This alliance lives in our hearts.
"And so, when we in the United States saw Japan struck by such a catastrophe, and realized the magnitude of what you were facing, we responded not simply as allies and partners, but in a deeper sense, as friends. The people of the United States could not stand by as the people of Japan suffered. At the U.S. embassy and at our consulates in Japan, our diplomats and disaster experts, have worked around the clock with their partners in your government and in the self-defense forces. Many U.S. officers stationed in other countries who once lived here in Japan volunteered to come back from as far away as Nigeria and Canada, because this country means a great deal to many Americans. And they wanted to be here to help. This is what friends do in times of need.
"We were fortunate to have dedicated leaders in our governments and in both of our embassies. Ambassador Roos led our efforts here in Japan, and Ambassador Fujisaki led Japan's efforts in America. I want to thank both of them.
"Our nuclear experts from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy have supported the heroic Japanese responders working to end the emergency at Fukushima. And the U.S. military has provided many forms of assistance as part of Operation Tomodachi -- in English that means 'Operation Friend'. To cite just one example that the minister and I were discussing, Sendai Airport was engulfed by the tsunami. Its buildings were uprooted, its runways covered with tons of debris. For the past month, U.S. airmen, soldiers, and Marines have worked with their Japanese partners to clear away the devastation and to repair the landing strips. This week, earlier than anyone had predicted, Sendai Airport reopened to commercial flights.
"Examples such as this of collaboration illustrate a broader point. When the earthquake and tsunami occurred, the response of the United States was all hands on deck. That sentiment still continues, and will continue, because the well-being of the Japanese people is a bedrock priority of the United States. You are our partners and our friends.
"It is also a truism in international relations that when hardship strikes anywhere else in the world, Japan is there. After the Indian Ocean tsunami, after the Hurricane Katrina, after the earthquake in Haiti, Japan sent aid and often aid workers. In places unsettled by conflict, from Somalia to the Golan Heights, Japan sends peace keepers. To help Pakistan meet its security and economic challenges, Japan organized a donor's conference, and pledged $1 billion itself. Japan is one of the world's (interruption to audio) are honoring Japan's legacy of caring for others.
"So, I come with a message from the people of the United States, a message of solidarity and shared hope. Together we are looking to the future. So many U.S. companies and citizens expressed their desire to help. So our two governments, as the minister said, have agreed to create a public-private partnership for reconstruction. We wish to enhance cooperation between Japan and American businesses, between civil society groups, public officials, under the guidance of the Government of Japan, with its planning.
"Here with me today are Tom Donohue, a leader in the American business community, and president of the United States Chamber of Commerce, and Tom Nides, my deputy secretary of state, who had a distinguished career in business before joining the State Department. I asked them to come to Japan to begin a conversation with your government and business leaders. Their presence here is a reflection of the American business community's full faith in Japan's economic recovery.
"Let me close by saying again that the hopes and prayers of the American people are with the people of Japan, today and always. The stories we have heard of the courage of the Japanese people, the selflessness shown toward each other, the devotion shown toward their nation, have moved and inspired us.
"Last week in Washington the National Cathedral convened a prayer service for Japan. It brought together people from many faiths -- Buddhist, Shinto, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Christian -- who prayed together for healing for Japanese families and a swift recovery for the nation. One speaker was your ambassador to Washington. He said that, 'The way ahead is rough, steep, and long. But we can find encouragement in the resilience and civility of the Japanese people,' and in the support shown for you from around the world.
"We will hold a prayer for Japan in our hearts, as we walk that long way ahead toward a strong and bright future for this great nation. Thank you."
You can read the full transcript here.