Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered remarks at the U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference on October 7, 2011. Secretary Clinton said:
"And so we're celebrating this at a moment when America is in the midst of a strategic pivot. The wars of the last decade are winding down and transitioning; the world's economic and strategic center of gravity is shifting east; and the United States is committed to an even deeper network of relationships across the Asia-Pacific region. But when you set out to build something, you begin with the cornerstone, which is why, as Secretary of State, I made my very first overseas visit and several since then to Japan. And President Obama, Vice President Biden, and many other American officials have made that same journey in the last two and a half years.
"But we know that governments alone cannot sustain the close ties that we have and continue to seek. Our strongest relationships have not lived only in the halls of power; they live in the hearts and minds of the American and Japanese people, not just in some cold assessment of our common interests, but in the warmth of common experiences, family ties, friendships, and the common values that bind us together. This relationship has been tested by time and tragedy, by rivalry, and by the natural push and pull between two proud nations like ours. And each time, it comes back even stronger. Each time, when it counts the most, our two countries stand in solidarity with each other."
Secretary Clinton continued:
"Now, relationships like ours and so many others in our lives show their true colors in tragedy, but they are built over decades. And while economic and security ties are vital to our alliance, ties between our people give our friendship its full meaning. The wonder a Japanese college student exudes when she first sets foot in L.A. or Chicago or Boston, the warmth an American high schooler feels for his Japanese host family, the technological marvels that Japanese and American corporate partnerships unleash into our markets, the mind-bending discoveries of our researchers cooperating at the cutting edge of science, these are the experiences that underpin our shared success.
"For all the fundamentals that are already in place, however, we cannot rest. We have to keep building and looking for new opportunities. And we do that issue by issue and person by person. And I must say that for us in the State Department, few opportunities deliver the lifelong impressions and friendships as sending our young people to each other's country to learn languages and cultures. And we are committed to ensuring that even more young people have that opportunity. More than 35,000 people have participated in exchange programs sponsored by our two governments, programs like the Fulbright and the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, known as JET. More than 750 officials have taken part in government exchanges, and nearly 4,000 Japanese professionals have taken part in the International Visitor Leadership Program, including four prime ministers, a Nobel laureate, a best-selling author, and many thousands more."
Secretary Clinton concluded:
"So we believe that building this relationship is not only strategic, not only economic, not only political; we believe it is a noble cause, and it's one that we are absolutely committed to. The U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of a system in the Asia Pacific that has underwritten peace, stability, and prosperity for decades. And the close connections built by the Monty Dicksons and the Taylor Andersons and the U.S.-Japan Councils, those are the foundations that not only keep the cornerstones strong but keep building higher and higher.
"I'm here to ask you for your help, Japanese and Americans alike. Let's keep this alliance and what it represents strong for as far as we can see into the future. Let it be said about us as it can be said of prior generations of American and Japanese leaders in business, government, academia, civil society, that we understood why this relationship was so vital, not only to each of us but to the world. And let us teach our young people what our countries have meant, can mean, and will mean to each other in the years ahead. And then we can give a new generation the skills, the opportunities, and the dream to help America and Japan thrive together in the century ahead."
Read Secretary Clinton's full remarks here.