Remarks at a Reception for American and Japanese Businessmen in Tokyo, Japan

November 10, 1983

Chairman Inayama, Vice President Fukushima, Ambassador Mansfield, and honored members of the America-Japan Society, the Keidanren, and the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan:

I don't usually go around in these clothes, but I'm dining with His Imperial Majesty tonight. [Laughter] But I'm delighted to have this chance to meet with such a distinguished group of Japanese and American leaders.

Before I go any further, may I extend my early birthday greeting to someone who couldn't be here, my good friend and your distinguished former Prime Minister, Mr. Nobazuki Kishi, who in just 3 days turns 88.

This gathering marks the way that we Americans and Japanese rely on each other for our prosperity. Japan and America are separated by thousands of miles of ocean, different languages, and different cultures, yet in our robust trade -- everything from food to computers -- we've found a way to help each other create abundance.

In 1967, my first year as Governor of California, trade between our two countries amounted to $5.7 billion, and I remember how much importance even then my fellow Governors and I placed on trade with Japan. By 1974, my last year as Governor, the figure had shot up to $23 billion. And this year it's expected that Japan will account for a tenth of all of America's exports, more than any other nation overseas; that America will buy a quarter of all Japanese exports; and that total trade between our two nations will surpass $60 billion.

Our vigorous trade has given us a chance to learn from one another, and it is in large part because of that trade that today our nations are leading a technological revolution that promises to change life even more profoundly than did the Industrial Revolution of a century ago.

All of us want to keep Japanese-American business healthy and expanding. And that means we must continue to promote not just trade but free trade. To the Japanese here tonight, let me say, ``Congratulations.'' Many in this room played a key role over the past three-and-a-half decades in making Japan an economic miracle. Your imagination, energy, and determination have made this nation one of the most prosperous on Earth and focused economic growth throughout the Pacific Basin.

And now that Japan has become a giant in the world economy, your nation shares the responsibility for keeping that economy strong. In recent years, Japan has begun to open its markets to more goods and services from abroad. Prime Minister Nakasone has continued these positive actions, and we appreciate all your efforts.

America does have trade problems with Japan, and we seek the cooperation of your government so we can solve them together. We must work for lower barriers on both sides of the Pacific. And we hope to see your capital markets open to more foreign participation. This will help establish a greater international role for the yen and would contribute to an improvement in the imbalance between our two currencies.

As leaders of Japanese business, you can help make certain that Japan leads in the drive for greater free trade to strengthen the international economy. The well-being of both our nations will depend, to a large extent, on your efforts.

I've heard -- well, as leaders of Japanese business, you can make certain that Japan leads in the drive for greater free trade to strengthen the international economy. The well-being of both our nations will depend, to a large extent, on your efforts. I've heard about the private efforts of Japanese businessmen to establish a permanent home for the America-Japan Society of Tokyo and other organizations dedicated to expanding cultural exchanges and good will between our two countries. And I hope these efforts succeed.

To the Americans here tonight, let me say simply, ``Keep up the good work.'' You're pioneers, showing that although doing business here is hard work, the rewards are worth it. More and more, Japan is proving a fruitful market for American goods and services. Your fine example will encourage other American businesses to follow you here and expand Japanese-American trade still further.

And in January, you'll be pleased to hear the Department of Commerce is sending a high-level delegation of American business people, led by Richard McElheny, Assistant Commerce Secretary for Trade Development, and Jim Jenkins, my Deputy Counsellor at the White House, on a special trade mission to Japan.

And I want you to know that as Americans doing business in Japan, you have this administration's full support. We're working as hard in Washington as you are here to make certain your opportunities in Japan keep growing. The Tsukuba Exposition will provide an excellent opportunity for America to demonstrate the latest in technology. I hope many of your companies will be able to participate and cooperate in this exposition with Jim Needham, who's directing the U.S. Pavilion.

The message I want to leave with everyone here tonight is simple. It's a lesson history has taught us again and again. Protectionism hurts everyone, but free trade benefits all.

I understand that it's a tradition in Japan for businessmen to make contracts final simply by giving their word or shaking hands. That kind of transaction, of course, requires deep mutual trust and respect. Neither of our nations can open its markets completely in an afternoon. But working step by step and without delay, we can build that kind of mutual trust and respect.

Again, thank you for your very warm and gracious welcome.

Note: The President spoke at 6:56 p.m. in the Hagoromo-No-Ma Room at the Akasaka Palace.