[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George H. W. Bush (1991, Book I)]
[April 4, 1991]
[Pages 326-330]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

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The President's News Conference With Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu of 
Japan in Newport Beach, California
April 4, 1991

    The President. Let me just say what a pleasure it's been to have 
Prime Minister Kaifu here in the United States. In the past year, we've 
resolved significant trade disputes, and we've moved to ease trade 
tensions. I think we've made solid progress in opening new markets to 
satellites and telecommunications, wood products.
    We need to move ahead now in other areas--construction services, 
autos, auto parts, semiconductors, other areas. We need to prove that 
our efforts under the SII, the Structural Impediments Initiative, 
produce real results. I think progress has been made. It remains our 
best hope of fending off those who advocate managed trade between our 
    In 1990, the U.S. trade deficit with Japan fell for the third 
straight year. And American exports to Japan continued to rise, up more 
than 75 percent since 1987. In fact, I think many Americans would be 
surprised to learn that Japan buys more goods from the U.S. per capita 
than we buy from Japan.
    The Prime Minister and I both agree that we want to see a successful 
conclusion to the Uruguay round. And I might take this opportunity to 
urge the Congress of the United States to take decisive action and send 
a clear signal that America stands for free trade by extending the Fast 
Track procedures.
    We had full discussions on the Gulf, and I took this occasion to 
thank, profoundly thank, Prime Minister Kaifu for the assistance that 
Japan made as a member of this coalition. Japan has provided a 
substantial level of financial support for Operation Desert Storm.
    Just to save time, we will be putting out a more full statement 
here. But Mr. Prime Minister, I welcome your visit. And it's been a 
great pleasure having you here--all too brief a visit, but a very 
important one. Thank you for coming all this way.
    The Prime Minister. Thank you, George, for kind remarks. You've 
shown yourself to be the great leader not just of this great nation, the 
United States, but of the entire world. Not only that, may I say, you 
are the private self of a countless number of people across the world 
who are fighting for the cause of peace and justice, for freedom and 
    I am most pleased to see you here in this beautiful State of 
California again, since we met over a year ago in a similar setting, and 
to be able to continue our close dialog.
    I wish to take this opportunity on behalf of the entire Japanese 
people to pay our deepest respect to the great leadership you exerted as 
President throughout the Gulf crisis and to the dedication and sacrifice 
of the American soldiers, men and women, in Operations Desert Shield and 
Desert Storm.
    The world has just overcome a great challenge in the Gulf region, 
and now it is time to tackle a truly historic mission, which is to build 
a new international order in the aftermath of the cold war. The Gulf 
crisis has demonstrated beyond anybody's doubt that the United States is 
the only superpower with the capability to play the most important role 
in the post-cold-war world and to do so in a responsible way.
    At the same time, it has become clear that it is just as important 
that the like-minded countries work together and support American 
efforts. We deeply recognize this in Japan. Together with Americans, 
Europeans, Asians, and other peoples of the world, we seek to 
participate actively in this endeavor and cooperate for creating a new 
international order.
    Throughout the Gulf crisis, Japan firmly supported the United States 
and international coalition efforts and cooperated as much as possible. 
And we are grateful for the appreciation expressed by the President. 
Nevertheless, sometimes Japan's efforts have not been properly 
understood and appreciated, and frankly speaking, this reception has 
caused disappointment among some Japanese people. Thinking about the 
future of Japan-U.S. relationship, which is so important to the peace 

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prosperity of the world, I firmly believe that we have to rectify this 
    Japan and the United States are staunch allies, bound together with 
strong security ties and a close economic interdependence. I believe the 
world strongly desires to see friendly and cooperative bilateral 
relations between our two countries, in which both sides will bring 
their respective strengths in order to meet global challenges, and will 
tackle problems between our two countries.
    We are with you always, standing together as firm allies and friends 
across the Pacific. I'm convinced that the friendship and the spirit of 
cooperation between our two peoples will always prevail. Thank you.
    The President. What we thought we'd do is alternate questions for 
Prime Minister Kaifu and for me, and alternate between the Japanese 
journalists and the U.S. journalists. Inasmuch as we're in the United 
States, I'm the appointed coordinator here. [Laughter] Self-appointed.


    Q. I'd like to ask a question of Prime Minister Kaifu. Because of 
constitutional constraints Japan was not able to send military forces 
during the Gulf war. However, Japan financed the $9 billion additional 
contribution through tax increase, and in that respect I believe it is 
fair to say that Japan has shed its blood in its own way. However, that 
contribution is not properly valued in the United States. On top of 
that, more recently, there seems to be a stepping up of Japan-bashing in 
the United States over trade issues, whereas in Japan there is 
dissatisfaction amongst the Japanese people. People are grumbling that 
Japan is not an automatic teller machine of a bank.
    Now, I wonder if through your meeting today you've been able to, 
shall I say, lead the relations, which have been in a somewhat awkward 
state more recently, toward a more smoother relationship.
    The Prime Minister. In the process of peace recovery, or recovery of 
peace in the Gulf region, Japan from the very beginning showed its basic 
position that Iraq is wrong. And from Japan's position, we cooperated 
and made contribution as much as possible. With regard to financial 
cooperation, we put a bill to the Diet of the Japanese Parliament. We 
passed a budget bill for that purpose. And for the purpose of funding 
that budget, we asked the Japanese people to accept an increased tax. 
And we were aware of the need to make this contribution, and the 
President has kindly appreciated that contribution that Japan made.
    On the other hand, I'm certainly aware that there are divergent 
views in the United States. We would like to continue with our efforts 
so that we will be establishing a relationship of mutual confidence that 
is unshakable.


    Q. Mr. President, the critics are suggesting that you've abandoned 
the Kurds to Saddam Hussein's mercy; one has even likened it to your Bay 
of Pigs. Could you explain to us why we were willing to do so much to 
help liberate Kuwait and why now we are standing on the sidelines while 
the Kurds are struggling?
    The President. Be glad to. It was never a stated objective of the 
coalition to intervene in the internal affairs of Iraq. Indeed, I made 
very clear that we did not intend to go into Iraq. I condemn Saddam 
Hussein's brutality against his own people. But I do not want to see 
United States forces, who have performed with such skill and dedication, 
sucked into a civil war in Iraq.
    We will not have normal relations with Iraq until Saddam Hussein is 
out of there. But I made very, very clear from day one that it was not 
an objective of the coalition to get Saddam Hussein out of there by 
force. And I don't think there's a single parent of a single man or 
woman that has fought in Desert Storm that wants to see United States 
forces pushed into this situation--brutal, tough, deplorable as it is.
    Q. If I may follow, will you offer asylum to the Kurdish refugees if 
Turkey keeps its borders closed?
    The President. I have had a good discussion of that with Prime 
Minister Kaifu, and we are in agreement that we will do what we can to 
help the Kurdish refugees.

Japan-U.S. Relations

    Q. I'd like to ask a question related to the rice issue, which I 
believe is on the top of

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the agenda between Japan and the United States. And I should like to 
direct this question to both the President and the Prime Minister.
    The first, I should like to know, Mr. President, what your thoughts 
are with regard to the issue of opening up the Japanese rice market and 
whether you took up this matter during your meeting today.
    The President. Yes, we had a full discussion of this matter. Yes, we 
would like to have access to the Japanese rice market. Yes, Prime 
Minister Kaifu explained the complications that he faces in Japan on 
this question. But I think the overriding point is we both realize that 
we must have a successful conclusion of the Uruguay round, and to do 
that, agriculture must be included.
    The Prime Minister. Yes, let me respond to that myself, as well. The 
rice issue was mentioned in the context of the Uruguay round 
negotiations. What I said was that, regarding the Uruguay round, we 
recognize the importance of close cooperation between Japan and the 
United States to bring the round to an early and successful conclusion.
    Now, I also explained that--well, there are difficult issues in the 
agriculture area for our countries--the United States, the European 
Communities, as well as for Japan. And so, I said, let us endeavor 
together to resolve the issue of rice together with the other issues, 
the difficulties for the other countries in the context of the Uruguay 


    Q. Mr. President, in 1989 and 1990 when the talk of critics were 
calling on you to speak out more forcefully for the uprising in Eastern 
Europe and the Lithuanian aspirations for independence, you said you 
hesitated to do so for fear of raising expectations such as were raised 
in Hungary in 1956. Now, people are saying you've done just that by 
calling for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and you've let the rebels 
down when they moved on those expectations. Could you discuss that and 
give us your feelings and whether you see a parallel?
    The President. I think I was right in 1989, and I think I'm right 
now. I made clear from the very beginning that it was not an objective 
of the coalition or the United States to overthrow Saddam Hussein. So, I 
don't think the Shiites in the south, those who are unhappy with Saddam 
in Baghdad, or the Kurds in the north ever felt that the United States 
would come to their assistance to overthrow this man.
    We're not going to get sucked into this by sending precious American 
lives into this battle. We've fulfilled our obligations. Now, do we hurt 
when Kurdish people are hurt and killed and brutalized? Yes. Are we 
concerned at the brutal treatment of the Shiites in the south? Yes. Do 
we wish that the people would get rid of Saddam Hussein on their own? 
Absolutely. But I have not misled anybody about the intentions of the 
United States of America, or has any other coalition partner, all of 
whom to my knowledge agree with me in this position--all of whom do.
    Can we get one from the U.S. side for Prime Minister Kaifu? And then 
I'll take the next one from the Japanese side. Whoops. Is this one for 
Prime Minister--the Americans keep shooting at me. I want them to fire 
one at Prime Minister Kaifu. [Laughter]

Japan-U.S. Relations

    Q. Mr. Prime Minister, you made note of the problem that you feel 
that Japan is not fully appreciated in this country, and you said that 
needed to be rectified. Could you tell us first, have you met and will 
you meet fully your pledge, your commitment, to the Desert Storm effort 
without any quibbling about whether it's in yen or in dollars? And what 
steps do you think need to be taken to rectify this image, this bad 
image you feel you have in the United States? And if you, Mr. President, 
would like to comment, I'd appreciate that, too.
    The Prime Minister. With regard to the $9 billion, the Japanese 
budget system, the system of budgeting, is based on the Japanese yen. 
And I'm certainly aware that there has been some criticism rising 
basically out of the fluctuation--criticism arising from, shall I say, 
exchange rate fluctuation.
    But what is important note is that that is

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not the only aspect where we ought to be paying our attention to. There 
are various roles that must be played in the Gulf region, in the 
interest of environmental protection and also arms control and 
disarmament in the region so that various countries would refrain from 
engaging in, say, intransparent transfer of arms and so on. So, I think 
there are numerous roles that can be played for the purpose of peace in 
that region.
    I had in-depth discussions on such matters with George, and Japan 
wishes to play its part as actively as possible by maintaining close 
consultations with the United States.
    Q. I should like to ask a question of Mr. President with regard to 
Japanese contribution related to the Gulf war. You said that you 
profoundly appreciated Japanese important financial contribution. Japan 
did not send even a medical team, not to speak of self-defense force 
personnel. And I wonder if you feel that it is possible to maintain a 
relationship of alliance with a country, Japan, which did not make a 
human contribution at a time of an international crisis. I would 
appreciate your candid remarks. And also, I wonder what you would expect 
of Japan to do for the purpose of preserving and further promoting this 
    The President. My answer is, yes, not only do I think we will 
preserve but I think we will strengthen this relationship. I hope most 
Americans understand the constitutional constraints on Japan in terms of 
what--I think you called them human forces, or human--human personnel.
    But what I would like to emphasize to the American people and the 
people of Japan is, from day one--from day one, Toshiki Kaifu and the 
Japanese Government was in strong support of the U.N. resolutions. Japan 
stepped up early on to a fundamental and substantial monetary 
contribution. Through those months of diplomacy before force was used, 
Japan played a key role. And so if we have a difference now over some 
detail, I would simply say that this relationship is too fundamental, 
too important to have it on the shoals because of difficulty that I'm 
confident we can work out.
    And to the degree that there's bashing on one side of the Pacific or 
another, Toshiki Kaifu and I are committed to see that that bashing 
doesn't go forward because it's in our interest in the United States to 
have this relationship strong. And I happen to think it's in Japan's 
    I know the Prime Minister has to go, but can we take one more for 
each side? And we'll divide it up, one for him and one for me.
    Q. Mr. President, to go back to your response to the last question 
and to the unanswered portion of Charles' [Charles Bierbauer, Cable News 
Network] question earlier, it's clear that Japan's image problem in the 
United States goes beyond the immediate issue of the Gulf war. What does 
Japan specifically need to do to overcome that problem? Given the 
attitudes on Capitol Hill, given the trade hawks that are circling, 
isn't it going to take more than just explaining some of the 
complications that are involved on the types of trade concession that 
we've been demanding in Tokyo?
    The President. One, the relationship is fundamentally sound. What 
will it take, you asked, to make it better? The successful conclusion of 
the Uruguay round, to which we're both committed, would help. Working 
together with Japan to alleviate the suffering of these Kurdish victims 
of Saddam's brutality--that will help. Working with Japan to help 
guarantee the security and the stability of the Gulf and reconstruction 
of the Gulf--that will help. Moving forward in other trade areas can 
help, although we're closing that gap.
    But, Norm [Norman Sandler, United Press International], when there 
are problems, it is understandable that people dwell on those specific 
problems and we overlook the fundamentals. And those fundamentals 
include the fact that the Japanese Government and the U.S. Government, 
as you look around the world, see eye-to-eye on almost every problem 
around the world.
    Let me give you one more example. The answer is too long--excuse me, 
Toshiki--but one more example. Japan is trying to be helpful to the 
development and strengthening of democracy in this hemisphere. So, while 
we take up the difficulties, let's also remember these fundamentals that 
are strong as they can be.

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    Last one, and this is for the Prime Minister.

Soviet-Japan Relations

    Q. I'd like to ask a question regarding the Soviet Union. President 
Gorbachev of the Soviet Union will be visiting Japan. And I wonder in 
relation to that, you discussed during your meeting today--well, 
assistance for the Soviet Union. And together with that, I should also 
like to know whether you had any discussions on trade in technology with 
the Soviet Union?
    The Prime Minister. With the upcoming summit meeting with President 
Gorbachev's visit to Japan, I did mention in general terms that we 
should like to take up as a major item on our bilateral agenda the 
resolution of the territorial issue between Japan and the Soviet Union, 
so that we shall be able to sign a peace treaty which will lead us 
toward a genuine friendship.
    However, we did not discuss specifics such as technological 
assistance or economic assistance. I did explain our, shall I say, 
diplomatic schedule ahead of us with the Soviet Government and the North 
Korean Government which we would like to promote for the purpose of 
attaining peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.
    The President. Well, I think we're a little behind schedule for 
the--no. No, no. [Laughter] But thank you.
    Never get enough. Here we go. Thank you all very much.

                    Note: The President's 77th news conference began at 
                        4:10 p.m. in Ballroom A of the Four Seasons 
                        Hotel. During the news conference, the following 
                        persons were referred to: President Saddam 
                        Hussein of Iraq and President Mikhail Gorbachev 
                        of the Soviet Union. The Prime Minister spoke in 
                        Japanese, and his remarks were translated by an