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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2001 > September

Remarks at Ceremony Commemorating the Signing of the U.S.-Japan Peace Treaty

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Opera House At The Presidio
San Francisco, CA
September 8, 2001

Thank you Secretary Shultz for that very generous introduction.

Former Prime Minister Miyazawa, Foreign Minister Tanaka, Director General Nakatani, Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz, Ambassador Yanai, Ambassador Baker, Governor Davis, Mayor Brown, I am pleased to join with you today in commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Treaty of Peace with Japan, and indeed to celebrate the bonds of friendship and cooperation between our countries that are a direct outgrowth of what was done here on September 8, 1951.

What far-sighted thinkers and doers they were, the men and women who came here to write a formal end to World War II in the Pacific. We need to look back at the tensions of those times to understand just how bold a step they were taking. Just six years after the end of the deadliest war in world history, one that cost the lives of an estimated sixty million human beings, the world seemed to tremble on the brink once more.

The Cold War had become very hot on the Korean peninsula. A United Nations force of 550,000 troops, most of them American, was fighting a terrible war of stalemate and attrition with North Korean and Chinese Communists. In early September of 1951, the First Marine Division had just seized a place called Bloody Ridge at a cost of 2,700 casualties. The 2nd Infantry Division was slugging it out for another place the GI’s aptly nicknamed Heartbreak Ridge.

Joe Stalin was alive in the Kremlin. An Iron Curtain divided Europe as surely as a concrete wall would one day divide Berlin -- leaving one side free, the other an open air prison. In America schoolchildren did "duck and cover" exercises in their classrooms in preparation for nuclear attack. Some feared that the Peace Conference itself might provoke the Soviets to attack Japan.

It was against this backdrop that the delegations convened here. President Harry Truman sent the best, two legendary diplomats, to lead America’s delegation. He handpicked John Foster Dulles as chief negotiator and Secretary of State Dean Acheson to preside over the Peace Conference. Truman’s vision was clear and his instructions explicit: By this conference and this treaty Japan would be brought back into the family of nations as an equal. The war was over. Now we would make a friend and ally of a former enemy.

Prime Minister Yoshida and a Japanese delegation that included two future prime ministers, along with the leaders and diplomats of 46 other nations, heard Mr. Dulles declare that what America sought was a "peace of reconciliation" not vengeance against Japan. Here a new and better peace would be wrought. Unlike the one crafted at Versailles after World War I, this peace would not contain the seeds of future war.

Working together the delegations laid the foundation stones of a unique partnership in which our nations have worked ever since for the common good of the region and the world. In so doing they also ushered in an unparalleled period of peace and prosperity for Japan.

Now we look back proudly at what was done here on September 8, 1951, what was achieved by that Peace Treaty, even as we look to the future and see the challenges and needs of this new century, this new time in the lives of our nations.

We are fortunate to have with us today several who worked at that conference 50 years ago. From Japan, the Honorable Kiichi Miyazawa, then an aide to the Minister of Finance, later Prime Minister. From the United States, Robert Fearey, then special assistant to the Director of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs. Gentlemen, we are honored by your presence.

You know, it was not by accident that San Francisco was chosen as the place where delegates would write this treaty. San Francisco was a symbol of America’s willingness to come half way in the process of restoring peace. This city had also been the venue in 1945, as the war neared an end, where the newly formed United Nations gathered to establish a way for the nations of the world to work together to ensure there would be no more World Wars.

It was also very fitting that a formal end to the war in the Pacific be written here in San Francisco. During the war, for more than a million and a half young Americans bound for combat in the Pacific, San Francisco with its soaring Golden Gate, was their last glimpse of home. For those who survived to return, the bridge and the city symbolized safe haven, the first sight of a home they had given so much to protect and defend.

Two conferences, in 1945 and 1951, two documents, the U. N. Charter and the Peace Treaty with Japan, were born in this city and in this Opera House. Together they created the blueprints, the very framework, out of which a peaceful post-war world was constructed.

It is right that we look at what has been accomplished by the Treaty written here. It surely achieved the goals laid out by President Truman. Within hours of the conclusion of the Peace Conference, the U.S. and Japan signed a Security Treaty at The Presidio that has contributed not only to Japan’s defense but also to the maintenance of peace and security in Northeast Asia ever since. The alliance which grew out of that treaty, including our military presence in Japan, is a cornerstone of America’s engagement in Asia and remains key to regional stability and prosperity.

Although the post-Cold War strategic landscape is vastly changed, our alliance is a living, breathing fact that is still based on our shared vital interests. Today our economies are the two largest in the world, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all economic activity. Japan is a welcome partner in managing international economic issues, and a critical bilateral trade
partner for the United States.

What has been accomplished is clear. What remains to be accomplished is just as clear:
Today the Asia-Pacific region faces a new era, a time to put the Cold War behind us. A time to build on the advantages of our security alliances even as we expand responsibilities and increase the benefits that flow from them. A time for regional institutions to take on a more meaningful role in preserving the stability and security of East Asia. A time when globalization offers us an opportunity to create a web of beneficial connections that minimize disparities between rich and poor, and maximize the benefits of trade for everyone.

Most important, this is a time when we must work to ensure that all of the nations of Asia remain at peace, enjoying the blessings of prosperity and security.

Unlike Europe, Asia has few institutions where nations of the region can sit down and talk, where grievances can be aired, where security issues can be discussed, and where the future can be mapped out with some degree of certainty and cooperation. Such institutions must be nurtured and strengthened. Just as trade and economic organizations and agreements bring greater prosperity, our security arrangements only add to the stability of the region.

It is up to us to modernize our alliances and adjust them to the new realities, especially new and emerging threats. We must do everything necessary to guarantee that our respective countries are strong and robust, and ready to shoulder the responsibilities that these new times are shaping for us.
President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi had a great meeting at Camp David in June, and they built on that beginning with more discussions at the G8 meetings in Italy in July. President Bush promised America’s full support for the economic reforms the Prime Minister is beginning to implement.

I reaffirmed this strong support when I met with the Prime Minister in Tokyo on July 24th and it is not mere chance that President Bush’s first stop on his first Asian trip next month will be Tokyo.

And Foreign Minister Tanaka and I have had several opportunities to discuss U.S.-Japan relations, including in July on the margins of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi and today over a working lunch here in the beautiful city of San Francisco. In Hanoi, Makiko-san and I even tried our hand at a theater routine where I played a West Texas cowboy and she played a lovely lady of whom the cowboy was enamored – and according to most of our critics we were judged quite good, although we were afterward cautioned never to leave our day jobs.

A strong and healthy Japanese economy is essential to the Asia-Pacific region’s well being. Together, we need to get about the business of increasing free trade in the world, of opening more markets, of leveling the playing field of competition so more people can prosper. All of this can more easily be achieved if Japan is on the road to economic recovery. Like the great ship of commerce that it is, Japan can pull most of the boats of Asia in its wake.

And while Prime Minister Koizumi works to restore the economy, I have every confidence that he will also look carefully at what Japan can do to help bolster stability and security in the region. We encourage Japan to look ahead to meeting more regional and international responsibilities as befits a nation with such amazing resources and capabilities.

If the story of the last half-century was how former enemies worked closely together to construct a flourishing partnership, the challenge of the next half-century will be how firm friends can work even harder in that partnership. Our alliance needs to become a global alliance – an alliance that can deal with international crime, high seas piracy, HIV/AIDS, illegal narcotics, and other transnational threats. And an alliance that continues to extend the values of democracy, open markets, and build respect for human rights. The lessons of history, and the voices of those who preceded us in this place 50 years ago, demand nothing less.

Thank you.

Released on September 8, 2001

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