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Secretary Kerry's Remarks on a 21st Century Pacific Partnership, April 2013

Published April 15, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry gave this speech at the Tokyo Institute of Technology on April 15, 2013. He discussed the commitment of the United States to strengthen its partnerships with Asia and the Pacific.

Excerpt from the remarks:

"Some people might be skeptical of America's commitment to this region. Well, let me be clear: President Obama made a smart and a strategic commitment to rebalance our interests and investments in Asia. My commitment to you is that as a Pacific nation that takes our Pacific partnership seriously, we will continue to build on our active and enduring presence....

First, the successful region we can build as partners must be stable, peaceful and a contributor to global security. The presence of the United States in the Asia Pacific and our network of alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand, these have already formed a fundamental platform. But many challenges remain, and the most immediate among them, as we all know, is North Korea.

In the last few days I have consulted closely with the leaders of the Republic of Korea and China and with your Foreign Minister, and I will speak again today with Prime Minister Abe. One thing is certain: We are united. There can be no confusion on this point. The North's dangerous nuclear missile program threatens not only North Korea's neighbors, but it threatens its own people, and it threatens this concept of the Pacific Dream. The United States remains open to authentic and credible negotiations on denuclearization, but the burden is on Pyongyang. North Korea must take meaningful steps to show that it will honor commitments it has already made, and it has to observe laws and the norms of international behavior.

At a time when the world is moving toward fewer nuclear weapons, not more, when President Obama has articulated a clear vision for nonproliferation the last thing we need is one or two states bucking the trend of history and common sense. The world does not need more potential for war. And so we will stand together, and we welcome China's strong statement of its commitment two days ago to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Moving forward together means it is time also to put long-festering territorial pursuits behind us. The stakes are far too high and the global economy is too fragile for anyone to allow these inherited problems to divide the region and to enflame it. Unilateral action and the failure of diplomacy would carry too great a cost, so we need to follow the example of the students at this school, think creatively and innovatively, and work together to find peaceful and diplomatic solutions to these differences.

And moving forward also means that people must be free from the fear of human trafficking, narcotics, and other transnational threats like cyber attacks. Some of the most serious cyber threats to businesses emanate from this region, and they threaten the entire global economy. That is precisely why we have established a cyber working group with Japan and another with China in order to ensure that the Asia Pacific will be part of the solution.

Working cooperatively and proactively to peacefully resolve these issues I know will provide the security this region needs to build the Pacific Dream.

Our second shared challenge is ensuring Pacific economies create prosperity in marketplaces that are fair, meaning that they are open, transparent, and accountable. The collaborative region that I envision must enjoy sustainable economies, free trade, fast growth, but it must offer every nation, big and small, a seat at the table and a clear sense of what everybody's responsibilities are.

Japan is America's fourth-largest export market, and the nearly 300 billion trade and investment relationships that our workers have spent decades building is especially critical in an interdependent world. Last week, the United States and Japan reached an important bilateral agreement that marks a significant step toward Japan joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations. I can't tell you, this is really an exciting opportunity, a great opportunity for Japan and for the region and for the world. With Japan onboard, this trade agreement would represent 40 percent of global GDP. And as we continue to work together through the next steps, I assure you the United States and its TPP partners are committed to having Japan join us at the negotiating table as soon as possible.

But we need to do more to make this vision real. Like any profitable enterprise, growth requires investment, investment in the neighborhood and investment beyond. Japan knows this, and I think can be very, very proud of the extremely high standard that it has set with its contributions to development and international assistance.

In the United States, we share this tradition of trying to help people throughout the world to help themselves. Your neighbor South Korea is a case in point. On Friday, I met with business leaders in Seoul and saw the extraordinary economic gains that they have made. It's remarkable in their own right, but I've got to tell you, it's even more remarkable when you just consider that a few decades ago, South Korea was an aid recipient of the United States. Today, that nation is one of the most modern and advanced economies, and it gives aid to other countries. That's what this kind of partnership means. That's how you build a future, believing in the possibilities of investment and in the possibilities of other people coming to the table.

Like foreign aid investments, education – need I say it here at this famous university – education yields enormous dividends on relatively small down payments, and international educational exchanges pay some of the best social dividends. Only by immersing ourselves in each other's languages and cultures can we truly understand each other and build partnerships. Tokyo Tech President Mishima understood that when he went to study in California. And we were talking about his years at Berkley just before I came out here. Our Fulbright scholars understand this around the world. So do the hundreds of international students who came to Tokyo to pursue their degrees at this prestigious university.

And I invite all of you at Tokyo Tech to reverse the troubling trend of fewer Japanese students studying in the United States. Come and learn in our universities. The value of educational exchanges can never be underestimated. It is so important to us, and the more of these exchanges that there are, the faster our vision can become a reality. I can't tell you how many foreign ministers I have met and finance ministers and prime ministers around the world who proudly tell me of the years they spent in the United States learning at one of our universities. And it creates an understanding that helps us build this kind of common enterprise.

Yesterday I saw this actually in some of your contemporaries, those of you who are students here, because I met with a bunch of students from the TOMODACHI exchange initiative. And this is a groundbreaking public-private partnership. It was started by Ambassador Roos, and it invests in the next generation of Japanese and American leaders. I found these students exciting, interesting to listen to, inspiring. They were curious, and they were caring about our shared future, and they were engaged in the issues of the world. Most important, as one young Filipino-American studying in Tokyo said to me yesterday, they aren't bound or burdened by the past. Her generation, she said, is a clean slate, looking outward and forward, and I think we would do well to follow that example.

Now I said we need to grow smart, too. As the world's biggest consumers of energy and the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, Pacific nations – and that includes us – have an enormous responsibility to lead a transformation that can save lives and property and create jobs at the same time. My friends, I cannot say this to you more seriously. I cannot emphasize it enough. This is not a choice. This is something we have to do together, because climate change grows more and more serious and threatening and challenging by the day, and it is one of the most obvious shared challenges on the face of this planet.

People on the streets of Beijing – you've been hearing from them this last few years – they want to breathe clean air just as much as people on the streets of Tokyo or the streets of Boston do. Farmers in India and Indonesia, they lose sleep over droughts just as much as farmers in Indiana do. So this is not a local problem. And I'll tell you in a more collaborative Asia Pacific, I am absolutely confident we will find the solutions, we will push the curve of discovery, and we can do it without jeopardizing our economies. We will grow our economies.

Every – the most important thing to remember about this is the solution to climate change is not some pie-in-the-sky, complicated, hard-to-find policy. Energy policy is the solution to climate change. It's staring us in the face, and the energy market is a $6 trillion market now with 4 billion users today, growing to 9 billion users in the course of this century. That is the biggest market of all markets of all time, folks.

And a far-sighted and a sure-footed approach to energy, including exploring new kinds of energy, will do extraordinary things for business, and it will mean sustainable growth for the long term. So to grow smart, we have to be willing to try new things.

I want you to know that we greatly appreciate Japan's partnership as we begin to realize the mutual benefits of natural gas and what that can offer to both of our economies and to the world. We also appreciate China's exploding investments into clean and alternative and renewable energies. A couple of nights ago, I stood in Beijing alongside U.S. and Chinese companies that are working together on green technologies that can benefit the environment and markets all over the world. And just think, 10 years ago, Chinese companies were investing $1 million in energy projects in the United States. Last year, that number was $9 billion. That's the future, and we all need to grasp it.

And I also want to say we not only appreciate the work that Tokyo Tech is doing, but we admire you for having set the gold standard for green living, including the Environmental Energy Innovation Building that you opened on this campus last year, and it's covered in solar panels and generates almost all of the energy that it consumes. That's the future. And in the conversion of our buildings, there are millions of jobs to be created, new products to be sold.

It just underscores something else, too. We can learn a lot from each other. It takes the average Japanese household about three years to use as much energy as an American household uses in just one year. We have to do better. And with President Obama's leadership we are doing better than ever before to combat climate change, but we know we need smarter energy policies to live up to the responsibility before us and in order to contribute to this critical, collaborative effort.

Finally, we must use our Pacific partnership to build a region whose people can enjoy the full benefits of democracy, the rule of law, universal human rights, including the freedom of expression, freedom of association, and peaceful assembly, freedom of religion, conscience and belief. Human rights are quite simply are the foundation for a free and an open society. And history shows us that countries whose policies respect and reflect these rights are far more likely to be more peaceful and more prosperous, far more effective at tapping the talents of their people, far more capable of being innovative and moving rapidly and innovatively in the marketplace, and they are better long-term partners."

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