John King of the Associated Press reported in the Washington Post (“GORE: CHINA RECEPTIVE ON RIGHTS”, Beijing, 3/26/97) that US Vice President Al Gore believes Beijing will do more to open its markets to US products and be more receptive to human rights discussions. Gore noted that despite some “strong disagreements” on human rights, overall the response was “more receptive…than I have had in previous discussions with Chinese leaders.” Gore also described the US belief that “economic freedom and political freedom ultimately are linked.”
James Bennet reported in the New York Times (“CHINESE ASK GORE ABOUT INVESTIGATION INTO CAMPAIGN DONATIONS”, Beijing, 3/26/97) that Gore assured Prime Minister Li Peng that a US Justice Department investigation into Chinese donations during the 1996 election campaign will not impact the US-China relationship. However, a senior US official cautioned that Gore also warned that if “the allegations are proven to be true, then they’re very serious and we’ll deal with all that at that time.” Reuters (“GORE ASSURES CHINA IN FUNDS ROW”, Beijing, 3/26/97) noted Gore’s comment to reporters that “discussions of the controversy now, pending the completion of the investigation, should not affect” the bilateral realtionship.
Didi Krtisten Tatlow of the Associated Press reported in the Washington Post (“GINGRICH HOLDS HONG KONG MEETINGS”, Hong Kong, 3/26/97) that US House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich stated in Hong Kong that the visiting US Congressional delegation wants “to understand the details of Hong Kong’s reversion” and “make sure commitments made by the Chinese will be kept.” He added that the world will be watching to ensure “that it happens in reality and in truth and not just in words and on documents.” When asked about human rights in China, Gingrich noted that “human rights is a universal problem and we need to make sure commitments made by the Chinese will be kept.”
The Washington Post carried an Associated Press report (“US SENATORS ARRIVE IN S KOREA”, Seoul, 3/26/97) that US Senators Ted Stevens (R- Alaska), Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) today arrived in Seoul to meet with ROK President Kim Young Sam and other senior ROK officials. The US delegation also plans to visit the DPRK beginning Friday.
[Editor’s note: Sen. Cochran was incorrectly identified in an earlier version of this Report.]
Mary Jordan reported in the Washington Post (“JAPAN REFUSES TO SEND SURPLUS RICE TO HUNGRY N KOREANS”, Tokyo, 3/25/97) that despite having enormous rice stockpiles in 3500 public warehouses, Japan has refused to open the reserves to aid North Korea, regardless of international appeals. Critics of Japan’s policy note the existence of three to four million tons in reserve, some of which is aging and cannot be sold to the Japanese public. Chosen Soren spokesman So Chung On suggested that “if Japan has too much rice, they should help their neighbors in need.” Us Tokyo resident Bernard Krisher, who has launched a private aid appeal, condemned Japan’s “hoarding rice as women and children are starving.”
United Press International (“NORTH KOREA WILL NEED CHILDREN’S MILK”, United Nations, 3/25/97) reported UNICEF director Carol Bellamy’s concern that given widespread reports of severe child malnutrition “we feel the international community should be ready to act quickly.” UNICEF says the DPRK will need special high energy milk for its young when supplies are exhausted in May or June.
The Washington Post carried an Associated Press report (“NO DECISION ON KOREAN DEFECTOR”, Manila, 3/26/97) that Philippine President Fidel Ramos today noted that a decision has yet to be made on when DPRK defector Hwang Jang Yop will depart the Philippines for the ROK. The Philippines is concerned about security for Hwang and has imposed a blackout on information concerning his whereabouts.
(See end of report for full text)
Tokyo — Japan’s determined leadership will be essential in facing the challenges presented by increasingly global environmental problems, according to Vice President Al Gore.
“We live in an era of the possible,” Gore said in an address given in Tokyo March 24. “Our two countries, accounting for 40 percent of this planet’s economic power, are working together and with others to promote sustainable economic growth and freedom. The high level of attention given to environmental issues in Japan has been reflected in this nation’s growing leadership on the world stage. Now, as we face challenges that are increasingly global, Japan’s determined leadership internationally will be essential.”
The growth of economies and the stability of societies are intertwined with the effects of climate change — environmental degradation, resource depletion, threats to human health and population shifts, Gore said. “We must bear in mind that just as it can take a long time to see the effects of these changes emerge, it will also take a long time to achieve solutions. Our success will depend upon far-sighted wisdom in the choices that we make,” he said.
Tokyo — There will continue to be a need for forward-deployed U.S. troops in the Asia-Pacific region for the foreseeable future, according to Vice President Al Gore.
During a question-and-answer session with reporters following his working dinner with Foreign Minister Ikeda March 23, Gore said: “The need for security in this region is very strong. We are consulting very closely with Japan on issues like the ones on the Korean Peninsula. In my view, this would be the very worst time to have some reduction in the level of American forces here. There are other reasons that I could go into, but all of them together convince President Clinton and me that the current level of U.S. forces here is the appropriate level.”
Foreign Minister Ikeda (speaking in Japanese) said he shared the Vice President’s view.
Following is the official transcript of the question-and-answer session:
VICE PRESIDENT ALBERT GORE br WITH FOREIGN MINISTER IKEDA IIKURA HOUSE
Tokyo, Japan March 23, 1997
Q1: (ENGLISH TRANSLATION FROM THE JAPANESE) This meeting is taking place at a very difficult point, in one way, for the relationship between Japan and the United States. What is the posture and position that the Minister is going to take during this meeting?
FOREIGN MINISTER IKEDA (ENGLISH TRANSLATION FROM THE JAPANESE): I understand that this is a difficult point in Japan-U.S. relations, but I believe that there is a very sound and strong relationship between the two countries. And, in particular, the security relationship between Japan and the United States is not only the basis for a wide- ranging relationship between the two countries, but it is also an indispensable element for stability and peace in the Asia-Pacific region as a whole. So, we are going to continue and reconfirm the understanding that both sides have to promote such efforts further.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Q2: Mr. Vice President, how do you explain your position on the U.S. forward presence here in the Asia-Pacific region? Do you believe that the United States needs 100,000 troops in this region over the next ten or five years?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I think we need them now and for the foreseeable future, yes. The need for security in this region is very strong. We are consulting very closely with Japan on issues like the ones on the Korean Peninsula. In my view, this would be the very worst time to have some reduction in the level of American forces here. There are other reasons that I could go into, but all of them together convince President Clinton and me that the current level of U.S. forces here is the appropriate level.
FOREIGN MINISTER IKEDA (ENGLISH TRANSLATION FROM THE JAPANESE): I fully share what the Vice President has just said and, in light of the current security and other circumstances surrounding this region, we believe what the Vice President has just said is shared fully by Japanese.
Q3: Mr. Vice President, have you or your office attempted to check the accuracy of, or whether there’s any substance to, U.S. government reports saying that the Chinese attempted to influence U.S. elections with money?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, that’s a matter that the Justice Department is investigating now.
Q4: How will you deal with this matter when you get to China?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, that’s not the purpose of my trip. Any issues that have the potential to have any effect on the bilateral relationship should be discussed in an appropriate and sensitive way.
Following the defection of DPRK Workers’ Party Secretary Hwang Jang- yop the DPRK has canceled a series of planned visits to Japan this month. Today it appears that even the projected medical treatment tour of Japan by a group of atomic bomb victims in the North has been put off indefinitely. Tuesday, a Kyodo News Service reported that the Hiroshima Prefecture Society Against Nuclear Bombs invited a group of six DPRK atomic bomb victims and officials to a Japanese hospital. Initially the North accepted the invitation and the six were to leave for Japan early next month. However, the DPRK recently informed the society that the invited delegates cannot leave the country until at least September of this year. Hiroshima Prefecture society officials visited the DPRK in April last year at the invitation of the North’s atomic bomb victims society and agreed on mutual exchanges. Under this program three victims and another three officials were to visit Japan next month. (Korea Times, “NK PUTS OFF PLANNED VISIT TO JAPAN BY ATOMIC BOMB VICTIMS,” 03/26/97)
A DPRK man who defected to the ROK succeeded in getting three family members he had left behind in the North to escape from the nation. Hong Chin-hui, 29, a second generation Korean who had been repatriated to the DPRK from Japan and defected to the South last year said yesterday, “My mother Chu Young-hui, 50, my sister Kyung-hwa, 26, and brother Chin-myung, 22, are at the moment going through asylum procedures at a refugee camp in Hong Kong.” (Joong Ang Ilbo, “A NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR SUCCEEDS IN HIS FAMILY*S ESCAPE FROM THE NORTH,” 03/26/97)
Jay C. Kim, a member of the US House of Representatives, said that the United States would like to talk to former DPRK Workers’ Party Secretary Hwang Jang-yop when he arrives in Seoul. “In unofficial talks with South Korean Foreign Ministry officials, we have said that we should talk to Hwang, to which the officials were not opposed,” Kim said in an interview with the press shortly after his luncheon with ROK President Kim Young-sam yesterday. “The significance of Seoul as the first stop should not be lost,” Kim said, reaffirming the strong relationship between the US and the ROK. Kim relayed that the Republican Party is in agreement with the ROK’s policies toward the North. Gingrich had expressed concern about the sales of low-level nuclear waste by Taiwan to the cash-impoverished North just before he left. “Also, I and a chairman of the Asia-Pacific Subcommittee have just submitted a bill condemning Taiwan’s sales of nuclear waste before we left,” Kim said. Kim said that he did not think Taiwan would lightly brush off these concerns, voicing optimism about the issue. The group will be making their last stop in Taiwan via Hong Kong and China. On linking food aid to the four-party talks, Kim said that the US would probably not make participation at the talks a precondition for additional food aid. But if food aid can be used to bring the North to the proposed talks the policy should not be ruled out, he said. The talks would essentially will be the first direct South-North talks since the eighth working-level meeting for exchange of special envoys in 1994. (Korea Herald, “REP.JAY KIM SAYS U.S. WANTS TO TALK TO HWANG JANG-YOP,” Kim Ji-soo, 03/26/97)
Within a week, two South Koreans were kidnapped here in Beijing, apparently by ethnic Koreans. A source at the consular section of the ROK embassy here said Park Young-ho, 36, of the Samsung Securities Co. in Seoul was kidnapped by a group of people who were reported to resemble ethnic Koreans. He was forced by his kidnappers to telephone his family in Seoul asking them to deposit 50 million won at a certain bank or he would be harmed. Informed of the telephone call by his family, the consular section promptly reported it to PRC public security authorities. Officers managed to arrest one of the kidnappers and rescue the victim Tuesday. In an earlier kidnapping incident, two ROK students of an unnamed university in Beijing were stepping into their apartment on the early morning of March 16 after drinking outside when five men, speaking in Korean, forcibly took the pair to an undisclosed location in Beijing. Not finding much money on the victims, the kidnappers went back to the apartment where they held four other ROK students captive, and took $1,500, 1,600 yuan, passports, watches and other personal belongings. The robbers then turned to other students’ apartments in the vicinity before running away. An embassy official said that they plan to ask the PRC public security authorities to take firmer measures to ensure the personal safety of ROK residents and travelers in the PRC. (Korea Times, “TWO KOREANS KIDNAPPED IN CHINA IN ONE WEEK,” Beijing, 03/26/97)
An ROK company official in the PRC was killed by three PRC robbers early Monday morning, the consular section of the South Korean Embassy in Beijing reported Tuesday. A consular official said the victim was Chung Hwa-young, 34, a division chief of Tianjian Hanchang Handicraft Co. Chung was returning home by a taxi after having dinner with some of his fellow officials in Tianjin before dawn Monday when a taxi driver and two men in the vehicle jumped on him, fatally hitting him with rocks. The driver and two other suspects were rounded up by PRC public security authorities, the official said. (Korea Times, “SOUTH KOREAN BUSINESSMAN KILLED IN CHINA,” 03/26/97)
Korea Central News Agency reported that social organizations of the DPRK have written to their respective ROK counterparts. In these letters, the article reports, DPRK organizations proposed that North and South Korean organizations consult with one another in addressing common issues . Jie Fang Daily (“DPRK ORGANIZATIONS PROPOSE TO DIALOGUE WITH ROK COUNTERPARTS,” Pyongyang, A4, 3/20/97)
In a recent Jie Fang Daily article (“ROK FACES SERIOUS DIFFICULTY,” A4, 3/21/97), ROK President Kim Young-sam expressed his concern over the country’s troubling position. In a letter to ROK leaders and social organizations, Kim stated that he will work towards ridding the nation of corruption. Kim pointed out that at present the most important task of the ROK was to improve the economy, resume the vitality of enterprises, establish productive labor-capital relations, and reform the financial system.
Chinese Premier Li Peng held talks with visiting US Vice- President Al Gore on March 25. During the meeting, Li said that President Jiang Zemin’s scheduled State visit to the US later this year and President Bill Clinton’s visit to China next year are an important event in the history of Sino-US relations. Maintaining and developing a healthy, stable relationship between the two countries serves the fundamental interests of both peoples, and helps safeguard stability and prosperity in the Asian-Pacific region, Li said. Underscoring that Taiwan has always been the most important and sensitive problem in Sino-US relations, Li stated that China attaches importance to US leaders’ promises to continue the “one China” policy and their commitment to abide by the Sino-US joint communiqués. Gore said US policies towards China were based on long-term thinking and the strategic interests of the US. He pledged that the US Government will follow these policies and not allow them to be interrupted by any event at any time. Gore said the US supports China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, since it is in accordance with the interests of the US, China and the world. On the issue of Hong Kong, Li said, “We are confident in Hong Kong’s smooth transition as well as its prosperity and stability.” People’s Daily (“LI PENG HOLDS TALKS WITH US VICE PRESIDENT,” Beijing, A1, 3/26/97)
A senior Chinese trade official pledged on March 22 to step up efforts to improve the Sino-US trade balance, China Daily (“SINO- US BALANCE IN TRADE SOUGHT,” A1, 3/22/97) reported. Sun Zhenyu, vice-minister of foreign trade and economic cooperation, admitted during a State Information Office press conference that China has been, over recent years, enjoying a trade surplus with the US. The surplus reached $10.5 billion last year. Sun proposed that the solution of the trade imbalance problem needs common efforts made by both countries. He advised the US Export and Import Bank to be more helpful and take initiatives in granting export credit to US equipment suppliers as concessional financial arrangements are tied to chances of winning bids for major undertakings in China. Sun further expressed his wish for the US Government to further ease its control over the transfer of technology to China, as this would allow the two countries to take full advantage of US exports.
During an interview with China Daily, Tang Shubei, vice-chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, ruled out early talks between Chinese mainland and Taiwan. Tang noted that as Taiwan authorities have continued their activities of splitting China, there is no grounding for the resumption of cross- Straits talks. However, Tang asserted, the mainland has not closed the door for talks. “In the long term, the mainland and Taiwan should sit down at the negotiating table to discuss cross-Straits issues under the `one China’ policy,” Tang said. According to Tang, “cross-Straits talks will not be conducted in the name of central government to local government (as two sides).” He said there was no prerequisite that Taiwan authorities must recognize the central government before such talks could be held. During the interview, Tang also urged the US to strictly observe the three Sino-US joint communiqués, and abide by its commitment to gradually reduce and finally stop arms sales to Taiwan. China Daily (“NO SCOPE FOR EARLY TAIWAN TALKS,” A1, 3/25/97)
China will never tolerate any attempts to split the nation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Cui Tiankai said in Beijing on March 25. He stressed that China attaches great importance to national unity. When asked to comment on the Dalai Lama’s appeal in Taiwan to abandon the independence movement of Tibet and have dialogue with the central government, Cui said that this was a misleading facade. “Dalai always pledges not to pursue an independent Tibet, which is actually what he does everywhere at the same time. It shows that he has never given up his separatist motives,” Cui said. Turning to the overseas Ugyur separatist groups, Cui said that many neighboring countries have promised China that they will never allow the groups to operate in their nations. China Daily (“NATIONAL UNITY IS OF CRUCIAL IMPORTANCE,” A1, 3/26/97)
– – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Following is the text of the Vice President’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
Thank you very much for your very generous introduction. Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor for me to be able to join you and deliver the closing address at your plenary session. I would like to thank Birgitta Dahl, your chairperson, for her courtesy and her leadership. I would also like to thank our host, Gaishi Hiraiwa, and acknowledge the other distinguished guests who have been a part of the leadership of this meeting.
I am deeply honored that three former prime ministers of Japan are present here today, and may I acknowledge former Prime Minister Takeshita, former Prime Minister Kaifu, and former Prime Minister Murayama. Thank you all three very much for being here. It is a great pleasure to see a longtime friend, Education Minister Takashi Kosugi. Also, the Secretary of the Commission for Sustainable Development, Nitin Desai; Tom Spencer from Britain, the President of the organization known as GLOBE; and from my own country, Michele Perrault, International Vice President of the Sierra Club. Doumo arigato. Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen.
It is such a pleasure to be back in Japan, especially during this beautiful season of the year. Earlier today I had an opportunity to view the beginning of some cherry blossom blooms at the Imperial Palace. They are a vivid symbol of the elegance and fragility of nature and also a reminder of the importance of our stewardship.
In Washington, D.C., cherry blossom viewing attracts visitors from around the country each year, and, of course, this is a U.S. tradition that we owe to Japan from your gift of the first cherry trees to our capital city 85 years ago.
The roots of our environmental cooperation were also planted at the dawn of this century. Now as we near the closing years of this century, it is a special honor to address this Global Partnership Summit. It has been five years since your organizing committee sponsored an eminent persons meeting which helped lay the foundation for success at the Earth Summit in Rio. Now we are preparing to see the seed planted at Rio grow into a strong shared commitment by nations around the world to reduce the devastating risks of global climate change.
I would like to again thank our hosts for making this conference possible and for inviting me to address you all. I mentioned the distinguished former prime ministers who are here, all three of whom have played a significant role in helping to address this issue. I also wish to note the participation of several members of the present Japanese cabinet, Foreign Minister Ikeda, Environment Minister Ishii, and, again, Education Minister Kosugi, all of whom are environmental leaders working within the Japanese government. We also have with us a Japanese woman recognized as one of the world’s true heroes of the environment, House of Councillors Member Akiko Domoto, head of the Diet members group on environmental issues, who was recognized this month at the United Nations as one of the world’s twenty-five leading women on environmental matters. I had the pleasure of working with Akiko Domoto and Takashi Kosugi for many years in addressing the issues related to the environment, along with Tom Spencer and others. From Canada we have Maurice Strong, Chairman of the Earth Council, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Executive Director of UNEP, and others who have worked for many years on this issue.
I mentioned that I had the privilege of visiting the Imperial Palace this morning. I was deeply impressed by the harmony of the landscape, and I have been taught that Japanese gardens are designed to draw us into a more complete understanding of man’s oneness with nature. It is this same understanding that we seek among ourselves as we meet the challenges of harmonizing our economic development with the well-being of our societies and the environment.
Professor Takeshi Umehara, one of Japan’s most prominent philosophers, has asserted that the new post-modern era requires a new ethic, and I quote, “an ethic of being the custodian of the continuity of life, instead of a one-shot plunderer during a brief episode of mortal splendor.”
In the United States years ago, after the publication of a book by Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, we began to look at the environment in a different way. As our awareness of the environment spread, as both the United States and Japan were on the verge of establishing environmental protection agencies, it was at that precise moment in history that we first sent human beings to the moon. Of course, they sent back a stunning image of the earth from space, bringing home to us how small our planet really is and how important our stewardship of its future really is.
In an increasingly global society, our prosperity and our well- being are more intimately linked, as are our responsibilities. Japan has much to teach the rest of the world, as this nation addressed many of its pollution challenges of the 70’s and 80’s successfully, while maintaining steady economic growth. Japan’s engagement with the rest of the world is also critical, as Japan holds a special place as the economic and technological leader in a prospering Asia.
When I leave here I will be visiting China and Korea, and during those visits I also intend to discuss how we can work in unison to combat our common challenges. Of course, in addition to taking up vital trade and security concerns, I plan to discuss ways we can approach the serious long-term energy, food and environmental challenges which will face this region and our world in the near future. Progress in all of these areas will be made more effective through Japan’s greater role in dealing with these issues. Of course, I’m very pleased that the United States and Japan have such a long history of working together. Our security alliance has endured for half a century. This alliance, maintained throughout the Cold War, provided a stable basis for not just Japan’s remarkable growth, but for that of all Asia as well. Our efforts to promote stability have strengthened our resolve to promote peace throughout the world. I wish on this occasion to salute Japan for its brave decision to support the peace-loving people of the world by sending peacekeepers to Cambodia, Mozambique, Goma, Zaire, and most recently to the Golan Heights.
In our economic relations, we continue to make progress. It is worth remembering that only a few short years ago books were written on both sides of the Pacific suggesting that our trade differences would rend us apart. Of course, we still have concerns, serious ones, especially over Japan’s recently rising surpluses, but we are working together to solve our differences in an atmosphere less charged with rhetoric and more focused on our common good.
Our bilateral cooperation has strengthened our regional economic cooperation. Since President Clinton convened the first APEC Leaders Meeting in 1993, tremendous strides have been made. In 1994, we set the vision of a Pacific community with free and open trade by 2020. In 1995, I had the privilege of representing President Clinton at the APEC meeting in Osaka, and we agreed at that meeting to develop a road map to achieve the vision. Last year, we brought our individual plans for action and elevated the priority of sustainable development. This regional cooperation serves as an example to the rest of the world, opening markets, removing trade barriers, permitting the free flow of capital, and sustainable growth in Asia, the Americas, Europe and elsewhere. This can be an important step toward the creation of a true global free market.
Economic and security issues are vitally important, yet they are undergirded and integrally connected to our stewardship of the planet. The growth of our economies and the stability of our societies are intertwined with the effects of climate change — environmental degradation, resource depletion, threats to human health and population shifts. We must bear in mind that just as it can take a long time to see the effects of these changes emerge, it will also take a long time to achieve solutions. Our success will depend upon far-sighted wisdom in the choices that we make.
At the 1992 UN conference in Rio, the nations of the world pledged to tackle our most serious global environmental threats — from climate change and deforestation to bio-diversity loss and pollution of the marine environment. Never before had these issues been so prominently featured on the international stage. The meeting in Rio revolutionized the way governments approach environmental concerns by highlighting the linkages between sustainable development and continued freedom and prosperity. Unfortunately, while governments have become skilled at articulating the problems, we have not developed a comparable skill, as yet, in developing and implementing sustainable solutions. This challenge is at the outer boundary of what is possible for us as a global civilization to successfully solve.
Yet we can and must rise to this challenge, because the stakes are growing every day. There are now 450 million more mouths to feed on this planet than there were a mere five years ago. We are now adding a billion people every ten years — net. That is a development that is brand new in human history. From the first emergence of our species, which scientists tell us was approximately 200,000 years ago, until the end of WWII in 1945, it took ten thousand generations before we reached a population of two billion people. In my lifetime since the end of WWII, I have witnessed the population grow from a little over two billion to five and a half billion. If my life span is a normal one, I will see a population of nine billion or more. If it takes ten thousand generations to produce two billion people, and then a single human lifetime to move from two billion to nine billion, then obviously we are in a brand new era.
The powerful new technologies, that now magnify our ability to have an impact on the environment around us, multiply the effects of the growing population. Many of the manifestations are well known. Tropical forests, the greatest sources of biological diversity, are still being destroyed at alarming rates, historic rates. We still have much to do.
As we approach the fifth anniversary of the Rio Summit, it is, therefore, clear that we must do a better job. Nowhere is this need greater than on the issue of global climate change. Japan’s public, its scientists and its leaders have played a valuable role in bringing attention to this issue. As long ago as 1931, the impact of global warming gases was discussed in a novel by Kenji Miyazawa. In this story a student surprises his teacher by calculating that carbon dioxide would warm the earth by several degrees centigrade. Back then, little was know about the effects of this temperature rise on the globe. Today we might be less surprised by that student’s analysis, and we would surely know that the consequences of this warming are indeed dramatic. The work of Japanese scientists, such as Shigeru Chubachi, has enlightened our understanding of the challenges we face. Dr. Chubachi untangled the clues of an ozone hole miles above the earth, and his presentation of the findings in 1984 had global repercussions.
The work of leaders, such as Saburo Okita and Bunpei Hara, has elevated the stage on which these discussions are placed. These individuals called for a World Commission on Environment and Development, which in 1987 produced the book, Our Common Future. This book was a catalyst for sustainable development discussions around the world. Now we must match our words with deeds.
Last year, the international scientific community confirmed what most of us have suspected for some time, namely that human activities are altering the planet’s climate system. As we learn more and more about what this could mean for Japan, for the United States and for the world, the imperative for action becomes ever stronger. Some have, of course, continued to express doubts that there is any need to confront this problem.
I wish to present today the findings of scientists from around the world who have studied the ice cores in Antarctica. Many of you are familiar with their work. The ice there is two miles deep, and they drill down through the ice and measure the content of tiny air bubbles that are contained in each year’s worth of snow at the time that it fell. Just as foresters can read the rings of a tree once it has been cut down and determine which years experienced droughts and which years were good for the growth of the tree, in the same way, these scientists measure the history of the earth by analyzing the ice cores in Antarctica.
If you will bear with me for a moment, I would like to demonstrate to you what they found. This looks a little more complicated than it really is. There are only two lines on the graph. The top one is carbon dioxide. The bottom one is temperature. On the right hand side of the graph is the present day’s temperature in yellow and the present day’s carbon dioxide levels in red. Going back to the left hand side of the chart, you can see the last ice age, the next-to-last ice age, and a period of great warming in between the last two ice ages. In my country, these differences turned out to be profound. In New York City, the difference between here and here on the chart is the difference between a nice day when the cherry blossoms bloom and having one mile of ice over our head, because that is when the glacial sheet covered much of North America.
One thing stands out in the first glance at this graph. The relationship between carbon dioxide levels and temperature levels appears to be quite compelling. The young student in the Japanese novel of 1931 would have no difficulty seeing the relationship between these two lines. Here is the point that I wish to make with this graph. We are now increasing the levels of carbon dioxide in the entire world so dramatically that within the lifetimes of people in this hall, we will witness the level of carbon dioxide going up. It is already up here, but it will, in the lifetimes of people here, go up to this level.
Is it responsible to say that this does not represent a problem for humankind? If the relationship with the earth’s temperatures and climate patterns have been so exact for as far back as the scientists are capable of measuring them, can we blithely say, well, we don’t really see any ethical problem in leaving to future generations this legacy of a cavalier disregard for the consequences of what we do?
The United States applauds Japan’s leadership in offering to host the Third Conference of the Parties on climate change. It is at this meeting in December in Kyoto when the world will once again attempt to come to grips with the reality that the scientists are confronting us with. Today, I want to pledge the commitment of the United States to working closely with Japan to ensure that this meeting succeeds in producing a meaningful agreement.
Over 160 countries participate in the climate change negotiations, each bringing different priorities and different concerns to the table. Many small island nations are fighting, very literally, for their continued existence, as sea levels are rising, causing fears of inundation. Even wealthy nations like Japan and the United States are at risk from climate change.
In the United States, there has been much comment from our scientists about the predicted result of increased flooding as a result of more rain and snow falling during one-time storm events. Twenty years ago, scientists told us that with the increased warming, the portion of the annual rainfall and snowfall, which falls in one-time storm events, will go up. It has gone up by 20 percent in the United States because of more evaporation from the ocean and a larger carrying capacity for moisture in the air, so that when the meteorological conditions trigger a storm, more moisture is dumped in the form of either rain or snow in a short period of time.
I spent two days a few weeks ago touring the victims of flooding in our Ohio River Valley, listening to them describe what it was like to get twelve inches of rain in a one day period. We have had many such events in recent years. Our insurance industry encountered an event with losses of more than one billion dollars only once prior to 1988. Since that time they have experienced seventeen such events.
I know that Japan is concerned about climate change bringing more intense and more frequent coastal storms and similar extreme rainfall in mountainous regions susceptible to erosion. Ironically, the phenomenon can cause an increased incidence of drought and flooding in the same region, because when more of the annual rainfall comes in these single large events, the aquifers are not recharged, and the water rushes off, doing damage in the process. Just as the evaporation from the ocean increases, soil evaporation increases as well, causing in some regions a greater incidence of drought.
Climate change will also, according to the scientists, alter animal and plant habitats, leading to local and regional extinction. Coastal and marine fisheries may be affected as well. The United States and other countries share these concerns with Japan.
Yet the way ahead is clear. Climate change is a global issue and cannot be addressed without global action. We now recognize that such action cannot wait much longer. The United States has proposed what we feel are three essential ingredients for a successful outcome in Kyoto.
First, the developed world must agree to realistic and achievable legally binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions. Experience tells us that only through the surety of a binding commitment will nations take the necessary actions to control their emissions. At the same time we must take care to develop targets that put us on a more sustainable energy path, without sacrificing continued economic growth and sustainable development.
The second principle is that we must provide the maximum amount of flexibility to ensure that governments are given every opportunity to meet their commitments cost-effectively and consistent with individual national circumstances. While we must have a clear, common and enforceable target, nations have different economies, different cultures, and different ways of doing business that make it impossible to impose a “one-size- fits-all” prescription for reaching that target.
Third, we must acknowledge the global nature of the problem by ensuring the participation of all countries, developed and developing. While industrialized nations are responsible for the lion’s share of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere today, we must keep in mind that the future growth in emissions will come largely from the developing world. Shortly after the turn of the century the largest single emitters of greenhouse gases will be developing nations.
So while the United States, Japan, the European Union and other developed countries should take on greater responsibilities, China, India, and the rest of the developing world must also have obligations. It will be extremely difficult to imagine legislatures in developed nations taking the very difficult decisions that are necessary, if the agreement they sign onto has an exemption for the largest emitters of greenhouse gases on the planet. Regardless of the difficulty this poses for reaching international agreements, we must face it, and we must incorporate a provision that requires all nations to accept obligations under the treaty.
We believe that these three principles — binding targets for the industrialized world, flexibility in reaching those targets, and clear obligations for all countries — are the three pillars on which we must build a new agreement.
How then can the United States and Japan work to forge a consensus on responding to climate change and to make headway on the other pressing global challenges that we face? Quite simply, we must attack these issues at every level – multilaterally, regionally and bilaterally. In the United States, as we come up on our athletic event known as the Final Four, we call this a full-court press.
Multilaterally, first of all, 1997 affords a number of important opportunities to make progress on the international environmental agenda. As the host of this year’s Denver Summit, I can assure you that the United States will make environmental concerns, including climate change, forests and a thorough reform of UN institutions, a major focus of this meeting. In June, world leaders will gather in New York for the UN Special Session on the Environment, commemorating five years since Rio. We must work together to use both of these sessions to build common ground among nations on key global priorities.
Regionally, we find that shared borders and resources provide strong incentives for confronting environmental problems. It is clear, for example, that the choices China makes about its energy development path and management of its coastal resources will have implications not only for China, but also for Japan. Air and ocean currents never stop at national borders. Pacific nations are increasingly active in regional efforts to deal with these and other transboundary environmental concerns. APEC is one good example. Its initiatives on clean technologies and production, clean oceans and seas, and sustainable cities, underscore the importance of sustainable development to continuing prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.
Bilaterally, there is much we are doing and must continue to do. In 1993, President Clinton and former Prime Minister Miyazawa launched the Common Agenda for Cooperation in Global Perspectives. The Common Agenda is designed to create an atmosphere in which our scientists, government agencies, NGOs and individuals can jointly combat the largest challenges our planet faces, including those relating to the environment. Under the Common Agenda, we are promoting conservation and sustainable management of the world’s natural resources. May I say that, in my personal view, the Common Agenda has been one of the most successful examples of bilateral cooperation the world has ever seen. It has received far less attention than, I believe, its record of dramatic success warrants. I want our friends in Japan to know that we in the United States are intensely proud of what we have been able to do together with you, and we look forward to doing even more.
By helping to launch the International Coral Reef Initiative, we are preserving marine biodiversity in the most productive and diverse of all ecosystems. By establishing an innovative biodiversity trust in Indonesia, we are combating the disappearance of forests. Through joint conservation projects in Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, we are supporting biodiversity research to protect national parks endangered by development, and we are protecting endangered and biologically important species.
Under the Common Agenda, we are also fighting the rise in coastal pollution from the rapid growth of coastal cities. Americans and Japanese are working together in places like Jamaica, for example, where we’re cooperating to reduce water pollution in Montego Bay. Under the Common Agenda, we are also working to reduce the damage of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes. We know the importance of this work from the devastation suffered in Kobe, and recently in my country from the flooding that I mentioned a moment ago. Under the Common Agenda, we are establishing global change prediction and research centers in the United States and Japan which will contribute to a worldwide climate observation network. This research will teach us more about the inter-connectedness of climate systems. Studies showing the relationship between the Asian monsoon system and the El Nino process off the Pacific coast of the Americas have exciting potential to warn us of tropical storms, drought and flooding, and to prepare ourselves to better deal with their impacts.
Let me cite one other recent example of our successful collaboration. Our joint work with Thailand resulted, on January 1 of this year, in Thailand being the first developing country to phase out ozone- depleting chemicals in refrigerators. This is more than ten years ahead of Thailand’s requirement under the Montreal Protocol.
So we are building a substantive agenda of cooperation that is reaching to all corners of the world. In moving forward, we must never forget that the well-being of our planet depends on more than efforts by governments. All the people of our nations have important roles to play. We are finding that children at the youngest ages have a deep concern about these issues and a deep fascination with nature.
I am sure you know there is a book that was published in Japan a few years ago by a young girl, Aika Tsubota, who was a sixth grade student at the Nishino Elementary School in Shimane. Her assignment was to write an essay about environmental issues that was so clear that even first graders could understand it. Her essay was published as a short book, Secrets of the Earth, and it skillfully brings together the interplay between our lives and the environment. At her young age, this Japanese girl saw the importance of all citizens and all countries working together to achieve a common good. As many of you also know, tragically, just after she finished her project, she passed away. Her book is a lasting resource that can inspire people of all ages.
Capturing the interest and imagination of our young people was a motivation for establishing the project we call Global Learning and Observations about the Environment. By connecting schools and youth clubs, the children and their teachers can share both the unique and common features of our environment around the world. There are now forty eight countries participating in this GLOBE project, and the number grows every single month. I am very happy there are several Japanese schools and clubs participating, and I encourage others to share in this experience as well.
Active engagement in environmental issues is needed from all of us, young and old, rich and poor, American, Asian, African and European. Community groups, NGOs, and others play a critical role around the world.
In Japan, I understand that public interest in global environmental issues has been growing rapidly. New citizens groups, such as the Kiko Forum, are working to foster public understanding of climate change, and this work is terribly important. Everyone’s help is needed, reaching across borders. What appears to be virtually impossible now will become not only possible, but imperative, as more people around the world develop an awareness of what is at stake.
We live in an era of the possible. Our two countries, accounting for 40 percent of this planet’s economic power, are working together and with others to promote sustainable economic growth and freedom. The high level of attention given to environmental issues in Japan has been reflected in this nation’s growing leadership on the world stage. Now, as we face challenges that are increasingly global, Japan’s determined leadership internationally will be essential.
Well, in closing, the season of the cherry blossoms is a particularly fitting time for us to renew and extend our bonds of partnership. The famous Haiku poet Issa wrote, some two hundred years ago, and I’m going to give you the English — I’m not going to venture the old form of Japanese in which it was written — “In the midst of the cherry blossoms, none are utter strangers.”
I look forward to joining with Japan in a close partnership for the 21st century to build a legacy, not of problems that we didn’t have the bravery to face, but a legacy of hope and opportunity built upon the challenges that together we overcame.
Thank you very much
(return to top)