Interview
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Interview With Yoshio Nishikawa of NHK
Tokyo, Japan
February 17, 2009


QUESTION: Thank you very much for your giving us a chance to interview you. I’m very honored, and my first question is on the finance minister of Japan. Finance Minister Nakagawa today announced his resignation. What’s your reaction to this announcement in the midst of a global economical crisis?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that the resilience of the Japanese people and the Japanese Government is what’s important here. The ministry of finance has many very intelligent personnel who will continue to work on the approach that Japan chooses to take to try to overcome this economic contraction.

I know that the Japanese Government is looking at a stimulus package to try to stimulate internal demand, and also for ways to diversify the economy. You know, Japan is the second largest economy in the world, so the United States and Japan must work together, both for their own economic future, but also to help stabilize the global economy and try to begin a recovery process that will benefit our countries and the world.

QUESTION: But don’t you think this sudden announcement of resignation affect the process?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t think so. I mean, I’m not going to comment on an internal Japanese Government decision. But what is important is that Japan, the people, the private sector, the government all work together to demonstrate the leadership that I know Japan will show as we move toward the G-20 summit in London.

It will be important for the United States and Japan to have a coordinated approach because the world is looking to the two of us. We have so much economic power, and even though we are both suffering from the slowdown now with increasing unemployment, and in our country, people losing jobs and homes and businesses closing, I’m very confident in the capacity of our two countries to recover.

QUESTION: Then now, let me go to your visit. You have chosen Japan as the first country to visit as Secretary of State, and as well, President Obama has chosen Prime Minister Aso as the first foreign leader invited to the White House. What do you intend to communicate?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I want to communicate the importance of the relationship between Japan and the United States. I have said many times it’s a cornerstone of our foreign policy. Next year, our alliance will be 50 years old and I think it demonstrates the enduring relationship between our two countries. And so for me, coming here as my first stop on my first trip as Secretary of State is intended to send that message.

And for President Obama to invite the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Aso, to be the first foreign leader to visit the White House further underscores the importance we place on the relationship.

QUESTION: You mention often global partnership. If this U.S.-Japan relationship is so, what – in what way should the two countries work together to meet world challenges?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s an excellent question; certainly on the economic front, where we must work together. On clean energy and global climate change, Japan is a leader in clean and efficient energy production, and I want the United States to learn more from Japan.

And I think Japan has a role to play in helping other countries become more efficient on the effort to prevent nuclear proliferation, and to work together through the Six-Party Talks to denuclearize North Korea and end its proliferating activities and try to bring it into the family of nations, answering questions about human rights, about the fate of the abductees and so many other important questions, what Japan is doing in development assistance in Africa, in Afghanistan, even in the Middle East, the decision to send two vessels to help us in our attempt to end piracy in the Gulf of Aden – all of these indicate the role that Japan is playing and will play as not only a bilateral partner to the United States, but as a regional and global power.

QUESTION: Related to the Six-Party Talks now, you have met this afternoon abductees’ families.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

QUESTION: And what message did you convey to them, and do you have any message from President Obama?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I wanted to meet with them personally and to hear their stories. And I saw pictures of a missing sister and a missing daughter. I’m a daughter, I’m a sister, I’m a mother, and I cannot even imagine the pain that these families must feel every day. So I assured them that the abduction issue is part of the Six-Party Talks. It is a very important matter to both President Obama and myself, and that we continue to encourage the North Koreans to act in a humane, compassionate way, you know, let these people have information about their loved ones, let the Japanese abductees return home.

QUESTION: And what was your impression on – at – upon meeting with them?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I was very impressed by them. I know what anguish and pain they must feel. But they are very dignified. They tell their stories with such sincerity. And they are doing a service by reminding not only the people of Japan, but also the people of the United States and other countries that behavior like this cannot be tolerated, and it should not be forgotten, and it deserves to have a high priority in the ongoing dialogue with North Korea.

QUESTION: Unfortunately, Japanese – many Japanese feel their interests are ignored when the United States delisted North Korea as a sponsor state of terrorism. So how do you treat abductees issues in Six-Party Talks?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think the Six-Party Talks are a platform for a comprehensive set of issues. Certainly, ending North Korea’s nuclear program, ending their proliferation is in the interests of Japan as well as the rest of us. Having the human rights issues be on the agenda; the abductee issue has to be on the agenda.

So what we’re trying to do is, working together through the Six-Party Talks, bring pressure to bear on the North Koreans to change their behavior. And it’s a very important set of issues. Japan has a lot at stake, but so does South Korea and so even do China and Russia and the United States as well. So working together, we think, is the best way to try to create the change that we’re looking for.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.

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PRN: 2009/T1-7