Remarks Following Meetings With Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone of Japan
May 1, 1987
The President. I have been pleased to welcome Prime Minister Nakasone to Washington. He is a friend, a wise colleague, and the leader of America's most important partner and ally in the Pacific. Prime Minister Nakasone and I have worked together now for more than 4 years, and I've greatly valued his advice and cooperation. Our talks covered a wide range of issues. We reaffirmed our shared commitment to peace and democracy throughout East Asia and the Pacific. And Prime Minister Nakasone was briefed on the current status of arms talks with the Soviet Union, and we agreed on the vital importance of Western solidarity in this endeavor.
He and I also discussed in detail the upcoming Venice summit. We agreed that agriculture will be an important topic, along with macroeconomic matters, and debt. Many governments, including our own, have constructed impediments to agricultural trade and have market-distorting subsidies in place. We've agreed these costly and harmful policies should be removed. I emphasized this to Prime Minister Nakasone and told him that early improvements in access for U.S. agricultural products to Japan's markets are vital, economically and politically. The Prime Minister and I affirmed that all of the policies of our respective nations affecting trade and agriculture are subject for discussion in the new round of trade negotiations along with the agricultural policies of other countries.
Trade between our two countries was, as expected, an area of heavy discussion. Both Japan and the United States recognize that the current trade imbalance is politically unsustainable and required urgent attention. The Prime Minister described to me measures his government intends to take, and I am supportive of those positive actions and optimistic that we will soon see the situation begin to improve. In this regard, we reaffirmed our commitment to cooperate closely on economic policy as described in our joint statement. Of course, the United States, too, must do its part, and I made clear that we are committed to cutting the budget deficit and are strengthening the competitiveness of U.S. industry. Consistent with the approach Prime Minister Nakasone and I have agreed to, protectionism will be strenuously opposed on both sides of the Pacific.
The Prime Minister and I also discussed our two countries' shared commitment to assist the world's debtor nations. I welcome the Japanese Government's plans to make available to developing countries on an untied basis more than $20 billion in new funds over the next 3 years.
On the semiconductor issue, we have agreed to review the data in mid-May. It's my hope that, with the Venice summit coming up, our ongoing review of the semiconductor agreement will demonstrate a persuasive pattern of compliance, thereby allowing removal of the sanctions as soon as possible.
America's relationship with Japan is both close and broadly based. We share a host of common interests in the world. Prime Minister Nakasone and I agreed that the leaders of our two great countries should hold regular annual meetings. The widespread economic and social contacts between our peoples will, of course, continue, and we will remain each other's close friends and trading partners. Of that there is no doubt. I look forward to seeing Prime Minister Nakasone again in a few weeks in Venice and now wish him and his wife Godspeed on their journey home.
The Prime Minister. I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for your warm hospitality, and I'm very pleased that we have had 2 days of very fruitful meetings. The President and I placed most of our emphasis on the future of the world economy, recognizing that our respective huge current account imbalances could bring about serious consequences for the health of the world economy. It is necessary to rectify this situation fundamentally and as soon as possible. We affirmed our shared political determination that our two countries will take vigorous and consistent policy measures. In this connection, we are determined to cooperate closely on microeconomic policy and exchange rates, as described in our joint statement. I emphasized to the President that between our two countries problems should be solved by cooperation and joint endeavors and that the measures of the United States concerning semiconductors should be withdrawn promptly.
The President and I noted with satisfaction the progress seen on other specific issues. The two governments will continue to work to resolve remaining issues. I explained to the President that our government is taking the lead in the effort to expand the import through extraordinary and special budget measures of substantial magnitude. I also told him that our government intends to complete our 7-year target for doubling our ODA [foreign assistance] 2 years in advance; to recycle more than $20 billion, new funds, in totally untied form over 3 years, mainly to the developing countries suffering from debt problems, totaling more than $30 billion if added from the previous pledge; and to extend positive assistance to sub-Saharan and the other less developing countries. The President expressed his high appreciation for our decision.
The President and I agreed to actively promote the GATT Uruguay round. We noted that all of our nations' policies affecting trade in agriculture are a subject for discussion in the Uruguay round, along with the agriculture policies of other nations. The President explained that he's endeavoring to reduce the budget deficit and to promote measures to improve competitiveness. I stated my strong wish for the success of these policy measures. Moreover, I was encouraged by the President's statement of his determination to stand firm against protectionism.
We noted with satisfaction that the security relations between our two countries are excellent and agreed that Japan and the U.S. will continue our efforts for further strengthening the credibility of the Japan-U.S. security arrangements. I reiterated my firm belief that the global and total elimination of long-range INF is the best solution for the security of the West and that this remain the ultimate goal. Should an interim agreement be arrived at, the President concurred with my statement: Japan, in close communication with the United States, will expand its effort for the political and economic stability of the regions of the Middle East, Africa, the South Pacific, and Latin America as well as Asia. In particular, we reaffirmed our further support for the Philippines.
We also agreed, given the present severe international economic situation, on the need for stronger political leadership in promoting policy coordination among the nations at the upcoming Venice summit. We should also further consolidate the solidarity of the West in political field in light of the present state of East-West relations and of arms control negotiations. Taking into account the results of our meetings, including our mutual agreement to hold regular, annual Japan-U.S. summit meetings, I renew my determination to do my utmost to further consolidate U.S.-Japan relations for the peace and prosperity of the world.
Reporter. Mr. President, do you think you can lift the sanctions before the summit, sir?
The President. It's going to depend. As we said, this is what we're working on. But we're behind schedule now -- and his schedule for the remainder of the day -- so we're going to have to depart.
Q. Mr. President, the prime rate went up this morning a half point. Does that disturb you that U.S. interest rates are going up? The prime went up this morning.
The President. Well, I wish it hadn't.
Q. Can do you do anything about it?
The President. We'll have to see.
Note: The President spoke at 11:42 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.