Remarks Upon Returning From the Trip to Japan and the Republic of Korea
November 14, 1983 Thank you all for coming out to greet us, and thank you for minding the store while we were away. I know I speak for Nancy and for everyone of our party when I say it's great to be home.
We won't keep you long, but I just want to tell you how proud I am of everyone who helped make this trip a great success. We traveled nearly 16,000 miles to visit two countries that are vital to us and to our future. Japan and Korea have very different roots from our own, but each of us is a Pacific nation, and we're bound together by a great treasure of shared values -- our love of freedom and democracy, the drive, determination, and skill of our people, and our optimism for the future.
Mike Mansfield, our very wise Ambassador in Tokyo, likes to say, ``The next century will be the century of the Pacific.'' And he's right. The East Asian and Pacific region is growing faster than any other region in the world. Japan has become our largest overseas trading partner, and Korea ranks among our top 10 worldwide. We're building a future together. This means we shoulder great responsibilities, but we also have tremendous opportunities. And working as partners to make tomorrow better and more secure is what this trip is all about.
Well, I'm pleased to report some good news. America's partnerships are stronger, and prospects for a more secure peace and prosperity are better today than a week ago.
In Japan we established an agenda for progress so we can solve problems and create jobs, security, and safety for our families and for theirs. That agenda ranges from efforts to lower trade barriers to assisting recovery of the U.S. auto industry, to expanding our energy trade, promoting greater investment in capital markets, cooperating in defense technology, encouraging exports and imports of high technology, coordinating our foreign assistance efforts, and expanding our cultural programs.
We also agreed on an approach to correct the imbalance between the Japanese yen and the American dollar. Our currencies should reflect the political stability and economic strength that our two countries enjoy. In Japan's case this will mean a stronger yen, which means that American products will compete more effectively in world markets.
Because of the breadth and compxity of these issues, I intend to establish a management group, under the leadership of the Vice President, to assure essential followup action. If each side is willing to give a little, then all of us will gain a lot.
Diplomacy is important. Strengthening the spirit of friendship is the best way to solve problems and create lasting partnerships. And I can't tell you how proud I was to have the historic opportunity to address the Japanese Diet and all the people of Japan. I told them what we Americans feel in our hearts -- that we, like they, are people of peace, that we deeply desire a nuclear arms reddnuction agreement, and that we will never walk away from the negotiating table.
Those who disagree with the United States get plenty of publicity. But one thing becomes more plain to me each time I travel: Across the globe, America is looked to as a friend and as a leader in preserving peace and freedom. This was certainly true in Japan and Korea.
I was at one of the meetings in Korea, and I just assumed that Nancy was out sightseeing or probably even shopping for souvenirs. And knowing Nancy as well as I do, I wasn't surprised when I came home and found that she had two little Korean friends, Lee Kil Woo and Ahn Ji Sook. They have come over to the States where they're going to be treated at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, New York. And Nancy met them by way of a very remarkable woman, Harriet Hodges, who has succeeded in bringing some 600 children like this, who needed medical attention that could only be given here in this country, to bring them to the United States.
So, they've had their first Air Force ride -- or airplane ride, and they've had their first helicopter ride, and they've been very active for some 16 or 17 hours. [Laughter]
I wish you could have been with us in Korea -- a country scarred by the recent bombing in Rangoon and the Korean airliner tragedy. The South Koreans live under the shadow of Communist aggression. They understand the value of freedom, and they're paying the price to defend it. You know, sometimes you hear events are more symbolism than substance. Well, there's more than symbolism when over a million Koreans line the streets to wave and cheer Americans and to thank America for helping keep them free.
There's more than symbolism in the threat to the people of Seoul, who live within range of North Korean artillery just some 30 kilometers away. And there's more than symbolism in the danger to our American soldiers helping to guard the border of the DMZ, often in weather that leaves them freezing from their heads to their toes.
I have just been looking forward to telling the American people we've had such a wrong impression. I think most of us just sort of pictured our forces over there as kind of garrison troops, just waiting on hand that anything should happen. That's not true. They are combat ready, and they are the farthest advanced toward a potential enemy of any American forces in the world.
I reaffirmed to the Korean people America's commitment to their peace and freedom and encouraged them to develop further their democracy. And I must tell you that one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life was the time I spent Sunday afternoon and morning with our brave troops at the DMZ.
If you could have been with me, you would have been at the worship service Sunday morning that we had with our soldiers in an open field, less than a mile from one of the most tyrannical regimes on Earth. And there, singing, was a choir of little girls, not much bigger than this one, all orphans from an orphanage that is maintained and supported by our GI's. And they have done this with several others there. The young men and women of the 2d Infantry Division maintain those institutions.
And to hear these children closing the service, singing ``America, the Beautiful'' in our language, was a spiritual experience. And you would have heard, if you'd been at that service, their chaplain telling us that we were standing on the edge of freedom. Being there teaches us that freedom is never free, nor can it be purchased in one installment. We can only struggle to keep it, pass it on to the next generation, and hope they'll preserve it for their children and their children's children.
And that's the risk that our soldiers have accepted day in and day out for more than 30 years. As that chaplain reminded us, ``Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends.'' And this they have done at the DMZ. I was honored to meet our men, and I promised them that I would tell the American people how crucial their jobs are, not just to the people of Korea but to people everywhere who love freedom. So much of what we take for granted each day we owe to these heroes and others like them around the world. They make us so proud to be Americans.
Coming home from Korea and Japan, all of us bring with us renewed energy and renewed commitment to our fundamental goals, building a new era of peace and prosperity -- just as soon as we readjust our clocks. [Laughter]
God bless you, and God bless this wonderful country. Thank you.
Note: The President spoke at 12:02 p.m. on the South Lawn of the White House to administration officials and members of the White House staff.