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Radio Address to the Nation on the President's Trip to Indonesia and Japan

May 4, 1986

Greetings from Tokyo. I'm here for the 12th annual meeting of 7 major industrialized democracies. I flew here last night after a meeting in Indonesia with some of America's close friends and energetic trading partners. During my stay there, I conferred with President Soeharto of Indonesia on a number of issues of common interest to our countries. President Soeharto has led his country during a period of impressive economic growth. Over the last 15 years the annual increase in Indonesia's gross national product has averaged 6.8 percent. The Indonesian people have reaped the rewards of a higher standard of living.

While in Indonesia I also met with the foreign ministers of six countries which make up the Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN. Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Brunei have joined together in one of the most successful and admirable regional groupings in the developing world. Our relations with these ASEAN countries exemplify the mutual benefits that can be derived from close and open relations among free and enterprising peoples. Over the last two decades ASEAN countries committed to free trade and open markets have had some of the highest growth rates in the world. Commerce between us has created a host of jobs on both sides of the Pacific. The sound management of their economic affairs enable the ASEAN countries to weather much of the turbulence experienced in other parts of the world.

On the eve of the economic summit here in Tokyo, there was much to talk over with our ASEAN friends. One of the issues of concern to us all, and a subject I expect to discuss in detail at the economic summit, is the growing pressure for protectionism to shut world markets. Unfettered commerce has been a mighty force for growth and prosperity since the close of the Second World War. Our open trading system has kept America efficient and on the cutting edge of technology. While free trade means change and progress, protectionism invariably leads to stagnation and decline. Well, Americans aren't going to be left behind by anyone. But like our friends in ASEAN, we want to make certain that free trade is not a one-way proposition, that markets are open in all countries, and that other governments do not unfairly subsidize their exports. I assured our ASEAN friends that the United States will continue to fight trade-killing protectionism and aggressively pursue open markets and trade that is free and fair. There is no reason to doubt America's ability to compete, no reason to lack confidence in our working men and women and our corporate leaders. When everyone plays with the same rules, our people have what it takes: the ingenuity, the hard work, and the integrity to compete with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Economic challenges remain. At the summit we will discuss interrelated problems of growth, debt, trade, and finance. The fundamental strength of the economies of our summit partners will be a major focus of our discussions. At the same time, however, we will address the situation of debtor countries. Growth-oriented structural reforms in developing countries and the opening of their economies to international trade and investment is the path to progress. It's up to the industrialized democracies to lead the way.

The summit will also serve as a forum for discussion of critical noneconomic issues: the environment and terrorism, for example. Poet John Donne once wrote that "No man is an island.'' Well, when it comes to terrorism, no country is a fortress. The death of innocent people at the hands of terrorists, then, is everybody's business, a threat to the liberty and well-being of all free people. Here in Tokyo I'll be talking with the leaders of the other industrialized democracies about what must be done in response to terrorism, especially state-sponsored terrorism. We must and will stand as one against the enemies of civilization.

Seldom has the interdependence of modern industrial States been more evident than this past week. All Americans, indeed the entire world, sympathize with those affected by the tragedy at Chernobyl. We stand ready, as do many nations, to assist in any way we can. But the contrast between the leaders of free nations meeting at the summit to deal openly with common concerns and the Soviet Government, with its secrecy and stubborn refusal to inform the international community of the common danger from this disaster, is stark and clear. The Soviets' handling of this incident manifests a disregard for the legitimate concerns of people everywhere. A nuclear accident that results in contaminating a number of countries with radioactive material is not simply an internal matter. The Soviets owe the world an explanation. A full accounting of what happened at Chernobyl and what is happening now is the least the world community has a right to expect.

Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 11:35 a.m. from the Hotel Okura in Tokyo, Japan.