Lecture by Ambassador Thomas S. Foley
Democracy: A Shared Value
12/06/1999, Tachikawa Hall, Rikkyo University
RIKKYO UNIVERSITY AND INSTITUTE FOR AMERICAN STUDIES
|President Ohashi, Chairman Matsuzaki, Professor Abe, members of
the faculty, students, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. It's
a great pleasure for me to join you as Rikkyo University marks
two important milestones ── the 125th anniversary of the founding of this distinguished institution
of higher learning and the 60th anniversary of the establishment
of the Institute for American Studies.
|Rikkyo is one of the many universities in Japan with close and
long-standing ties to the United States. The architectural echoes
of American universities, especially those on the East Coast,
strike a first-time visitor to your campus. Ivy covers the brick
walls of buildings whose functions have changed as the university
has grown. A few of the clapboard houses, built for American faculty
in the Taisho Era, remain. While attendance in chapel is no longer
mandatory, the chapel building seems transported from the United
|The history of Rikkyo University begins in 1874, when an American
missionary, the Reverend Channing Moore Williams founded Saint
Paul's College at a site near the foreign settlement in Tokyo.
In 1859, less than 10 years after Admiral Perry made his famous
trip to Japan, the Reverend Williams arrived in Nagasaki, then
the only Japanese city open to foreigners in order to minister
to the foreign community while studying Japanese. Several years
later, he moved to Osaka and established Saint Timothy's School.
In 1873, he arrived in Tokyo, recently designated as the nation's
capital. The next year, he founded Saint Paul's as a place to
bring western learning to the Japanese and to develop the institution
where the Japanese could observe the faith and practice of the
|Missionaries such as Reverend Williams played a central role in
shaping American relations with Asia, especially China and Japan.
Soon after we [America] became an independent nation, merchants
and missionaries had taken the long, arduous journey to China
in search of markets for their goods and converts to their religion.
The fabled wealth of China and Japan had fascinated Europeans
since the voyage of Marco Polo, and Americans, especially after
the borders of our country reached the Pacific Ocean, were keen
to extend the frontier across the vast ocean to the new "Far West."
While the missionaries started to convert Asians to their religion,
they realized that education was a fundamental way to achieve
the goal. In encouraging education, they had played an important
early role in also propagating American democratic ideals in Asia.
From Sapporo to Nagasaki, and Kanto to the Kansai, they opened
churches and set up schools that became universities. They took
the idea of public service very seriously. Drawing on a religious
calling, they saw themselves as altruistic. Reviewing the history
of American relations with the Far East Asia in the book Sentimental
Imperialist, three American scholars concluded, "America's westward
thrust into the far Pacific and East Asia seems to have had a
missionary heart, in the secular sense of the term." The consequences
turned out to be quite different from the original intentions
of the missionaries. But they were certainly one of the forces
which helped to spark a transformation of East Asia that continues
to this day.
|Saint Paul's College grew from a chapel and a few classrooms in
a rented house to the present campus in Ikebukuro. While the original
faculty members were Bishop Williams and two missionaries, the
school grew under the leadership of Bishop Henry St. George Tucker
early in this century, moving to the present campus in 1918. A
few years later, the college was upgraded to the status of a university
with departments of English literature, religion, philosophy and
history in the College of Arts and the Department of Commerce
in the College of Commerce. Enrollment grew to almost a thousand.
There were ambitious plans in the 1930s to expand the university
but these were not accomplished.
|However, in 1939 a courageous group of Americans and Japanese
established the Institute of American Studies. Its purposes were
to "open to the public a general reference library on North and
South America with special research facilities in the fields of
history, literature, economics and foreign policy," and "to disseminate
information on America through public lectures and a quarterly
magazine on American studies." In the long history of relations
between the United States and Japan, in 1939 there was never a
time when the Japanese need to study the United States. . . ,
or the American need to study Japan was greater. Unfortunately,
the serious gentle voices of the scholars went largely unheeded
as we descended into a war fueled by ignorance on both sides.
OUR BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP
|After emerging from that terrible conflict, over the course of
half a century of remarkable effort, visionary leaders on both
sides of the Pacific have forged what one of my predecessors,
Ambassador Mike Mansfield, called "the most important bilateral
relationship in the world . . . bar none." The United States and
Japan are now fast friends and allies. Our bilateral security
alliance preserves peace in the East Asia area and provides stability
needed for the region to prosper economically. Indeed, the United
States and Japan are the two leading economies in the world, engaging
in an enormous exchange of goods and services, benefiting their
own people and people around the world.
|But our relationship, our cultural exchange of ideas spans many
other dimensions as well. For example, the management theories
of Dr. W. Edwards Demming, first overlooked in the United States,
became the keystone for Japanese economic development in the 1960s
and 70s. Later the study of Demming's work and the application
of just-in-time manufacturing, continuous improvement ──"kaizen"──and other management ideas were re-exported back to the United
States and contributed to our own economic revival in this decade.
Baseball, the most American of sports, has become, as "beisubouru,"
the most popular sport in Japan. Jazz, often described as the
most distinctly American contribution to 20th century culture,
has found its second largest audience in Japan. Scholars and students
engage in vital exchange of ideas, accelerated by the Internet
and the electronic tools that are becoming commonplace as we enter
the new century. Another example is that students at a university
in California and students at a university in Japan are jointly
taking physics courses taught online by professors in both universities.
PROUD HERITAGE OF EMBRACING BOLD CHANGE
|We have achieved this vital, sometimes intimate relationship by
emphasizing those fundamental values we have in common. First
of these values is openness to new ideas and the changes that
they may bring. While we in the United States cannot lay sole
claim to having initiated the Industrial Revolution at the beginning
of the 19th century or the information revolution taking place
around us at this century's end, in both these cases, Americans
have taken bold new concepts and wrought wonders, which transformed
and continue to transform the way countless numbers of people
live and work. America has risen to be the world's largest economy.
In the strength of the acceptance and, indeed, encouragement of
innovation, places such as Silicon Valley and Redmond, Washington
have become symbolic of America's endless drive to recreate itself
to make someone's imagined future a present reality.
|Similarly, when President Clinton paid his first official visit
to Japan in 1993, he told an audience at a university of Tokyo
that "Japan has, after all, a proud heritage of embracing bold
change when the times call for it. Much of the success that you,
Japan, have enjoyed in recent years comes from a phenomenal ability
to adapt to the changing contours of the global economy. Over
120 years ago, the leaders of the Meiji Restoration embarked on
a series of rapid and successful initiatives that transformed
a feudal Japan into a modern society, making it more open to the
West without sacrificing the uniqueness of Japanese culture."
For, as President Clinton concluded, "To keep the country's doors
open wide is a national principle, to which Japan has attached
the greatest importance since the earliest days." This is a principle
shared with the United States.
|But there is another principle of paramount importance. There
is another great principle, which we share. Both countries are
committed to democratic political systems and to taking steps
to advance the spread of democracy. Drawing on their European
routes, Americans hold a bedrock belief in the social contract
between the Government and the people, and expect the government
to provide the framework for equality of opportunity, that is,
the degree of transparency, freedom of speech, access to decision-making
and legal safeguards necessary for all to have a chance to pursue
their various individual goals. Nurtured by its distinct traditions,
Japan is a more tightly knit society than that of the United States.
At a recent seminar in Japan, Professor Sheldon Garon of Princeton
University pointed out that, "To most Japanese, social contracts
constitute an essential part of their democracy. However, Japanese
tend to define democracy in terms of equality of outcome." That
is in contrast to the United States. Social contract in Japan
between the government and the people has served to maintain a
stable workforce and to foster impressive income equality between
the countryside and the cities. While the forms of democracy in
the United States and Japan have emerged from differing culture
and historic contexts, democracy itself is not questioned. That
commonality in values enables us to cooperate in supporting the
building of democratic values and institutions in Asia and throughout
the world. We are working together to support democratic institution
building in East Timor and Bosnia, for example.
OUR SHARED VALUES
|Our cooperation in these and other countries underscores the broad
range of other values we hold in common. In 1993, the United States
and Japan adopted the so-called "Common Agenda," which has led
to joint projects to promote health and human development, to
meet the challenges of global stability, to protect the environment
and to advance science and technology with a series of cooperative
research projects. Today, our two countries are supporting HIV
Aids projects in the Philippines, in Thailand and in Vietnam,
fighting tropical diseases and parasites in Africa and Latin America
and helping a family planning association in Indonesia. A former
Director of U.S. AID health projects in the southern African country
of Zambia remarked that "in 34 years of overseas experience working
with Japan has been the most interesting and fruitful."
|Compared to Japan or Korea, Canada or Australia, or the democracies
of Western Europe, the United States has chosen a decentralized
form of government. Recognizing the limitations of government,
Americans have been passionate about starting what James Madison
in "The Federalist Papers" called "factions," and what we today
call "non-government organizations" (NGOs). The Frenchman, Alexis
de Toqueville, whose Democracy in America remains the most famous
study of the United States by a foreign observer, noted that "If
any Americans want to proclaim a truth or propagate some feeling
by encouragement of a general example, they form an association."
Consumer groups, labor organizations, environmental activists,
advocates for the elderly, veterans' organizations and the civil
rights movement have organized citizens to make changes. While
they have usually started outside the political system, these
groups have come to have a great influence on our government.
Thanks to their activism, the United States enjoys safer products,
better working conditions, a cleaner environment, health care
for veterans and senior citizens, and equal opportunity in housing,
education, and employment. Aided by instantaneous communication,
these groups promise to play a still more important role in the
|Japanese have more confidence in government than Americans. NGOs
have consequently played a more limited role in influencing the
government. However, the Great Hanshin Earthquake in January 1995
led to a major change in the views of government. Many Japanese
realized that the government alone could not deal with an emergency
of such vast proportions. On the other hand, local groups mobilized
to help stricken citizens. Thousands of volunteers poured in from
throughout Japan and many foreign countries, including the United
States, to help Kobe and the surrounding area in their time of
greatest need. Farmers in my home state of Washington, which has
a sister state relationship with Hyogo Prefecture, donated thousands
of bushels of apples. The American officers in our Consulate and
their families helped distribute these apples as well as oranges
and other products sent on an emergency basis from the United
|Responding to this public sentiment, the Diet adopted legislation
that provided the incorporation of NGOs and non-profit organizations
(NPOs). In response to economic problems in Japan and elsewhere
in Asia, many Japanese citizens have realized [that] the non-governmental
sector needs to be strengthened in order to make the government
more accountable for its actions. A group of Diet members from
several political parties, and a coordinating committee representing
the NGO/NPO sector have been formed to create a more favorable
legal environment for these groups in Japan and to provide tax
incentives for contributions to such groups.
|As the United States and Japan understand our differences and
build on our similarities, others in the region sometimes assert
that peculiarly "Asian values" are the source of the economic
miracle of the past 50 years. They maintain that Asians emphasize
work, harmony, hierarchy, frugality, human relationships, the
family and education in ways that make for fundamental distinctions
with the West, especially the United States. Whereas the populations
of the vast Asian expanse, which stretches from Japan to India,
and Korea to Indonesia, are so diverse in their composition and
distinctive in their histories that ascribing their success or
the economic turndown which began in 1997 to a common set of values
which sets Asia apart from the West strikes me as an oversimplification.
A recent survey by the Dentsu Institute for Human Studies of the
importance of attributes among households in Tokyo and several
other Asian capitals was compared with the results of a survey
of households in New York City and the capital cities of several
European countries. Charles Wolf of the Los Angeles Times analyzed
the results of these two surveys, and found that "Asian values
are more similar to Western values than is usually presumed. And
second, for some dimensions of values, Asians diverge more from
each other than they do from Americans or Western Europeans."
I believe that if Asian values are interpreted narrowly, they
will lead us to look backward and emphasize our differences rather
than to prepare us for the challenges of the future.
COOPERATIVE ACTION IN THE NEXT CENTURY
|The United States and Japan have been finding a common ground
of mutual respect in cooperative action. We recognize the differences
in our styles of democracy. We have initiated the Common Agenda
to provide a wide range of assistance to third countries. Non-governmental
organizations have significant influence in the United States,
and are preparing to take on a greater role in Japan. Exchanges
of citizens and students, and visits by tourists to sites as sublime
as Yellowstone or Ise or as delightful as the two Disneylands
alter stereotypes, and weave a web of informal ties that have
become a strong fiber of bilateral cooperation which stretches
across the Pacific. We know that baseball is played differently
on the two sides of the Pacific, but flock to games, and relish
discussions of the prowess of players and teams. Two National
Basketball Association teams opened their season in Tokyo to enthusiastic
crowds. And, for the first time in the history of major league
baseball, two US teams──the New York Mets and the Chicago Cubs──will play their first games of the next season in Asia.
|As we approach the threshold of the new century in view of the
new millennium, we need to meet the challenges of globalization.
While globalization can erase differences, we would do well to
recall the wisdom of the honorable Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, one
of my predecessors as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
He used to say, "All politics is local." The best way to cope
with globalization is to use a democratic approach to nurture
the values we share while careful to examine our respective traditions
and to honor our differences in the spirit of mutual respect.
For, I believe, our two countries have a joint obligation to lead
as the oldest democracy in the Americas and the oldest democracy
in Asia. The United States and Japan serve as illustrative examples
of the value, the promise and the great power of shared democratic
ideals. That power is, I believe, both evident and persuasive
and should be a force for greater freedom and prosperity throughout
the world. Together upon this solid democratic base, our two countries
can certainly meet the challenges of the 21st century, whatever
they may be.
|Thank you for your attention. Doumo arigato gozaimasu.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
|Professor Abe: Thank you very much, Ambassador. I was quite impressed to realize
that our shared value of democracy has eternal value in our future
partnership. At the same time, I was also quite impressed by your
intensive knowledge of our school's history.
|Would you mind accepting a few questions from the floor, Ambassador?
|QUESTION 1 (by a sophomore student of the Department of Literature): I am very inspired by your thought that the democratic approach
is the best way to cope with globalization. What do you think
our students should learn or do at university to improve the democratic
way of thinking?
|Ambassador: I hope that students, whatever their area of study is and whatever
their future career is, will take some extra effort to participate
in the public life of Japan. One of the things that has concerned
me in my country and in Japan is the number of people who indicate
a lack of trust in politicians and the political process. The
best way to improve politicians and the political process is for
citizens to be more active and engaged. The best democracies are
the ones that have not just high voting rates but concerned, active
and involved citizens. That is why NGOs I think are very important
in the future of the democratic Japan.
|QUESTION 2 (by a junior student majoring in law): I am very impressed with your speech. What do you think are the
task and the role of Japanese people for this coming century?
|Ambassador: Well, as I mentioned, I think the reason Japan and the United
States have cooperated so impressively in the last half of this
century is because we have common interests that flow from shared
values. A year ago, there were people in the United States and
Japan who suggested that somehow China would replace Japan over
time as the closest ally and friend and partner of the United
States. I think that is clearly wrong, not because the United
States and Japan do not together wish to improve their relations
with China - we do. But Japan and the United States have so many
things in common even though a very different history and a very
different culture. We have not only democratic institutions different
in form but similar in substance, we have a belief in individual
liberty, in human rights, in the rule of law, in civil society,
in an open economy and strong support around the world for peace
and stability. And those shared values have enabled Japan and
the United States as the two largest economies in the world to
also propagate throughout the world these values that maintain
the highest aspirations of both countries. I believe we will work
together in the next century as we have worked in the latter half
of this century to bring about improvements not only in our own
societies but to contribute dramatically to the improvement and
welfare of many societies in the world. That is a proud work and
a proud task and I think Japan and the United States can conduct
those efforts with great success.
|Student: Thank you very much.
|Ambassador: I always like to talk about the Common Agenda because it gets
too little attention in my country and too little attention in
Japan. We are doing important things together, not so much for
Americans or for Japanese, but for people in other parts of the
world. We are working together to eliminate tuberculosis in East
Asia, to reduce the threat of Aids, to track malaria-carrying
mosquitoes with satellite technology, making lives of Africans
incomparably better by eradicating Guinea worm and river blindness.
In doing so many things that our technological capacities can
accomplish for peoples far far away from our shores. That is something
our own populations need to know more about, and it is a win-win
relationship not only for Japan and the United States, but for
the international community as a whole.
|QUESTION 3 (by a junior student majoring in American and British
literature): Thank you very much for your speech. I've learned how the ideal
of democracy is important in the world. I also realize there are
some problems in the process of gaining the democratic idea. What
are the barriers that get in the way of the democratic ideal?
|Ambassador: Winston Churchill said that democracy was the worst form of government
except for every other. And he meant that all political systems
have defects and democracy, of course, is no exception. It depends
very much on the spirit of participation of citizens in the political
system. If it becomes just a form of government and does not have
the spirit of real participation and real democratic involvement,
it can be as insensitive and remote and unserving of the public
interest as almost any other system. So we need not only the form
of democracy but some form of constitutional protection, whether
the constitution is written or merely represented by tradition,
so that democratic majorities do not become tyrannical and oppress
and overcome the differences and the interests of minorities.
I believe very much that minority rights are at the heart of democratic
processes - good democratic processes. But again the great principle
is involvement. So I urge all of you to engage yourself in the
political process. Join a party, a political party - whatever
it is. Or support candidates, be active, talk about issues, debate,
advance your ideas. Nothing is more stimulating to the democratic
process than the widest participation.
|Student: Thank you very much.
|Professor Abe: Thank you very much for your speech.
MESSAGE TO THE STUDENTS
|Ambassador: One final word if I may. I want to say how I envy you. I think
this is a wonderful time in your life. I would love nothing more
than to be a university student again. Unfortunately, it's not
possible. But there is a reason, I think, why so many strong bonds
are forged among classmates at university and other school levels.
Obviously there is the spirit of that fellowship and friendship
that you develop at university. There is also a recognition later
on that some of the most wonderful years of your life have been
spent at your university. And I'm sure you will have the same
experience that I had. On looking back on my university years,
there is something that is obviously very nostalgic, meaning you
forget all the bad things and remember only the good things. You
don't remember the tensions and worries and problems. You remember
only the joys and satisfactions. But, among other things, I think
you will look back on these years with a sense of not only a friendship
for your fellow students but with gratitude to your teachers.
It is an Asian tradition, a Confucian tradition to respect scholarship
and to admire and respect a "sensei." But in all cultures, when
students look back on university years, they do it with a sense
of great emotional gratitude and a sense of great debt to those
who have given their lives to their education and advancement.
And the same would be true of you. So it's always a wonderful
pleasure for me to be back in a university setting again, and
especially one as distinguished as this university. Thank you
|Professor Abe: Thank you very much.