Former Japan prime minister gives memorial lecture

Former prime minister of Japan, Yasuo Fukuda, gave the Howard Baker Center’s first Memorial Lecture on Wednesday. He discussed the importance of the United States and Japan building a personal relationship, providing examples from his own personal relationship with Howard Baker.

// Photo by Thomas Delgado

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Former Prime Minister of Japan Yasuo Fukuda visited the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy on Wednesday, Oct. 28, to deliver the first Howard Baker Memorial Lecture. He proposed several measures on how to create the ultimate alliance between the United States and Japan, beginning with a network based on common values strengthened by friendship.

Fukuda believes that a relationship between the United States and Japan should resonate with both country’s citizens because of the countries’ shared history and alliances. He added that building a personal relationship would help create an “important area of coordination” and would build and strengthen an economic framework throughout the Asian Pacific region.

As his own example of that goal, Fukuda paid tribute to his friend Howard Baker. Fukuda shared his personal experience with Baker, who was once a United States ambassador in Japan, dubbing him a “good ol’ American.”

As the two representatives engaged in weekly meetings, Fukuda became well acquainted with Baker’s humility and camaraderie, and wanted to mimic that in intercontinental affairs.

“I remember once when Ambassador Baker joined Japanese citizens in making rice cakes for the New Year,” he said. “That would be like if a foreign national came to the U.S. and carved Jack-o’-lanterns to celebrate Halloween! He so respected our culture.”

Fukuda said Baker served as the bridge between Japan and the U.S. Inter-connectivity and globalization are the pillars of the world Fukuda envisions. He added that these methods will personify Baker’s notable attributes of stability and cooperation in the Asian Pacific region.

“What will we see in the future? Resonance between the U.S. and Japan. That is what is essential for a secure foundation for the coming generation,” he said.

He concluded his speech by saying people should welcome diversity, networking and abundant possibilities. After all, according to Fukuda, the Asian Pacific is the center stage of world history.

Fukuda remarked on the “lack of qualification” of Kim Jong Un during the Q&A session. He stated his opinion on the upcoming United States presidential election, saying that his only comment was that he hopes the citizens would elect “an appropriate president.”

“How cool it was to have (Fukuda) here to speak to my fellow classmates?” said Sydni Vaughn, a freshman in the Chancellor’s Honors program. “What a great opportunity to have a first-person interaction with global affairs.”

While Vaughn was pleased with Fukuda’s speech, audience member Emmy Baker said that the event seemed “very intimidating.”

To learn more about upcoming Howard Baker Center events, visit http://bakercenter.utk.edu/category/events/

Featured image by Thomas Delgado

Edited by Courtney Anderson and Hannah Hunnicutt