President Obama delivered his toast at 8:14. He said:

We have a Japanese theme to our dinner this evening. This morning I mentioned the Japanese Americans who were such important friends and parts of my community in my youth in Hawaii. And tonight I’m thinking about one of them in particular, a man who called himself Freddy who ran a small market near our house and became a great friend of my grandfather’s. And part of the reason he was such a great friend is because he would save us the best cuts of tuna and toro for sashimi, and then he’d also slip in some rice candy with edible wrappers which was fascinating to me as a child. And they were small gestures, but they always remained with me as an example of how Japanese culture was woven into my upbringing and spoke to the ties of friendship and family that bring us here together tonight.

In 1957 Shinzo’s grandfather, Prime Minister Kishi addressed our Senate and our House of Representatives. He said that he hoped his visit would lead to a strong and enduring partnership that will open the door to a new era of Japanese-American relations. Tomorrow his grandson will continue to carry our partnership forward when he makes history as the first Japanese Prime Minister to address a joint meeting of Congress.

So, in honor of this historic occasion I want to welcome all of you outstanding leaders from our two countries. You represent the friendship and the bonds that we carry forward into this new century, and in celebration of the progress that we’ve achieved today I’m going to attempt a haiku:

Spring green in friendship
United States and Japan
Nagoyaka ni which means harmonious feeling

I am sure that I am the first President ever to recite a haiku at a state dinner. [garbled] has nothing to worry about.

With that let me propose a toast, with some sake. Be careful, people.

To our guests, Prime Minister Abe and Mrs. Abe to the friendship between our two peoples and to our magnificent that does so much, not just for our two countries but for peace and prosperity in the world, may it endure for all seasons and all time. Cheers. Kampai.

Prime Minister Abe delivered his toast at 8:23. He said:

Mr. President, Mrs. Obama, ladies and gentlemen,

Let me start by thanking you for arranging this wonderful dinner tonight. During my visit to Washington D.C. last time, I declared the revival of the alliance between Japan and the United States. Two years have passed since then and Japan is now regaining its resilience and will continue our path together with the United States.

Today, Barack and I had an excellent summit meeting in the morning. On the occasion, both of us reaffirmed how robust the alliance is and issued a joint vision statement taking into account the path of the alliance for the past 70 years since the end of World War II. This was an extremely meaningful achievement. By working hand-in-hand with President Obama, we the two nations, will continuously make proactive contributions to global peace and prosperity.

Tomorrow, I will address the joint session of U.S. Congress for the first time as Japanese prime minister. Taking that opportunity, I would like to send out a strong message that both Japan and the United States, which once fought with each other, now achieved reconciliation and that we will make contribution to addressing challenges that mankind faces.

I have to confess that the day before yesterday and yesterday, I was seriously practicing the speech that I’m going to give for the joint session tomorrow. But my wife, unfortunately, told me that she is getting tired of listening to my speech. So last night, we ended up in a separate room. [laughter]

Ladies and gentleman, the current Japan-U.S. alliance shows extremely close ties forming a foundation for our economic growth and economic prosperity. For instance, Japan’s Kawasaki rail cart built new new metro rail cars in Alaska which ran through Washington D.C. Boeing 787 is flying everywhere in the world and, guess what, more than a third of its parts were made in Japan. Barack, you are an enthusiastic fan of sushi. And last but not least, I have to confess something about myself, too. I am one of the hard core fans of the American TV drama “House of Cards.” But I’d like to draw your attention to my commitment that I am not going to show this “House of Cards” to my fellow minister Deputy Prime Minister in Japan.

In any case, you won’t find another bilateral relationship like ours. Thank you for choosing the sake from Yamaguchi where I am from. With that I would like to note the kind consideration of first lady, Mrs Obama, and also I’d would like to acknowledge the help that I always receive from my wife, Akie and I’d like to propose a toast for good health and prosperity, as well as the further development of the Japan-U.S. relationship tonight.

Kampai. Toast.


President Barack Obama offers a toast . (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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