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24 September 2001

Text: U.S. Thanks Japan for Support after Terrorist "Barbarism"

(Ambassador Howard Baker at Japanese observance for victims) (1100)
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Howard H. Baker, Jr. thanked Japan for its
outpouring of sympathy and support at an observance ceremony held in
Tokyo September 23 for the victims of the terrorist attacks on the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Baker called the attacks acts of "barbarism" born of fanaticism and
emphasized that "it not just the American people who have responded to
this outrage. People all over the world recognized this act as an
attack not just on the United States but on enlightened, civilized
societies everywhere."
The September 11 tragedy, the Ambassador said, "was a strike against
the democratic governments. It was a strike against innocent children,
Christians and Muslims, rich and poor, American citizens and visitors
from other lands-against all of humankind."
"There is no room for terrorism in our societies today," Baker said,
"and we must all join forces to take the steps that will eradicate
it." He continued: "Backed by strong popular support in their various
countries, political and religious leaders in every corner of the
globe have communicated their support to President Bush and the
American people for whatever initiatives will remove this cancer from
our international body."
"Someday we will put this horror behind us," Baker predicted, "and
look ahead to a world where fanaticism is only a memory and where
tolerance prevails."
Following is the text:
(begin text)
Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Howard H. Baker, Jr.
at Japanese Observance Ceremony for Victims of Terrorism in the U.S.
September 23, 2001, Tokyo 
The French philosopher Diderot wrote, "From fanaticism to barbarism is
only one step." Last week we saw that step taken by an evil and
inhuman group of men who, with their own dreadful and twisted purposes
overriding universally accepted standards of morality and decency,
snuffed out the lives of thousands of innocent souls, injured many
more and wreaked havoc on the peaceful livelihood of people from all
over the world.
The international community has not been the same since they took
their fateful step to barbarism, and September 11 will now be known as
a horrible defining date in history. Few people will forget where they
were when they first learned of the calamities in New York and
Washington. It was like a nightmare from which we all wished to awake.
But in the face of such evil, and while the sight of the World Trade
Center's destruction is indelibly printed in our memory, there were
many other images of courage and compassion that far outshined those
evil deeds. We have all read of the brave firefighters who rushed to
the rescue of people, ignoring the imminent peril, even death that
awaited many of them. Total strangers took the injured and wounded
into their homes and offices. These are a few among the countless
examples of people reaching out to help others.
But it not just the American people who have responded to this
outrage. People all over the world recognized this act as an attack
not just on the United States but on enlightened, civilized societies
everywhere. It was a strike against those values that separate us from
animals-compassion, tolerance, mercy. It was a strike against the
democratic governments. It was a strike against innocent children,
Christians and Muslims, rich and poor, American citizens and visitors
from other lands-against all of humankind. And, the response from
people in every country has been overwhelming.
Before I came to Tokyo I had heard of the Japanese people's legendary
kindness. Every night as I leave the embassy, I pass by dramatic
evidence of this. In front of the embassy gate is a small table with
two books for people to sign. Every day Japanese have lined up to
write down their thoughts, leave flowers and pray for the victims. It
has been an incredibly moving sight.
The other day, while Buddhist priests chanted and struck their drums,
several young mothers with tiny babies strapped to their backs
patiently waited behind an elderly white-haired woman bent over with
age. In the other line a group of middle-aged businessmen in dark
suits and ties was followed by young students. This scene has been
repeated day after day. On behalf of the American people I thank the
people of Japan for this stunning display of support.
It is difficult to restrain one's emotions when you read their words
or review the items left behind. Of course, there are Japanese and
American flags, but on one T-shirt saying "I Love New York" was the
message "Walk together, Talk together." A small toy bear was propped
up on one of the tables. "We share your pain," was another comment.
One person left a touching note along with his flowers describing his
experience when he was an exchange student years ago and visited New
York. He went to the top of the World Trade Center tower, he wrote, to
see the sun go down over the city. As the evening lights came on, the
city was transformed into a sight that he will never forget. And,
regrettably, never see again. He reminisced about the kindness his
American host family showed him and the happiness he experienced in
America. The despicable criminals who perpetrated these acts clearly
wanted to put an end to such constructive people-to-people programs
that promote international good will and mutual understanding. But our
good friends in Japan who line up every day in front of the embassy
are voting in their own way against this terrible purpose.
There is no room for terrorism in our societies today, and we must all
join forces to take the steps that will eradicate it. Backed by strong
popular support in their various countries, political and religious
leaders in every corner of the globe have communicated their support
to President Bush and the American people for whatever initiatives
will remove this cancer from our international body.
But this is not a time to dwell on retribution. I prefer to conclude
by striking a more optimistic note. Someday we will put this horror
behind us and look ahead to a world where fanaticism is only a memory
and where tolerance prevails. I would like to see a future where all
young children can grow up and enjoy a peaceful life free of fear and
hatred.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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