Speech by Mr. Katsuya Okada, Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassadors' Meeting
January 4, 2010
To His Excellency Dr. Ahmet Davutoglu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, And to the Honorable Ambassadors in attendance,
I am Katsuya Okada, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan. I am most honored to have the opportunity today to speak to the Ambassadors that support the diplomacy of the Republic of Turkey. I extend my deep gratitude to Foreign Minister Davutoglu and all other concerned parties.
This year marks the 120th anniversary of Japan-Turkey friendship since the Ertugrul Frigate Disaster, and today is the day on which "Japan Year 2010 in Turkey" commences. Over the coming year, events introducing modern and traditional Japanese culture, as well as all manner of interaction between people of both countries, will take place throughout Turkey. Through such events, I expect that the Turkish people will learn the attraction of Japan and get closer to Japan, thereby expanding the horizons of friendship between our two countries and extending the interaction into the future. I am confident that this Japan Year will open the door to a new friendship between Japan and Turkey, and I look forward to attending the upcoming opening ceremony.
To all those in attendance,
Last year Japan effected a great transformation in its politics. The Democratic Party of Japan —which had until then been the opposition party— was victorious in the general election in August, forming a new administration led by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. In fact, this was Japan's first experience of a substantial change in administration via election in the 60 years following World War II.
The administration of the Liberal Democratic Party, which had remained in power for more than 50 years since 1955, played a certain role in realizing Japan's current peace and prosperity. However, the overlong continuation of power had lost its capacity for reform and was becoming unable to respond to major changes in the socioeconomic structure, namely the globalization of the economy and the current rapid advance of Japan's low birthrate and aging population. Amid these circumstances, the people of Japan achieved a change in administration with the expectation of leadership through new politics. The current Hatoyama administration is thus situated in this large historical context.
However, this does not mean changing the relationship of friendship and cooperation Japan and Turkey have enjoyed up to now. Rather, I would like to further reinforce relations between our two countries. My visit to Turkey being the first in eight years by a Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs and having the opportunity to greet you all like this is further expression of that attitude.
Located at a crossway between Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, Turkey has developed in a unique way and is playing an important role for the peace and stability of its surrounding regions including the Middle East. For example, Turkey's personnel contributions to ISAF in Afghanistan and its efforts toward the Middle East peace process, including mediation between Syria and Israel, are receiving high praise in the international community.
Moreover, the rapid growth of the Turkish economy in recent years has considerable latent power and possibility. As a member of the G20 and the United Nations Security Council along with Japan, Turkey has substantial responsibilities and roles in global peace and prosperity.
Recognizing the roles Japan and Turkey can each fulfill, Japan considers it important to strengthen policy dialogue between our two countries in order to extend our cooperative relationship into new areas and higher stages. To this end, during my courtesy call on President Abdullah Gül a while ago and my meeting with Foreign Minister Davutoglu, we confirmed our mutual trust and broadly exchanged views on the ideal form of the future cooperation between our two countries.
To all those in attendance,
A moment ago I mentioned that the Hatoyama administration is situated in a certain historic context. Today, as Foreign Minister for the Hatoyama administration, I would like to talk about the current priorities and basic philosophy of Japan's diplomacy, and especially to touch on issues in the Middle East region, with which Turkey is closely related.
The first challenge for Japan's diplomacy is deepening our alliance with the United States.
The change of government has not altered the fact that the Japan-U.S. Alliance is the central pillar of Japan's diplomacy. Not limited to a bilateral relationship, the Alliance contributes greatly to the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the world as a "public good." Furthermore, the Alliance covers not only politics and security of the two countries but encompasses broadly economic, social, cultural and other aspects of the relationship.
I think it is important to deepen the Alliance, which has played an extremely significant role over the past sixty years, so that it will be sustainable for another forty to fifty years. It is on such basis that Japan and the United States are currently engaged in serious dialogue over the U.S. military bases in Japan.
The second priority of Japan's diplomacy is advancing Asian diplomacy with a vision to build an East Asian community.
It goes without saying that relations with neighboring Asian countries are important for Japan. In particular, the 21st century is called the "Asian century." In Asia there is China and India, as well as a number of emerging countries with considerable future growth potential. It is very fortunate that Japan is located within Asia, and I believe this position should be maximally capitalized on. Putting forward the initiative for an "East Asian community" as a long-term vision, I would like to actively promote cooperation in areas such as trade and investment, environment and energy, development, disaster relief, healthcare and hygiene, education, and people exchanges, based on the principle of open regional cooperation.
The third priority of Japan's diplomacy is leadership on global issues.
I think Japan should take more active initiative in engaging global-scale challenges that all countries share in common, such as climate change and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
On the issue of climate change, the Hatoyama administration has effected a dramatic change in policy from the previous administration by upholding the ambitious target of a 25% reduction in Japan's emission of greenhouse gases by 2020 compared to the 1990 level, which is premised on a fair and effective legal framework by all major economies. Moreover, the administration has launched the "Hatoyama Initiative," which includes combined public and private assistance to developing countries of approximately $15 billion in total before the end of 2012, and has led international negotiations toward reaching an agreement at COP15. Although the conclusion was unfortunately deferred until COP16 in November, Japan will continue to show leadership on the climate change issue, which is a challenge facing all mankind.
Concerning nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, Japan strongly supports the proposal put forward by President Barack Obama for a world without nuclear weapons. We will first give our utmost toward the success of the NPT Review Conference in May, and then, I think countries around the world should seriously discuss what specifically should be done as current and future policy to achieve a world without nuclear weapons, and then take action.
To all those in attendance,
The peace and stability of the Middle East region is extremely important for containing terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. I highly commend the role Turkey has been playing in this region, and Japan would like to make further contributions.
International efforts toward stability and reconstruction in Afghanistan are currently in an important phase. Last November, Japan decided on its new assistance package to Afghanistan. Based on that policy, we will provide assistance up to an amount of five billion US dollars in about five years from 2009, centered on enhancing Afghanistan's capability to maintain security, reintegrating former Taliban low-level soldiers, and advancing sustainable and self-reliant development.
There is strong concern about the Iran nuclear issue. We must strive to resolve the issue peacefully and diplomatically, without damaging the international non-proliferation regime. We should also encourage Iran to take responsible actions as a major country in the region. Japan will continue reaching out to Iran, leveraging its unique relationship with the nation.
Ensuring a stable political foundation in Iraq is extremely important from the standpoint of realizing stability in the Middle East region. I expect Iraq to move toward a more integrated society, following upcoming elections and the withdrawal of the United States forces. Japan continues its support to Iraq's reconstruction by the implementation of yen-loan projects and technical cooperation as well as strengthening of economic and business ties with Iraq.
I am concerned about the current deadlock in the Middle East peace process. The pace of efforts toward recommencement of negotiations by the parties will have to be doubled. Japan will continue to aid Palestinians in order to help encourage confidence-building among the parties and the two-state solution.
To all those in attendance,
Japan and Turkey may be situated in different international environments, but the roles played by Japan and Turkey and the importance of those roles in the world and in our regions are growing steadily regarding the response to such global challenges as the recovery and growth of the global economy, peace and development in the Middle East region, climate change, and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The coordination of Japan and Turkey, which have long nurtured friendly relations, in tackling such international and regional challenges, will bring about peace and prosperity not only between our two countries but also to the world and to our regions. I am convinced that, above all else, even closer cooperation should be sought between Japan and Turkey as members of the U.N. Security Council and the G20, and hence bearing considerable responsibility for the future of civilization. Let us work together on these matters as people engaged in diplomacy.
Thank you for listening.
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