Countries & Regions
Address by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Asian-African Summit 2015
- on the occasion of the Asian-African Conference Commemoration-
(April 22, 2015 at Jakarta Convention Center)
Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office
Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office
Let me first extend my heartfelt congratulations to Your Excellency President Joko Widodo and all those involved in Indonesia for successfully hosting this entire gathering to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference.
It makes me proud to stand here representing a nation that is a member of the group of Asian and African countries.
Live and Let Live
"Live and let live." This is what President Soekarno said. And this pledge representing the Bandung spirit is still common to us now, 60 years later.
Since ancient times, Asia and Africa have given birth to, and spread throughout the rest of the world, a variety of ideas and religions. The spirit of generosity, one that cherishes diversity among us, is an important common asset we should be proud of.
In keeping with this same spirit, it was our friends in Asia and Africa who propelled Japan after the Second World War to make possible our reentry into the international community. To those friends of ours, let me take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt gratitude.
History made it inevitable, one could say, for those countries gathered here three score years ago to show their strong unity, since our forefathers then had a common wish, a wish for peace.
Let's Tackle Them Together
And now, as we again gather in the same place, we share a great many more common risks than we did sixty years ago.
We should never allow to go unchecked the use of force by the mightier to twist the weaker around. The wisdom of our forefathers in Bandung was that the rule of law should protect the dignity of sovereign nations, be they large or small.
Despicable terrorism is becoming widespread throughout the world. We must give no haven to terrorists anywhere in the world.
National borders are meaningless in the face of infectious diseases or natural disasters. Climate change has exposed fragile island nations to the risk of not surviving, or of even disappearing. No single nation alone can solve such problems.
Let us tackle them together.
Once again, we must show our strong unity to the rest of the world.
Japan is resolved, in these circumstances, to continue to do its utmost from now on, just as it has thus far.
"Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country."
"Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means...."
Those are some of the principles Bandung affirmed. And Japan, with feelings of deep remorse over the past war, made a pledge to remain a nation always adhering to those very principles throughout, no matter what the circumstances.
Japan also resolved that among Asian and African countries seeking peace and prosperity under those Bandung principles, we should stand at the forefront.
Hence started our journey. It brought us first to India sixty years ago, where we perspired together with local farmers to build their capacities on how to operate farm machines. It also took us to Sri Lanka, where, together with the local people, we fought against an epidemic troubling livestock farmers.
And then the journey took us to Africa, where we have been sharing with the local people both the work ethic and the wisdom found in our manufacturing, proudly developed on our factory shop floors. The idea of kaizen has taken root in Ethiopia, where a workshop with that very name has greatly improved labor productivity.
In 1993, Japan launched the TICAD process, inviting heads of state from Africa over to Japan. That is a forum where we discuss our future with each other.
Sixty years have brought our calendar full circle and have made the world landscape dramatically different.
Now it is Asia, and it is also Africa, more than anywhere else, where you find the spirit of growth in the breeze, together with the rich soil of dynamic growth potential.
I say to you that Asian and African nations are no longer Japan's aid recipients. They are Japan's partners for growth.
Next year's TICAD meeting will be the first to take place on the soil of Africa, which is so full of energy. Whether we build up human capacities or infrastructure, all will be an investment into the future.
Let's Prosper Together
Let us prosper together.
The frontiers of Asia and Africa are limitless.
We must build a market that is open and dynamic. We must turn that market, or that frontier, into soil that promises prosperity for our children and our grandchildren. The TPP, the RCEP and the FTAAP -- in my view will all eventually head toward Africa.
Traction for growth is always found in people. The diversity of people in any country must be harnessed to become an engine, and never a distraction, for powerful growth. Japan stands behind the empowerment of women. Hand in hand with the young and ambitious in Asia and Africa, we will foster them into a generation that will shoulder their countries' industrial development.
Japan's resolve is to turn growth in Asia and Africa into an enduring, not ephemeral, event. With that resolve in mind, over the next five years, we are going to help as many as three hundred and fifty thousand people throughout the region acquire technology expertise and industrial knowledge.
Ladies and gentlemen, the variety among our countries is manifold. Our political systems differ. Our levels of economic development are not the same. Our cultures are distinct from one another. No one society looks the same as any other.
Still, sixty years ago, President Soekarno called on the delegates that had gathered to think about the following.
"What harm is in diversity, when there is unity in desire?"
Indeed, we face a whole host of risks in common. The fact, once recognized, should bind us easily in this "unity in diversity."
To cite President Soekarno once again, "we Asians and Africans must be united" to solve the diverse range of difficulties as we face today.
Let us all cherish our rich diversity. And let us together build peace and prosperity, shall we not, for our children, and for our children's children.
Thank you very much.