Speech by Prime Minister Hashimoto at the Dinner Hosted
by Prime Minister Howard and Mrs. Howard

"Australia and Japan in the Asia Pacific Region"

April 28, 1997
(Provisional transcript based on simultaneous interpretation)

Prime Minister John Howard,
Mrs. Howard,
Mr. Kim Beazley, Leader of the Opposition,
Distinguished Members of Parliament,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to be given this opportunity to speak before these distinguished guests in this prestigious Parliament House. As a long-time friend of Australia, I would like to take this excellent opportunity to express my views on Australia-Japan relations.

I really feel fortunate to have been amongst you this evening, and my thanks once again. Now, I have enjoyed a very long association with Australia -- probably one of the longer associations amongst Japanese politicians. I first visited here back in 1969 to pay my respects to the War Memorial in Canberra and the Japanese cemetery in Cowra, and I was also very much moved to find on that occasion that the Japanese cemetery was being treated in a very fair manner. Since then, I have come to Australia several times to attend the Japan-Australia Ministerial Committee in different ministerial capacities, as Minister of Transport, Minister of Finance, and Minister of International Trade and Industry.

This time I am able to come to Canberra as Prime Minister of Japan and have the pleasure of further strengthening the already close working relationship with my friend Prime Minister John Howard. I hope that my visit to Australia this time will contribute to politically strengthening our already friendly and co-operative bilateral relations.

In any country, bureaucrats or working officials tend to be a bit particular -- they give me these prepared manuscripts, and I was told to come here and ordered to read this, but there was one point that Prime Minister Howard mentioned which I have to respond to, and only after that I would like to proceed with my prepared manuscript. Originally, I wanted to discuss my views with regard to the Asia Pacific region, and then also share with you my views with regard to the relationship between Australia and the Asia Pacific region, and then I wanted to close by discussing briefly the co-operation between our two countries in this region. But Prime Minister Howard referred to the hostage crisis at the Japanese Ambassador's Residence in Peru, and I would like to say that we received many words of encouragement as well as solidarity, and also support from the people as well as the Government of Australia, that we not give in to the terrorists. So on behalf of all the Japanese, I should like to say, "Thank you," to all of you. Our country had been described generally as a country that is weak in the face of terrorism, and that when threatened was always willing to pay. Now, we pay respect to the judgment of President Fujimori, and of course to the Peruvian forces that certainly led to the resolution of the crisis this time. But we also showed this time that when hostages are taken, we do not just pay and follow the demands of the terrorists, or be exposed to crisis in the way we lead our lives. So we feel very fortunate that this time, we have been able to show we are different. It is with this in mind that we would like to further deepen and intensify our friendly ties with Australia.

Now, allow me to say there also seem to be some shortcomings with Australia. As Prime Minister Howard mentioned earlier, on our way from the United States to Australia, my wife and I lost our wedding anniversary. As far as I am concerned, I got off the hook, because I didn't have to buy an anniversary present for her. But the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force people actually gave us a gift, Australian wine. I tell you, that was genuinely Australian wine. So my wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary over Australian wine. I got drunk; I forget the label. Now, how many times I have had my wedding anniversaries -- I actually gave a black opal, shall I say an Australian specialty, to my wife for this anniversary, and it is shining on her finger. Now, the problem is that it is very expensive, and it has a great impact on our trade and services account, and I hate this idea of giving a present only to my wife, so I bought myself black opal cufflinks as well. I must tell you, compared to the black opal I gave to my wife, my cufflinks were only about one-quarter the price, and I think this discrimination between men and women is not good. Men and women must be equal. Now, the greatest problem with Australia is that you continue to produce black opals. Now, I have three daughters, and two of the sons have already gotten married (one is already married and the younger one has got a girlfriend now). So some time in the future, I shall have to buy black opals for five women, and I wonder what will happen to our household economy.

But I would like to say that relations between Japan and Australia have been deep enough that I feel casual enough to say these sorts of things.

Japan and Australia are respectively located at the North and South of the Asia Pacific region, which is expected to continue to enjoy growth and prosperity. We therefore share common policy objectives and interests in maintaining peace and stability in this region.

In the Asia Pacific region, several region-wide multilateral frameworks for dialogue and co- operation have been established since the end of the Cold War. Yet sub-regional co-operation frameworks, bilateral alliances and security dialogues continue to play essential roles in order to ensure stability in the region.

The Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements take on even deeper significance in such an environment. I am firmly committed to maintaining and further strengthening the Arrangements, since the U. S. military presence in the region continues to be indispensable for the peace and security of the entire Asia Pacific region even after the end of the Cold War, and the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements remain the pivotal framework for ensuring the presence.

There is no need to explain this to the Australian people, as Australia is also engaged in close defence co-operation with the United States.

In my meeting with President Clinton in Washington prior to my visit here, I reaffirmed our commitment to strengthening further the Japan-U.S. security arrangements on the basis of the Japan-U.S. Joint Declaration on Security announced last April.

Constructive and co-operative relations with China are also indispensable for stability in the Asia Pacific region. The countries in the region must deepen dialogue and co-operation with China. In this regard, I welcome Prime Minister Howard's recent visit to China to engage in wide-ranging exchanges of views with Chinese leaders on future co-operation with a primary focus on co-operation on economic matters.

I wish to visit China myself this autumn, and President Jiang Zemin and Prime Minister Li Peng of China are scheduled to visit Japan some time this year or next year.

I am of the view that further promotion of bilateral relations among Japan, the United States, China and Australia will contribute greatly to the peace and prosperity of the region. I am convinced that there can be, and should be, "positive-sum" relations among these relationships.

Peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula are also matters of common interest for both Australia and Japan. It is important for the Governments of Australia and Japan to continue to support the proposal for Four-Party talks among South Korea, North Korea, the United States and China, and to co-operate with the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO). I appreciate, therefore, the recent decision by the Australian Government to contribute an additional A$2 million to KEDO, which demonstrates anew Australia's intention to play a positive role in regional security.

The countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have been steadily developing in both political and economic terms, increasing their contributions to the international community. I view this as an important factor for enhancing the stability and sustaining the vitality of the Asia Pacific region. When I visited ASEAN countries last January, I emphasised the importance of strengthening relations between Japan on the one hand, and ASEAN as one co-operative entity on the other, on top of the hitherto well-developed relations between Japan and the individual ASEAN countries. I emphasized that Japan and ASEAN should thereby build a broad and deep relationship, which would encompass political, economic, cultural and any other issues that the international community faces.

Australia has been playing a leading role in relations with the Pacific island countries. Japan has also been extending co-operation to their efforts for stability and development. My Government has decided to host the Japan-South Pacific Forum (SPF) Summit Meeting in Tokyo this October in order to further raise the interest of the international community in the Pacific island countries.

Among various co-operative frameworks established in the Asia Pacific region since the end of the Cold War, the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum, in whose inception Australia played a leading role, is invaluable for both Japan and Australia. It provides not only an opportunity for the economic leaders in the region to come together in order to facilitate co-operation in the economic field, but also a forum from which they may formulate politically important messages.

For the purpose of further promoting development of this region, it is necessary for our two governments to continue to co-operate at APEC and also at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), whose purpose is to enhance security in the Asia Pacific region, is also making steady progress. These region-wide and global frameworks for co-operation are just as important as sub-regional and bilateral frameworks . I believe it is increasingly important for peace and stability in the region to ensure that these frameworks will function in a multi-layered and multi-directional manner.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me address the question of how Australia is related to the Asia Pacific region. We have to first recognise that the Asia Pacific region is a vast area with a long history and great diversity. Australia should be praised for its determined and sincere efforts to build closer relations with Asian countries based on mutual understanding and trust, overcoming such differences in historical and cultural backgrounds. Moreover, I am convinced that Australia, equipped with the national traits it has developed through a history of over two centuries of nation building, will make outstanding contributions to future development in the Asia Pacific region. The Government of Japan, therefore, believes it necessary for Australia to be welcomed to participate as an important member of the Asian side in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). We should like to do our part for that and to let you know we are taking this task on ourselves, as we would like you to join ASEM as a member of the Asian side.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Despite the experiences of World War II, our bilateral relations have developed remarkably since the end of the war. This year marks the fortieth anniversary of one of the important starting points for postwar Japan-Australia relations, namely the signing of the Agreement on Commerce between Japan and the Commonwealth of Australia. Prime Minister Nobosuke Kishi, who signed the document on the Japanese side, has a nephew, Mr. Shinji Sato, serving as the Minister of International Trade and Industry. Quite a coincidence, or rather the result of the relations between uncle and nephew and on to the third generation. We would like to see the relations between our two countries develop, and Minister Sato, in fact, will be having his part in this.

Our mutually complementary economic relations, based primarily on trade and investment, have been expanding ever since the conclusion of this agreement. I am vigorously pursuing six reform programmes in Japan -- administrative reform, fiscal structural reform, economic structural reform, financial system reform, social security reform and education reform -- and putting my political career on the line. These reforms will vitalise the Japanese economy and contribute to the further expansion of our economic relations.

Our two countries are now holding close consultations not only on economic issues but also on political and social issues. Politico-military talks were also initiated last year in order to maintain close consultations in the field of security issues. At the ministerial level, we have also launched very close consultations. Also, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Forces fleet have visited Australia, and many of them have learned valuable lessons as future soldiers. At the cabinet level, the Japan-Australia Ministerial Committee has been held since 1972.

Needless to say, dialogue at the prime minister's level has come to occupy increasing importance among all the exchanges at different levels. I have come to Canberra with the conviction that close contacts between the prime ministers of Japan and Australia, which are indispensable partners in this region, are of great significance. In my meeting with Prime Minister Howard a while ago, I proposed to make it a guiding principle for the two prime ministers to meet once a year, and this idea was kindly accepted by Prime Minister Howard. We also agreed to hold a Japan-Australia Ministerial Committee meeting on 1 August this year in Tokyo.

One problem here, however is that some of the Australian ministers are insisting on also climbing Mt. Fuji on their vacation. There are too many climbing Mt. Fuji at that time, even if you just count Japanese. So I hope Ambassador Calvert will take full responsibility for showing those cabinet ministers to Mt. Fuji. If the Ambassador so wishes, perhaps I shall order Ambassador Sato to return to Japan at the time. Of course the two Ambassadors will have to promise me that the two of them will show the ministers to Mt. Fuji.

It is evident that our two countries must continue our co-operation on security, political and economic issues. But from now on, it is equally important for our two countries to strengthen co-operation in much broader areas, including energy, the environment, education, culture, science and technology, and to promote such co-operation not only to advance our own interests but also to contribute to the further development of the Asia Pacific community. Bearing this in mind, I would like to share with Prime Minister Howard tomorrow my views on the future direction of Japan-Australia cooperation in specific areas, as the Japan-Australia Partnership Agenda.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Prime Minister Howard and I announced the commencement of the Japan-Australia Friendship Anniversaries 1996-1998 when the Prime Minister visited Tokyo last September. The initiative was aimed at further developing our relations by building upon more than 100 years of bilateral history. I strongly hope that the commemorative events underway will provide opportunities for enhancing and deepening the trans-Pacific bonds of friendship and trust between our two peoples. As we approach the twenty-first century, it is our shared task to foster a partnership which will serve the future interests of the Asia Pacific region as a whole on the basis of friendship and trust between our two peoples.

Prime Minister Howard, distinguished leaders of many sectors of Australia, let us together proceed further in our cooperation for the Japan-Australia Partnership in the twenty-first century and for the horizons beyond.

Thank you very much.

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