Speech by Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda given at the Colloquium "International Economic Co-operation into the Next Century", in Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Marshall Speech

May 27, 1997
OECD, Paris

Mr. Chairman, Secretary-General, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the historic speech by George Marshall at Harvard University, I would like to pay sincere tribute to those countries involved in this epoch-making project. Marshall's plan, which proposed massive assistance by the Government of the United States to war-ravaged West European countries, was of exceptional importance in the reconstruction of the post-war international political and economic order. In the Far East also, the United States' generous assistance to Japan for its reconstruction was the motor behind Japan's subsequent economic development. We have never forgotten this and remain deeply indebted to the United States for its generosity. I believe that the spirit of the Marshall Plan laid the basis for the development of the post-war free market economy.

The OEEC, which was originally established to help manage Marshall Plan funds, evolved into a global organisation, namely, the OECD, as its membership expanded to include non-European countries. Today, the GDP shares of OECD countries which were not original OEEC Members amounts to about 63%. We should be grateful for the clear foresight and wisdom of our predecessors who have promoted the evolution of the Organisation at each historical juncture, enabling the OECD to continue to play a vital role in the development of the world economy.

Today, with the rapid change in the global economic environment, the OECD's role needs to be reviewed in line with these changes. Japan expects that the OECD, while maintaining its fundamental role as a forum for policy co-ordination among developed countries, must also boldly tackle new issues of relevance to member countries. For this purpose, we have made various proposals such as the follow-up work of the "Initiative for a Caring World" proposed by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, and work on regulatory reform. To meet these new demands, the OECD must also abolish low priority activities and carry out self-reform. We have a responsibility to the future world economy to enable the OECD to vigorously tackle these issues.

Ladies and gentlemen.

In 1960, Japan joined the Development Assistance Group of the OEEC even before it officially joined the OECD. At that time, Japan was not only sensitive to the fact that it had joined the so-called "Club of Developed Countries", but also strongly determined to consider how to best give assistance to the international community rather than to gain from it.

To enable the OECD to develop further, member countries, as well as those wishing to become members, should think about what they can do for the international community through the OECD, and not what the OECD can do for them. I truly believe that this was the main idea behind the Marshall Plan fifty years ago and remains the key to the further development of the OECD in the new era.

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