Speech by Mr. Takeaki Matsumoto, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
at the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) Summit Meeting
(Wednesday June 29, 2011)
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The Copa America Football Tournament will be held in Argentina from this weekend (from 1 to 24 July). Regrettably the Japanese National Football Team does not have chance to play with the excellent and competitive teams of South America. But, I came here all the way to participate in the Summit Meeting of Mercosur and to talk with the distinguished participants.
It is a great honor for me to be invited and to be given this opportunity to deliver my words at the Mercosur Summit Meeting this year, marking the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty of Asunción.
I would like to extend my appreciation to our host, Paraguay, and all countries involved for the kind consideration. This is the first visit for me to South America as Minister for Foreign Affairs. I came here to confirm the sure progress of integration and vigorous development that Mercosur is experimenting, and to deepen the relationship with South America, a focus of development in the world as well as our region, East Asia.
(The Great East Japan Earthquake)
Japan suffered on 11th March unprecedented and complex disaster; massive earthquake, subsequent tsunami and the accident of nuclear power plant. On behalf of the Government and the people of Japan, I would like to express our deepest gratitude to the Mercosur members and other participating countries for the words of condolences and encouragement, and for the many relief supplies and funds you have kindly donated.
Three and a half months have passed, and now, under the basic principle of aiming for not only simple recuperation of the affected area but the renaissance of Japanese economy, the Government of Japan established a ministerial post exclusively for reconstruction and constituted the Reconstruction Headquarters with the collective wisdom of both public and private sectors toward a future-oriented creative regeneration.
Through this disaster, we realized how Japanese economy is connected with global economy. Without the tie with the world, there would be no reconstruction. Japan will aim for strong regeneration, advancing open reconstruction and promoting to accept foreign investment, know-how and talented staff from abroad.
Respect to the supply chain, over 60 percent of Japan's damaged supply chain production bases have already been restored, and the remaining under 30 percent of plants are expected to resume operations shortly. Japan is and will remain open for business and travel. I would call on all of you to come to Japan. Your visit will be the best assistance for reconstruction.
Regarding the incident at the TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station, every possible effort is being made to systematically stabilize the nuclear reactors. We would like to continue our active contribution to enhance international nuclear safety, and we will continue to provide transparent, timely and comprehensive information to the international community. Next year, Japan, together with the IAEA, will host the international conference on nuclear safety.
(Strengthening Economic Ties with Mercosur)
Japan has elaborated the New Growth Strategy in June last year, and has focused on promoting economic partnership as a pillar of that strategy. For Japan, lack of natural resources, to liberalize the flow of material, money and persons represents the vital national interests. Its importance has become ever more significant after the disaster.
Japan and South American countries have maintained traditionally excellent relationship. In this context, it can be said that the history of Japanese emigrants, which might have paved the way for economic association, played foundational role. South American countries including Mercosur members are significant partners for Japan as a supplier of energy, mineral resources and food.
I also believe that strengthening economic relations with Japan has great merits for Mercosur as well. Japan has a vast market with a GDP of $5.5 trillion and total annual imports of $700 billion. What is more, the attractive "Japan brand" for its safety, security and advanced science and technology remains sound, even after the earthquake disaster. The 27 Tohoku Shinkansen bullet trains, which were running when the quake struck, immediately sensed the earthquake tremor, reduced speed, and came to safe stop without a single injury. This is just one example of Japan's safe and secure technology. Mercosur has already recognized Japanese technologies by adopting the Japanese standard of Digital Television Broadcasting-Terrestrial.
The reason for that I consider meaningful to participate in Summit Meeting of Mercosur is precisely because the intensification of economic relations between Japan and Mercosur, that share fundamental values and have important potentiality for each other, serves national interests of both side.
(Initiating Japan-Mercosur Dialog for Closer Economic Relations)
For elevating the complementary economic relations between Japan and Mercosur to a new level and develop a further "WIN-WIN" relation, I would like to propose the launch of a dialogue between Japan and Mercosur as a forum to seek possibilities to promote relations between Japan and Mercosur in the broad economic field, such as trade and investment. The dynamic vitality of Mercosur could serve as an engine for the expansion of our economic relations, and will certainly contribute to Japan's open reconstruction and new growth.
I will conclude my remarks by asking for your support of this proposal to initiate a Japan-Mercosur dialogue.
Thank you very much.
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