Remarks by the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Mr. Shintaro ITO
at the ACT meeting in Sendai
July 27, 2006
I am Shintaro Ito, Vice minister for Foreign Affairs. I wish to extend a very warm welcome to all of you to the City of Sendai. As a Member of the Diet elected to represent a constituency in Miyagi Prefecture, I sincerely appreciate your presence here this afternoon. Today, ASEAN is important not only to the Central Government of Japan but to local governments, people, and businesses as well. The City of Sendai, in particular, has been actively seeking opportunities to enhance exchanges with ASEAN and is always eager to host international conferences and events. In fact, Sendai has a history of augmenting relations with foreign countries that stretches back several centuries. Ever since the lord of Sendai Clan, Masamune Date, dispatched an overseas trade mission in 1613, Sendai has been continuously active in expanding and deepening external relations. With this in mind, I believe that this memorable meeting, the first ACT meeting held outside Tokyo, will become an important first step in strengthening relations between ASEAN and Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture and the entire Tohoku Region.
I am also very pleased to know that Your Excellencies are scheduled to visit Matsushima today. Matsushima is well known as one of the most beautiful landscapes in Japan, and we are proud that Matsushima is successfully maintaining the balance between environment and development. The Zuiganji Temple located in Matsushima is a national treasure and the most famous Zen temple in the Tohoku region. It was originally built in 828, and was reconstructed by Masamune Date in 1609. I am sure that Your Excellencies will greatly enjoy experiencing the historical spots and views in Matsuhima.
With a long history of friendship and mutual trust, ASEAN and Japan have developed a strong and robust partnership, which enables us, on a truly equal footing, to build the future of the region.
Today, we are encountering new challenges which can only be addressed through our concerted efforts. With increasing interdependence in East Asia, ASEAN-Japan relations have become a pivot of regional cooperation and are rapidly leading the way towards the building of an East Asian community.
I would like to emphasize again that local cities will take important roles in building a regional community. A truly sustainable regional community must be supported by people and businesses not only in capital cities but in local cities as well. We must put forth our best efforts to promote the expansion of mutual friendship and exchanges on the local level.
Also, I would like to express my sincere hope that ASEAN and Japan will further develop their strategic partnership and continue to be the driving force for enhancing regional peace and prosperity.
On this occasion, I want to express my gratitude to ASEAN member countries for announcing an important and clear message in the Joint Communiqué of the 39th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting adopted on July 25, which expresses concern over the test-firing of missiles by the DPRK on July 5 and supports an early resumption of the Six Party Talks.
In conclusion, I would like to extend my heartfelt wish that Your Excellencies greatly enjoy your stay in Sendai, and will acquaint yourselves with the beautiful scenery, abundant tourism resources, and exquisite local culture and cuisine of Sendai and Matsushima. Please accept my best wishes for your continued health and success.
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