Speech by Katsuyuki Kawai
Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs
- Welcome Reception Sponsored for APO Governing Body Personnel -
(June 14, Tuesday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Iikura Guest House)
Good evening everyone. I am Katsuyuki Kawai, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan.
On behalf of the Japanese government, I welcome you to our reception here tonight.
In Japan, the concept of productivity is very old. From childhood, we Japanese are taught that it is important to be diligent, and to work efficiently. There is a Japanese proverb, for example, that translates as, "The early bird gets the worm." This saying has been passed on from generation to generation, for more than 200 years.
There is also a famous saying by the late Konosuke Matsushita, founder of Matsushita Institute of Government and Management, where I studied to become a statesman. Mr. Matsushita believed strongly that, "Production is the true foundation of revival." Following that motto, he channeled his efforts into rebuilding the Japanese economy after World War II, and helped Japan recover.
In Japan, the productivity movement is now 50 years old. As we know, the Asia region has achieved remarkable economic development in the postwar era. One important factor behind this progress has been improved productivity. "KAIZEN," referring to the practice of daily ingenuity, and the "5 S's," referring to "seiri," "seiton," "soji," "seiketsu," and "shitsuke," left in their original Japanese pronunciations are productivity terms now used amongst APO members, which also contributed to improve productivity in Asia.
Over the past few decades, Asian productivity has improved more than any other region in the world. In 1965, for example, the per-capita GDP in Africa was 546 (five hundred forty six) U.S. dollars. In East Asia, it was a mere 157 (one hundred fifty seven) dollars. But in 2002, while the Africa per-capita GDP had only grown to 575 (five hundred seventy five) dollars, in the East, it had risen dramatically to 1,050 (one thousand and fifty) dollars. In the economic advance of Asia, the Japanese government has actively supplied Official Development Assistance (ODA), to Asia's developing countries. We must also remember the vital role that private companies played in this progress. This has included investment, trade, and productivity activities.
This year, the APO celebrates its 44th birthday. Over the years, the APO has worked with the National Productivity Organizations (NPOs), in each member country and region. This has included the local dispatching of experts, organizing training courses and seminars, and making other steady efforts to build up human resources in the Asia-Pacific region.
Over 5,400 projects have been organized, with some 43,000 people taking part in them. I understand that many of these participants now hold key positions in the political and business worlds in Asia. Japan commends the devotion of the APO to these long-term projects, and their outstanding results.
The APO maintains its headquarters here in Japan. I understand, however that its projects are carried out by 20 individual NPOs. The networks forged between the NPOs in all member countries and regions are very important assets for the APO. And, they also provide an excellent model for successful public-private sector collaboration.
The experience and know-how cultivated by the APO are vital for countries outside of Asia as well.
At the recent Asia-Africa Conference, Prime Minister Koizumi stated: "Japan praises the productivity movements that have been the driving force in the development of Asia, and we strongly support the sharing of this knowledge with Africa." In this way, Japan has high hopes that the APO will expand from an regional cooperation organization by Asians, for Asians, to an activity sphere serving all citizens of the world.
In closing, I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard to have this APO Governing Body Meeting in Tokyo. To conclude, I would like to propose a toast to the redoubled progress of the APO and the NPOs, and the great success of this meeting over the next two days.
Thank you very much.
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