Speech by Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Shintaro Ito at a dinner on the occasion of the visit of MEC for Education of Mpumalanga, Mr. Siphosezwe Masango

Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Shintaro Ito Dinner on the occasion of the visit of MEC for Education of Mpumalanga, Mr. Siphosezwe Masango

February 24, 2006

Your Excellency, Dr. Ngubane,
Mr. Masango, Member of the Executive Committee for Education of Mpumalanga and the South African delegation to Japan,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening,

I am honored to be here with you tonight. Especially so, as Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs responsible for African affairs.

First of all, I am very happy that South Africa and Japan enjoy excellent bilateral relations. Our relationship has been fortified by frequent mutual visits and intensive policy dialogues over the recent years. In this spirit, I hope Mr. Masango will accept my heartfelt welcome. And, I would like to commend Ambassador Dr. Ben Ngubane for his efforts to promote our relations.

Let me take this opportunity to briefly touch upon Japan's policy to African development.

We named the year 2005 the "Year of Africa," as international attention was focused on issues of Africa. I believe that solution to these issues will grow further critical for the stability and prosperity of the world in the coming days and years. This is why Japan will faithfully implement our commitment to strengthen our support to African development.

In pursuing development in Africa, we must be reminded that no single development theory should be universally applicable. For example, we cannot simply rely on numerical indicators like GDP when we measure development of a country. Instead, various notions of development should be accounted in policy implementation, depending on each historical and cultural background of different societies. Thereafter, various races, religions, languages and ways of thinking coexisting in harmony and in an environmentally sustainable manner could be taken in account.

We are willing to work with our African colleagues for that purpose, making full use of the experiences Japan has acquired in a pluralistic society, where people's traditional myth was characterized as belief in polytheism. It should be also noted that Japanese social development has been the process of amalgamation of both Eastern and Western civilizations.

Lastly, I would like to report to all of you here that the TICAD Conference on Consolidation of Peace was held with great success on February 16 and 17 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the countries and organizations that contributed to the Conference, which was attended by more than 400 participants, including Ms. Sue van der Merwe, Deputy Foreign Minister of South Africa, who made a valuable contribution to the Conference.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Now please allow me to propose a toast, or "Kanpai," meaning "bottom up," to your happiness, your good health and further development of Japan-South Africa, and Japan-Africa relations.


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