To Plant Seeds of Love in the Hearts of Chinese Teens

Speech given at the Breakfast Meeting, the Henry L. Stimson Center
by Akiko Yamanaka, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Member of the House of Representatives, Japan

April 26, 2006

Political dynamics in the international arena have changed radically since the end of the Cold War. Both developed and developing countries need to establish a new economic and political framework in order to fulfill their roles as leading members of a peaceful world community.

Following the Cold War, the international landscape has been extensively marked by an increase in ethnic and religious conflicts, drugs, terrorism, and a proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in addition to natural disasters such as tsunamis.

I. The tide of history

I would like to point out three elements which indicate where we are and which direction we should take:

1) The first element is transition. We are in a transitional period from traditional approaches to new ones across a range of issues. This means that at any time, unexpected circumstances can jeopardize peace and stability in many regions of the world. Therefore, solid regional and global institutions and ties are necessary in order to develop systems of cooperation amongst states and peoples.

2) The second element is the changing nature of security. The nature of security has been evolving since the end of the Cold War from "against" to "with."

During the Cold War, security meant being "against" certain countries. However, the concept of security now should be "with" every nation/state that is a part of each region. This means that we must make efforts to establish trustworthy relations among countries so that peace and stability can be established in each region of the globe. We must also recognize that security is increasingly complex and multifaceted.

In addition, most of us would agree that the concept of security is being broadened considerably and continuously, to incorporate military, political, economic, societal and environmental dimensions and the interlinkages between them. For many people in the world, much greater threats to security come from internal conflicts, disease, hunger, environmental contamination, street crime, or even domestic violence. And for others, a greater threat may come from their own country itself-like Uzbekistan at this moment-rather than from an "external" adversary. We are moving towards a non-traditional concept of human security which revolves around individual and community welfare.

3) The third element is coalition. After the terrorist acts on September 11, the need for international cooperation that transcends national borders has become more important than before. Even the United States, the sole superpower, cannot function without a coalition of States. In international relations, this is recognized as the post-post-Cold War phenomenon.

As a result, it becomes important to examine where we are in the tide of history.

If we are to change the past dependence upon war to resolve disputes, it becomes very important for us to introduce the concept and value of non-violent means of resolving international conflicts that should be used whenever possible.
However, if those do not work, it is important to have the capability and strength to step in and enforce peace where necessary.

II. Regional Situations

1. East Asian Community

In the year 2002, in the Policy Speech by Prime Minister Koizumi to the 154th Session of the Diet, he explained his East Asian community plan as follows:
"Last month I visited five countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and I proposed that we aim for the creation of a growing East Asian community under the basic concept of 'acting together and advancing together' as 'sincere and open partners.'"
And he expressed his intension including the Initiative for Japan-ASEAN Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

What is the East Asia Summit that came into being in December last year?

Though it still remains a loose gathering of the region's heads of states and governments, an agreement is already forged to make it an annual event. This year, it will be the Philippines' turn to host the Summit meeting. The expectation is that the Summit will play a significant role in the region's community building effort.

One way to define it, for you to understand it better, is to define it in negative terms.
It is NOT an exclusive entity.
It is NOT an attempt to create a bloc of any sort.
It is NOT, as some feared in this city, an anti-America grouping.

It will to put it in positive terms, and to cite the Kuala Lumpur Declaration, an open, inclusive, transparent and outward-looking forum in which members strive to strengthen global norms and universally recognized values.
It has been made thanks in part to the participation of India, Australia and New Zealand, a gathering of many peers which are like-minded democracies.

The underlying spirit is to cherish such universal values as democracy, human rights, and good governance.
Little wonder the European Union has expressed its keenness in joining the forum as an observer.

The creation of the Summit, if anything, also represents the renewed confidence chiefly among ASEAN nations who have overcome their economic hardship, and who are expected to continue to sit in the driver's seat to develop a region-wide community.

2. Bilateral relations

1) China

On the Japan-PRC relation, I should briefly remind you that its foundation has so far faced no challenge whatsoever.
The foundation has been cemented by three important documents: the 1972 Joint Communiqué, the 1978 Treaty of Peace and Friendship, and the 1998 Japan-China Joint Declaration on Building a Partnership of Friendship and Cooperation for Peace and Development.

  • Japan should express its sincere apologies for the invasion and sacrifice of Chinese territory and people.
  • Japan recognises that the People's Republic of China's government is the only legal government over the Chinese territory
  • The Chinese government has clearly declared its abandonment of claims for Japanese compensations for China.

The government of Japan has given it no change since.

Since then, for more than 30 years, Japan's special ODA for China, which every Japanese feels to be natural to support Chinese economic growth from our tax instead of compensation, has amounted to approximately 3.4 trillion yen. However most Chinese are not informed by their government on this matter. This perception gap seems to causes misunderstandings between our two peoples.

At present, Japan and China are locked in tense discussions over China's unlawful geological surveys and natural gas prospecting in the East China Sea. This means that China's energy situation is so serious that we have no choice but to reconsider our strategies for securing energy.

In terms of economics as well as political security, China and Japan are becoming rivals.
However, a big difference between China and Japan is that China has domestic problems such as discrepancy of economic development between coastal areas and inland China, and minority movements such as the Xin Jiang Uyghur and Manchuria as well as Taiwan, about which the Chinese government is so sensitive.

Therefore, the Chinese Government has to have an outside target for those who are anti-government and frustrated to focus on. In that sense, Japan is the easiest target. In this regard, Yasukuni gives a very good excuse. The latest survey by the Japanese Cabinet on diplomacy-related public opinions showed that the percentage of Japanese people who "feel close to China" dropped by 10.3% between 2004 and 2005 to 37.6%, the lowest since this survey began in 1975, according to Kyodo News reports.

The survey also showed that the percentage of people "don't feel close to China" surged to 58.2%, while it was 48.0% in 2004.
And "Japan and China are enjoying good relations" dropped sharply by 18.8% last year from 46.9 % to 28.1%. This number confirms the current situation of warm economic ties but cold political relations between Japan and China. On the other side, according to the BBC and Maryland University survey in 2005, 72% of Chinese are negative towards Japan.

However, J-animation, J-fashion and J-pop are popular in China. And more university students are in Japan than before since the US visa situation became very strict after 9.11.

At present, we in the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs are busy getting ourselves prepared for hosting hundreds of Chinese high school students.
We are all thrilled by the newly launched Japan-PRC joint youth exchange program.

From the next month onward, to Narita Airport from all corners of that vast country, there will be a continued influx of Chinese high school students.

They will then spread across Japan, spending as long as a year with their host families.

It will be their very first overseas experience.

As a saying goes, "seeing is believing."

And that is what this invitation program is all about: that is, to plant seeds of mutual understanding and love in the hearts and minds of Chinese teens, and of the ordinary Japanese, hoping and expecting that a generation of Japan-friendly Chinese will take shape.

We Japanese do need and expect China's stable economical, political and societal developments.

2) Republic of Korea (ROK)

Normalization of diplomatic ties between Japan and the Republic of Korea was agreed on December 18, 1965 under the strong pressure of the US. In this treaty the ROK abandoned compensation claims for occupation, and at the same time Japan abandoned Japan's fortunes in Korea.
In addition to this, Japan's ODA totalled $300 million over ten years, plus loans of $200 million.

In addition to trade between Japan and the ROK, in 2002 the year of the Soccer World Cup was co-hosted by Japan and ROK and the so-called "Japan-Korea cultural Exchange Council" was established, because Kim Dae Jung had promoted the liberalization of Japanese culture in the ROK after the long period of restrictions by the government.

I should also add, to be more serious, that this fad among the Japanese about everything Korean is much more deep-rooted than first meets the eye.

For one thing, millions of Japanese have learned Korean language through the nation's TV and radio programs, completely as a hobby, and on a voluntary basis.

Thanks to the amazing similarity between the two languages, many in Japan become excellent Korean speakers.
So there is a powerful undercurrent, underneath what appears to be a fad phenomenon.

3) North Korea

The Six-Party Talks have reached a deadlock. Japan as well as Korea has tens of abductees as well as nuclear issues. Therefore, we try to make efforts to continue bilateral dialogue with legal and economic pressure as well. This is related to the reason why I am here today, accompanied by Mrs. Yokota whose daughter was kidnapped at the age of 13 nearly 30 years ago.

We do not want to hear the argument if the Korean Peninsula can be unified with nuclear weapons, Japan should either have nuclear or not, because Japan has the technology, money and materials but not the will to do so.

Moreover, we the international community should choose either a hard line towards North Korea or soft line of normalization of the sitting regime in order to avoid a military regime.

This is really the question.

III. Applied culture (Japan's uniqueness)

1. Co-habiting with Nature

Around 67% of Japan's land is forested. This is a high ratio even among developed nations.
By comparison, the UK is approximately 10% forest, the US is 32% and even Canada is no more than 50%. Only 19% of Japanese forests is virgin forest and the rest is human influenced second-growth and directly managed woodlots.

For centuries, as is well known, wooden construction was the norm, and the daily use of charcoal, paper and other products solidifies the place of wood in Japanese culture. Therefore we have planted trees precisely because we use them so much. In this way, helped along also by the simple creed that in all natural things dwell the spirits of gods or Buddha, there evolved an ethic of symbiosis with nature.

Therefore Japanese people try to live with nature traditionally, not trying to conquer it as in the West's challenge.

According to an NHK poll, in response to the question
"People in olden times believed that gods or spirits dwelled in a variety of things, from mountains and rivers to the wells and hearths of their homes. Do you feel as though you can easily relate to these beliefs? Or, do you feel as though you cannot relate to these beliefs?"

75% of respondents answered "Yes."

The mentality of the ancient Japanese, that gods surround us in the natural world, still clearly makes sense even in the blood-stained age we live in today.

2. Bushido: Mind-set

Nitobe Inazo, who penned a book intended to explain the mysteries of Bushido to foreigners writes of warriors who fully embodied bushido virtues such as justice, courage, compassion, courtesy, fidelity, honour, duty of loyalty etc.

This is a role model and this practice had considerable influence on the development of the Japanese personality. Nothing could serve a warrior better than valour. However, military prowess alone did not win respect; but with true virtuousness it did.

3. Flat-country

During the Second World War, a number of Indian soldiers, who had formerly fought under the British, came under Japanese leadership as volunteers to fight for their country's independence, and what struck them most about the Japanese forces was that everyone from commissioned officers to the rank and file took their meals in the same location. This must surely have helped shrink the sense of a gap between the two armies.

Japan is the most flat, equal-minded, country in that sense. Therefore, everybody worked hard to recover from dust and smoke of the land to seek a better quality of life under the occupation by the United States. The above three elements of Japan helped a lot in the economic development and social structure and even educational system, all of which are effective in this transition time.

The corruption of effective structures has brought crime, suicide, murder and even accidents in our safest countries' daily life.

IV. Future vision

The US and Japan can be a model in the years to come if we can cooperate together and establish the new structure with the following themes, and can apply them to Asia together.

  1. Peace and happiness based on prosperity
  2. Human development with peace building for natural as well as artificial disasters.
  3. Risk and crisis management - civilian and military cooperation
  4. Cooperate social responsibility

V. Closing: An age of balance

The 21st century is the age of balance. This struggle for balance is being waged on an international, state, and individual level, between dichotomies of competing values. These are:

  1. Development vs. environmental protection
  2. Globalization vs. regionalization
  3. High tech information vs. individual privacy
  4. Group orientation vs. individualism
  5. Work vs. leisure
  6. Materialism vs. spiritualism
  7. Male vs. female

And even

  1. Military solutions vs. non-military alternatives

And I would like to add one more element now, which is National interest and international interests.

We have a lot left to do.

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