Japan-Central Asia Economic Forum Keynote Speech
by State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Yutaka Banno
Central Asia and Caucasus Division
1. Opening Remarks
On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in holding the Japan-Central Asia Economic Forum, I would like to extend a heartfelt welcome to the participants from the countries of Central Asia who have come to Japan from afar to attend this economic forum. I would also like to convey my deep gratitude to the participants from Japan who have kindly taken time out of their busy schedules to attend.
On March 11, Japan was hit by an unprecedented great earthquake. I have heard that a powerful earthquake also occurred on the border zone between Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic on the 20th of this month, and I would like to express my sincere condolences to all those struck by this disaster.
The experience of the Great East Japan Earthquake made me keenly aware of the following three ideas.
The first is that a person is graciously admitted to a life to live. The mindset in Japan going forward will transition from opposing nature and trying to contain disasters themselves to the idea of "harm reduction" by taking secondary and tertiary safety measures to bolster our fortitude against the impact of disasters.
Second, a person cannot live alone, nor can any country, so we must all help one another and build connections. Moreover, the mutual cooperation needed to live transcends national borders. The people of Japan were very moved by the expression of support and solidarity from many people as "reciprocation for the assistance from Japan thus far" when Japan received tremendous support from the countries of Central Asia and the international community.
Third, I learned the importance of transforming the crisis into an opportunity. Although Japanese industry was hit hard in the aftermath of the earthquake, we will go on to create a completely new model society based on the experience of this disaster.
2. The Importance of Central Asia to Japan
I believe the importance of Central Asia to Japan lies in the following three points.
First is the strategic importance this region has from a geopolitical standpoint. Central Asia is a crossroad uniting the Eurasian continent north, south, east and west, and its stable development as an open region is of utmost importance for the stability of Eurasia.
Second is that the abundant natural resources such as oil, natural gas, uranium, rare earth metals present in Central Asia are very important to Japan.
Third, Central Asia is the region that holds the key to tackling the urgent challenges currently facing the international community: 1) the stabilization of Afghanistan, 2) preventing the spread of terrorism and Islamic extremism, and 3) crackdown on drug trafficking.
At this Forum, I would like to hold lively debates on policy measures to further vitalize trade and investment relationships between Central Asian countries, with the importance they hold, and Japan.
3. Key Discussion Points of the Japan-Central Asia Economic Forum
Today's Japan-Central Asia Economic Forum is an initiative to hold discussion toward the advancement of economic exchange between Japan and Central Asia using the framework of the "Central Asia plus Japan" Dialogue, which commenced in 2004.
The points I would like to see especially active debate on today are the following three.
First is the issue of how to promote the economic development of Central Asian retion as a whole.
Second is the issue of how Central Asia can be developed into an attractive common market for prospective foreign investors.
Third is the issue of how Japanese businesses can contribute to the economic development of Central Asia.
An awareness of these issues faithfully reflects the intent of the "Central Asia plus Japan" Dialogue, that Central Asian countries promote intra-regional cooperation dealing with common regional issues, as well as the approach of Japan supporting such movements as a catalyst.
I would like to compile the results of today's discussions in the form of a "Chairperson's Summary," parlay the results into the Fourth Foreign Ministers' Meetings to be held next year, after further deepening the debate at the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) to be held in the framework of the "Central Asia plus Japan" Dialogue in Tokyo in the fall of this year.
4. Closing Remarks
In closing, I would like to express my anticipation of an unfettered exchange of opinion on important issues such as these today. Thank you for your kind attention.
Back to Index