Speech by H.E. Hirofumi Nakasone
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
On the occasion of the Launching Ceremony of the ASEM initiative
for the Rapid Containment of the Pandemic Influenza
May 25, 2009
His Excellency Mr. Pham Gia Khiem, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam,
His Excellency Mr. Dominique Girard, Executive Director of Asia-Europe Foundation,
Head of delegations of the co-sponsor countries of Hungary, Republic of Korea, Laos, Mongolia, Pakistan, Poland, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, it is my great pleasure to launch the ASEM initiative for the Rapid Containment of Pandemic Influenza. The initiative aims to contain the spread of pandemic influenza by stockpiling 500,000 courses of antivirals and sets of personal protective equipment.
The pandemic influenza that occurred in Mexico spread beyond borders to many parts of the world in a very short period of time. Infected people were found in Japan as well. This fact demonstrates the magnitude of the threat posed by communicable diseases in today's globalized world. The economic and social impact cannot be overemphasized should the damage continue to spread.
A possible influenza pandemic caused by highly pathogenic avian influenza, which is currently prevalent in Asia, remains a serious threat. This means, in practice, we must keep ourselves ready for the worst-case scenario.
At the 7th ASEM summit meeting last year, Japan expressed its intention to take a lead on the issue of pandemic control in ASEM. This initiative brings the intention into shape. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the co-sponsor countries of Hungary, Republic of Korea, Laos, Mongolia, Pakistan, Poland, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. I would like to mention that the implementation of this initiative requires the active cooperation by WHO. I believe that this initiative will also contribute to the increase of ASEM's visibility.
This project will be implemented through the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF). I trust that the networking projects by ASEF will complement the stockpile project. Although this initiative has the potential to save the lives of millions of people, no measure is perfect. ASEM partners should continue to work together in this area.
Last but not least, I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Vietnamese government for giving this great opportunity to launch the initiative. I am confident that this initiative will help bring safety to the people of the ASEM partner countries.
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