(Provisional Translation)

Forging the Future Together

Speech by H.E. Mr. Yasuo Fukuda, Prime Minister of Japan
at Peking University, Beijing, People's Republic of China
December 28, 2007

Chinese [PDF]

Honorable Tang Jiaxuan, State Councilor of the People's Republic of China,
Honorable Xu Zhihong, President of Peking University,
Ladies and gentlemen,


Greeting the New Year, Fukuda has come here. ("Fuku" means fortune in Japanese and Chinese.)

I have been looking forward to the opportunity to be here at the venerable Peking University today to speak to you, the leaders of China's next generation.

Peking University, as the most prestigious higher education institution in China, boasts educational standards that are also highly esteemed internationally. Many exchange students from Japan are undertaking their studies here, and I was very happy to learn that active exchanges have been underway for many years between this university and my alma mater, Waseda University. On the occasion of my visit here, I would like to convey to you my strong hopes that you, who have a significant bearing on China of the future will come to know Japan better and learn more about Japan, and grounded in this idea, I will be sharing with you my proposal to further enhance the research on Japan now underway at Peking University as well as its exchanges with Japan. I will be discussing these points in detail later on in my remarks.

I would like to take some time today to explain my long-held thoughts on the relationship between Japan and China.

The Purpose of My Visit to China

The purpose of my visit to China is to strengthen further the foundation of Japan-China relations, which have since autumn of last year been developing at a robust pace, and raise our relationship to a new level. "For Japan-China relations, there is no other possible option than the one of peace and friendship." This philosophy that emerged at the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People's Republic of China is, across the passage of time, still alive as the basis of friendly relations between our two nations.

In the thirty years since we concluded the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, both Japan and China have come to hold positions as major powers at the global level in areas such as politics and economics. There has never been a time in history when Japan and China have had the power to contribute so much to the stability and the development of both Asia and the entire world as they do now.

In facing such an unprecedented opportunity for Japan-China relations, I would like to utilize this visit of mine to China to convey to all the Chinese people that I am of the firmest conviction that Japan and China should become creative partners who establish a bright future for both Asia and the globe.

Before embarking on this visit, I had the opportunity to meet in Tokyo with representatives of the Chinese media. On that occasion, I said that spring is again coming to Japan-China relations. To my eyes, the new spring buds of our desire to create this new Japan-China relationship can be found here and there in both countries.

This visit to China has been one that heralds and welcomes the spring. I hear that there is a saying, "Plum blossoms appear in the bitterest cold bloom along with the cherry blossoms." I hope that my visit accompanies the blooming of the plum blossoms, and I am awaiting very eagerly the opportunity to welcome President Hu Jintao around the time when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

Japan and China: An Irreplaceable Relationship

Next I would like to ask you what you think of China's relationship with Japan, your neighbor across the water with whom you have a history of exchanges stretching back two thousand years. Premier Wen Jiabao, in his visit to Japan in April of this year, said in his address to the Japanese Diet, "To reflect on history is not to dwell on hard feelings but to remember and learn from the past in order to open a better future." I took Premier Wen's words to heart in a spirit of solemnity. I believe that within our long history, even when there is some unfortunate past, it is our responsibility to look at it squarely and convey that fact to posterity. Japan, which had been reborn as a nation of freedom and democracy after the war, is proud of the fact that it has consistently followed the path of a peaceful nation and has been acting in cooperation with international society. However, I also believe that such pride must be accompanied by remorse for our mistakes and the humidity to give proper regard to the feelings of people who suffered. It is only when we look squarely at the past with the courage and the wisdom to feel remorseful for actions towards which remorse is appropriate that we become able to ensure that such mistakes do not happen again in the future.

At the same time, when we overview the long history between Japan and China, we must not forget the fact that we have in the past had exchanges that were longer, fruitful, and prosperous.

In combination with changes in the international situation surrounding our countries, significant changes have been achieved in the relationship between Japan and China, which has already passed through a full generation since our historic diplomatic normalization. Within such a context, the issue is thus how we view our mutual relationship and how we should go about constructing it.

1978 saw China embark on policies of reform and openness, with bold reforms in domestic systems and openness to international society pursued actively. In 2001 China realized its desire to accede to the WTO, and it is now a critical player in the global economy, characterized by the world's fourth-largest GDP and the third-largest value of trade. This striking economic development has brought about significant benefits for not only Japan, but also Asia and, indeed, the world. Politically as well, China has been increasing its presence and its influence in international society beyond anything it has experienced before and is now assuming interest in various issues in the region and in international society, taking action, and stating its views.

Meanwhile, Japan has been channeling its efforts into economic development and the improvement of its citizens' quality of life and thereby generating results. In the process, Japan has experienced both a long period of high economic growth and the bursting of a bubble economy. Yet, many of Japan's economic fundamentals have been strong, and as a result, Japan continues to enjoy its ranking as the economy second in size only to the United States. In the political realm, Japan has come to express its views more clearly to international society than ever in the past, and it has embarked on a course of undertaking international cooperation more actively.

Japan and China have each within the context of their own development paths deepened their mutual exchanges and cooperation with each other in a variety of forms, building a relationship that is closer than anything that has been seen before. To borrow the words of my father, Takeo Fukuda, who as Japanese Prime Minister was engaged in the concluding of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China, the Joint Communiqué of Japan and China built a suspension bridge, and the Treaty of Peace and Friendship resulted in an iron bridge between our two countries. Since then, a great number of people in both Japan and China have crossed this bridge, with the flow of people between our nations now reaching almost 5 million annually. On the economic front too, total trade value between our nations now exceeds US$200 billion per annum, and Japan is China's largest investor country. Next year will mark the Japan-China Youth Exchange Friendship Year and will also see the holding of the long-awaited Olympics here in Beijing. To accelerate the momentum of Japan-China exchange still further, I would like to make 2008, in which we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, the year in which Japan-China relations experience a dramatic advance forward.

Responsibilities and Opportunities

At the same time, mindful of the tidal current of the globe and the overall picture of the era in which we live, it is clear that Japan and China cannot be countries living in friendship only with each other. I believe you too feel directly that Japan and China are now at a level at which they significantly influence the future stability and development of not only this dramatically-changing Asian region but also the entire globe. The entire world is watching us, and in fact expecting much from us. The future issue for Japan and China is not, I would argue, a question of cooperation versus confrontation, but rather a question of how effectively, and through how responsible a form, we engage in cooperation. In that sense, it can be said that the creation of a "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests" is indeed something demanded by the broader trend sweeping through our times.

As we assess the trends of the times and the tidal shifts around the globe, it becomes clear that the time has come for the nations of Japan and China each to examine squarely the political and economic importance of the other and discuss how we can cooperate in order to resolve the various issues facing our region and international society. The Yi Jing states, "Multiple streams make a great bounty." I hope that Japan and China, as two parallel streams, thus come to contribute water to the areas surrounding them, bringing bounty to these areas.

Thus the fact that both Japan and China have come to have the power to contribute to the stability and the development of Asia and the world represents a tremendous opportunity for both nations. Our two countries share common interests with regard to numerous issues, and the fact that our shared objectives and common rules have been increasing can be considered an important change as we work to take advantage of this opportunity. Our dialogues and our cooperation will surely deepen still further when both countries execute the international obligations incumbent upon any government, fulfilling not only international economic rules such as those governing the WTO, which are a given, but also responsibilities such as increased transparency and accountability.

At the same time, there are also issues between our countries that still need to be overcome. Between the two major powers of Japan and China it is simply impossible that we would view all issues in the same way or adopt the same stances on them. What is indispensable is the ability to discuss these differences in a level-headed manner and deal with such issues together. That said, the fact is that we lack sufficient mutual understanding and mutual trust, resulting in no small number of people in both Japan and China who have at some point felt dissatisfaction that their feelings were not being properly understood by the people in the other country. We need to also point out the lack of the broad perspective without adequate consideration to the history of Japan-China relations or various issues over the course of their development or furthermore to larger trends within international affairs, or the dangers inherent to moving forward if we get caught up in emotions of the moment.

I would argue that what is important as we face such issues is for us to make efforts to understand the other country in a true light, while discussing the issues sincerely and deepening our mutual understanding as we recognize that differences do exist. In other words, "When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it - this is knowledge." Then, based on that, we should direct our attention to the world of common interests that extend to both countries and work to expand them. It is important to adopt an approach under which both parties together search for ways to solve the issues, never losing sight of their shared objectives.

The Three Pillars of a "Mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests"

In order to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity by which we can deepen our dialogue and overcome these issues, the relationship through which both Japan and China intend to carry out their major responsibilities is that of a "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests." I would like to address you now about the three pillars that form the core of this relationship, namely the pillars of "mutually-beneficial cooperation", "contributions to international society", and "mutual understanding and mutual trust".

Pillar One: Mutually-beneficial Cooperation

The first pillar of our "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests" is that of mutually-beneficial cooperation.

Japan and China are at the present experiencing an increasingly deeper interdependent relationship, and smooth development in China is a matter that holds major implications for the development of Japan as well. From this perspective, over the last 30 years, Japan has provided support and cooperation through both the public and private sectors, such as through the provision of ODA, to efforts towards reform and openness in China. In addition, Japan supported China's accession to the WTO from an early stage. In the background to that, there has also been the strong sentiment of the Japanese public, that support for the reform and openness of China constitutes the correct choice in that it contributes to not only the future of China but also Japan, and also, by extension, Asia and the rest of the globe. In 2008 we should commemorate the 30th anniversary of the policies of reform and openness, and the fact that the Olympic Games will be held here in Beijing in such a year is something truly symbolic, in that China has entered a new stage of development. As I extend my congratulations here let me also add my most sincere wishes for the success of the Beijing Olympics.

At the same time, in China, as recognized in the recent Party Congress, negative impact of the rapid development has also been emerging. Among the examples we can give are the oft-cited issues of environmental degradation and the expanding gap between coastal cities and inland areas.

Japan herself had similar costly experiences with environmental issues in the 1970s. As Japan's economy was achieving the period of high economic growth, pollution-related problems emerged, including those serious enough to become known as the "big four" pollution issues, including Minamata Disease, Itai-Itai Disease, and Yokkaichi Asthma. These pollution issues later evolved into serious social problems. At about the same time, Japan also suffered the oil crises and they forced us to grapple with energy conservation seriously.

In addition, Japan has long been called an egalitarian society, with it said that Japan has more socialistic characteristics even than socialist countries. Yet as globalization moves ever forward, the problem of gaps in our society is gradually becoming more severe.

Today, I heard from Premier Wen Jiabao of his strong determination to realize his objective of creating a Harmonious Society as part of the push to bring about the "Scientific Outlook of Development" now being promoted by China in order to address these issues. In the future, through consultations with the Chinese side, Japan intends to shift its main focus from support for reform and openness to cooperation to bring about this Harmonious Society. In so doing, the stability and development of China that would result would be something to welcome for Japan as well, as a friend and a neighbor.

Within that context, I consider the areas of particular importance to be those of the environment and energy conservation. Japan wishes to provide examples of its successes and failures for the reference of the people of China, such as our experiences with pollution and how we have addressed it. Japan now boasts world-class energy-conserving technology in which we can take great pride. In order to promote environmental cooperation between Japan and China, I proposed at today's summit meeting the founding here within China of the Japan-China Environmental Information Plaza and the Energy Conservation and Environmental Cooperation Information Center, which have as their objective data transmission and networking, towards which the Chinese side expressed its support. Moreover, this is an idea in which research on the environment and energy conservation would be conducted at a scale of some 10,000 people over the span of three years, with a large number of Chinese specialists and practitioners to be brought to Japan so that our experiences can be shared with them.

In addition, in order to develop this mutually-beneficial cooperation, it is imperative that we strengthen protections on intellectual property rights. This is not by any means a topic that should generate antagonism between Japan and China. Instead, it is an issue for cooperation between our two nations that is connected to our development. In particular, with regard to a strengthening of measures addressing counterfeit and pirated goods, Japan and China must cooperate to implement effective measures, from the perspective of the robust development of the economy and the ability to ensure the safety and the peace of mind of the public. In order to fulfill the responsibilities in international society, it is critical for the public and private sectors to work in concert with each other to take the initiative and demonstrate their intention as nations that are forward-thinking regarding the protection of intellectual property.

The other day the First Japan-China High-Level Economic Dialogue was convened here in Beijing, with relevant Cabinet members from Japan and China participating in meaningful discussions that covered environmental protection, the protection of intellectual property rights, and areas such as trade, investment, and the international economy. I very much wish to continue to advance such dialogues in the spirit of mutually-beneficial cooperation, and in the future, I am very much looking forward to cooperation areas between Japan and China emerging from our dialogues and realizing concrete form one by one.

Pillar Two: Contributions to International Society

The second pillar of our "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests" is that of contributions to international society.

We are aware that the "borderless age," in which anything -- people, goods, capital, or information -- can easily cross national borders, involves not only opportunities for both development and partnerships, but also a variety of risks, such as the potential for chain-reaction financial crises and the proliferation of contagious diseases. As such, the governments of Japan and China must join hands to work to expand these opportunities while mitigating the risks. For that reason, our two countries must not become completely absorbed only the management of Japan-China relationship in the narrow sense. Instead, we must each extend our field of vision to the farthest reaches of the horizon of our relations and cooperate for the stability and the development of Asia, and by extension of the globe, in a form that is in keeping with global trends. Here I would like to illustrate a few issues that I foresee.

First of all, I would like to say a few words about the battle against terrorism. Yesterday, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed in Pakistan in a terrorist attack. Terrorist acts cannot be justified for any reason, and I condemn this heinous act of terrorism in the strongest possible terms. I would also like to extend my heartfelt condolences to the victims, including former Prime Minister Bhutto. The fight against terrorism is one that is shared by all of international society, including both Japan and China. From this perspective as well I hope for cooperative efforts between Japan and China to advance further.

Next is the issue of climate change. Climate change constitutes the single most important issue now facing the international society. This is also an issue of how sincerely we fulfill our responsibilities to posterity. Japan and China should first come to understand the position of the other and then cooperate on this issue as responsible major powers, making our best possible efforts towards its resolution. I would like to emphasize once more that what is absolutely critical for the resolution of this issue is positive participation by China, which is now a major international player, in the international framework to address climate change.

Furthermore, when concerning the peace and stability of Northeast Asia, the pressing issues are those concerning North Korea. We welcome, to a certain extent, the recent steady progress in the denuclearization process of the Korean peninsula. However we currently stand at an important crossroad, in whether we can advance this process further and consolidate peace and stability within Northeast Asia. Together with the denuclearization issue, I also intend to resolve issues such as the abduction issue, and the missile issues, settle the unfortunate past and, thereby normalize relations with North Korea. For this purpose, I would like to enhance dialogue with North Korea. In this regard, Japan will closely coordinate and cooperate with China, which is serving an important role as the chair of the Six-Party Talks.

We can cite the reform of the United Nations, including the Security Council, as another issue relevant to the peace and stability of international society. In particular, the reform of the Security Council into a body that is reflective of the changes that have arisen over the last sixty-odd years and can fulfill an increasingly momentous role is one that concerns the entire international community. I very much hope to strengthen dialogues this issue between Japan and China and wish to advance the reform through cooperation between the two countries.

Looking now to Africa, the continent continues to confront stern reality. The number of children in sub-Saharan Africa who die before their fifth birthday because of such reasons as epidemic diseases and malnutrition reaches as much as 166 out of every 1000. In May of next year, the Government of Japan will be convening in Yokohama the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, also known as TICAD IV, in order to facilitate discussions on strategies and concrete policies for African development, under the main theme of towards a "Vibrant Africa." I understand that China is also hosting a dialogue with the African nations with regard to development efforts on African soil. Given this, I believe that it would be truly wonderful if Japan and China could work cooperatively towards common objectives, such as assisting in the sustainable growth of Africa and emancipating its people from poverty. I very much hope that this can be put into practice.

I hope, in the greatest sincerity, that through collaborative efforts such as these with you and the Chinese people, we are able to bloom a large flower of Japan-China cooperation around the world.

Pillar Three: Mutual Understanding and Mutual Trust

The third and final pillar of our "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests" is that of mutual understanding and trust.

It is precisely because we are close neighbors that we move more quickly to irritation as we ask ourselves why people in the other country do not understand us. It even seems that our fundamental awareness of how we should understand each other is on less than firm ground. On the Japanese side, this stems in part from the fact that China has achieved tremendous development in an extremely short period of time and people were simply not ready in terms of how to interact with this neighbor that had appeared on the scene as such a massive presence. At the same time, on the Chinese side, it seems that there are many complex feelings about Japan's efforts to assume a greater political role in international society.

What we clearly need is to make efforts once more to deepen our mutual understanding. This is something that everyone recognizes, and yet when it comes down to it, it is not at all an easy thing to do. To advance mutual understanding, active exchanges between our two sides are critical. And true mutual understanding is what first enables the developing of mutual trust. I consider the strengthening of three types of exchange the best means for bringing about the virtual cycle of dialogue, understanding, and trust, specifically youth exchanges, intellectual exchanges, and exchanges in the area of national security.

One type of particularly important exchange has been the activities for large-scale youth exchange that have been underway between Japan and China since last year. You, the younger generation, are the hope of the future. It is you who will be carving out the Japan-China relationship of the future. It goes without saying that politics and the economy are also crucial, but in order to forge a Japan-China relationship that is stable into the future, it is imperative that on both the Japanese and the Chinese side we foster people who will deepen our mutual understanding, respect our mutual differences, and learn from each other, adopting a long-term perspective of fifty or even a hundred years into the future. And, as the proverb says, "It takes ten years to grow a tree, but 100 years to educate people." Therefore, we must undertake a long-term approach in fostering such people.

Chinese high school exchange students who have come to Japan to study invariably return home saying that Japan was quite different from the country they had originally envisaged, or that they have discovered Japan anew. There is no doubt that by seeing with one's own eyes, listening with one's own ears, and experiencing things oneself, preconceived notions and prejudices have been stripped away and understanding of Japan has been deepened.

Naturally the same can be said for Japanese high school students who have visited China. One Japanese high school student, a boy, tells of his memories of his host family at his homestay location in China like this.

"Through the thoroughly enjoyable homestay and the exchange activities with the Chinese school, I came to see that Chinese high school students and Japanese high school students are the same. Extremely kind and totally full of life, these people will become adults at the same time we will, and I think that is when world peace in its truest meaning will come to pass. I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to the people who made this opportunity possible."

The promotion of intellectual exchanges between Japan and China is also of great importance. It will be of great significance for Japanese and Chinese junior researchers to discuss not merely Japan-China relations but rather a broad spectrum of international affairs. It will be important to have a frame of reference in which there is sensitivity towards how international society is moving and how the era is changing in order to give direction to Japan-China relations. I believe strongly that Japan and China can be world-renowned partners if we act cooperatively, foster eminent persons well-grounded in international perspectives, and develop human resources that can work together to contribute to the resolution of problems in the region and in international society.

For that reason as well, as I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks today, I would like to have you, who will be forging the future China, to come to know Japan better and to study more about Japan. To make that possible, I would like to advance exchanges with institutions of higher learning in China. First of all, I would like to propose a modest plan to strengthen exchanges with Japan here at Peking University, where I have had this opportunity to address you. In concrete terms, I envision, though modest, this "Fukuda Plan for Peking University" as having the following three key components.

The first component would be the convening of symposia. Over the next two years, I envision holding symposia on the theme of global topics, such as reform of the United Nations, aid to third countries, PKO activities, and environment and energy, with researchers from Peking University to be invited to Japan. The second component would be a research program to be implemented next year, under which 100 people from among you, and 50 people from high schools affiliated with this university, would be invited to Japan to conduct research. The third and final component would be to continue support for intensive courses at this university's Center of Japanese Studies. Through this "Fukuda Plan for Peking University" for strengthening exchanges with Japan, I hope most sincerely that this will lead to even one additional person among you to choose to pursue a career in research on Japan.

In speaking of exchanges in the area of national security, the other day we conducted the first visit by a Chinese vessel to Japan, a landmark event for both Japan and China. I am truly pleased that it has taken place. In 2008, it will be the turn for Japan's Defense Minister and a Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel to pay a visit to China. National security is the foundation of a nation's existence and it is also an issue that ties in directly with the sentiments of the public in both countries. This is an area in which it is essential to nip mutual distrust in the bud while fostering confidence building through enhanced transparency. In order to do that, it is necessary to make the exchanges and the dialogues between Japan and China more active in the fields of national security and defense. It is important to promote mutual understanding in a broad sense by creating opportunities for persons involved in defense from both countries to interact with eminent persons and civilians from the other country. At our summit meeting the Japanese and Chinese sides agreed to undertake such efforts.

Forging a Bright Future for Asia and the Globe

And so, I have spoken to you today about the three pillars of a "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests" between Japan and China. Yet in making a general statement, I believe that it is critical to take an approach by which we forge our future by aligning Japan-China relations with the trends and the larger causes of international society. If both Japan and China make efforts towards "mutually-beneficial cooperation" and "international contributions" while taking on responsibilities in international society in keeping with their status as major powers, looking carefully at the bigger picture in the world and responding to expectations from around the globe, it will become possible to overcome differences in our respective standpoints and then build "mutual understanding and mutual trust." By doing so, I believe that it is possible for us to become creative partners who together can forge a bright future for Asia and the globe. By undertaking creative efforts jointly between Japan and China, we can build a relationship in which we receive the trust of nations all around the globe. From this perspective, it gives rise to great hopes, does it not? We should not try to find fault with each other but rather wok together towards common objectives, hand in hand, for the benefit of the globe. What I hope for deeply is that Japan and China can be true friends of this sort.


In addressing you here today about these things, I must say that I have been moved anew at both the weightiness of the roles we politicians must fulfill as well as at the unlimited potential that now extends before you. In the future too, the relations between Japan and China may not always follow only a smooth path forward. But it is exactly at those times when the path becomes rough that we politicians must avoid being swept up in emotional remarks that are likely to crop up from time to time. Instead, I believe that we must advance Japan-China relations one step forward, then another step forward, in keeping with global currents and principles. I feel that part of my mission as a politician includes leaving for you a path by which a new future for Asia and the globe can be created.

Japan and China are by no means tied though only our benefits and interests. We are neighboring countries that have enjoyed a long history of exchange with each other, sharing each other's cultures and traditions, and within that we have come to hold a common foundation that was created through interactions with each other. For example, if we look at the expression "the Meiji Restoration," which was the dawn of Japan's transformation into a modern state, we find that the roots lie in ancient Chinese texts. The fact that the numerous exchange activities that took place this year in the Japan-China Exchange Year of Culture and Sports resulted in strong feelings of affinity on both the Japanese and Chinese sides is something that, would you not agree, was possible because of a shared foundation between our two countries?

It is also critical for us to both work towards the common values of human rights, the rule of law, and democracy. I see it as important for us to give serious consideration to the common foundation and values that deeply underlies both Japan and China. With this in mind, I will be making a stop in Qufu during this visit, also having the desire to urge the people of both our nations to recall the special relationship that exists within Japan-China relations.

The magnificent Chinese author Lu Xun, who was also a teacher here at Peking University, had the experience of studying in Japan, and there he met a great many Japanese people, including his mentor Genkuro Fujino. There can be no question that these kinds of encounters had a profound influence on changes in Chinese society after that time, in exactly the same way that exchanges of high school students have enabled many young people to reap countless benefits. Lu Xun, in his story My Old Home, writes as follows:

I thought: hope... is just like roads across the earth. For actually the earth had no roads to begin with, but when many men pass one way, a road is made.

And so in closing today, I ask you, is it not the same for us? Shall we not walk together, passing one way, and in so doing create a road, together forging our future?

Thank you for listening today. It was a pleasure to have had the opportunity to address you.

Get Acrobat Reader (Open a New Window)

Back to Index