Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to the Initiative for Development in East Asia (IDEA) Ministerial Meeting

August 12, 2002
at the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese

Your Royal Highness,
Excellencies,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

First, I would like to extend my heartfelt welcome to all of you here today in this Initiative for Development in East Asia (IDEA) Ministerial Meeting.

During my visit to the Southeast Asia this January, I proposed five initiatives in order to widen the scope of cooperation in East Asia for the future. One of them was the holding of this so-called IDEA Ministerial Meeting. I am especially impressed that this meeting is now realized with the participation from ASEAN as well as People's Republic of China and the Republic of Korea.

In addition to the visit in January, I had an opportunity to visit Brunei Darussalam to attend the ASEAN+3 Summit last November. Throughout these visits I renewed my recognition that ASEAN countries, China and Korea are important partners in promoting East Asian cooperation. I was also encouraged to witness firsthand the progress each country in the region has made in overcoming various challenges in pursuit of reforms and economic growth. East Asia is faced with common challenges to be addressed, however. Structural reforms to respond to the globalizing international economy, transnational issues such as terrorism and piracy, to name a few. It is crucial for the countries in the region to muster the strength to tackle these issues, in order to secure regional peace and stability, and seek for further prosperity. I hope that this IDEA Ministerial Meeting will serve to embody the spirit of "act together, advance together," in the field of development in the wider framework of regional cooperation in East Asia, where cooperation is expanding and deepening.

This meeting is the first attempt, regardless of a respective position of each country as a recipient or a donor, to sit at the same table and discuss development issues. I am convinced that it is extremely beneficial to share our development experiences and expertise, which East Asia has attained through remarkable economic growth, and to discuss future directions of regional cooperation.

It is the role of Official Development Assistance or ODA alongwith trade and investment, that should not be forgotten when the issue of development in East Asia is on the table. ODA has played a great role in the creation of a basis for economic growth through the building of infrastructure and the realization of "human-centered" development starting with the field of education. Japan has actively provided ODA to East Asia, ASEAN countries in particular, on which Japan places a priority. As a result, we can humbly pride ourselves that Japan has contributed to the stability and prosperity in East Asia to a great extent. Japan is faced with difficult fiscal situations. However, since the stability and prosperity in East Asia will continue to be important to Japan, Japan remains committed to actively provide assistance to East Asia while further efficient implementation and prioritization of ODA will be kept in mind.

A series of international conferences on development this year increases the awareness of the importance of development issues in the international community. Starting at the end of this month, the World Summit on Sustainable Development or WSSD will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa. There, Japan would like to convey East Asia's development expertise, its important existence to the international community and to share this expertise with other regions dealing with the same issue of development.

I am convinced that in this century as well East Asia continues to be diverse and one of the most vibrant regions in the world. This recognition cannot fully described by a mere figure of growth rate of gross national products. It is in my belief that the creation of societies in which everyone can pursue a dream by using his or her own talents living in peace of mind and the attainment of well-being of each one of us living in East Asia are the goals we have to pursue for the future vision of Asia. I would like to conclude by hoping that this IDEA Ministerial Meeting will be fruitful in making strong strides toward our bright future.

Thank you.


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