Statement by H.E. Mr. Masahiko Koumura,
Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Japan

At Bali Democracy Forum
10th December 2008


H.E. Dr. Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia, H.E. Dr. Hassan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, and honorable delegates,

Today, on behalf of Japanese government, I would like to extend congratulations on this meeting to inaugurate the Bali Democracy Forum. It is my great honour to make a speech in front of all of you.

The Bali Democracy Forum, as an open forum, aims to prevail the universal value of democracy in the Asia Pacific region. Indonesia has achieved present stability and prosperity overcoming political and economic difficulties so far. It is very meaningful that Indonesia hosts this forum on the basis of its own experience. Japan highly appreciates the initiative of Indonesia and gives support.

This forum is in line with Japan's policy which makes much of the consolidation of universal values such as freedom, democracy, fundamental human rights, rule of law and market economy.

In particular, it is important for the Asian region to realize prosperity and stability on the basis of these universal values. Japan has long been giving assistance for the consolidation of freedom and democracy in the Asian region.

Japan will fully make use of this forum in providing such assistance in the future. For the promotion of democracy which this forum aims to achieve, continuing and persistent efforts are necessary. I strongly expect that this forum will be lasting long, and Japan is determined to make contribution to that end.

I think democracy is a universal value based on the will expressed freely by people. The objective of democracy is to improve people's happiness and well-being, but at the same time, strengthening the foundation of democracy leads to the stability and development of a country which are indispensable for the improvement of people's happiness and well-being, and therefore promotes human rights.

It is welcoming that, with recent economic development, civil society gets matured and the number of countries which elect their leaders through the democratic process is increasing, in spite of the fact that social situations of Asian countries are varied in terms of ethnicities and cultural diversity. I expect that democracy will continue to expand steadily. I wish that the Bali Democracy Forum will make great contribution as a driving force to further promote such a welcoming development.

For the promotion of democracy, democratic elections have been put emphasis on and election observation activities have been carried out.  At the same time, I believe that building democratic institutions such as rule of law, good governance, human rights, independent media, judiciary system and civil society is important. Also, in order for the democratic framework to function, consolidation of the culture of democratic state management is crucial challenge such as developing human resources who work for the institutions, ensuring the transparency of the administration and judiciary, and eradicating corruption.

To express in some words, democracy is a process in which leaders who administrate the executive power of a state are elected by people as a representation of people's will. The foundation is a fair election system, and therefore is the party system which enables the people to freely express their will by elections. In addition, securing the functions of parliament where elected parliamentarians can be in full activity is significant.

Furthermore, the establishment of the fair legal system independent from the executive and legislative power, as the last watch-dog of a series of democratic institutions, is another crucial factor.

Of course, election and parliamentary systems are not necessary uniform. I believe those systems should reflect the situations of respective countries. Also, even if a system is established, it is common that the system faces various revisions under the process of trial and error. The best system requires the people to constantly make consideration and make efforts to improve it.

World history paid huge prices for the establishment of democracy. This is the reason why we have to keep and raise democracy. In Japan, through bitter experience of WWII, Japan has built affluent society where people can realize peace and happiness through economic prosperity and the establishment of democracy. Truly, in the background of Japanese affluence, there exists the nurturing of universal values such as freedom, democracy, fundamental human rights, rule of law and market economy.

Moreover, Japan accepted universal values of human rights and democracy, and then took in those values as domestic development of Japan itself on the basis of our historical and cultural backgrounds. We would like to make use of our experience in assisting other countries' efforts.

Prime Minister Aso, on the occasion of speeches at the UN General Assembly and the Diet, announced a policy to support young democratic nations. Japan will strengthen dialogue with countries promoting democratization and market economy, and at the same time, will continue to promote assistance in the fields of basic human needs, maintenance of infrastructure, democratization and introduction of market economy, and building judicial system in accordance with the development level of each country.

Now I would like to introduce some details of our activities. For example, in Indochina countries, Japan gave assistance in drafting and amending Civil Code and Civil Procedure Code, and in developing human resources of legal practitioners. Also, Japan has provided assistance in such fields as the improvement of the ability of administration, assistance for police, election and media, strengthening civil society, and the expansion of female participation in politics.

Some experts and researchers from Japan will participate in the workshops to be held under the auspices of the Bali Democracy Forum, and we would like to actively join discussions. Through those discussions, we will consider what kind of further contribution can be made by Japan.

It is our historical lesson that in order for democracy to develop in a stable manner, stability of economy and civil government of each country are essential. In this sense, full cooperation among countries to address current international financial crisis is also important for protecting democracy in the world. Japan has already announced some concrete measures for contribution at the recent G20 Summit and APEC. Toward coming East Asia Summit and ASEAN+3 Summit, Japan would like to put forward concrete cooperation with Asian countries so that Asia can make contribution to the world economy as an "open growing center."

Lastly, in order to develop democracy, the improvement of good governance of the country is essential from the mid and long term perspective. For example, I think that consideration synthetically as a total system which include the improvement of administrative ability, efficiency of administration, prevention of corruption , consolidation of finance, promotion of sustainable development, improvement and enlightenment of people's mind toward human rights and democracy, and the formation of civil society, will be getting necessary.

Patient and lasting efforts are important for the consolidation of democracy. I would like to end my speech by expecting that mutual understanding and cooperation among countries in Asia will be further strengthened through dialogue and discussion in this forum. Thank you very much for your attention.

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