Address by Foreign Minister of Japan Nobutaka Machimura
on the Occasion of the Asian-African Ministerial Meeting
April 20, 2005
His Excellency, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Dr. Hassan Wirajuda, Her Excellency, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini=Zuma, my fellow colleagues, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my greatest pleasure that gives me the greatest pleasure that, after fifty years, this Asian-African Conference is being held once again here in Indonesia. I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to our joint chairs from the Republic of Indonesia and the Republic of South Africa for the many efforts they have made.
It was at the end of 2004 and again in March that major earthquakes off the coast of Sumatra and a resulting tsunami wreaked unprecedented damage upon the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean and claimed a massive number of lives. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my profound condolences and sympathy to the countries affected as well as to the victims hit by the recent earthquakes and the resulting Tsunami. I would also like to note that Indonesia is holding this event as planned, despite having suffered the greatest amount of damage.
We, all participants, are proud of this Declaration on the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership as a magnificent work indicating the direction for us in the 21st century.
I would note the particular emphasis attached to:
first, the promotion of human rights and democracy as well as the rule of law;
second, the strengthening of multilateralism;
and third, cultural cooperation, including the preservation of cultural heritage and the dialogue among civilizations.
I very much welcome the acknowledgement of TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) in the Declaration. As 12-year old process enhancing Asia-Africa cooperation, TICAD will certainly be able to implement the fruits of this meeting in concrete terms.
Japan highly values and thoroughly supports this Declaration.
At this meeting fifty years ago, Japan announced its determination to progress as a nation of peace. Today, as I restate Japan's solid determination in this regard, I would like to describe Japan's policy of cooperation with the nations of Asia and Africa through development assistance and active engagement in regional cooperation.
Japan makes good on its promises. Japan attaches great importance to human security, promoting self-initiative and self-help efforts of developing countries. In this past decade, the total value of Japan's development assistance has been approximately 20 percent of the total assistance of the world. Towards Asia and Africa, Japan has provided some 130 billion dollars of support. We have contributed to capacity building abroad, having dispatched over 25,000 overseas cooperation volunteers over the past fifty years.
On this occasion, I would like to mention briefly on disaster reduction issue. Natural disaster is not only a calamity for human beings but also a serious hindrance towards sustainable development. A huge number of people have suffered from natural disaster in Asia and Africa in the past. To reduce damages, the Hyogo Framework of Action adopted at the World Conference in Kobe must be implemented steadily. As an effort for this, Japan is supporting the coordination work of UNESCO and UN/ISDR to establish tsunami early warning system in the Indian Ocean region. Japan has also started to provide interim Tsunami Watch Information as committed in the World Conference until the full-fledged system starts its operation. We have a strong belief that disaster can be prevented and mitigated, if we prepare well and establish a disaster-resilient society. For this, Japan will cooperate with the countries concerned.
Today, the Asian and African people cooperate regionally through various frameworks. Japan continues to vigorously participate in and assist these activities.
Within the Asian region, we have seen the lively discussions regarding the East Asia Summit to be held this December and an East Asian community; the enhanced trilateral cooperation among Japan, China, and Korea; the vigorous efforts by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) towards the stability and development of the region; and the enriched activities by the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).
Within the African region, we will likewise enhance our cooperation and dialogue with the African Union (AU) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Particularly, Japan is ready to support the consolidation of peace in Sudan through personnel and in-kind contribution to the UN Mission, in addition to 100 million dollars financial support.
In order to advance the Middle East peace process, Japan is prepared to play an active role. The constructive role of the nations of Asia and Africa would be important. "Central Asia plus Japan" Dialogue also should be strengthened. Furthermore, Japan intends to further its cooperation with regional financing organizations such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
In order to consolidate international partnerships, it is of the greatest urgency that we reform the United Nations into an organization that reflects the reality of the international society today. Concerning the reform of the UN Security Council, Japan aims for the adoption of a resolution by this summer, which would, in essence, expand the membership in both permanent and non-permanent categories. I hope to engage in thorough exchanges of views with Member States on this issue and welcome a constructive discussion at the Special Session on the UN reform to be held here tomorrow.
The strength of our voice will move international society. The legacy of Bandung Spirit that emerged at this meeting half a century ago will be inherited by the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership.
In order to strengthen our solidarity, Japan supports the holding of a Summit of Heads of States every four years and a Foreign Ministerial Meeting every two years. Japan proposes the holding of a Forum to enhance the cooperation among Asian and African regional organizations. If the next Asia-Africa Ministerial Meeting, scheduled for 2007, is to be held in Asia, Japan will be ready to be the host.
To conclude my speech, I would like to cite a phrase of Tagore, the Nobel Literature Prize Laureate from India, which should symbolize the spirit of our solidarity:
[...no difference of languages and customs hindered us in approaching each other heart to heart;
no pride of race or insolent consciousness of superiority, ...damaged our relation,
...and races belonging to different lands and languages and histories acknowledged the highest unity of man and deepest bond of love...]
Thank you for your kind attention.
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