Speech by H.E. Mr. Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan
It is a distinct pleasure to attend this historic meeting, at which the countries of Asia and Africa have gathered together for the first time in fifty years. I extend my deepest appreciation to the honorable co-chairs from Indonesia, our kind host for this gathering, and South Africa. I have come to this meeting to do two things. One is to look back upon the road we have traveled together, realizing anew once again the strong ties that have connected us during these last fifty years. I have come to this meeting also to participate in frank exchanges of views about what the countries of Asia and Africa must do to enhance the peace and the prosperity of people around the globe in the 21st century.
Fifty years ago, Japan stood before the Asian and African nations assembled at Bandung to declare its determination to develop itself as a peaceful nation. That spirit of fifty years ago remains steadfast to this day. In the past, Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility. And with feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology always engraved in mind, Japan has resolutely maintained, consistently since the end of World War II, never turning into a military power but an economic power, its principle of resolving all matters by peaceful means, without recourse to use of force. Japan once again states its resolve to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world in the future as well, prizing the relationship of trust it enjoys with the nations of the world.
The development of Japan over these last fifty years has come about as the result of the untiring efforts of the Japanese people. Yet we were first able to realize development through the assistance extended to us by the international community. Japan will not forget this fact. The Japanese people rose from devastation after World War II. I, as a representative of that generation, hope to walk together with the people of Asia and Africa, who are striving to improve their lives by the sweat of their brows.
Based on this thinking, Japan has been extending its development assistance to the Asian and African regions with emphasis on human resource development, infrastructure building, and health and sanitation measures, including issues of safe water and infectious diseases. Japan has also been making efforts to improve trade/investment environment.
Today, I would like to focus on three points as to what we should do together hand in hand from now on: first, economic development, second, peace-building, and third, promotion of international cooperation.
First, Japan places great emphasis on the strengthening of partnerships in the areas of poverty reduction and development. To achieve nation-building, the most critical thing is each nation's determination to bring about development through its own will and its own efforts. Japan respects and supports such efforts. Japan will continue its efforts towards the goal of providing official development assistance (ODA) of 0.7% of our gross national income in order to contribute to the Millennium Development Goals. From this point of view, Japan will ensure a credible and sufficient level of ODA. In addition, Japan will be seeking concrete actions to further expand market access to products from the least developed countries in order to support their self-reliance.
Asia has made great strides forward over these past fifty years. Yet a number of important challenges remain, including redressing of disparities in levels of development, promotion of economic partnerships, implementation of disaster prevention and mitigation measures based on the recent experience of the large-scale earthquake off the coast of Sumatra and the resulting tsunami, and strengthening of anti-piracy measures. Japan intends to formulate concrete policies and create new partnerships in Asia. We will be providing more than 2.5 billion US dollars over the next five years in assistance for disaster prevention and mitigation, and reconstruction measures in Asia, Africa and other regions.
This year is the "Year of Africa". Japan has advanced cooperation towards Africa, based on the solidarity between Africa and the international community, through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process. I would like to take this opportunity to announce that Japan will hold TICAD IV in 2008, and that in the three years to come Japan will double its ODA to Africa, with grant aid continuing to be its central feature.
Moving on now to the theme of strengthening of cooperation between Asia and Africa, the one most fitting for this gathering, Japan proposes creating an Asia-Africa Young Volunteers program, by which Asian young adults would meet, interact with, and promote human resource development among the youth of Africa. Furthermore, Japan, through public and private sectors, will provide assistance in applying to Africa the knowledge garnered through Asia's movement towards higher productivity. I am pleased to announce that, through such efforts, Japan will foster human resources in ten thousand Africans over the next four years.
Second, Japan considers the peace-building to be of great importance. It is, indeed, peace and security that constitute the requisite basis for economic development. Japan has been working hard towards the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the prevention of terrorism. Japan has also been making efforts towards the peace-building such as in Cambodia, East Timor, and Afghanistan. Japan will be actively providing assistance to the Palestinians for the promotion of peace in the Middle East, and to Africa, which is demonstrating dynamic movement towards peace. We should all play an active role in preventing disorderly trade in weapons, as well as in disseminating universal values such as the rule of law, freedom, and democracy.
Third, as the globalized world pursues a new international order, Japan will promote further international cooperation, enhancing its solidarity with Asia and Africa. The United Nations should continue to serve in the centermost role in international cooperation. Yet, in order for it to respond effectively to the various challenges that the world now faces, the United Nations, particularly the Security Council, needs to be reformed, so that the organization reflects the realities of the today's world. Japan will cooperate to the fullest to take a decision on the reform of the Security Council before September, as proposed by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
As we fortify the partnership between Asia and Africa, it will be critical to share our experiences and our knowledge through dialogues between civilizations, between cultures, and between individuals. Japan will host the World Civilization Forum in July, to share the experiences of the countries to preserve tradition while moving to modernization.
Last year, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded for the first time to an African woman, Professor Wangari Maathai, Assistant Minister for the Environment of Kenya. This great honor reflects recognition of her contributions to sustainable development through the planting of trees. Professor Maathai was present at the opening ceremony of the 2005 World Exposition Aichi in Japan, whose theme is "Nature's Wisdom." Citing the Japanese notion of mottai nai, Professor Maathai emphasized the importance of the efficient use of resources and environmental conservation. Using things with care, using them to the full, and reusing things whenever possible-- these are the heart and soul of these words mottai nai, which Professor Maathai understood completely. Asia and Africa are blessed with a richness of nature that yields enormous potential. I believe that through the progress of science and technology, it is possible to create a vibrant and dynamic society in which environmental conservation and development are both achieved. In conclusion, I would like to state Japan's resolute determination to spare no effort to create just such a society.
I thank you for your kind attention.
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