Japan and One ASEAN that Care and Share at the Heart of Dynamic Asia
Policy Speech by Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
on the Occasion of His Official Visit to Indonesia
August 20, 2007
Mr. Hidayat Nur Wahid
Speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly
Mr. Arifin Siregar,
Chairman of Indonesian Council on World Affairs
Mr. Ali Alatas
Former Minister for Foreign Affairs
Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure to be able to come before you today at this prestigious venue and address you as the Prime Minister of Japan. Through you, I hope that my remarks regarding the future of Japan and ASEAN reach each of the 230 million citizens of Indonesia and as many people as possible in the countries of ASEAN in various fields and at every level.
First, on behalf of the people of Japan, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations on ASEAN, for which you serve as one core group, having celebrated the 40th anniversary of its founding the other day. I would like to take just a moment now to look back on the past with you and examine the achievements of these 40 years. I come before you today in the strong hopes that you will include myself and the citizens of Japan in the circle of people celebrating this achievement.
I have been fortunate enough to be present at the very moment that a chapter in Asian history was boldly and successfully closed and the pages of a new chapter were about to be opened, and to have the opportunity to speak to you directly. I am very grateful for my good fortune in this regard. Speaking on behalf of the people of Japan, I would like to tell you today of one resolution Japan has made, as well as one impassioned request that I would like to ask of you.
Let me state that Japan intends to walk alongside the countries of ASEAN and their people always in the spirit of "care and share," as it has done consistently over these last 40 years and will continue to do for the next 40 and more. This is what Japan has resolved.
Furthermore, we hope that Indonesia and ASEAN will join the people of Japan in taking up the challenges that Asia and the globe will be facing in the years to come. This is our hopeful request of you.
Indonesia's noble motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, or "Unity in Diversity," may have appeared to be nothing more than a lofty and faraway goal during the early days of nationhood. In the Indonesia of the time, one can only guess how many people would have thought that these words would before long come to take on life and substance in the truest sense and spread throughout the nation's 63,000 villages.
As chance would have it, it was exactly 50 years ago in November of 1957 that then-Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, my grandfather, visited Jakarta and laid the first foundations leading to today's bilateral relations. Now, standing in the same place, I seek to remember those bygone days. I am aware that at the time Indonesia was still working to create an integrated nation, in the midst of struggles accompanying the birth of the nation.
I am particularly interested in the tradition of gotong royong that the people of Indonesia have maintained and its great similarities to the custom of mutual aid that has been handed down over many generations in traditional Japanese society. Japan, like Indonesia, is a country that suffers many natural disasters, including earthquakes and typhoons. When a catastrophe would strike, Japanese would as a matter of course call for reciprocal aid and extend a hand to help others overcome the crisis.
When I first learned that Indonesia has a social custom so similar to this called gotong royong, it suddenly caused me to draw one conclusion. It seems to me that, for Indonesia to bear such difficulties during nation-building and yet still be able to attain its motto of Unity in Diversity so laudably, it must surely be a result of this rich climate and spiritual culture of gotong royong, in which people care and share.
I would also argue that this is not limited to Indonesia, but can also be said for ASEAN as a whole.
I say this because ASEAN too strives to bring Unity in Diversity, and while the Association has gone through testing periods in which it has taken three steps forward and two steps back, for 40 years it has continued to move forward with intensity of purpose, and there can be no doubt that ASEAN is what it is today because of its great accomplishments over the years.
Behind this, we can find the gentle smiles of the people of ASEAN. We see the serenity of their spirits that has maintained peace for 40 years, having realized the senselessness of conflict. I would like to think that the reason why ASEAN has been able to take up Unity in Diversity in its own way is that ASEAN has had something very similar to the mindset that the Indonesians know as gotong royong.
As a result, I believe it is fair to say that just as the process of integration in Europe has carved out little by little a collective identity for its people as "Europeans," the progress of ASEAN over these 40 years has gradually given rise to a collective self-portrait of ourselves as "Asians" that transcends national borders, and it has forced the world to recognize this identity. Of this I am firmly convinced.
When I say "Asians" here, I mean people who have as their attributes the strengths of ASEAN.
By that I mean they show tolerance towards mutual dissimilarities and differences among religions and cultures. They avoid conflict and work towards coexistence and harmony with others, even when it takes time and demands perseverance. They are open broadly to the outside world and they seek to make up for each other's deficiencies, if any. The results of this are people who are always positive and never lose hope in the future. These are the types of people I mean.
I believe that describing Asia and Asians as having such a portrait as this is in itself an accomplishment of ASEAN that is truly something to marvel at. I believe there is no need for me to speak about this at any length, because if you look over the past few centuries, this is without question epoch-making in the context of human history. And it goes without saying that Indonesia, which has undertaken a long journey to the present day with Unity in Diversity as its national motto, has continually served in the role of pioneer through this achievement that has made a mark on human history.
Having looked at ASEAN's history with you just now, I believe that the weight of the points that I am about to raise will strike a more resounding chord with you.
First of all, let us consider the national objectives set forth by Indonesia in 2004 for the following five years in its mission statement. The most important issues for the nation until 2009 have been set forth in this mission statement as the realization of a safe and peaceful Indonesia and then the need to realize a just and democratic Indonesia.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in the statement he recently made on the anniversary of Indonesia's independence, spoke of his redoubled determination as president to realize a just and democratic society. When the first president to be directly elected by the citizens of a large country with a history as long as Indonesia's faces his nation in this way and speaks of his unflagging determination as he essentially urges himself towards greater reforms, I think that everyone must surely find it to be very impressive and poignant.
That said, my second point is that this appears to be a movement not limited only to Indonesia.
Not only in the discussions conducted by the Eminent Persons Group drafting the ASEAN Charter but also gradually in the statements of leaders of the ASEAN nations, we have recently seen remarks mentioning sincere efforts to address fundamental values such as the strengthening of democratic values, ensuring good governance, upholding the rule of law, and moreover, developing the promotion of human rights.
My dear Indonesian friends, it is difficult for me to put into words how greatly we, the citizens of Japan, are delighted and encouraged by such movement taking place within ASEAN.
Japan and ASEAN have from very early times had a deep connection as a result of our sea-based commerce network. In recent years it almost feels as if a remarkable precisely-defined and multi-tiered division of labor within the manufacturing industry has even made the Japanese economy and ASEAN into a single integrated factory. Moreover, from geographical considerations it is obvious that for Japan to reach its friends in the southern hemisphere or southern Asia, or for oil or gas to come to Japan, it has been and forever will be necessary to pass through ASEAN.
That is exactly why I feel such a quiet but certain excitement at the fact that ASEAN has, after a long run up, now come to the point where it seeks to create a stronger community based on the firm foundation of the ASEAN Charter, as well as excitement at its efforts to embark on this new "One ASEAN" future while carrying the banner of the fundamental values that the people of Japan hold so dear.
I mentioned earlier that ASEAN and Japan want to maintain and further nurture their "care and share" relationship. ASEAN will, over the coming decade, be working to undergo a fundamental transformation. It aims at creating a community by 2015, and it will be critical that ASEAN continue to sit in the driver's seat in the East Asia Summit and other regional cooperation frameworks that are expanding and overlapping, being both the hub and the driving force of East Asian cooperation.
The development of ASEAN is therefore in and of itself in the interests of Asia and the interests of Japan. I am pleased to be able to take this opportunity to tell you that to advance these interests, in the years ahead Japan will continue to be unsparing in providing help.
At such a turning point, and especially in the midst of the discussions on the creation of an ASEAN Charter, you must surely be wondering to yourselves intensely about various questions, such as what exactly ASEAN should become, or what it needs to undertake in the years ahead compared with what it has done until now. With a view to 40 years into the future, it appears that you are currently creating a new foundation.
I realize that you are currently most concerned with what can be called development gaps. From the start, there were gaps in the level of socioeconomic development among the countries of ASEAN. Since then, the number of member nations has increased to 10, and gaps between nations have still not been sufficiently diminished.
In looking at your sincere recognition of the issues I am very strongly moved by your view that ASEAN must become "One ASEAN," in other words, a well-balanced integrated entity, as well as by your efforts to close existing gaps through cooperation with each other.
As someone who shares your awareness of these issues, I and the people of Japan very strongly wish that we will make efforts together to the greatest extent possible.
You may be wondering what my administration intends to do in concrete terms. I would like to mention three points today, specifically our Economic Partnership Agreement, then policies that put emphasis on the Mekong Region, and finally assistance in peace building, which is fundamental to everything. I will address these issues in that order.
The first of these is that Japan is working to foster economic relations with the countries of ASEAN that are both broader and deeper than what has existed until now, making use of Economic Partnership Agreements, or "EPAs," network.
There already exist elaborate trade and investment networks that closely interconnect Japan and the countries of ASEAN. Yet by establishing EPAs as a firm legal foundation, economic relations that are built upon it will be that much more stable. An EPA is a mutually-exchanged promise with a view to the future, conducted between countries while keeping subsequent generations firmly in mind. The most critical aspect from the perspective of the business community is that future predictability increases.
The EPAs that Japan is now working to advance with your countries are more different from a Free Trade Agreement, or "FTA," than one might first surmise. FTAs are for what you might call relationships that occur across a fence. By that I mean, they are agreements in which you mutually determine how low of a fence you would like to be separated by. In contrast to this, EPAs between Japan and the countries of ASEAN are designed to deepen our relationship, containing plans for the alignment of various systems and enabling the transfer of technology and know-how from Japan.
I believe that it is exactly this relationship of mutually caring and sharing that an EPA would enable us to pursue in greater depth. Our EPA also includes a framework to encourage human exchanges and enrich human capital. This type of EPA is, in my view, one that will raise the ASEAN economy one stage. Moreover, there can be no doubt that it will also benefit Japan tremendously.
Today, through your kind support, President Yudhoyono and I were able to sign the Japan-Indonesia Economic Partnership Agreement, or JIEPA. I very much hope that you will join us in celebrating this achievement.
This means Japan has concluded or signed an EPA with each of the original 6 ASEAN members. Forging a comprehensive EPA with ASEAN as a whole, another important EPA, is also becoming an increasingly realistic goal.
The second item I would like to overview for you today has to deal with the countries of the Mekong Region, specifically Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. When you become concerned about development gaps, these are the nations that are uppermost in your mind, and for Japan as well, assistance to these countries of the Mekong Region has become an increasingly important issue in recent years.
First of all, Japan has been taking advantage of various opportunities in an effort to hold high-level dialogues with these countries as frequently as possible to listen to their hopes and concerns. I believe you are well aware of the situation in these countries. They have any number of issues which need to be addressed simultaneously, and they are currently in a state in which they cannot solve all of these issues alone. Even as they build a bridge, there is also a need for emergency food aid, yet neither can they ignore children's education, the foundation for a brighter future, for even a second. This is the situation that we often find in these countries.
It is clear to me that the economic cooperation the Japanese government is able to provide is useful to some extent for countries in this situation. I will state here that into the future as well, the Japanese government will continue to make efforts to the best of its ability in providing assistance to facilitate stable growth for the countries of the Mekong Region.
In Cambodia and Vietnam, Japan has been assisting in the establishment of the legal systems that are necessary for the market economy to take root while also promoting the rule of law. Some young Japanese female lawyers were sent to these countries by the Government of Japan working on just such a mission. I am of the firm conviction that such cooperation constitutes without question a contribution to the realization of One Caring and Sharing ASEAN. I would be very pleased if you would look upon this as our version of cooperation rooted in the spirit of gotong royong.
The third point I would like to take up here involves the importance of peacebuilding and the consolidation of peace. Needless to say, places with no peace also have no economic development, and thus peacebuilding will comprise an essential foundation for a strong and stable ASEAN.
The fact is that from the moment combatants put down their weapons, another battle begins, a lengthy one, where they struggle to formulate a political system that reflects the will of the people through elections, as well as to establish systems governing local administration and tax collection. In the meantime, it is also necessary to dispel the enmity still existing between sides that had fought with each other so bitterly and pave the way to reconciliation.
Japan has emerged with profound lessons regarding the importance and the difficulty of such initiatives through its long history of involvement in Cambodia's peacebuilding process. For that reason, Japan is well aware of the importance of efforts towards peace building that have been underway by the government of Indonesia in Aceh and by the government of the Philippines in Mindanao. In Timor-Leste, ongoing efforts by ordinary citizens themselves are deserving of support from all of us, I believe. The government of Japan will continue to extend as much assistance as possible to support these efforts.
Moreover, it has been a happy discovery for me personally to have also seen that people involved in the support for other countries' peacebuilding and nation building have developed robustly and meaningfully as human beings.
Recently in Japan a small school has been founded to foster specialists in peacebuilding. The school is of a type we call terakoya, which is a name taken from a traditional type of learning center common in Japan until the 19th century, and we intend for ASEAN colleagues to join with Japanese in developing skills there. Some of the countries of ASEAN have a wealth of experience in PKO, and I would like to say here that Japan hopes to advance cooperation among us in PKO and peacebuilding by holding dialogues with each other, sharing information, and deepening exchanges among specialists.
Let me change the topic for a moment to discuss a new initiative for global environmental protection that I presented to the world this year. It is called "Cool Earth 50," with the "50" in the name referring to two things. The first is that greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 50% from the current level, and the second is that this should be achieved by 2050.
This framework should be one in which all major greenhouse gas emitting countries participate, resulting in truly meaningful effects. With this in mind, I am eager to make my proposal effective, and I therefore would like to take this opportunity to strongly urge all of you to participate in it.
Yet, at the same time, it is clear to me that without taking into full account the perspectives and circumstances of developing countries, problems will not be solved. Therefore, my proposal states that the framework must be flexible and diverse, taking into consideration the circumstances of each country. Fortunately, advancement of technologies are remarkable. By taking advantage of these developments achieving compatibility between environmental protection and economic growth would be possible. We should be able to pursue both simultaneously.
I would very much like for the people of ASEAN to join with the citizens of Japan as a crucial participants in this plan to stop global warming by 2050, and I hope you will allow me to voice my hopeful expectations towards you regarding this point.
As I see it, it is impossible for my own country Japan to put forth a future vision for itself without taking up the topic of deepening and enriching its relationship with the countries of ASEAN. Japan is just now entering a challenging phase in which its population will contract. In the future, the question will be how to create an economically affluent and socially stable nation that never wavers in the slightest in democratic principles and gives dreams for the future to its youth, in the context of maintaining peace in Asia and the world. My mission is none other than to focus on how to address that single issue.
While only a provisional approach, I decided to show a logical path forward through two key words, "openness" and "innovation." I believe that it is necessary to open our country and our society, our economy and our markets and be a country that is able to take the vitality of the world outside of Japan and assimilate it as our own. In addition, there is an urgent need for us to increase productivity per unit of labor input, and therefore Japan must always have an insatiable appetite for new technologies, new management techniques, and new ideas.
As Japan works towards the realization of these goals, we look forward to receiving from you your vitality and dynamism. Therefore, my blueprints and ideas cannot possibly be brought to fruition without first broadening and deepening across the board the contact that the countries of ASEAN and the other countries of Asia have with Japan. With this in mind, I have set forth another policy that seeks to expand the "Gateway" for the people, goods, capital, and knowledge leading from Asia to Japan.
Today, taking advantage of this valuable opportunity, I was able to lay forth for you my understanding of ASEAN. I then spoke of three ways in which Japan is able to make efforts to resolve the development gaps that are a concern to all of you. In addition, I urged you all to join in with the efforts that I have proposed to address environmental issues affecting the entire globe.
Having touched on all these, if there were only one thing that I would have you take away from this address today, it would be that, in name as well as in substance, Japan and ASEAN have now come to the point at which a mutually complementary relationship is emerging.
Both throughout history and in the present day, Japan has needed and continues to need you. As one example, Japan receives great assistance from Indonesia in its ensuring of a stable supply of natural resources, and we look forward to the continuation of this in the years to come. As a representative of the people of Japan, I would be remiss if I did not express our gratitude to you for this.
However, in the modern day, in which so many impending issues are no longer constrained by national borders, can we not say that we, ASEAN and Japan, have now reached a level at which we each need the other in deeper and overlapping ways?
As we speak of transitioning from a relationship in which each of our economies needs the other to a relationship in which we each need the other for the cooperative resolution of problems, both those here and now and those still on the horizon--that is to say, a stage in which we forge a relationship in which we take on common problems and search for solutions together--the reality is that we have already entered such a stage.
I have come to address you here today to ensure that we agree on that point. I would like to close now by repeating the words that spring naturally from deep in my heart, that Japan wants to cultivate, nurture, and sustain its important relationship of caring and sharing with ASEAN, this ASEAN which is truly the heart of a dynamic and growing Asia.
Thank you for listening today. It was truly a pleasure to be able to address you.
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