Keynote Speech by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto at the Japan-South Pacific Forum Summit Meeting on October 13, 1997

Sir Geoffrey, Chairman of the South Pacific Forum, Distinguished Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ministers of the South Pacific Forum members, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak before distinguished leaders of the South Pacific Forum at the opening of the Japan-South Pacific Forum Summit Meeting here in Tokyo. I would like to take this opportunity to express my views on the relationship between Japan and the Pacific island countries.

As you know, this is the first ever summit meeting between leaders of Japan and the South Pacific Forum members. It is very gratifying for me to see so many leaders of the South Pacific Forum members gathering here today in Tokyo. Your participation in this important event is a clear demonstration of very friendly and close links between Japan and the South Pacific Forum members.

I feel confident that with your assistance and cooperation we will be able to frankly exchange views on friendly and cooperative relations existing between Japan and the South Pacific Forum members toward the 21st century and beyond, and have lively and productive discussion.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Both Japan and Pacific islands countries are located in the Pacific Ocean, and Japan has enjoyed close relations based on historical and geographical ties with the Pacific island countries, our good neighbors to the south of Japan. Building on these strong and cordial ties, Japan and the Pacific island countries have nurtured close partnership in economy, security, and foreign policy, among others. I would like to assure you, first and foremost, that Japan, as a country sharing the Pacific Ocean, is sincerely wishing to maintain peace and prosperity in this region, and that, for that purpose, Japan is committed to cooperate with the Pacific island countries as much as possible using both bilateral and regional approach.

I have once visited your part of the world in 1969 as a member of a parliamentarian delegation to collect the remains of those who perished in the War. Sadly but undeniably, our long historical links include the painful experiences of World War II. I assure you that Japan is determined to look squarely into the past and to promote cooperation and dialogues for the future, building on the deep remorse as expressed in the Statement by the then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on 15 August 1995.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Based on these backgrounds and with the 21th Century being less than four years, I would like to elaborate Japan's basic philosophy to further promote its invaluable relations with the Pacific island countries, dubbed as "Four-Pillar Cooperation."

The first pillar is cooperation attentive to the self- determination and originality of the Pacific island countries.

The Pacific island countries are blessed with irreplaceably beautiful nature and good and old Pacific heritage. I think that true happiness and social and economic well-being in the region comes only when you firmly protect and maintain your blissful characters in the process of efforts to achieve economic self-reliance. I think that the one of your biggest challenges is to find the ways for reconciliation of the need for economic growth and development, and conservation of the environment and tradition you have inherited. Japan, as a reliable partner to you, will always be on your side to feel the pain you are suffering, to find the ways to relieve you of the plight, and to share our experiences.

I have been told that your region is a heavenly place abound with the blue Ocean you worship as Mother Nature and green mountains bestowed by the Creator. Your blessed and impeccable nature is undoubtedly precious natural treasures not only for the Asia Pacific region but for the planet Earth. Japan promises to provide as much cooperation as possible to ensure that these precious natural treasures will never be lost. Japan experienced serious problems of environmental pollution as its economy rapidly grew in the 1960s. I am convinced that the lessons we have learnt from our experiences, various difficulties we have had to cope with in the process of solving these problems, and technical know-how, such as technology to prevent pollution caused by industrial and other human activities, and technology to use energy more efficiently, will surely be helpful to you.

The second pillar is cooperation for your economic self- reliance. The main objective of this summit meeting is to have candid exchange of views among leaders on creative ways to accomplish self-reliance and sustainable economic development catering to the special needs of the Pacific island countries. We consider that the key for the Pacific island countries to achieve economic self-reliance lies in the promotion of trade, investment and tourism, and the development of competitive private sector for such activities. Japan has been supporting the development of export commodity, which can be exported to Japan and is special to the Pacific island countries, and has been holding the Seminar on Development of Unique Bioindustries five times since 1994, in close collaboration with the Forum Secretariat. We will continue to contribute to the Seminars. Also in cooperation with the Forum Secretariat, the Pacific Island Centre was established in October last year, and the Centre has been extending various service to support the promotion of trade, investment and tourism between Japan and the Pacific island countries. I urge all the Pacific island countries to make the most of the Centre's various support programmes. Japan, on its part, will continue its active support to the Centre.

The Pacific island countries are regarded as having three intrinsic geographical constraints; Firstly, their territories are millions of small and remote islands spreading out over the Pacific. Secondly, because their population and land is small, their domestic markets are inevitably small. Thirdly, they are geographically isolated from international markets. Japan highly commends that despite these limitations the Pacific island countries are implementing various economic reforms, promoting free trade, and adopting free, open and transparent investment policies consistent with the APEC non-binding investment principles. Japan is always prepared to actively support your earnest efforts.

The third pillar is cooperation through official development assistance. Most of the Pacific island countries are young and developing nations recently become independent. Consequently, development needs for economic self-reliance, such as human resources development, is still in high demand. Japan will continue to give high priority on its economic assistance to the Pacific island countries. At the same time, I have to ask your cooperation towards further effective and efficient implementation of the economic assistance, given that Japan is currently promoting all-out financial reforms under extremely difficult financial situation.

Human resources development is an indispensable element for the nation building of new and developing nations like the Pacific island countries. As ways to help develop human resources, Japan has been actively promoting various youth exchange programmes, including college students and high school students. Japan has always been welcoming trainees from the Pacific island countries, and sending experts in various fields and Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers. Japan will actively continue these exchange programmes.

The fourth pillar is cooperation in the international fora to tackle global issues. As the international community is becoming more closely intertwined, the relationship between Japan and the Pacific island countries is rapidly exceeding the traditional boundary of the bilateral framework to include regional and global contexts. I am aware that climate change, a issue of grave concern affecting the existence of the human kind, has special importance to the Pacific island countries. In December this year the Third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in the ancient city of Kyoto in Japan. The Conference is an important occasion on which an international framework for the future prevention of global warming will be established. Japan, as the president-designate of the Conference, recently proposed, as a basis for negotiations hereafter, 5% reduction of greenhouse effect gas as a base reduction rate for deciding a reduction target for each country. I would like to request your cooperation for the success of this historical conference, a first step toward the prevention of global warming.

I would also like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to the South Pacific Forum members for your continued support provided to Japan in various international fora, in particular the United Nations. I would like to assure you that Japan will vigorously address the issues facing the Pacific island countries, including your legitimate fear that they might be left out in the Pacific due to its geographical isolation, when everyone is talking about the advent of the Asia Pacific era. Japan will make every effort to further advance the cooperative relations with the Pacific island countries.

The Four-Pillar Cooperation just outlined is the main tenet of promoting cooperative relations and strengthening of cooperative framework between Japan and the Pacific island countries. It is important to strengthen and expand bilateral policy dialogues at various levels. Moreover, we would like to further expand cooperative relations with the South Pacific Forum, an important political and cooperative framework to form public opinion in the vast Pacific region.

It is also important to build a sense of mutual understanding and trust through human exchange, in particular the exchange of the youth, the driving force of the future generation in order to complement and reinforce cooperative and friendly relations between Japan and the Pacific island countries. Japan is willing to continue these personnel exchange in the years to come.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This Summit Meeting will be remembered as an epoch-making event paving the way for the future in the long history of cooperative relations between Japan and the South Pacific Forum members. I firmly believe that a sense of personal trust that is going to be forged among the leaders during your visit to Japan will be a foundation for cooperation which will be to last for many years to come.

Thank you very much.

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