Statement by Mr. Ikuo Yamahana
Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan
On the occasion of the 5th Foreign Ministers' Meeting
Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC)
25 August 2011
Your Excellency Mr. Timerman, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like, first of all, to express my gratitude to Argentina and Indonesia for their excellent role as the regional coordinators of this meeting.
We are here today at the fifth Foreign Ministers' Meeting of FEALAC. At the fourth meeting held in Tokyo last year, we had a very fruitful discussion, thanks to the cooperation of the member states. Taking this opportunity, I wish to extend my appreciation once again to all the member states for the success of that meeting. Unfortunately, Foreign Minister Matsumoto was unable to attend this year's meeting in light of the political circumstances in our country, and I am therefore participating in the meeting in my capacity as the head of the Japanese delegation.
The significance of FEALAC continues to increase year by year, as it brings together the countries of Asia and Latin America, the two major growth centers of the global economy. Currently, the total GDP of the FEALAC members accounts for about a third of the world GDP. Total trade between the two regions has almost quadrupled in the past decade, following the launching of FEALAC.
Japan places high importance upon the FEALAC framework, as it offers a forum for geographically-separated countries of the two regions to interact. Having forged friendships with many Asian and Latin American countries over the years, Japan intends to deepen its engagement with FEALAC and serve as a bridge between the two regions.
(Japan's efforts in the context of FEALAC)
I now would like to elaborate on specific approaches Japan has taken so far to develop its engagement with FEALAC.
At the last meeting, Japan announced the "FROG Initiative", program of cooperation with FEALAC members on environment and disaster risk reduction.
Based on this initiative, Japan has provided grant aid for renewable energy to four Asian countries and seven Latin American countries. We are also implementing technical assistance for providing energy-saving technology to eight Asian and twelve Latin American countries.
With regard to disaster prevention, Japan has provided support to Jakarta and Phnom Penh for prevention and reduction of damage from floods caused by climate change. Under this program Japan has repaired sewage stations and installed drainage pipes. Moreover, Japan has provided aid for Chile to strengthen the earthquake-resistance of buildings and developing an early disaster-warning system, which suffered heavy damage in the massive earthquake, as well as support to El Salvador aimed at reducing disaster risk.
In addition to these efforts, as Japan is committed to creating bonds between people, we plan to invite both high-level and young officials from the FEALAC member states to participate in seminars on environment and disaster risk reduction later this year.
(The Great East Japan Earthquake)
On 11 March of this year, Japan suffered an unprecedented disaster through the combined effects of an enormous earthquake, the ensuing tsunami and a nuclear power plant accident. In the aftermath of the disaster, a number of countries have extended warm condolences as well as many relief supplies and donations. On behalf of the Government and the people of Japan, I reiterate our sincere gratitude for all the support given to us at this most difficult time.
With regard to the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant of the Tokyo Electric Company, while we continue to be cautious, Japan has been making steady progress towards the settlement of the problems. Japan is exerting all efforts to bring the situation under control, and is determined to continue to provide adequate information to the international community promptly and with transparency. We will evaluate the lessons learned from the accident and contribute actively to the improvement of global nuclear safety. To that end, Japan is planning to hold an international conference on nuclear safety at the ministerial level in cooperation with the IAEA next year.
The earthquake has demonstrated just how strongly interconnected with the world at large the Japanese economy is. Japan's recovery will not be possible without cooperation with the international community. The Japanese government is determined to promote so-called "Open Reconstruction", with cooperation with the partner countries on our path towards realizing the Basic Concept for Reconstruction formulated by the government last month in consultation with a group of experts. In this context, Japan intends to hold a high-level meeting on large-scale natural disasters next year and the Third World Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2015, to share with the world the lessons learned from the earthquake.
Despite the disaster, Japan remains "open for business and travel" as most regions of Japan have not been impacted by the earthquake. In addition, the affected supply chain has been largely restored, and as of July, over 80% of all production bases are operating at the same level of productivity or higher compared to the pre-disaster period. In order for us to promote further reconstruction, cooperation of your countries in the areas of business, tourism and exchange programs will be vital. In this connection, I would like to close my remarks by expressing our sincere hope that your visits to Japan will increase in frequency through the various programs of FEALAC.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
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