Speech by Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Mr. Katsuyuki Kawai
at the Dayton City Commission
(May 11, 2005, Wednesday)


Honorable Mayor McLin, Honorable Commissioners, officials of the City of Dayton, and good citizens of Dayton. I wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for giving me this great opportunity to speak today. Up until yesterday, I had been attending the General Assembly of the Parliamentary Confederation of the Americas held in Iguacu, Brazil. And, as the representative of the Japanese Government, I made a keynote speech there.

Today, immediately after my speech here, I will fly to New York. One of my objectives in going there is to host a reception for NGOs and media organizations participating in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference being held at the UN headquarters. The other objective is to gain support for Japan's position to become a permanent member of the United Nation's Security Council. I was determined to include Dayton, my hometown in America, as a stop on this trip in order to express my gratitude to you, and to pledge to advance Japan-U.S. relations.

It has been about 7 months since I assumed the position of Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs in Japan. This is my eighth official overseas trip, by which I have visited more than 25 countries. My portfolio at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs covers North America, the Middle East and Africa, and the issues of development assistance, disarmament, non-proliferation and science. This past January, I headed the international observation mission dispatched by the Japanese Government for the election of the President of the Palestinian Authority following the demise of the late Mr. Arafat. As the special envoy for achieving Japan's permanent membership in the UN Security Council, I visited the Middle East and Africa and directly met with heads of state in order to gain their support. I represented the Government of Japan and delivered speeches in a number of international conferences, such as the G8 Environment and Development Ministers' Meeting held in the UK and the first review conference of the anti-personnel landmine treaty held in Kenya, Nairobi.

My diplomatic activities and political career originated from my one-year experience in Dayton, Ohio.

Seventeen years ago, one night in January, a 25-year-old young man landed at Dayton Airport. The freezing cold was not the only thing that awaited this young man. What awaited him was the warm handshake of the staffers of the City of Dayton, especially at the Office of Management and Budget. They accepted me, that young man, as an international trainee on local government. I was also very warmly welcomed that day, by my host family, Mr. and Mrs. Carver.

Through my one-year experience in the States, the American creed: "democracy is not given, but it's won through continuous efforts of the people" was etched in my heart. At the same time, viewing from abroad, I realized that Japan was indeed fortunate enough to enjoy peace and prosperity. Yet, unless the country is led by enlightened politicians, peace and prosperity are vulnerable. Back then, I was so impressed with the greatness of America as a nation, and with the broad minds of American people. Needless to say, I was greatly influenced by these impressions, and I was thus moved to reflect on Japan's future as a great nation. Simply put, without my experiences in Dayton, I would not be what I am today.

After returning to Japan, I graduated from the Matsushita School of Government and Management in the spring of 1990. And, after serving as a member of the Hiroshima Prefectural Assembly, I am in my second term in the House of Representatives, an equivalent of the U.S. Congress.

Moving on to my family, I have been married to my wife Anri for four years. My wife Anri became a member of Hiroshima Prefectural Assembly two years ago, elected from the same constituency where I was once elected. Our only "kid" is a dog named Taro, so far.

Looking back at Japan-U.S. relations since 1988, I notice a prominent trend where our relationship has become stronger on multiple levels--politics, national security, culture, tourism and grassroots exchanges--not to mention economic ties between the world's largest and the second. Today, there are 430 sister-city relations between Japan and the United States. Each year, 3.5 million Japanese visit the United States and about 680 thousand Americans visit Japan. I hear that since 1968, the City of Dayton has had sister-city relations with Oiso Town, and educational exchanges have been continuing between Wright State University and Okayama University of Science.

Japan and the United States must maintain our cooperation for world peace and prosperity, just like two wheels of a cart. I pledge to you that I will do my best to deepen the vibrant relations between Japan and the United States throughout my life--as a politician, as a Japanese citizen, and as a friend of the United States of America.

So, the story which began in Dayton on that one cold night in 1988 will go on.

Thank you so much. I wish everyone good luck and good health. Thank you everybody. ARIGATO-GOZAIMASU.

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