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Last Update : Monday, Mar 23, 2015

JapanGov Weekly

[Cabinet Secretariat] [Saturday, Mar 14, 2015]

Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the High Level Segment of the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction

Sendai, Japan

[Provisional Translation]

Madame President,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Four years have passed since the occurrence of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which caused unprecedented damage. I am honored to host the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction here in Sendai, which is showing signs of vigorous reconstruction from the disaster, with the cooperation of the UN and national governments.

I have visited the disaster-affected areas almost every month since I assumed my position as Prime Minister. I have listened to the voices of the many local people who say, “We want to build a society that is resilient to disasters, and we want to build a hometown that is better than before the earthquake.”

Starting from this earnest wishes, Japan is working on the reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake based on the idea of “Build Back Better,” which aims not simply to recover the same situation that existed prior to the disaster, but rather build a society that is more resilient to disasters than before.

We are working to build disaster-resilient communities, including through the relocation of residential quarters to safer areas, strengthening seawalls, the development of evacuation routes and evacuation buildings, and thorough disaster risk reduction education and training.

In the wake of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake 20 years ago, many lives were lost due to collapsed houses and fires. Japan worked on further strengthening the institutions on earthquake-resistance and seismic isolation based on the lessons learned from that event.

We are now working on further investment in disaster risk reduction based on the lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake and the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

It is necessary to take a thorough hands-on approach and collaborate with local governments, private companies, non-governmental organizations, research institutes, and the media to realize fine-tuned reconstruction in a way that takes into consideration the sensitivities of disaster victims. Furthermore, it is important to support the life of the people affected by the disaster in cooperation with the businesses and enterprises that generate local dynamism, and the non-profit organizations that support local communities.

Those who faced the most difficult circumstances in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake were women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities. We address disaster risk reduction by paying attention to these people and with their active participation. We attach importance to this approach to disaster risk reduction based on the notion of human security.

Japan, as a country that has accumulated knowledge and technology for disaster risk reduction through experiencing numerous natural disasters, has promoted cooperation to reduce the number of disaster victims, as well as their suffering, as much as possible in the international community. To advance this contribution even more vigorously, I hereby announce the “Sendai Cooperation Initiative for Disaster Risk Reduction.”

With this initiative, Japan will implement cooperation for disaster risk reduction special to Japan that effectively combines three approaches: (i) non-material assistance, such as human resource development and institutional development, (ii) material assistance centering on the development of quality infrastructure, and (iii) the promotion of global and region-wide cooperation.

For this purpose, in the coming four years, Japan will provide cooperation amounting to 4 billion US dollars. And Japan will train 40 thousand government officials and local leaders to play a leading role in national efforts for disaster risk reduction and post-disaster “Build Back Better.”

Disaster risk reduction is the most important challenge for both developed and developing countries. For developing countries in particular, where 90% of disaster victims are concentrated, disaster risk reduction is a great challenge with a view toward sustainable development and adaptation to climate change. It is therefore necessary to give top priority to disaster risk reduction toward the post-2015 development agenda and the formulation of the new framework of climate change, namely promote the “mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction” in the world.

Madame President,

I would like to renew my appreciation for the assistance extended from all over the world since the occurrence of the Great East Japan Earthquake four years ago. Thanks to this assistance also, reconstruction is making a rapid progress. I hope you will take this opportunity to witness the vigorous reconstruction of Tohoku.

Disaster risk reduction is indeed an effort of mutual assistance. To return the favor, Japan will contribute to the international community with our knowledge and technology. Let me conclude my statement by promising to further advance our cooperation for disaster risk reduction based on Japan’s new cooperation initiative for disaster risk reduction as well as Sendai Declaration and the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction, which will be adopted at this Conference.

Thank you for your attention.

[Cabinet Secretariat] [Monday, Mar 16, 2015]

What the United Nations means for Japan - Address by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at United Nations University

[Provisional translation]

Rector David Malone, thank you very much for your kind introduction.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, your talk was fascinating. I was touched, and I appreciate that.

Years for action and Japan’s resolve

Now, ladies and gentlemen, this year and the next constitute an extremely important time for the United Nations, and indeed, for Japan as well.

As for the U.N., this year marks the 70th anniversary of its founding. For Japan, next year we'll be commemorating 60 years since our accession to the U.N. We have decided that we will make these two years as “years for taking concrete actions.”

Time and again, the issues we face are ones that extend beyond the framework of individual nations, whether the issue be extremism, terrorism, the threat of nuclear proliferation, climate change, or terrible infectious diseases.

However, the situation teaches us one thing, and one thing alone: we must not be divided. The nations must stand even more united.

This year, for the Security Council elections, Japan stands, aiming to secure a seat for the 11th time. We are resolved to lead discussions both within the U.N. and beyond, regarding any and all issues, in any and every aspect.

I wish to urge the U.N. community to incorporate into the new development agenda the concept of achieving “human security” that Japan has been promoting.

Above all else, as for reforming the Security Council, it is no longer time to discuss. Now it is time for us to produce concrete results.

With pride quietly in mind at having built up a record of one achievement after another, Japan stands ready to take on the role of a permanent member of the Security Council. This is how Japan has been until now, and how it will continue to be into the future.

Take a look, for instance, one of the new areas where you could expect more of Japan's unique contributions.

That is what we call the “smart platinum society.” You might not have heard of it, in which case please make room in your lexicon for the new “Japanglish” phrase.

A “smart platinum society” is one that enables the platinum generation, i.e., the elderly, to live vibrant lives through the use of ICT, robots, and other such technologies.

Now as the U.N. is dedicating efforts to address the challenges of aging, Japan, which leads the world in “platinumization,” intends to tackle the challenges by making full use of its technological prowess.

Embracing our pledge of 60 years ago in the present day
This year and the next will be a time for us in Japan to look back on the journey we have walked together with the U.N. and renew our determination towards the future.

While feeling deep remorse regarding the war, we have dedicated our post-war development to building a country liberal and democratic, which upholds human rights and the rule of law.

Our goal has always been to grow as a country that is able to contribute to the peace, growth and the prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and of the world.

That was exactly an aim what our fathers and mothers, and grandparents embraced. How overjoyed and thankful they must have been as Japan was again welcomed into the United Nations! This is something that we in later generations should try to imagine from time to time.

The day Japan was admitted to the United Nations, then-Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu delivered an address at the U.N., stating that “...Japan ...accepts the obligations contained in the Charter of the United Nations, and undertakes to honour them, by all means at its disposal.”

Nobusuke Kishi, my grandfather, who succeeded Shigemitsu as Foreign Minister, also emphasised in one of the speeches he gave to the Diet of Japan that “Japan must always stand ready to make as much contributions as would be necessary to strengthen the authority of the United Nations and to attain world peace through the U.N.”

Sticking to that intent we started with, Japan has since then continued to serve as a stout and sturdy pillar supporting the United Nations, right up to the present.

It will continue to be very much important for us to recall the elation and appreciation we felt 60 years ago, and to embrace the same initial spirit as our pledge for today. This much, I wish to convey in particular to my country's younger generations who are the mainstay for our future.

Making financial contributions and putting forward ideas
It was the second Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjold, who said that the United Nations "was NOT created to take mankind to heaven.” That famous epigram continues, “BUT to save humanity from hell.”

It still resonates with us as words from a man who never lost zeal at the height of the Cold War to never forsake the raison d'être of the U.N.

As far as Japan goes, however, there was no need whatsoever for anyone to persuade us of the importance of the United Nations.

And why was that, ladies and gentlemen? It is because the Japanese are a people who are always thinking about what they can do, sparing no efforts, in keeping with the ideals advanced by the United Nations.

It is because, in that regard, the Japanese are second to none. That is how the country has been until now, and that's how it will continue to be into the future.

The cumulative total of the contributions to the U.N. and financial contributions to peacekeeping operations that Japan has paid in, as a simple tally of the book value of those contributions, easily exceeds 20 billion U.S. dollars. The one and only country whose financial contributions surpass those of Japan over the past 30 years or so is the United States.

Our track record of development assistance amounts to 324.9 billion U.S. dollars, again as a simple tally of the then book value.

I am not blowing my own horn here. I have ventured to tell you these things to let you see that we have been faithful to our initial spirit of 59 years ago up till now, and also to remind ourselves of that fact.

Allow me at this point once again to call your attention. Reform is indispensable for the U.N. so that it remains able to respond to the shifting and increasingly complex challenges facing the international community. Realizing its reform, including the reform of the Security Council, is absolutely essential.

Here, I have one more point to touch on as regards Japan's relations with the U.N.

This took place during the 1990’s, when the Cold War had just ended with our side, i.e., the side that enjoyed free and democratic political economic systems, emerging victorious.

Japan, together with such leaders as Dr. Amartya Sen and Dr. Sadako Ogata, urged a certain fundamental shift within the concept of security.

It was at that point that the word “human,” in addition to the word “national,” came to be used in front of the word “security.”

This was also a time when, seizing the changes in the undercurrent, Japan set forth with conviction the philosophy it had long fostered, as a goal for the United Nations and a matter for humankind.

This was because giving weight to each individual human being, teaching them reading, writing, and arithmetic, and aiming to free them from want and fear was the path that Japan had consistently followed since early-modern times.

The form of assistance that we developed
Indeed, it is education that gives rise to people’s dignity as human beings and creates the foundation for peace and prosperity. Education prevents crime and extremism and leads to social stability.

That all children without exception deserve high-quality education always stands as one of the pillars of Japanese development assistance.

We build schools in villages. We put hygienic bathrooms therein, liberating girls from fear and worry.

Many women spend half their day just drawing water, and this heavy labour is apt to dig deeply into their shoulders. Regarding these conditions to be an injustice, we pursue the empowerment of each individual woman and girl.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have walked this path exclusively under this approach, right up to the present day.

Every day I call for the creation of a “society in which women shine.” I will continue to appeal for this over and over again, never letting up.

Last year we successfully held a symposium known as WAW!, or “World Assembly for Women.” We will continue to hold this symposium unfailingly until the day we bring about a “game change” in society. I ask that everyone come together in Japan again this year, at the end of August.

This year, we will increase the amount of our contribution to U.N. Women to ten times what we did the year before last.

Of the Global Fund, Japan was instrumental in the launch, and has worked tirelessly towards the development, with the fund aiming at ending the “big three” infectious diseases of AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.

This year as well, Japan will make a contribution of 190 million U.S. dollars to that Fund, and come December, we will host a meeting to discuss the future of the Fund in Tokyo.

Soon, Japan will provide the Kenyan government with assistance of roughly 33 million U.S. dollars, aiming to support its health policies in their entirety, as an unprecedented kind of assistance.

Their policies promote “UHC,” or “universal health coverage,” which aims to make everyone able to receive basic healthcare services at reasonable cost.

Such is the development policy we have advanced without wavering over the last 20 years. It has shown our philosophy of assistance grounded in the concept of human security. And of late, by publishing Japan's “Development Cooperation Charter”, we have made them salient.

Development must be sustainable and take a long-term perspective. In addition to freedom from want and freedom from fear, going forward, it will be necessary for development to become something that imparts upon people the freedom to dream. It is for that very reason that we must aim at quality growth.

That is the thinking that flows through our “Development Cooperation Charter.” I very much hope that this will contribute to the discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and peace building
In his address 59 years ago on the day Japan acceded to the United Nations, then-Foreign Minister Shigemitsu stated, “Being the only country which has experienced the horrors of the atomic bomb, Japan knows its tragic consequences.”

It is undoubtedly true that Japan knows better than anyone else that Hiroshima and Nagasaki must never be repeated. That is precisely why Japan has been advocating tirelessly at the United Nations the necessity of total elimination of nuclear weapons.

This year also marks 70 years since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We will hold major international conferences in both cities, stressing the importance of nuclear disarmament and the danger of proliferation. In addition, this year Japan will again submit to the United Nations General Assembly a draft nuclear disarmament resolution.

At the beginning of the year I visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. That visit etched deeply into my mind how much merciless humans can be by singling out a group of people and making that group the object of discrimination and hatred.

To dispel hatred and promote reconciliation, Japanese diplomacy has made modest but continuous efforts in Mindanao in the Philippines or in Sri Lanka. This June, we will hold the “High-Level Seminar on Peacebuilding, National Reconciliation and Democratisation in Asia.”

The seminar will have Asian countries each bringing their own experiences in these areas, and the venue will be right here at the U.N. University.

I trust you are already well aware that Japan is now bearing the flag of “Proactive Contribution to Peace based on the principle of international cooperation.” It goes without saying that cooperation and collaboration with the United Nations comprise the very essence of this.

I would also ask that you bear in mind that we will now start a comprehensive program to foster professionally trained peace builders.

The United Nations: Unable to be out of step with the times
As I conclude my remarks to you today, I would like to say that we commemorate the longevity of an organization like the U.N. only when it serves as a testimony that the organization is continuously moving forward.

At this very moment, there are people suffering from Ebola, there are people whose lives are threatened by lawless terrorists. Some are working diligently to construct weapons of mass destruction, while others conspire towards their proliferation.

The United Nations is an organization that was precluded from the beginning from falling out of step with the times. It is a body that is obliged to be continually transformed anew. This is because whatever form or type issues may take, such issues never fail to exist.

In closing may I reiterate that reform of the United Nations is a matter of great urgency, and we will spare no effort in any way to make that reform a reality.

Thank you very much.

[Cabinet Secretariat] [Wednesday, Mar 18, 2015]

“JFK’s Three Legacies and Japan”: Address by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at "The Torch Has Been Passed: JFK's Legacy Today", a Symposium Jointly Organized by Waseda University and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

Okuma Auditorium, Waseda University

[Provisional translation]

Ambassador Kennedy, thank you so much for that extremely kind introduction.
Just now I had the pleasure of listening to a truly superb speech by President Clinton, together with all of you.
President Clinton’s inauguration took place in 1993.
I attended the ceremony. I was 37 years old at the time and I had not yet been elected to the Diet.
I watched the inauguration from quite a distance, so President Clinton appeared very small indeed, but today I was fortunate enough to hear him speak vividly right in front of me. This impressed me very deeply.
President Clinton, you delivered a truly magnificent speech today.

The day before yesterday, I had the pleasure of delivering a speech, with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joining me, at a seminar commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. As I was preparing for that speech, I recalled a certain story.
Dag Hammarskjold is a man who strengthened the foundations of the United Nations as its second Secretary-General. There is a well-known story that when the "torch" came to be passed from his predecessor, he was told, “You are about to enter the most impossible job on this earth.”
Now, for the task I have here today in making this address... Can there be anything more “impossible" in the world?
Look, a "torch" was handed to me from none other than President Bill Clinton, a great orator acclaimed all around the world.
He is not just an orator. He is also a jazz musician, and a virtuoso of improvisation!
What else can I do? I've got some “sheet music” here, and I plan on staying entirely faithful to it as I perform.
If President Clinton plays jazz, my forte is classical music, as it were, rudimentary or not. Also, I've opted to perform only half what the President did.

Grace under Pressure: Frist Legacy
Ladies and gentlemen, there is a book entitled Profiles in Courage. For the young students in the audience in particular, you can find a Japanese translation as well, and I highly recommend you read it.
This is a book by JFK, the man we honour today. In it, while he was a Senator, before the "torch" was passed to him as president, he recounts the courage displayed by eight of his forerunners in the Senate.
As the author himself explains, “courage” is “grace under pressure,” a description I find truly outstanding.
As we consider JFK’s legacy, the first thing we should remember is his ability to lead, demonstrating noble grace and never yielding to pressure, and the guts to back it.
In particular, during the Cuban missile crisis, the solitary decision President Kennedy took saved the world from the danger of nuclear war breaking out, making humankind able to continue to live as we do.
“Grace under pressure.” To walk the path you believe is right, no matter how much pressure you face. There is a saying of Mencius I often quote that matches this notion exactly. JFK also said that that's exactly what constitutes courage for a politician.
We in Japan saw what leadership was in this young and vigorous president. I think that remains engraved in our mind’s eye even today.
And then what resonates in our mind’s ear is JFK’s voice. It was September 1962, was it not, when he said, in that slightly high-pitched yet deeply penetrating voice, “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade, …not because [it is] easy, but because [it is] hard.”

Power to Dream: Second Legacy
His second legacy is exhibiting to people all around the world the power to dream. And in fact, the United States succeeded in sending humans to the moon in 1969, just as JFK had pledged.
At that time I was a young boy dreaming dreams of my own -- naturally I had that time in my life as well -- but it was not merely a coincidence in timing. That era was when Japan itself was sprinting as fast as it could towards growth, with the holding of Tokyo Olympics as a major turning point.
Japan had the state of mind of “the little engine that could,” telling itself, “we can do this, we can do this” as it dashed forward.
Through that power to dream, I think the U.S. under JFK propelled forward a great number of people and nations all around the world.
It was in 1963 that Japan became a full member of GATT, and the following year, 1964, when Japan became a full-fledged member of the IMF and the OECD. That same year, Tokyo hosted the IMF-World Bank annual meetings just before the Olympics got underway.
Each and every one of these symbolizes the post-war resurgence of the Japanese economy and the fact that Japan chose to join the free and democratic camp.
Not a single one of these would have come to fruition without the leadership of JFK, who knew a great deal of Japan. This reality is something we are apt to forget.
Here we find a legacy of JFK that is important for Japan in particular. JFK’s United States gave us all-embracing support as we moved to enter the circle of the developed free world camp during the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics.

Battle against Discrimination: Third Legacy
After leadership and the power to dream is the determination to battle to stamp out discrimination. That is the third legacy that JFK left us.
This year marks the 60th year since the Montgomery Bus Boycott began. Over 50 years have passed since President Lyndon Johnson singed the Civil Rights Act.
And right in the time between those two landmark events was JFK, who stood up for eliminating discrimination based on the colour of one’s skin.
The U.S. was moving forward to remedy glaring injustices through people’s own efforts, with people struggling at times and suffering at times. In the civil rights movement, we watched the United States grapple with contradictions.
The United States did not exert its leadership throughout the world merely through its power to dream. I believe it was also truly that grace under pressure, that ability to reinvent itself in eliminating discrimination, that led the world.
I consider this to be moral leadership that only the post-war United States was able to bring to bear. And I wholeheartedly believe that this also continues to be necessary for the world.

Only the Japanese Saw That, Real Time
In talking about JFK, there is one scene I cannot help but touch upon, sad as it is.
It was the testing day of a simultaneous TV broadcast across the Pacific -- the first in history, as part of the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics that would be held the following year.
The name of the broadcasting satellite that the United States had launched was “Relay.” Many Japanese gathered around their TV sets, knowing that scenes of what was happening at that very moment in the faraway U.S. on the same day at the same time would come streaming into their living rooms.
And yet when they turned on their sets with hearts racing, wondering what would appear, it was pictures of Dallas, Texas streaming into their homes. Yes, it was that mournful scene.
And so, Ambassador Kennedy, that horrifically tragic incident for your family was seen by the Japanese people -- only by the Japanese people, in all the world -- in real time, together with you, the people in the U.S., and it became deeply seared into our memory.
There are various layers within the relationship joining one country and another. But the deepest layer, the one in which hearts come together, where we share with each other our joys and sorrows and our feelings come rain or come shine, is usually very rare indeed.
In Asia, the United States undeniably forged that exceptional relationship here in Japan. I hope you keep that always in mind.

The Kennedys and Waseda
Before I wrap up my remarks, I would like to say something to all of you here at Waseda.
“Miyako no seihoku waseda no mori ni….”
“Northwest of City great and fair, in the wood of Waseda.”
Do you know that your school anthem was long remembered in the Kennedy family?
Attorney General Robert Kennedy visited Japan in February 1962, and he faced a debate with students here in this very hall, Okuma Auditorium.
The students of that era were not as polite as you are here today.
They made quite a commotion with heckling and the hall was in an uproar, so it was impossible to give a talk properly. The head of the cheering squad, fed up at this, finally mounted the stage and took the lead in belting out the school anthem.
When he did this, as you might expect here at Waseda, there was no longer any left or right. The hall erupted in a thunderous chorus of “Waseda, Waseda, Waseda!”
I imagine this left a considerable impression on him, since after that, Robert Kennedy hummed the “Waseda, Waseda!” refrain. Ambassador Kennedy, does that story sound correct?
But there is actually a follow-up to that story.
One of the young people who had been in the audience later travelled to Washington. There, thinking he’d try his luck, he applied for a chance to meet with the Attorney General, saying he was one of those who had heard him that day, and to his surprise, he did indeed meet with Robert Kennedy.
That young man was the future Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi.
Incidentally, there are liberal arts colleges such as Grinnell and Kenyon that people in the U.S. all know, which can rightfully be called “Midwestern jewels.” These colleges and Waseda have cultivated a sister school relationship over many a year.
With that as its foundation, Waseda has been sending off its own students to study abroad while welcoming international students to its own campuses, and making its campuses internationally minded. All this places Waseda at the front of the pack nationally. I am sure you are all well aware of that fact.

Dreaming Dreams with Asia
But at the same time, do please head off to China. Please go to the Republic of Korea. And please head to Taiwan, mentioning “Waseda” while you are there.
“Oh yes, that Waseda.”
I suspect that Waseda is loved throughout Asia more than you imagine.
The reason for that is very clear. You at Waseda have from as long ago as the Meiji era consistently and without fail gladly welcomed students from China, Korea, and Taiwan. You enjoy a history of them mingling together with the residents of Takadanobaba, and of treating them with warmth and fondness by day or -- and this is an important point -- by night.
Japan must be a place where the youth of Asia can dream dreams and make their dreams a reality.
I intend to make the future Japan a country where one can dream dreams, hand in hand with many people from China, the ROK, and the rest of Asia.
President Clinton, Ambassador Kennedy, and distinguished representatives of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, Japan is now dreaming that kind of dream.
Let us, both the United States and Japan, cultivate the ability to dream, as well as reinforce our determination more and more to stamp out discrimination and respect human rights. And in the age to come, let us together make the world a better place, even if only one step at a time. I believe that is the road to properly reciprocating the legacy that JFK left us.
To President Clinton, Ambassador Kennedy, and President Kamata [of Waseda University], to Prime Minister Fukuda, a graduate of Waseda with us in the audience here today, and to all concerned here at Waseda University, thank you very much for your cooperation. I wish to conclude my remarks today by extending my sincere thanks to all of you.

Thank you very much.