After the terrible earthquake and tsunami this year, Japan received warm support from all over the world. But, what was extremely special and moving for us was the assistance we received from the United States, including the deployment of an aircraft carrier and Operation Tomodachi.
That operation touched the hearts of the Japanese people. On behalf of the Japanese government, I would like to take this opportunity to express once again our deep appreciation to the United States.
The international community, at the present, is in a turbulent state. Europe is struggling to respond to an unprecedented debt crisis, triggered by the situation in Greece.
The United States is also struggling too, in the face of serious unemployment and an immense budget deficit. Meanwhile, China, India and other emerging economies are rising to the fore. The Arab spring has swept across the Middle East and North Africa region. A dramatic power shift is taking place around the world.
In this context, therefore, I do recognize the importance of the role Japan should play for the benefit of the world. This is so despite the fact that this year Japan has faced the triple tribulations of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant accident.
We have clearly defined our foreign policy priorities for the first 100 days of the Noda administration. For the first 100 days, that is until the end of this year, our focus has been relations with the United States, China, Korea, India and ASEAN countries. We have tried to make communication with these countries smoother.
First, we made sure that both Prime Minister Noda and Foreign Minister Gemba visited the United States first. And, in fact, their visit to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly was the first trip overseas for both of them.
Subsequently, Prime Minister Noda and Foreign Minister Gemba both visited our neighboring country, Korea. Leaders of both nations agreed to work hard to resume negotiations toward an economic partnership agreement, at the earliest possible opportunity.
As for China, last month, at the Japan-China-Korea trilateral summit meeting, as well as the occasion of Foreign Minister Gemba's visit to China, agreement was reached to conclude within this calendar year the Joint Study Foreign FTA among Japan, China and Korea.
We are also working hard to achieve substantive agreement on the Japan-China-Korea trilateral investment agreement, within this calendar year, so that we may launch negotiations on a high-level FTA at the forthcoming Japan-China-Korea trilateral summit meeting, scheduled to be held in China next year.
I very much hope to see positive steps toward this end, especially, because Prime Minister Noda is planning to visit China in the near future.
Various issues are outstanding between Japan and the United States at present, including Futenma, the Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP, beef imports, and child custody. On each issue, we have been working actively, in order to achieve steady progress.
Regarding the TPP, at the APEC summit in Honolulu last month, Prime Minister Noda said that the government of Japan had decided to enter into consultations toward participating in the TPP negotiations with the countries concerned, and President Obama welcomed Japan's decision.
With regard to the beef issue, Japan decided to review overall measures against BSE and started preparations for referring the matter to the Food Safety Commission.
As for the issue of child custody, we have been working to submit a bill to ratify the Hague Convention to the Diet, during the next year's ordinary session.
What is painfully challenging is the relocation of the Futenma Air Station. Let me just mention here that extremely regrettably, last week's inappropriate remarks by the former Director General of the Okinawa Defense Bureau has made the situation in Okinawa even more complicated.
Foreign Minister Gemba is planning to visit Washington this month, and I hope that this paves the way for Prime Minister Noda's upcoming visit to Washington. When Prime Minister Noda visits, I myself am planning to visit Washington and exchange views on various issues, including the TPP agreement.
As for Europe, I hope to see the scoping exercise for an EPA with the EU concluded by the end of this year, and the negotiations launched as early as practicable.
Next year, I hope that Prime Minister Noda and Foreign Minister Gemba will also visit Russia, at an appropriate time.
To return to the topic of the Japan-U.S. alliance, under the alliance, with the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty at its core, Japan and the United States are expected to coordinate their bilateral relations. This reaches beyond security in its purest sense to a broad range of fields including economy, culture, and people-to-people exchanges.
In recent years, moreover, our alliance has extended beyond the bilateral relationship, to cover global issues.
In today's turbulent world, as Europe and the United States struggle to find solutions to their economic difficulties, Japan and the United States must further coordinate our efforts toward the management of the global economy, trade and currency.
First, on trade policy, Japan's strategy is to utilize the dynamism of the world's people, goods and capital, incorporating the vitality into Japan's own growth. It means that we incorporate, as internal demand, not only Japan's domestic market of over 100 million people, but also China's 1.3 billion, India's 1.2 billion, and ASEAN's 600 million, for a total of over three million in the Asian market. Together with the one billion of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and others, in sum a market of four billion people.
To this end, FTAs or EPAs with these countries are very important. Japan has concluded 13 EPAs thus far, including those with ASEAN and India. However, Japan has yet to conclude EPAs with other major trading partners. They include China, her largest trading partner, the United States, her second largest now, the European Union, our third largest, Korea, which is the fourth largest, Taiwan, which ranks fifth, and Australia, which ranks sixth.
Japan is trying to accelerate the process toward FTAs or EPAs, with these trading partners, with the exception of Taiwan.
As I mentioned earlier, we intend to bring the joint study regarding the Japan-China-Korea agreement, which incorporates first-ranked China and fourth-ranked Korea, and the scoping exercise regarding Japan-EU agreement to conclusion at the earliest opportunity, and enter into negotiations on both, next year.
With six-ranked Australia, Prime Minister Noda and Prime Minister Gillard agreed, on the sidelines of last month's East Asia Summit in Bali, that a Japan-Australia EPA negotiation round will be scheduled for this month, in Canberra. We know that this is not an easy process, but we will work hard to conclusion of negotiations.
With the United States, the issue is the TPP, which is a particularly contentious matter in Japan. The reason why we are not considering a bilateral FTA is that the government of the United States is focusing on TPP negotiations, and a new bilateral FTA is not in their interest.
Among the concerns voiced domestically in Japan regarding TPP negotiations, the biggest apprehension voiced is that American systems might be imposed upon Japan. This apprehension has arisen possibly from the way the United States argued its case during the past bilateral trade friction.
Domestically, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly explained that we will properly negotiate with the United States, and so such apprehension is not necessary. But, unfortunately, we have not gained sufficient understanding from the public so far. We will try harder.
However, in this regard, with all due respect, I would like to draw attention of the American side to consider whether the "American Caesar mindset" promulgated by the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers, General Douglas MacArthur, right after the war might still exist. Well, Caesar instilled Roman culture in the areas he had conquered, MacArthur, calling himself "the American Caesar," tried to plant American democracy on Japanese soil, and I think he succeeded.
In fact, he was perhaps too successful. But, this success story may not necessarily work every time, in other areas. It may even backfire.
Here, in Japan, we also hear the argument that rather than the TPP, we should pursue ASEAN Plus Three, which means ASEAN plus Japan, China, Korea, or ASEAN Plus Six, Japan, China, Korea, plus India, Australia, New Zealand, which is a framework that includes China.
However, it is not a question of either/or. Japan should pursue both, playing a driving role toward the creation of a common framework, in which both the United States and China participate, in the future. I think Japan should play a bridge-building role across the various FTA frameworks.
The TPP and ASEAN Plus Six, which now China seems to accept, includes some of the same countries, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. If Japan participates in the TPP negotiation, Japan could play a bridge-building role between these two frameworks.
In this sense, I must say that an argument which tries to promote the TPP as a means of encircling China is wide of the mark. The country in possession of the largest amount of U.S. Treasuries is China. The country holding the most dollars as foreign exchange reserves is also China. Moreover, China is the largest market in the world.
The TPP cannot afford to be hostile to China. It will be wise for us to avoid any premature assumption that the United States and China would never align themselves regarding the TPP.
This reminds me of what happened 40 years ago. At that time, Japan never even dreamed that the United States and China would join hands with each other, yet suddenly, out of the blue, President Nixon visited China and created a partnership with Chairman Mao Zedong.
The issue of how to deal with China is one of extreme importance. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution, Xingai Kakumei. And, as we consider how to deal with China, I would like to touch upon a speech given by Chinese Dr. Sun Yat Sen in Kobe, in 1924.
Dr. Sun contrasted the Occidental hegemonic way, "seiyo no hado" and Oriental kingly way, "toyo no odo wan tao." The Occidental hegemonic way uses force to oppress the opponent. The Oriental kingly way is the culture of benevolence and morality that attracts people through virtue.
He advocated that Japan should take the Oriental kingly way and develop a philosophy of peace. Well, Japan actually proceed in the opposite way.
I often quote this story to my Chinese friends. In this context, today's situation looks a little ironic. That is why I quote Dr. Sun Ya Sen's remarks and try to encourage China to take the kingly way, a policy of engagement rather than containment, is important, I believe.
Second, on the global currency system, in recent years it has been sometimes pointed out by some economists that the unipolar structure of the U.S. dollar as the key currency may be faltering, while at the same time the on-going European debt crisis has dramatically shaken confidence in the Euro. With investors trying to hedge their risks, a rapid appreciation of the yen has been taking place, since the summer.
Well, there is definitely a growing need to create a more stable and robust global currency system. In light of this situation, some people talk about the need for a more balanced global currency system. I believe that this is an extremely important subject, which should be a matter of close consultation between Japan and the United States.
The international economic system is transitioning from an economic system having nations as its unit to an economic system transcending national boundaries, and we can already see the buds of this new system forming. It is critically important that Japan and the United States coordinate closely in creating this new global system.
As I stated above, Japan and the United States should coordinate more closely, not only on bilateral issues, but also on global issues. As my last point, I would like to cite the case of Pakistan as providing a unique possibility for partnership.
It has been pointed out that U.S.-Pakistan relations have stagnated, especially since the elimination of Osama bin Laden, and that recently they have further deteriorated due to bombing attacks upon Pakistani territory by NATO forces, and following counter-measures and other actions by Pakistan. Japan, on the other hand, has maintained favorable relations with Pakistan. I think it is possible for Japan to play a bridge-building role between Pakistan and the United States.
Secretary Clinton stated in a recent article that the Asia-Pacific represents such a real 21st century opportunity for us. Japan shares this view, and we welcome it.
There are many things we can do together to make the Asia-Pacific region really peaceful and prosperous.
Seventy years ago saw the start of the war in the Pacific. None of us here, today, can forget these tragic events in our shared history. Sixty years ago, after the war, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshida decided to conclude a security treaty with the United States, and that was the start of what we now call "the U.S.-Japan alliance."
During my student days, I studied in the United States and gained my Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University/SAIS. I made many friends there. Nowadays, we tend to take such ties and friendship for granted, but we should always remember that the precious ties of friendship between our two countries need to be nurtured with great care.
One Japanese who recognized the significance of this was the great Dr. Inazo Nitobe, who also happens to be a graduate of Johns Hopkins University.
In concluding my humble speech, I would like to take the liberty of quoting from Dr. Nitobe. He said, "It is my wish to serve as a bridge across the Pacific."
Thank you very much.
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