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Japan's Call for Peacebuilding

What are Japan’s plans for international aid and assistance to developing countries?

May 3, 2005

What are Japan's plans for international aid and assistance to developing countries?

Despite the recent controversy between China and Japan over school textbooks, Japan has nevertheless claimed new efforts to promote peace and aid to Asian and African countries. In this Globalist Document, Japan’s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reflects on the country’s goal to encourage international cooperation and enhance Asian and African solidarity.

In the past, Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations.

Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility.

And with feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology always engraved in mind, Japan has resolutely maintained — consistently since the end of World War II — never turning into a military power but an economic power — its principle of resolving all matters by peaceful means, without recourse to use of force.

Japan once again states its resolve to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world in the future as well, prizing the relationship of trust it enjoys with the nations of the world.

The development of Japan over these last 50 years has come about as the result of the untiring efforts of the Japanese people.

Yet, we were first able to realize development through the assistance extended to us by the international community. Japan will not forget this fact.

The Japanese people rose from devastation after World War II. I, as a representative of that generation, hope to walk together with the people of Asia and Africa, who are striving to improve their lives by the sweat of their brows.

Based on this thinking, Japan has been extending its development assistance to the Asian and African regions with emphasis on human resource development, infrastructure building and health and sanitation measures, including issues of safe water and infectious diseases. Japan has also been making efforts to improve trade/investment environment.

Asia has made great strides forward over these past 50 years.

Yet a number of important challenges remain, including redressing of disparities in levels of development, promotion of economic partnerships, implementation of disaster prevention and mitigation measures based on the recent experience of the large-scale earthquake off the coast of Sumatra and the resulting tsunami, and strengthening of anti-piracy measures.

Japan intends to formulate concrete policies and create new partnerships in Asia. We will be providing more than $2.5 billion over the next five years in assistance for disaster prevention and mitigation and reconstruction measures in Asia, Africa and other regions.

This year is the “Year of Africa.” Japan proposes creating an Asia-Africa Young Volunteers program, by which Asian young adults would meet, interact with and promote human resource development among the youth of Africa.

Furthermore, Japan, through public and private sectors, will provide assistance in applying to Africa the knowledge garnered through Asia’s movement towards higher productivity.

Through such efforts, Japan will foster human resources in 10,000 Africans over the next four years.

Second, Japan considers peacebuilding to be of great importance. It is, indeed, peace and security that constitute the requisite basis for economic development.

Japan has been working hard towards the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the prevention of terrorism. Japan has also been making efforts towards peacebuilding such as in Cambodia, East Timor and Afghanistan.

Japan will be actively providing assistance to the Palestinians for the promotion of peace in the Middle East and to Africa, which is demonstrating dynamic movement towards peace.

We should all play an active role in preventing disorderly trade in weapons, as well as in disseminating universal values, such as the rule of law, freedom and democracy.

Third, as the globalized world pursues a new international order, Japan will promote still further international cooperation, enhancing its solidarity with Asia and Africa.

The United Nations should continue to serve in the centermost role in international cooperation. Yet, in order for it to respond effectively to the various challenges that the world now faces, the United Nations — particularly the Security Council — needs to be reformed, so that the organization reflects the realities of today’s world.

Japan will cooperate to the fullest to take a decision on the reform of the Security Council before September 2005, as proposed by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

As we fortify the partnership between Asia and Africa, it will be critical to share our experiences and our knowledge through dialogues between civilizations, between cultures — and between individuals.

Asia and Africa are blessed with a richness of nature that yields enormous potential. I believe that through the progress of science and technology, it is possible to create a vibrant and dynamic society in which environmental conservation and development are both achieved.

In conclusion, I would like to state Japan’s resolute determination to spare no effort to create just such a society.

Editor’s note: This essay is excerpted from Prime Minister Koizumi's address, on April 22, 2005.