Since ancient times, Asia and Africa have given birth to, and spread throughout the rest of the world, a variety of ideas and religions. The spirit of generosity, one that cherishes diversity among us, is an important common asset we should be proud of.
In keeping with this same spirit, it was our friends in Asia and Africa who propelled Japan after the Second World War to make possible our re-entry into the international community. History made it inevitable for those countries gathered here three score years ago to show their strong unity, since our forefathers then had a common wish, a wish for peace.
Despicable terrorism is becoming widespread throughout the world. We must give no haven to terrorists anywhere in the world. National borders are meaningless in the face of infectious diseases or natural disasters. Climate change has exposed fragile island nations to the risk of not surviving, or of even disappearing. No single nation alone can solve such problems. Let us tackle them together.
Once again, we must show our strong unity to the rest of the world. Japan is resolved, in these circumstances, to continue to do its utmost from now on, just as it has thus far. “Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.” “Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means.” Those are some of the principles Bandung affirmed. And Japan, with feelings of deep remorse over the past war, made a pledge to remain a nation always adhering to those very principles throughout, no matter what the circumstances. Japan also resolved that among Asian and African countries seeking peace and prosperity under those Bandung principles, we should stand at the forefront.
Hence started our journey. It brought us first to India 60 years ago, where we perspired together with local farmers to build their capacities on how to operate farm machines. It also took us to Sri Lanka, where, together with the local people, we fought against an epidemic troubling livestock farmers. And then the journey took us to Africa, where we have been sharing with the local people both the work ethic and the wisdom found in our manufacturing, proudly developed on our factory shop floors. The idea of kaizen ( continuous improvement) has taken root in Ethiopia, where a workshop with that very name has greatly improved labour productivity.
Now it is Asia, and it is also Africa, more than anywhere else, where you find the spirit of growth in the breeze, together with the rich soil of dynamic growth potential. Asian and African nations are no longer Japan’s aid recipients. They are Japan’s partners for growth. Let us prosper together. We must build a market that is open and dynamic. We must turn that market, or that frontier, into soil that promises prosperity for our children and our grandchildren. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific – in my view will all eventually head towards Africa.
Traction for growth is always found in people. The diversity of people in any country must be harnessed to become an engine, and never a distraction, for powerful growth. Japan stands behind the empowerment of women. Hand in hand with the young and ambitious in Asia and Africa, we will foster them into a generation that will shoulder their countries’ industrial development. Japan’s resolve is to turn growth in Asia and Africa into an enduring, not ephemeral, event. With that resolve in mind, over the next five years, we are going to help as many as 350,000 people throughout the region acquire technology expertise and industrial knowledge.
The variety among our countries is manifold. No one society looks the same as any other. Still, 60 years ago, President Soekarno called on the delegates that had gathered to consider the following. “What harm is in diversity, when there is unity in desire?” Indeed, we face a whole host of risks in common. The fact, once recognised, should bind us easily in this “unity in diversity”.
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