Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.7 (November 24, 2006) ============================================================
[Hello, this is Shinzo Abe] -- Message from Prime Minister
At the end of last week, I traveled to Ha Noi, the capital of Viet Nam, both to attend the 14th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting and for an official visit to the country in my capacity as Prime Minister of Japan. It had been nine years since my last visit to Viet Nam, and it struck me that with the streets brimming with such vitality, it had changed almost beyond recognition.
What left the greatest impression on me was the sheer number of motorcycles, through which the cars were weaving their way.
The streets were lined with trees and other greenery, and families happily chatted amongst themselves as they waited for customers outside the rows of shops and businesses. It reminded me of the good old days in Japan. In the children's shining eyes and the smiling faces of the contented-looking people, I sensed their earnestness and diligence -- and the country's latent strength.
The APEC Summit is a meeting attended by the leaders of 21 countries and regions around the Pacific rim, including Asia, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and Russia. We held discussions over two days on economic issues and security.
I advocated making trade and investment more open and free, called on participants to unite in the fight against international terrorism, and urged all the members to cooperate toward a resolution to the North Korea nuclear issue.
It is no easy task to reach a consensus with so many world leaders gathered together. I am proud, however, that at this APEC meeting, Japan's positions created a broad framework for discussion. The meeting marked the full-scale start of my "proactive diplomacy."
I took advantage of the opportunity provided by the APEC meeting to engage in a series of vigorous discussions with many of the world's leaders. I met with President George W. Bush of the United States, President Hu Jintao of China, President Roh Moo Hyun of South Korea, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, Prime Minister John Howard of Australia, and President Michelle Bachelet of Chile. In each of the meetings, we opened our hearts to each other and had a thorough discussion.
After the conclusion of the APEC Summit, as a state guest of Viet Nam I received warm hospitality from President Nguyen Minh Triet, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and the Vietnamese people.
I was not alone in receiving an enthusiastic welcome. Viet Nam is currently enjoying rapid economic growth, and when I invited members of the Japanese business community to visit the country with me, more than 130 people from the private sector showed their interest and accompanied me -- a greater number than ever before. This response shows just how high the level of interest in Viet Nam is among Japanese business leaders.
The fact that the leaders of Japan and Viet Nam and major figures from the Japanese business community were able to come together to talk about the development of the two economies was extremely meaningful. I have great expectations that this meeting will generate concrete results.
Cultural exchanges are just as essential to a friendship between two countries as economic exchanges. I enjoyed the dances and songs of Viet Nam at the welcoming banquet. When they played the famous Japanese songs "Hana" (Flower), "Kojo no Tsuki" (Moonlit Castle Ruins), and Mayumi Itsuwa's "Koibito Yo" (My Dear Lover), a certain pride in Japanese culture naturally filled my heart. I deeply appreciate the thoughtfulness of the Vietnamese organizers in playing these songs.
The very fulfilling time I spent in the vibrant city of Ha Noi has only increased my motivation and fighting spirit now that I have returned to Japan. Deliberations on important bills will continue in the second half of the current Diet session, and I will work without faltering to steadily overcome each challenge that I face.
- Answer to the quiz in the Japanese Version E-mail Magazine
Q: How do you say "kyouiku-kihon-hou" in English?
- Japan-Denmark Summit Meeting (November 21, 2006)
- Prime Minister Visits Viet Nam (November 19 to 20, 2006)
- APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting (November 17 to 19, 2006)
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