Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.25 (April 12, 2007) ============================================================
"Hello, this is Shinzo Abe" -- Message from the Prime Minister
Yesterday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in Japan. This is the first time in seven years that Japan has had the honor of welcoming the Chinese Premier on a visit.
The first diplomatic challenge that I set out to accomplish after becoming Prime Minister was to create a mutually beneficial relationship with China based on common strategic interests. When I flew to Beijing immediately after I assumed the office of Prime Minister, my visit was described as an "ice-breaking trip." The current talks have been realized by building on our talks in Beijing and Cebu Island on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit (EAS). Premier Wen expressed the desire to make his visit to Japan an "ice-melting trip."
Now that Japan's trade volume with China has doubled in the last five years and has set new records for eight consecutive years, China has overtaken the U.S. as Japan's largest trading partner. Approximately 35,000 Japanese companies have entered the Chinese market, and Japanese investment in China has reportedly created jobs for about 10 million people. The economic relationship between Japan and China is thus already firmly cemented in place.
Japan-China cooperation is essential for resolving the North Korean abduction issue and the nuclear and missile issues. There are no national boundaries in environmental issues. As neighboring nations, it is our destiny to work together to resolve issues such as global warming, acid rain, yellow sand and waste disposal. Both Japan and the world will stand to benefit if Japan's energy-conserving and environment-friendly technologies are put to use in China, which continues to grow very rapidly.
Diplomacy is a prickly endeavor as it involves the national interests of all countries concerned. Friendship is important -- yet merely being friends is not enough. When national interests conflict, countries must naturally claim what they ought to claim. A "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests" is a relationship in which nations cooperate with one another to create an environment which is beneficial to both. It goes beyond "friendship."
I am confident that the fact that China and Japan have been able to agree to cooperate on many issues marks a step forward in making ours a more concrete relationship. The items we agreed upon include the export of Japanese rice to China, which had never been authorized before.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the normalization of relations between Japan and China. In commemoration of this milestone, we have designated the year 2007 as the Japan-China Exchange Year of Culture and Sports. Next year is the 30th anniversary of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People's Republic of China. The Beijing Olympics will be held in the same year, too. We can look forward to further advancement in the Japan-China relationship.
Approximately 200 Chinese high school students visited Japan last October and stayed with Japanese families as part of an exchange program. Asked whether they would want to visit Japan again, all of them answered, "Yes." I am encouraged that exchanges are taking place actively among young people.
At last night's dinner banquet that followed my meeting with Premier Wen, we were accompanied by 80 people who have been involved in Japan-China exchanges in various fields. We were joined by singers Agnes Chan, Maki Goto and Shinji Tanimura, who are also well known in China. I am sure that the songs they each sang -- "Kaette Kita Tsubame (The Swallow Has Returned)," "Bokura ga Ikiru MY ASIA (My Asia: A Place We Live)," and "Subaru (Pleiades)" -- captivated the hearts of everyone in the room from both Japan and China.
I am glad that I was able to welcome Premier Wen during the height of spring's glory. Spring is the season when new buds appear and flowers bloom. Our two countries must both make efforts so that in the Japan-China relationship too, a beautiful flower may blossom.
- THE JAPAN PRIZE
- Japan-China Summit Meeting (April 11, 2007)
- Japan-Dominica Summit Meeting (April 10, 2007)
- Japan-Iraq Summit Meeting (April 9, 2007)
- Prime Minister Delivers Address to New Civil Servants
(April 4, 2007)
- Japan-Thailand Summit Meeting (April 3, 2007)
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