Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.43 (August 23, 2007) ============================================================
"Hello, this is Shinzo Abe" -- Message from the Prime Minister
Indonesia and Malaysia are both important members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
This year, ASEAN celebrates the 40th anniversary of its founding. Rather than expanding the gaps that separate them, the ASEAN members have chosen the path of coexistence and harmony, overcoming their political, cultural and religious differences. Having gone through difficult periods in which it has taken three steps forward and two steps back, ASEAN has made steady progress along the path toward the formation of a community.
Unity in Diversity -- it may be said that the process of integration in Asia is fraught with far greater difficulty than that of Europe. Nonetheless, just as in the past the Benelux countries led the way to the creation of the European Community, there can be no doubt that the development of cohesion among the ASEAN members will be of tremendous significance in the deepening and integration of a "broader Asia."
On August 20, I signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia. This is not quite the same as a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which guarantees the free movement of goods between two countries and targets what you might describe as a relationship straddling a common fence. In contrast to this, an EPA is designed to deepen the relationship between two countries by lowering the fence itself. Human exchanges and a meeting of minds are particularly important here.
Indonesia is making efforts to implement reforms of its police force in a manner appropriate to a democratic state, and I heard that it is paying particular attention to the way the high morale of the Japanese police force comes through the experience of learning judo and kendo, which is the art of Japanese fencing based on traditional swordsmanship. I was deeply impressed to see that in this process they are incorporating the spirit of Japanese martial arts.
Japan's relations with India, the world's largest democratic nation, are also very important.
Of the more than 100,000 overseas students enrolled in Japanese universities, only 500 are from India. Japan's exchanges with India are still in the early stages. We, Japan and India, need to go beyond economic relations and deepen exchanges and cooperation across a wide range of fields, including human resources, academia, education and culture, science and technology, and security, in order to bring together the wisdom of the two countries to contribute to the world.
Yesterday, I delivered a speech to the Parliament of India entitled "Confluence of the Two Seas." The two seas I referred to are the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. In the course of my speech, I stressed that the "Japan-India relationship is blessed with the largest potential for development of any bilateral relationship anywhere in the world."
Japan and India share a history of deep spiritual ties that can be traced back to the time when Buddhism was introduced to Japan. Fifty years ago, when Japan was in the midst of the postwar reconstruction process, then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru sent us warm encouragement. Subsequently, after it pulled itself out of poverty, the first country to which Japan provided Official Development Assistance (ODA) was, in fact, India.
It was also India that encouraged Japan when our nation was trying to extricate itself from an unprecedented economic depression; India generously presented Japan with an elephant named Surya (the "sun") in May 2001, implying the message that "the sun will indeed rise again."
As Japan and India build from their deep ties and cooperate with each other as democratic nations located at almost opposite edges of Asia, it will surely lead to a confluence of the two seas and will give rise to greater prosperity for the whole of Asia. In response to this conviction that I put forward, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and many other members of parliament graciously indicated their kindhearted agreement by applauding and banging on their tables. I felt greatly honored.
We must not forget the weight of the responsibility that Japan bears toward the peace and stability of the whole Asian region, and, moreover, toward the resolution of the global environmental problems that have become issues facing all humankind. "Cool Earth 50," Japan's initiative for fighting global warming, is steadily gaining understanding throughout the world.
I am fully determined to further advance my "proactive diplomacy."
- Prime Minister's Week in Review (August 6 to 12, 2007)
- GO CHI SO
- Wajima Lacquerware
- Prime Minister Visits Indonesia, India and Malaysia
(Republic of Indonesia) (August 19 to 21, 2007)
- Prime Minister Receives Courtesy Calls from the President of
Niigata Okami Association and Others (August 16, 2007)
* Highlighting JAPAN
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