The Bounty of the Open Seas : Five New Principles for Japanese Diplomacy
JANUARY 18, 2013
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policy speech, which was supposed to be delivered during his stay in Jakarta, but actually wasn’t because of some unavoidable changes in his itinerary
I Eternal Truths in Japan’s National Interest
Ladies and gentlemen, let me begin by offering my sincere thanks to everyone here--in particular the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta, one of Indonesia’s leading think-tanks--for this wonderful opportunity to address you today.
This year marks the fortieth year of relations between Japan and ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. On this milestone occasion, I have come here today to look back on the history of Japan’s diplomacy in the region and to express Japan’s determination regarding its future.
Japan’s national interest lies eternally in keeping Asia’s seas unequivocally open, free, and peaceful--in maintaining them as the commons for all the people of the world, where the rule of law is fully realized.
To achieve these goals, from the second half of the twentieth century through the present day Japan has consistently devoted its energy in two objectives. In light of our geographic circumstances, the two objectives are natural and fundamental imperatives for Japan, a nation surrounded by ocean and deriving its sustenance from those oceans--a nation that views the safety of the seas as its own safety. Though times may change, these objectives remain immutable.
One of these areas where we have concentrated our diplomatic effort is to ally with the United States. America is the world’s greatest naval power and preeminent economic superpower; Japan is Asia’s largest maritime democracy and a liberal capitalist state second only to the United States. It stands to reason that our two nations should be partners.
Today the United States is shifting its focus to the confluence of the two oceans, the Indian and the Pacific--this very region where we stand today. At such a time, the Japan-US alliance takes on a more vital significance than ever before.
I believe that to ensure that these two great oceans can meet in calm conjunction, bringing benefit to all the people of the world, now is the time for us to dedicate even more energy to the bilateral alliance, giving it still greater roles to play. Toward this end, Japan must make greater efforts than before, bringing new ideas and creativity to bear.
From now on the Japan-US alliance must effect a network, broad enough to ensure safety and prosperity encompassing the two oceans. The ties between Japan and America’s other allies and partners will become more important than ever before for Japan.
The second of the two vital objectives that have kept shaping the diplomacy of Japan, which depends on the seas for its safety and prosperity, is this: strengthening our ties with maritime Asia.
I myself have worked toward this goal in the past, seeking to make Japan’s relationships with India and Australia broader and deeper. In the eight years since the launch of the East Asia Summit, we have seen this process become a consultative framework whose members share the same aspirations and pursue common benefits. For me there is no greater joy than seeing the EAS grow and bind the two oceans more tightly together.
It must be stated, though, that Japan’s relationship that goes side by side with ASEAN is a supremely vital linchpin in terms of its importance to our diplomatic strategy.
It is precisely because of this conviction that our forebears spared no effort in the areas of political, trade, and investment ties as they pursued goals from the peace building to the improvement of regional connectivity.
Countless Japanese worked to achieve these goals, and steady flows of capital, technology, and experience made their way from Japan to this region.
When Japan came out with the concept of “human security” and nurtured it carefully over the years, once again, it was this region that provided a key ground to implement this concept.
In the year 2015 the members of ASEAN will further advance, in both name and reality, toward becoming a true community. I offer you my heartfelt congratulations on this.
The development of the ASEAN members has been marked by respect for the rule of law and human rights, along with steady moves toward deeply rooted democracy. Indonesia is the most remarkable example of this. Today Myanmar, too, is beginning to follow in your footsteps. I have been watching these events unfold with a sense of surprise and delight.
It is now plain for all to see that Indonesia is becoming home to an economic middle class of breadth and depth, one of the outstanding phenomena in the world. As the members of ASEAN strengthen their intraregional connectivity, they will be sure to close the gaps that open up among them, helping give rise to affluent middle-class populations.
When this time comes, the entire world will witness how the region has achieved something remarkable. It will be a beautiful achievement of twin goals: prosperity and progress in social and governmental systems at once.
For my part, I believe that ASEAN has significance as a model for all of humanity. It is for this reason that I decided to expand the horizons of Japanese diplomacy here, expressing a new determination in this place today.
II Five Principles to Build the Future
This determination is founded on the following five principles.
The first is protecting freedom of thought, expression, and speech in this region where two oceans meet. These are universal values that humanity has gained and they must be allowed to flower to the fullest.
The second is ensuring that the seas, which are the most vital commons to us all, are governed by laws and rules, not by might.
In connection with these two goals, I wholeheartedly welcome the American rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region.
The third principle is pursuing free, open, interconnected economies as part of Japan’s diplomacy. We must secure the power of networking by bringing our national economies closer together through flows of trade and investment, people, and goods.
The efforts and contributions Japan has made to enhance connectivity in Asia, such as through construction of the Southern Economic Corridor in the Mekong region, are now beginning to bear real fruit for the region.
Maritime Asia has since ancient times been a place where civilizations blend with one another. Indonesia is a prime example of Maritime Asia’s calm, open nature, which brings about not conflict among different religions and culture, but coexistence. This is something that continues to impress a great many Japanese to this day. It is also what inspires specialists from Japan to dedicate themselves diligently to tasks like the restoration of Angkor Wat, a priceless treasure for all humankind.
The fourth principle, in connection with this, is bringing about ever more fruitful intercultural ties among the peoples of Japan and this region, something that I will continue to work for.
The fifth and final principle is promoting exchange among the younger generations who will carry our nations into the future. I will return to this later in my remarks.
Thirty-six years ago, Takeo Fukuda, then prime minister of Japan, made three promises to the members of ASEAN. Japan would never become a military power. Japan would forge ties with ASEAN based on “heart to heart” understanding. And Japan would be an equal partner of ASEAN and its member countries.
Ladies and gentlemen, you know better than anyone how faithfully Japan has adhered to this Fukuda Doctrine right up to the present day.
Now ASEAN and Japan stand indeed as equal partners. The time has come for us to go side by side out into the world, working together to achieve positive outcomes.
Both Japan and ASEAN are connected with the rest of the world by the broad oceans. I believe we must work together side by side to make our world one of freedom and openness, ruled not by might but by law.
I believe also that we must strive to lay the foundations for a culture of mutual respect by promoting the free exchange of people with one another.
III Toward a Stronger Japan
Ladies and gentlemen, Japan bears a sublime responsibility to the world and faces numerous challenges to address. But in the face of our stagnating economy, we cannot achieve everything that we desire to.
Which is the reason why, the most important task for me is to put the economy of Japan once more on a robust growth track.
To bind ourselves to a growing ASEAN and to open ourselves up to all the world’s oceans are no longer things that Japan can choose to do. They are rather necessities--tasks that we absolutely must perform.
Japan has capital resources. We have technologies, and--as a nation on the leading edge of history when it comes to the aging of our population--we have amassed a wealth of experience. Our economic woes have continued, and two years ago we suffered a once-in-a-millennium natural disaster that took thousands of lives, but our society remains as rock-solid as ever.
We do have a human resource that we have failed to develop to its fullest potential. Here I speak of Japanese women. My hope is that we can unleash the full potential of those vast resources to make Japan a nation brimming with energy, where people can live with confident belief in the future.
If the Japanese need one thing now, that thing is confidence--the ability to turn our faces to the sun, like the sunflower does when it blooms at the height of summer. Japan once had tremendous confidence, but there is a shortage of it today.
I must hasten to add that this does not mean I am pessimistic about the situation. Even if today’s Japanese do suffer from a “Lack of Confidence,” there are people who can cure this for us and a song that can help. And here I would like to shift the focus of my speech to my gratitude to you all.
IV “Terima Kasih” to Indonesia
In fact, the people of Indonesia have already given us Japanese much confidence and courage. There is one person in particular who I wish could be here with us today; unfortunately, she could not be.
The Economic Partnership Agreement that Japan signed with Indonesia saw many nurses sent to our hospitals from yours. Many Indonesians studied to pass Japan’s nursing license examination--a difficult test that must be passed if they are to work in our country.
The results of the 2011 licensing exam were announced just after the March 11 earthquake. One of the successful test-takers was Ms Suwarti, a young Indonesian lady who was working at a hospital in Hyogo Prefecture.
After learning that she had passed, she gave a press conference at the hospital. While she spoke with the reporters, her glad face suddenly darkened, and she said:
“In Fukushima, in Miyagi . . . There was a tsunami.”
Her voice caught, and she then turned to face the doctor who worked with her at the hospital. In a voice quavering with tears she asked him:
“Please let me go there, Doctor. I want to help those people. Please.”
Ms Suwarti went to the disaster-stricken zone and worked at an evacuation center. This was a community where half of the homes had been taken by the waves and more than 500 people had lost their lives. There Ms Suwarti showed her special abilities.
A young girl who could do nothing but weep because of the shock of the disaster began speaking with the Indonesian nurse and suddenly began grinning. An elderly woman smiled as she looked at Ms Suwarti, just as a loving grandmother gazes at her granddaughter. In this cramped, uncomfortable evacuation center, scenes like this played out again and again.
“It’ll be all right. A shining future awaits us all. Let’s pull together and be ready for it!”
These were Ms Suwarti’s words to the residents when it was time for her to say goodbye.
mekarlah dengan penuh bangga,
di seluruh pelosok Jepang.
bangkitlah, dengan percaya diri,
di dunia ini.
I must ask that you forgive me for my terrible Indonesian.
These words were in fact the Indonesian translation from the original Japanese lyrics to a song called “Sakura Yo,”or “Wahai sakura (O, Cherry Tree).” “Bloom proudly, o cherry tree, bloom in the heart of Japan,” goes the song. “Bloom proudly, o Japan, bloom in the heart of the world.”
In Jakarta there is a theatre troupe called the Teater En Juku. The university students in this troupe perform musicals in Japanese.
When they learned of the tragedy of March 11, 2011 with sadness, the Teater En Juku players created this Japanese song--Persevere, Japan, bloom proudly in the heart of the world like the cherry tree--set to beautiful music.
And on May 1 that year, 500 students from more than 30 universities came together to sing this song in a magnificent chorus.
On the internet, I saw them sing this song. I heard their voices. And I was moved deeply. I will show you their performance now; not in its entirety, I am afraid, but for only a minute and 20 seconds. Please watch it with me.
Ladies and gentlemen, the young man who composed this song is here with us today: Mr Nurfadri Pratama, who handles public relations for the JCC, the Jakarta Communication Club.
Also with us today is Ms Sugako Kaikiri, who founded the JCC and who has coached the members of the Teater En Juku.
Thank you, Fadri. Kind people of Indonesia, all of you and we Japanese are truly kokoro no tomo, “Friends of the Heart,” just like the title of your favourite song by the Japanese songwriter Mayumi Itsuwa.
This is a lesson I have learned anew thanks to Ms Suwarti and Mr Nurfadri. To them both, and to you all, I say terimah kasih (thank you so much).
V The Launch of JENESYS 2.0
I want Mr Nurfadri and his friends--the leaders of Indonesia 20 or 30 years from now, the young generation that will drive the future of ASEAN--to visit Japan.
I want the wonderful students in the Teater En Juku to come and see all sorts of places in Japan. This is the thinking that has inspired me to expand and enhance Japan’s program inviting young people from ASEAN and other Asian nations to our country.
Six years ago, as prime minister of Japan, I launched a project to bring high school and university students and other young people to Japan from throughout the Asia-Pacific region, particularly from East Asia Summit participant states.
This program was titled JENESYS--the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths. With a budget equivalent to 300 million dollars, JENESYS has to date brought more than 14,000 young people to Japan from ASEAN alone.
Now we have decided to re-launch this program as JENESYS 2.0, infusing it with fresh passion and the spirit of gratitude.
In JENESYS 2.0, we will bring 30,000 young people from ASEAN and other Asian nations to Japan. What do you say, Fadri and Kaikiri-sensei, can I ask you to spread the word about this program?
VI Tranquillity for the Asian Seas
When Japan forged its partnership with ASEAN 40 years ago, I doubt that anyone foresaw just how much the Indonesian economy would grow in the ensuing decades.
Let us look at the change in Indonesia’s nominal GDP. At the beginning of this 40-year period, we could describe the Indonesian economy as the equivalent of a 10-story building--the sort of structure you can find in any city. Today it is as tall as Mount Semeru!
In Japan, a nation that has long honored the teachings of Buddhism, a faith born in India, we refer to the Mount Semeru as Shumisen, a peak held to stand at the center of the world.
This metaphor for Indonesia’s achievement over the last 40 years therefore holds a double meaning for us, and we cannot help but respond with deep emotion to what you have done.
I also believe that what you all have accomplished since the massive tsunami hit Aceh in 2004 will go down as an especially remarkable chapter in human history. It is truly a great accomplishment to have rebuilt from the disaster, forged peace in the region, and smoothly brought democracy to the nation as a whole all at the same time.
I feel great pride that Japan counts itself among the neighbors of a nation like Indonesia.
At the beginning of my remarks I noted that Japan is a nation that is surrounded by the ocean, that derives its sustenance from the ocean, and that views the safety of the seas as its own safety. The same holds true for Indonesia and for many other members of ASEAN.
These are, indeed, conditions shared in common by all of us who live in the region stretching from the Asia-Pacific to the Indian Ocean.
Today I have presented the five principles that must underpin Japanese diplomacy so that all of us can celebrate still greater peace and prosperity in the future.
We must have faith in the values that we hold dear. We must not allow the international commons, in particular the oceans, to become places ruled by might. We must pursue the creation of more networked economies. And we must enhance our cultural exchange, our fostering of future generations, and the personal exchange among them.
I pray for tranquillity in the seas of Asia. To help ensure this, I dedicate myself body and soul to creating a Japan that is economically strong, unshakeable in its will, and as open as can be to the outside world.
People of Indonesia, I am very pleased that I have been able to share my determination with you today. I thank you most sincerely for your kind attention.