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Posted On: Monday, 2 June 2008
Address by H.E. Mr. Yasuo Fukuda, Prime Minister of Japan to the Japan New Zealand Partnership Forum
Tokyo - 14/15 May 2008
Unofficial translation by the New Zealand Embassy
Address by H.E. Mr. Yasuo Fukuda, Prime Minister of Japan at the Opening Session of the Japan New Zealand Partnership Forum
(Read by Mr Osamu Uno, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs on behalf of the Prime Minister)
15 May 2008
I would like to offer my congratulations on the convening of this inaugural Japan New Zealand Partnership Forum today. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the New Zealand-Japan Agreement on Commerce. The attendance of so many distinguished guests here today is proof of how well Japan-New Zealand relations have developed thus far.
Japan and New Zealand are partners in the Asia Pacific region that share common values and have built a cooperative relationship as developed countries. To further mutual cooperation between our countries, it is necessary to seek ideas from various fields. The joint statement issued during the 2005 visit by Rt Hon Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand, stated that “both governments will take a forward looking and fresh look at the present bilateral economic relationship and consider ways to strengthen it”. I am sure that today’s forum offers the perfect venue to discuss such issues, and as my contribution to this discussion I would like to present several areas that have potential for cooperation.
First, in the field of business between our two countries, the Japanese government has worked toward facilitating activity in the private sector. For example, in addition to signing the Agreement that gives favourable treatment to certified operators who fulfil customs compliance criteria, Japan is also proceeding with measures to protect our common interests including intellectual property rights. Furthermore, if we look at investment, the balance of Japan’s direct investment in New Zealand amounts to around US$1 billion whereas the amount of New Zealand’s direct investments in Japan is only about US$3 million at the end of 2006. As I stated in my Administrative Policy Speech, Japan aims to make its investment systems more transparent and to double the amount of investment in Japan. Therefore, I look forward to further investment from New Zealand. If anyone here has any ideas for promoting investment in Japan, we would be grateful to hear them.
With regard to global challenges, I think there are areas that our countries can cooperate on. One of these is climate change. In advance of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit to be held this July, climate change has been given a focus as one of Japan’s most important policy issues. Last year, Japan proposed the “Cool Earth 50” initiative, calling for a halving of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as a common goal for the entire world and also presented the “Cool Earth Promotion Programme" in January 2008 as a means of making this initiative happen. In this programme, I stressed the importance of the peaking-out and halving of global greenhouse gas emissions, and resolved to work towards emissions reduction by setting a quantified national target in cooperation with major greenhouse gas emitting nations. I then proposed a sectoral approach based on a bottom-up method as a means of setting fair targets. Based on these ideas, we are striving to establish an effective framework in which all major economies responsibly participate, and we hope to work together with New Zealand in order to realise this vision. I would also like to pursue opportunities for bilateral cooperation. The Japan-New Zealand Environment Workshop held in Japan in March 2008 saw an extensive exchange of views on climate change including renewable energy, electric vehicles, and agriculture/forestry emissions. The workshop provided a fine opportunity to explore the possibilities for cooperation involving both business and academia, and could contribute to the overall expansion of bilateral S&T linkages. Through follow-up meetings, it is hoped that programmes for closer cooperation will be discussed.
Another promising area for cooperation is tourism. Each year nearly 18 million Japanese tourists travel overseas, while in comparison the number of tourists visiting Japan is less than half that figure at around 8.4 million. About 150,000 Japanese visit New Zealand each year, whereas approximately 35,000 New Zealanders visit Japan. The Japanese government has implemented policies to attract more international tourists, and I would be grateful for your opinions on how to better promote Japan’s diverse attractions, such as our traditional and contemporary aspects and our culinary culture, to the people of New Zealand.
Furthermore, ongoing people-to-people exchanges form the basis of our business linkages. New Zealand is known for its enthusiasm toward the Japanese language, and every year around 30,000 students are engaged in its study. Japan has accepted over 2000 young New Zealanders through the JET programme. The Working Holiday Scheme which commenced in 1985 has also encouraged young Japanese to visit New Zealand, with over 50,000 visas issued to date. On top of that, in June Japan will host around 50 young leaders mainly from the New Zealand business community. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Japanese companies in attendance here today for your cooperation in accommodating them. I hope that participants in such exchange activities will become the future driving force in Japan-New Zealand relations, and that they will help to further mutual understanding.
Needless to say, the basis of such cooperation between Japan and New Zealand not only lies in the shared fundamental values such as democracy, liberty, and market economy, but also is underpinned by the affinity shared between our peoples. Although our two countries are located separately in the northern and southern hemispheres and have opposite seasons, we are both island nations in the Pacific Ocean blessed with similar warm climates and share common aspects such as earthquakes and hot springs. It may be more appropriate to say that our ties are rather natural.
But it does not end there; Japan and New Zealand are working together for a stable and prosperous international community. For instance, the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force’s refueling activities cover New Zealand frigates deployed in the Indian Ocean. After Japan’s Replenishment Support Special Measures Law was passed through the Diet in January this year, New Zealand decided on the further deployment of a frigate in the Indian Ocean and in early May it received its first refuelling by Japan. The New Zealand Defence Force has also deployed its peacekeeping force in Afghanistan and is taking part in reconstruction efforts. New Zealand has the will and capability to actively contribute to the international community by utilising its strengths to the fullest, and furthermore it is putting this potential into practice. .
As you all know, the Asia Pacific region has a range of frameworks for regional cooperation of various sizes and functions. The East Asia Summit is one of them, and at its establishment Japan welcomed New Zealand’s participation, after which its membership was acknowledged. This may be seen as representing our expectations for New Zealand’s contributions to the East Asia region.
New Zealand is also known as the first nation in the world to allow women’s suffrage. In the 1980’s, New Zealand carried out major regulatory reform as part of a transition away from being an advanced welfare state. Many Japanese Diet members have visited New Zealand to learn from this experience and utilize it for our own reforms. In the international arena as a founder member of the United Nations, New Zealand actively participates in a wide range of activities including UN peacekeeping operations. To forge regional cooperation in Asia, we need to have not only Asian circumspection, but also New Zealand’s flexibility and mobility to take the right action at the right time. From this perspective, I believe that this requires the full utilization of New Zealand’s potential through cooperation with Japan.
Engagement by our public and private sectors forms the basis of cooperation between Japan and New Zealand. The participation of government and business leaders from both Japan and New Zealand in today’s forum heightens expectations of a fresh impetus in strengthening our bilateral relationship. I look forward to the emergence of meaningful proposals for the future of Japan-New Zealand relations in today’s discussions, and would like to conclude by wishing the Forum every success.
H.E. Mr. Yasuo Fukuda
Prime Minister of Japan
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