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Global Issue 15

Global Insight G20 In particular, this year marks the 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Co-operation. I chose three ASEAN members – Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia – to be the first countries I visited overseas in January 2013, immediately after I took office. I also visited Myanmar in May. Furthermore, in December this year, Japan will host the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit. On that occasion, I plan to discuss with my colleagues in ASEAN a mid- and long-term vision to further bolster our relations. I hope that this will serve as momentum for strengthening and expanding Japan-ASEAN relations further. In Africa in recent years, the market has been growing rapidly against a backdrop of high economic growth, and Japanese companies have been paying close attention to opportunities in Africa. For Japan, Africa is our business partner with whom we can now grow together and also foster world growth together. At the TICAD V conference, held in June, we reached the conclusion that, in order to enhance the quality of Africa’s growth, the private sector should serve as a driving force for growth. We also agreed that it will be essential for us to improve infrastructure and foster human resources. The assistance package – comprising up to approximately 3.2 trillion yen, including approximately 1.4 trillion yen in official development assistance – that I announced during the conference, would promote such efforts through the public and private sectors working together, and then expand private investment directed at the African continent. My government will continue to strengthen co-operation that harnesses the power of the private sector. Where do you see the rebranded Japan in ten years’ time: economically, and diplomatically as a world player? I am fully confident that in ten years’ time, Japan will have recovered its robust economy and will continue to be a major player that contributes to the peace and prosperity of the world. Japan has made great contributions to the world in addressing various challenges by utilising its cutting-edge technologies that Japan is proud of. Ten years into the future, I expect Japan to contribute to the international community as a pioneer in resolving the challenge of our dwindling birthrate and ageing population and other 21st-century-types of challenges. The world will continue to count on Japan a great deal in meeting many global challenges, such as upholding and fostering a free and open maritime order, the fight against terrorism, human rights, and climate change. In working to resolve the mountainous number of international issues, I intend to redouble my efforts to make Japan an even more reliable partner for both the region and the world. Where do you see the restyled Japan constitutionally in ten years’ time, given your ambition to rewrite Clause 9 of the constitution pledging the nation to pacifism? What military change is envisaged? Will this resurgent Japan be emblematic of – or lead to – what some critics might see as dangerous nationalism? What do you say to those – especially among ASEAN neighbours – who fear that a powerful revisionist movement in Japan wishes to blur its historical record in World War II? Japan’s current constitution has never been amended even once since its enactment up to the present day, a span of more than 60 years. Thus, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the ruling party, announced its draft revisions to the constitution, aiming for a constitution which is appropriate for Japan in the 21st century. What I would like to emphasise first of all is that there is no change whatsoever in Japan’s commitment to pacifism or the renunciation of war from the current constitution. The draft preamble states clearly that under the principle of pacifism, Japan will promote friendly relations with other nations and contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world. On that basis, with regard to national security, the draft constitution expressly provides for Japan’s right of self-defence and renames the Self-Defence Forces as the National Defence Forces, neither of which is stipulated in the current constitution. This only makes Japan the same as other countries around the world. It merely stipulates what is only natural, that the nation will defend its people and its territory, which are the foundations for the existence of a sovereign state. In co-operation with the international community, I will continue I want a dialogue with Beijing to pursue common interests – our improved relations with ASEAN are not to hold China in check to be committed to pacifism. I will defend my nation and my homeland with mettle and a sense of pride. I will aim for a country where basic human rights are upheld, harmony is respected and people help each other in their families and in the society as a whole. It is completely wrong to say that Japan is heading for a dangerous nationalism. Ever since the end of World War II, Japan has consistently made great contributions to peace and prosperity in Asia and around the globe by providing overseas development aid and participating in peacekeeping operations, among other things (see Out of Africa, page 9). This is the fundamental national policy espoused by the Japanese people and it will remain unchanged into the future. The path that Japan has followed as a peaceful nation is well-regarded all around the world, and we will continue to follow the path of a peaceful nation. This is something we are proud of, and it is well recognised by the people of ASEAN countries and many nations beyond. Our neighbouring countries and ASEAN countries are essential partners for Japan. As a responsible democracy in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan will make still greater efforts to strengthen its relationship with these countries while making contributions to the peace and prosperity of this region and the world. Finally, after 20 years of stagflation, Abenomics has brought new hope to Japan. But every stock market wobble damages the nation’s still-fragile self-confidence. You have described this as Japan’s last chance. How much of a personal burden is it for you, having lit the flame of hope and confidence, to keep it alive and burning brightly? I am fully aware that Japan is facing various challenges. Our economic policy is now also heading towards a moment of truth. The pivotal question is whether we can execute this policy without wavering in our purpose. Now that I have come to shoulder the heavy responsibility of taking the helm of the nation once more, I am firmly determined to restore a strong economy and transform Japan into a country that is brimming with hope and self-confidence. I am also resolved that I will make Japan a country that makes substantial contributions to the peace and prosperity of the world. I consider these to be my roles, and indeed, my mission. I will stay the course, seeing these through to the very end. global thi rd quar ter 2013 www.global -br ief ing.org l 35


Global Issue 15
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