"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Speech by Ms. Yoriko Kawaguchi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, The Second Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies

[Place] Seoul, the Republic of Korea
[Date] November 11, 2002
[Source] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

The reason I have come to Seoul today is very clear. The Republic of Korea is an excellent example of democratisation, as Minister Choi talked about at the dinner last night. In a very short period of time, the Republic of Korea has achieved not only remarkable economic growth but also established a solid democracy.

I wonder if you have heard about one step taken by the Municipal Government of Seoul to reduce bureaucracy and create a more transparent system and government. It is called the "Online Procedures Enhancement for Civil Applications," but is generally known by its acronym, "OPEN." The system publishes a variety of information related to the services, permits and licences issued by the local government. The status of an application can be tracked by the applicant on a web site. Such concrete actions to ensure transparency, I believe, enhance good governance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Transparency, accountability, and participation are three important pillars of democracy. However, these elements cannot function without empowerment. In Japan, we have an old saying that "Nation building begins with human resource building." To make democracy work, enlightened citizenry and civil society must be cultivated through unceasing efforts to develop and empower individuals. Towards this end, Japan has been heavily investing in education for centuries and has supported education projects in other countries in order to nurture citizens who support democracy. A recent example is the successful "Back to School Campaign" in Afghanistan carried out by Japan through UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund).

Empowered citizens, however, cannot participate in political processes without the rule of law. Therefore, it is vital to ensure and strengthen this prerequisite. That is why Japan is assisting, for example, with the development of legal systems and the training of judiciary personnel in Cambodia and Vietnam.

Furthermore, to promote democracy world wide, we must take concrete actions to address serious problems which undermine the human dignity of individuals. Conflict, crime, illiteracy, infectious diseases, denial of gender equality, lack of housing, starvation. Each of these pushes people down to the level of mere survival. Because traditional national security approaches cannot adequately address these problems, Japan has advocated the notion of "human security." This is a concept that focuses on the viewpoints of individuals to protect them from these threats to human life, livelihood and dignity, and to bring out the full potential of each individual. On the basis of this concept, Japan has implemented various projects through the "Trust Fund for Human Security."

Ladies and gentlemen,

The rapid globalization of today's world has created new opportunities for, as well as challenges to, democracy. Recently, the remarkable evolution of Information Technology has facilitated and promoted the political participation of citizens, as exemplified by Seoul's OPEN system, to which I referred earlier. To fully seize these new opportunities, Japan took the lead in the discussion on the digital bridge during the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit, so that people all over the world can benefit from modern technology.

On the other hand, we have survived heinous terrorist attacks in New York last year, and in Bali and the Philippines this year. Terrorism is a grave affront to democracy. As representatives of democracies, we must stand firm against terrorism and demonstrate to the world our resolve to fight against it.

While terrorism is an external threat to democracy, corruption is an internal threat. Corruption is negligence of ownership and accountability by those responsible for governance. That is why we are negotiating the UN Convention against Corruption. I should like to take this opportunity to welcome the Government of the Republic of Korea, which is going to host the Global Forum III on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity next year.

We are living in a world where billions of dollars move at the click of a mouse. Some have opportunity and wealth, while others are born into war and extreme poverty. In part, these inequalities come from the deficiency of the system of world governance. In today's globalized world, discussing democracy at the national level is not enough. We must be aware of the negative aspects of globalization and commit ourselves to searching for ways to build a better world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In facing the challenges posed by rapid globalization, we cannot be complacent about the prospect of democracy. At the same time, however, we do not have to be overly pessimistic. I sincerely hope that this conference will open up new possibilities of democracy for the future.

May I propose a toast wishing that this conference provide an opportunity to share the great wisdom of all the participants gathering here.

In Korean language, Kon Bae!