"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] Opening Speech by Foreign Minister Taro Aso, "Hoisting a New Banner of Japan as a Nation of Peace" at HiPeC International Peace Building Conference

[Place] International Conference Hall, Hiroshima
[Date] March 8, 2007
[Source] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

Good morning, I am Taro Aso, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

I have great admiration for HiPeC for holding such a timely conference in Hiroshima.

"For a New Day", I think, is a fascinating title. Humankind simply has seen too many false dawns.

Let me say to you first, that I have been tremendously encouraged by the Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture, my friend Mr. Yuzan Fujita.

He is saying something very important and thoughtful. How can we achieve peace in the world, he asks.

His answer is this: "for a new day" when people, old and young, can live in peace, we must act- and we must build up peace.

It no longer suffices to pray for peace, in other words. So for Hiroshima the buzzword runs: "from the peace we pray for, to the peace we build up".

This is a deep thought, indeed. It captures the nature of the silent revolution going on in the minds of the Japanese.

We should be proud, ladies and gentlemen. For the last 62 years, nobody has ever been hurt by our service men and women.

Time is ripe, now more than ever, for the peace-loving nation to paint its banner in a different colour.

We are no longer, merely, peace-lovers. But also, we are peace-builders. That is what we now say to ourselves, and indeed, to the world.

Who else than the people in this city could have longed and prayed for peace more earnestly? Still, they are now saying, "that is not enough, we must work proactively to construct peace". HiPEC, needless to say, is part of that endeavour.

This reflects, I believe, the regained confidence among my fellow Japanese citizens that they can do it, they can make a difference in the world.

Our experiences in getting engaged in post-conflict situations have given us a lesson or two. In the immediate aftermath of a conflict where dust is barely settled, no one but the people and the communities themselves can provide the security blanket.

Therein will come the importance to protect and empower individuals and communities, the whole exercise of human security. And peace can take deep root, ODA can be effective, only when there is ownership shared among the local people.

Over the last 493 days since becoming Foreign Minister, I have brought forth a couple of new diplomatic initiatives.

One is to declare that we will do our part to help promote such universal values as freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and the market economy. I am saying to my fellow Japanese citizens that we must serve as an escort runner to support the people struggling to achieve freedom and prosperity. Hence to create the "Arc of Freedom and Prosperity," ladies and gentlemen, now makes a new pillar that supports Japanese diplomacy.

The other is that, exactly for that purpose, my ministry is now building a school for peace-builders. (Please see "A School to Build Peace Builders" Keynote Speech by Foreign Minister Aso) The school, though smallish at the start, is to foster as many experts as possible, Japanese as well as Asians, who can work farther afield as peace builders.

I for one have a son and a daughter who are in college. I would very much like to see their generation's Japanese waving the new banner that we are a peace-builders' nation.

I would like to extend my welcome to all the participants at this important conference. A seamless, multi-phased cooperation involving experts of a whole bunch of fields always holds the key in post-conflict situations. In other words, each and every one of you, counts.

I salute the big efforts made by the people involved in this conference. I wish you all the best. I am hoping that HiPEC evolve into an important network of world peace-builders.

Thank you.