"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] Address by H.E. Mr. Seiji Maehara, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, on the occasion of the Japan-U.S. Business Conference

[Place] Tokyo, at the Imperial Hotel
[Date] October 7, 2010
[Source] Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Notes] 12:30-12:45
[Full text]

Chairman Yonekura,

Chairman Butel,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is my great honor to join you today in the 47th Japan-U.S. Business Conference and to address prominent leaders of the business communities of Japan and the United States. I take this opportunity to express my deepest respect to the contributions that this Conference has made over the years in deepening the ties between our two countries. I also wish to convey my heartfelt gratitude to the organizers of the Conference -- the members of the Japan-U.S. Business Council and the U.S.-Japan Business Council.


Three weeks have passed since I was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs. I bring to my new responsibilities the same focus and awareness that I developed in my previous capacity as Minister for Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. That is: How can Japan increase its strengths and pursue its national interest in an environment marked by a shrinking population, a declining birthrate, an aging society, and a massive fiscal deficit? In this context, the most critical challenge for Japan is to revitalize its economy in a framework of stability and cooperation with the United States and neighboring countries.

Based on this recognition, I am committed to placing economic diplomacy at the center of Japan's foreign policy. To put it in concrete terms, I believe that our foreign policy should be geared toward achieving progress in the following areas: promoting FTAs and EPAs, ensuring a steady supply of natural resources and food security, as well as advancing infrastructure development overseas. I also believe that we can achieve Japan's economic revitalization by promoting Japanese environment-friendly, energy-efficient, and safe and secure technologies overseas.

Needless to say, a robust national security framework is an essential prerequisite for the pursuit of such economic diplomacy. We need to further deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance which is the linchpin of Japan's security as well as a shared asset that bolsters stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. Next year will mark my twentieth year in politics. Throughout my career, I have always advocated the need to reinforce the Japan-U.S. alliance. Still today -- 50 years after our two countries concluded the Security Treaty -- elements of instability and uncertainty continue to plague East Asia. The Japan-U.S. alliance remains vital for our two nations to continue to respond jointly to security issues in the region.

(Current Conditions and Challenges in Japan-U.S. Relations)

On the occasion of the UN General Assembly last month, Prime Minister Kan and President Obama confirmed their commitment to further deepen our alliance based on the following three pillars: a) security; b) economy; and c) cultural and people-to-people exchanges. I also met with Secretary Clinton and agreed to work in concert on a broad range of issues, such as assistance to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Iranian nuclear issue, climate change, and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. In addressing mounting global challenges, our alliance, which is based on the shared values such as democracy and market economy, carries a greater significance for our two countries as well as for our contribution to the region and the entire international community.

On the economic front, in light of the fact that the global business environment remains difficult, it is vital for Japan and the United States to work closely together and take leadership in creating a new momentum for economic growth, not only in our own countries but throughout the globe. In this regard, the history of the Japan-U.S. Business Conference bears eloquent testimony to the highly significant role played by dialogue among private businesses and public-private partnership in bringing our countries closer together. Today, it is as important as ever for our two governments to conduct a forward-looking collaboration, based upon requests from our respective business communities, to achieve greater institutional harmonization and trade facilitation as well as explore new areas of cooperation between the two countries. This will help enhance our competitiveness, create jobs, and achieve growth. In this regard, we also wish to enhance our collaboration in addressing issues that the business communities of the two countries commonly face in emerging economies and other third countries.

There are some promising new areas of our economic partnership, which include the development of high-speed railway systems, clean energy technologies and nuclear power generation. In my previous capacity as Minister for Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, I took the lead and participated in high-speed rail seminars we organized in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. I also introduced Secretary LaHood and many other Americans to Japan's high-speed railway technologies that we all are proud of. In my recent meeting with Secretary Clinton, I had the pleasure of inviting her to try our Shinkansen on her visit to Japan and experience firsthand our state-of-the-art technologies.

On clean energy, we have developed a good cooperative framework. For example, a number of Japanese companies have joined hands with U.S. research institutes to carry out smart grid research and demonstration projects in New Mexico. A task force has also been formed for achieving greater energy efficiency in our islands, notably Okinawa and Hawaii.

Furthermore, in the area of nuclear power generation, our two countries have a long history of cooperation, and now we are seeing some new developments. Japanese companies are scheduled to participate in the construction of new nuclear power plants planned in the United States. I expect these developments will further enhance our cooperation in this area.

The utilization of Japanese technologies in the United States will stimulate the Japanese economy and, at the same time, we can contribute to creating jobs and promoting green growth in the United States. Moreover, these partnerships will add a new dimension to the Japan-U.S. alliance and help deepen our relations.

(Japan-U.S. Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region)

Next, I will touch upon Japan-U.S. cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. I would like to make three points.

First, I believe that the active engagement of the United States in this region is an indispensable element for peace and prosperity in the region. Beginning next year, the United States will formally participate in the East Asia Summit (EAS), and we note that the United States is placing greater emphasis on ASEAN and APEC. I am greatly encouraged by these signs of increased U.S. commitment to the region. In this respect, we should not forget that the Japan-U.S. alliance provides a critically important basis for maintaining a U.S. presence in the region. It is my conviction that by strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance, we are reinforcing the foundations for peace and prosperity in Asia.

Second, as you all are aware, Japan and the United States are currently engaged in very close collaboration as chairs of APEC 2010 and '11. In the APEC Leaders' Meeting and Ministerial Meeting in Yokohama next month, Japan will steer discussion on refining the shared vision for the Asia-Pacific region and framing actions toward regional economic integration and growth strategies, based on the assessment of the achievement of the Bogor Goals. We hope to actively take in valuable input from the business community including through the dialogue between leaders and the APEC Business Advisory Council members. Furthermore, Japan-U.S. cooperation in the APEC framework covers a broad scope of subjects, ranging from gender issues to food security and green growth. We will continue to work closely with the United States, making every effort to carry forward the results obtained during this year and bring them further toward fruition under the U.S. chairmanship.

Third, closely associated with APEC, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) stands out as a promising framework for economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region. As Foreign Minister, I am fully committed to making the greatest possible effort to promote Japan's FTA and EPA policies including looking into Japan's participation in TPP negotiations. The government is currently holding ministerial-level consultations, upon instruction from Prime Minister Kan to set out basic principles for comprehensive economic partnerships before the APEC Summit.


Let me conclude my speech by pointing out that this Japan-U.S. Business Conference is being held just one month before President Obama's scheduled visit to Japan for the APEC meeting. His visit provides us with an excellent opportunity to promote actions to further deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance. I look forward to receiving your positive messages and proposals for strengthening our ties and revitalizing the economies of our two countries and nations across the world.

Thank you.