"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 H.E. Mr. Seiji Maehara, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan at the Third Bali Democracy Forum "Democracy in Diversity- Building on Asia's Unique Strength -"

[Place] Bali, Indonesia
[Date] December 9, 2010
[Source] Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

His Excellency Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia,

His Excellency Mr. Lee Myung-Bak, President of the Republic of Korea,

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam

His Excellency Mr. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

His Excellency Dr. Marty Natalegawa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia,


Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


I am delighted to be a part of the Third Bali Democracy Forum in Bali, Indonesia, an island of rich culture which is the pride of all Asia.

The Bali Democracy Forum is open to all, and is an important attempt by Asia to spread democracy in the Asia-Pacific region. Indonesia, a nation espousing "Unity in Diversity," is the most appropriate host for this forum. Indonesia has achieved stability, prosperity and a democratic system by overcoming a number of political and economic challenges. Democracy in Indonesia is making firm and steady steps forward through free and open elections, increasing political participation by its people, and expanding freedom of speech. With diverse ethnic groups, languages, cultures and religions, the impressive records of democratization in Indonesia give courage to many Asian countries. It is highly commendable that President Yudhoyono has exhibited leadership in hosting this forum, building on Indonesia's own experience. Japan stands ready to continue to support this forum.

We are gathered here at the Bali Democracy Forum for the third time. Last year this forum was co-chaired by then Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. We are greatly honored to pass the baton of co-chair to President Lee Myung-Bak. Having overcome its challenges, the Republic of Korea achieved free and democratic systems, basic human rights and the rule of law, and today stands as a front-runner in democratization in Asia. I would like to express my deep respect to President Lee's co-chairing with President Yudhoyono as a symbol of steady progress of democracy in Asia.

Japan experienced the historic change of power in September last year through general election. The Japanese people chose to bring about a genuine change of government for the first time since 1955 through democratic procedure. In order to meet their expectations, we are currently striving to recover strong economy, and people's confidence and pride. Japan, therefore, is in the process of further deepening of democracy. We are making efforts to make the process of legislation and budget compilation more transparent to the people and media so that people can feel greater ownership in politics. I believe it is the duty of elected officials as the leader to set a national vision into the future and lead the people. I would like to work on furthering democracy together with other Asian countries. It is with this strong conviction that I have come to the Bali Democracy Forum.

(Economic Development, Regional Cooperation and Promotion of Peace and Stability in Asia)

Democracy is an important means for realizing peace, stability, and prosperity. Asia has enjoyed stability and prosperity led by economic growth and interdependence through the promotion of free economic activities. Each country in Asia has achieved transformation to democratic system in each unique way against the backdrop of its specific situations. This history was not without difficulties. But today democracy is fostered in many countries in Asia.

Peace, stability and prosperity through vigorous development in the region provide the basis of democracy in Asia. I believe the following three points are the keys to furthering our democracy.

The first key is continued strong economic development in Asia. Economic growth increases wealth. The distribution of wealth stabilizes the society. This leads to expanded, diverse, talented human resources, which in turn promotes further development. Asia's experience demonstrates that economic development generates stability and prosperity, which provides a basis for democracy.

When I became Foreign Minister, I declared that I place priority to further growth of economy, which is the foundation of a country, in my foreign policy. This is because I believe Japan enhanced its national wealth and strength and expanded its diplomacy in the post-war era through the success of economic growth. It is well known that Japan has shared its fruits of economic growth with other Asian countries through ODA. We are advancing this idea further. In order to build "win-win relationship" with other countries, and to establish foundation for shared prosperity, we are promoting Economic Partnership Agreements and Free Trade Agreements. It is also important to promote foreign policy to secure stable supply of resources, energy and food that are necessary for economic growth from a comprehensive perspective. Furthermore, demand for infrastructure is increasing in Asian and other countries. The utilization of safe, secure and environment-friendly Japanese technologies will lead to the improvement of infrastructure of these countries and the building of environment-friendly societies, which contributes to further development. The exemplary case is that Japan was recently chosen by Vietnam as a partner for nuclear power plant. We would be delighted if infrastructure equipped with Japan's high technologies would be of use for establishing social foundations overseas, and serve as the basis for further development of the country. Expansion of trade and investment and sharing economic interests with each other through economic growth will deepen economic interdependence and strengthen mutually beneficial bilateral relations.

Overseas tourism is another area to be promoted. In the middle- to long-term, active people-to-people exchanges will mix various ideas and cultures and bring great benefit to economic development. Active people-to-people exchanges generate new markets and cultures in Asia. Today pop culture such as music, movies, dramas and anime is rapidly shared and consumed, especially among young Asians. We should support these new movements. And we should make efforts to create an environment where various ideas and cultures are freely exchanged.

The second key is the promotion of regional cooperation. Even as Asia continues to grow, "disparities" within a society represent the dark underside to this growth. We must not forget that there still exist people suffering from poverty in Asia. I regard it extremely important that the Bali Democracy Forum pays attention to the relation between democracy and development. Japan will play an active role in efforts to correct disparities within the region, such as by supporting ASEAN's strengthening of the "connectivity," and promoting development in the Mekong region. Another important challenge is dealing with natural disasters that cause enormous damage. One thing that makes natural disasters so terrifying is that we never know where or when one will strike. By strengthening the crisis management mechanisms between our countries, and cooperating in times of disaster, we can minimize the damage. In March 2011, Japan and Indonesia will co-host the second ASEAN Regional Forum Disaster Relief Exercise, or DiREx 2011, in Manado, Indonesia. We look forward to the active participation of countries throughout the region.

We will also push forward cooperation so that Asia's experiences and human resources contribute to the resolution of global challenges. Asia has built up experience of peacebuilding in countries such as Cambodia and Timor-Leste. In fact, in 1998, I visited Cambodia myself during the Constituent Assembly elections following the Paris Peace Agreement. There I saw with my own eyes the people of Cambodia casting their votes. The great progress made by Cambodia since then reminds me of birth pangs of democracy at that time and sweat and tears of the international society that supported this effort. Our experiences in peacebuilding in Asia will surely contribute to peace in other parts of the world. Japan will support Asian human resources working throughout the world through our Program for Human Resource Development for Peacebuilding and our ongoing support for PKO training centers.

The third key is "securing stability in the region." Stability in the region is the foundation for economic development and the stability of people's lives. As the security environment in the Asia-Pacific region is changing, the presence of U.S. forces in the region remains important. Japan will make efforts to secure peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region by firmly maintaining, further deepening and developing the Japan-U.S. alliance.

Asia's remarkable economic growth inevitably faces internal challenges. These include greater energy requirements and a rapidly increasing burden on environment. In this context, it is important to draw up a set of shared rules to maintain stability in the region, including peaceful resolution of conflict. Starting next year, the East Asia Summit will include the United States and Russia. We expect that the EAS will play a part in building shared rules in the future. We welcome the deliberations already underway between China and ASEAN based on the "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea." This has the potential to provide common rule for preventing conflicts. We expect this effort to contribute forward the peaceful resolution of the problem.

Related to stability in Asia, I would like to say a few words about the situation on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea's recent shelling on Yeonpyeong Island was an attack against Korean civilians. Japan strongly condemns this attack, and expresses its sincere condolences to the victims. Also, Japan has a grave concern over the uranium enrichment program. We strongly condemn North Korea's act breaching the UN Security Council Resolutions, and strongly urge North Korea to demonstrate their will to faithfully fulfill its commitments, including denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, with concrete action. On December 6, we reaffirmed this clear position at the Trilateral Foreign Ministers Meeting between Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States. I wish to ask our Asian Colleagues gathered here to join us in our call to North Korea.

(Democracy in Asia)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ultimately, the source of Asian growth is the energy generated by this region's diverse, talented human resources. To make the most of this resource, it is vital to empower "individuals." Paying maximum respects for "dignity of the individual" is the starting point of democracy. It is in Asia in particular, with its vast and diverse population, that we should be initiating in building "human security" based on the dignity of the individual. This, I believe, is the first and foremost task in exercising democracy in Asia.

In a society where "human security" is ensured, individuals, as its members, take their share of the responsibility for the stability and development of the society, and participate in deciding what form it will take. It is especially vital to establish the rule of law, which guarantees predictability that enables individuals to act without fear. It is also vital to establish a market economy where competition can take place fairly, based on transparent rules. Japan will actively offer its cooperation in helping the Asian nations build these environments, including support for the establishment of democratic judicial systems.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please allow me to emphasize that we need to share a common understanding as BDF that for democracy to take firm root in our region, we need to respect and build on the basis of diversity in Asia.

Indonesia continues to grow as the world's third largest democracy. As I mentioned at the beginning, Indonesia today is a model for democratization. The young, independent country of Timor-Leste is also advancing its democratic nation-building. And it is expected that Fiji, which is taking part in this forum for the first time, will make steady progress in preparation for the general election it has pledged to hold by 2014. The recent election in Myanmar should have been freer and fairer. But we would like to note that an election did take place for the first time in 20 years, and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was freed from house arrest. These mark Myanmar's step forward in democratization. We expect this marks the starting point of Myanmar's move towards a more open nation. I also expect progress in the areas of democracy and human rights among other BDF partners.

One characteristic of Asia as a diverse society is its tendency to make progress in a steady and patient manner enabling everyone to participate in the process with confidence. The development of Asia to date is proof that this approach produces valuable results. To further advance these results, it is important for Asian nations to learn from each other's experiences as they work together toward further deepening of democratization. Our efforts are made towards the right direction, which makes it all the more important that we all take part in a transparent way. As the venue towards this end, we place high value in the Bali Democracy Forum.

In this context, Japan highly appreciates the "ASEAN Charter" for enshrining values such as democracy and human rights as important elements. We will support ASEAN in continuing to strengthen their regional efforts in democracy and human rights.

(Japanese Support for the Bali Democracy Forum)

Before I close, let me propose a concrete contribution Japan would like to offer to learn from the experience of election. As I mentioned earlier, election monitoring was a very useful means in promoting democracy in Cambodia.

As a part of the "Election Visits Program" proposed by Japan last year, we invited election officials from Asian countries to Japan on the occasion of the House of Councilors election, which took place this July. We provided training for participants to learn about democracy and the Japanese electoral system. In April next year, when the Tokyo gubernatorial election takes place, we will host a seminar for working-level officials. We hope people from various countries join this program.

Without fair elections, there can be no democracy. Japan hereby proposes an "Election Training Program," to take place once a year here in Bali, to bring together participants from the "Election Visits Program" to study practical matters related to electoral systems and procedures. I hope that all the nations represented at this forum today will be a part of this undertaking.

We should further brighten the torchlight of democracy in Asia by placing the Bali Democracy Forum as a venue to advance democracy in Asia and promote peace, stability and prosperity in Asia. I am confident that this year's co-host, the Republic of Korea, will also exercise leadership in developing the Bali Democracy Forum into the future.


Asia, as the world's center of growth, is the hope of the 21st Century, expected to lead the world economy. Asian economies showed their strength by recovering quickly after the shock of the Lehman Brothers collapse two years ago. At the APEC Leaders' Meeting held in Yokohama last month, the leaders adopted the "Yokohama Vision." The participants shared the idea on the roadmap of further development of Asia-Pacific.

At the First Bali Democracy Forum, President Yudhoyono stated that the global shift in the 21st Century with Asia's huge population, large market, growing middle-class, social dynamism, enormous natural resources and newfound confidence, is the proof of rise of Asia. At the same time, he alerted that the rise of Asia - whether it will bring further peace and prosperity, or conflict and rivalry, will be determined by our ability to meet the challenge of democracy. Now is the time for us to come back to the origin of this Bali Democracy Forum and demonstrate our determination to overcome these challenges together. I will close my speech by calling to my colleagues here in Bali that we share value of "democracy," which is the foundation for peace, stability and prosperity, and work together as one.

Thank you very much.