"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 Remarks by H.E. Mr. Koichiro Gemba, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, at the Japan Evening of Japan Day at Rio+20

[Date] June 20, 2012
[Source] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

A very warm welcome to the Japan Evening.

Japan has experienced numerous natural catastrophes in its history. This is why Japan has a good deal of knowledge, experience, and wisdom regarding disaster reduction and preparedness. The most recent calamity Japan experienced is the Great East Japan Earthquake along with nuclear accident, one of the worst disasters in history. On behalf of the people of Japan, I would like to express my gratitude for all the heartwarming support and encouragement from you and people around the world.

The very existence of this pavilion, as well as the videos that will be shown later, demonstrates that Japan is steadily advancing along the path of reconstruction. TOHOKU FORWARD, JAPAN FORWARD, that is. Japan will overcome this adversity. However, just overcoming it is not enough. It is my strong wish to share with the world Japan's knowledge and experience in disasters as well as the ongoing reconstruction process. That is the responsibility of Japan. This is why Japan will host The World Ministerial Conference on Disaster Reduction in Tohoku in Sendai next month.

Human security is a concept Japan has created - a concept designed to respect the dignity of individuals and enable them to fulfill their fullest potential. This concept is gaining currency at the United Nations. At this very moment, efforts are being made to assimilate this concept into the outcome document to be adopted at this conference on sustainable development. From here, I can see the faces of Ms. Hironaka and Mr. Oki, both former environmental ministers of Japan. I am proud to say that it was our predecessors, including Ms. Hironaka and Mr. Oki, who nurtured the concept of human security.

I have been advocating Full-Cast Diplomacy. The idea is that governments are not the only actors in diplomacy. Local authorities, private businesses, the media, individuals, and NGOs have their own role to play. I believe that this pavilion is the product of all these actors.

And the leading actors this evening must be Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate Prefectures, which were hardest hit by the March 11th disaster. They are in the midst of the reconstruction process. We must support these three prefectures in their efforts. They are working hard to stand on their own two feet. I hear that Japanese descendants in Brazil, especially the separate associations of those from the three prefectures, were instrumental in building the pavilion and organizing this TOHOKU FORWARD event. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to them.

I meet with the foreign ministers of different countries almost every day. They are keen to laud the resilience and patience of the Japanese people. It is important to continue to communicate such Japanese virtues to the world. I suppose such characteristic virtues are part of the ethos of these Japanese descendants, who must have had to overcome many hardships. I would like to express my respect for their efforts as well as my gratitude for their contributions to this event.

Today, I would like you to enjoy sake and other local specialties from Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi. Before concluding, please let me say a few words to those who insist that Tohoku, including Fukushima, must be a dangerous place to visit. This is not the case. Radiation levels in Aizuwakamatsu, the top tourist destination in Fukushima, are practically on a par with those in New York and Shanghai.

I have talked for too long. Please enjoy yourself this evening.

Thank you.