"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] Video Message from Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihiko Noda at the 2012 Davos Meeting Side Event, "Japan Night"

[Date] January 26, 2012
[Source] Prime Minister of JAPAN and His Cabinet
[Full text]

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. This is Yoshihiko Noda, the Prime Minister of Japan.

I would like to express my deepest appreciation for your warm support for Japan and the Japanese people, in light of the disasters last year.

It is said that immediately after the great earthquake disaster, it was very clear that, when looking at the Japanese archipelago from space at night, in the vicinity of the Tohoku disaster region, only darkness could be seen, with "light" being lost temporarily. And yet now, more than ten months after the disaster, we are reliably restoring "light" to the area, with reconstruction moving forward steadily.

Through the cordial assistance provided by countries around the world, both the infrastructure and the economy of the disaster area are undergoing recovery in no uncertain way, while the Tokyo metropolitan area and other areas outside the disaster zone have already returned to the ordinary living they enjoyed before the quake. Many Japanese companies achieved restoration at an astounding speed, with the supply chain having fully recovered.

With regard to the accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station of Tokyo Electric Power Company as well, the reactors reached a state of cold shutdown at the end of last year, and the accident is no longer a major impediment to conducting business in Japan.

Post-quake Japan is currently playing a historic role in once again taking on humankind's front-line challenges.

First is the challenge of aiming for sustainable growth while maintaining fiscal discipline. In particular, in Japan this involves the difficulties of addressing a society of longevity unprecedented in human history. All around the world, democracy is becoming increasingly distressed, with politics unable to decide in an expeditious manner upon things that are in the interests of its constituents. At times, the power of the global financial markets, which is likely to overwhelm that of nations, strikes unrelentingly. The European debt crisis is a prime example of this. I believe that in today's Japanese society, social consensus towards reform can be generated if politics has strong will and the ability to get things done. I will surely realize major reforms in order to forge a sustainable social security system and maintain fiscal discipline in Japan.

Second, in considering Japan's growth over the medium to long term, it will be essential for us to incorporate to the fullest extent the vitality of the Asia-Pacific region, which has achieved dynamic growth. Japan will contribute actively to the creation of rules in this region. The first of these will be bringing the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific to realization. Last year, I decided that Japan would enter into consultations toward participating in the TPP negotiations with the countries concerned. Japan will concurrently promote networks of high-level economic partnerships, including Japan-China-Republic of Korea, ASEAN, and Japan-EU economic partnerships, and transform the energy of reconstruction from the great earthquake to capacity for new growth open to the world.

Our third challenge is addressing constraints on energy, which brings light to civilization. We are experiencing a new trial of a very tight electrical supply that has arisen in connection with the suspension of our nuclear power stations since the earthquake. This is one that I believe can be converted to an opportunity to attract pioneering innovations. We will promote the expansion of renewable energies, the introduction of rechargeable batteries, smart grids and other new systems that pursue efficient energy management, and the evolution of a culture of energy conservation. In so doing, Japan will continue to lead the world in this area.

In addition to these challenges, an acceleration of globalization has led to the emergence of global-level issues in a variety of other areas, with human security threatened in a profound way. Japan intends to create a future of shining light by transitioning to a green economy that achieves economic growth in a way compatible with the environment and realizing human security that enables each individual to thrive. On February 6 and 7 we will hold the "World Civilization Forum 2012" in Tokyo. Taking up the theme of "In Pursuit of Inter-Generational Justice," this forum will hold discussions that bring together wisdom from around the world. I would like it to serve as something that complements and further enhances the value of the Davos meeting.

The light of hope, which grows as it surmounts difficult circumstances. The light of kizuna-the bonds of friendship-that deepens our connections with the international community. And the light of technology, which will overcome the constraints on energy and other issues. These elements characterizing today's Japan are all symbolized by "light," the theme of tonight's "Japan Night."

This "light" serves as illuminants on the signposts that elucidate the path for the world to follow. I wish to contribute to a better world through engendering Japan's rebirth. I will conclude my remarks to you this evening by stating these 'wishes' and this 'determination.'

We shall overcome these challenges. In so doing, we aspire for the "lights of Japan" to act as a beacon for a brighter world for everyone. Thank you for helping us in these most difficult times, and for joining us tonight.