"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] Salvage, Salvation to Soul Mate: Remarks by Prime Minister Abe, at the occasion of commencing the Ichthys LNG project, Darwin, Australia

[Date] November 16, 2018
[Source] Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet
[Notes] Provisional Translation
[Full text]

Prime Minister Scott Morrison; Mr. Bill Risk, representative of the Larrakia People, traditional owners of the land and water; all the people who have worked for INPEX; ladies and gentlemen, today, I would like to celebrate the beginning of full-scale operations of the Ichthys LNG project.

The amount of investment of this project totals 40 billion US dollars, one of the largest foreign investment projects for a Japanese company on record. The subsea pipeline measures an impressive total length of 890 km. Ichthys is expected to export 70% of its total production to Japan for 40 years, a truly remarkable figure.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to the Northern Territory government and to the people of Darwin for your support. Thank you very much.

From the Japan-Australia EPA to TPP 11, the depth and breadth of our economic relationship continues to grow.

A telling example of our cooperation is the black tiger prawn farming project here in the Northern Territory. In addition, a project connecting Japan and Australia through a hydrogen supply chain will commence in Victoria, where hydrogen produced from brown coal will be liquefied and sent to Japan, while CO2 will be stored underground.

Prime Minister Morrison, ladies and gentlemen, it is through exciting collaboration such as these that the future of Japan and Australia will become even more prosperous.

Today, I visited the Darwin Cenotaph memorial. As Prime Minister of Japan, I prayed for the souls of each individual who perished from the air raids conducted by the Japanese military. And thank you, Prime Minister Morrison for joining me during this visit.

Tomorrow, I will also visit the memorial that commemorates Japanese naval submariners who died when the I (pronounced E)-124 submarine sank off the coast of Darwin. I will offer them my prayers in silence. I understand that this memorial was built by members of the AJANT, Australian Japanese Association of the Northern Territory. Particularly, I would like to mention that Dr. Tom Lewis recorded in his book the names of all 80 members of the crew who still rest inside the sunken vessel. These examples all evidence, do they not, the bond that has glued us, the Japanese and the Australians.

Prime Minister Morrison, ladies and gentlemen, I am still deeply moved by the words of tolerance expressed by Prime Minister Robert Menzies to his fellow Australians in 1957 at the time of resuming relations with Japan.

"Hostility to Japan must go. It is better to hope than always to remember."

In the same year of 1957, then Japanese Prime Minister Nobuske Kishi, who was my grandfather, and Prime Minister Menzies signed the Japan-Australia Agreement on Commerce, which marked the start of the postwar relationship between our two countries.

It was also in that same year a Japanese man came to Darwin. Ryƫgo Fujita was his name. He ran a salvage company. Fujita came to Darwin Harbor with his crew to raise the ships that the Japanese military had sunk. They lived a simple life in a shed they built on one of the raised ships. They were hard workers, but they were quiet. At one point during the salvage operations, Fujita made out of the metal from the retrieved ships more than 70 crosses and donated them to a nearby church. The local community appreciated Fujita's gesture of good will. Soon a mutual respect developed on both sides. In this way, reconciliation between Japan and Australia began in none other than Darwin as early as in the late 1950s.

Salvage brought salvation. I cannot help but admire the great power of forgiveness.

Now, for the first time, a Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel is at this present visiting the very port where Fujita worked to salvage the sunken ships. The vessel is called "Echigo," 3,100 tons and equipped with a helicopter.

As a great nation of both the Pacific and Indian Oceans and a country that respects democracy, Australia is an invaluable partner of Japan in promoting peace, prosperity and the rule of law in a free and open Indo-Pacific. This is the message that the boat "Echigo" has come to deliver.

The relationship between our countries has become one of true soul mates who share the great responsibility of protecting and fostering prosperity and order of the region and the world. The commencement of Ichthys is not only timely, but extremely symbolic as I believe the project reflects an even stronger bond between Japan and Australia.

Once again, I would like to celebrate this momentous occasion marked by the start of Ichthys's operations and express my heartfelt gratitude to all those involved for your efforts. Thank you very much.