Asia-Pacific Water Summit and Bilateral Meetings and Other Events

April 23, 2022
[Provisional Translation]

On April 23, 2022, Prime Minister Kishida attended the Fourth Asia-Pacific Water Summit (APWS) held in Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture, in the gracious presence of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress by video conference.

At the opening ceremony, His Majesty the Emperor delivered an address, followed by an address given by Prime Minister Kishida. In the afternoon, the Prime Minister attended the heads of state and government meeting and gave a speech. Then he held a summit meeting with the Hon. Kausea Natano, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, a summit meeting and signing ceremony with Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and a summit meeting and signing ceremony with H.E. Dr. Phankham Viphavanh, Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Later, he spoke to the press regarding the Asia-Pacific Water Summit and bilateral summit meetings and other events. Afterwards, the Prime Minister hosted a dinner for Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The Prime Minister said in his opening address,

“I am KISHIDA Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan. On behalf of the host government, I would like to express my heartfelt welcome for the hosting of the Asia-Pacific Water Summit today in Kumamoto, which is full of charm of water, in the gracious presence of Your Majesties the Emperor and Empress by video conference and with the participation of Your Excellencies Presidents and Prime Ministers and distinguished guests.

Kumamoto, where we are now, is a land blessed with groundwater from Mt. Aso. However, it has also been hit by a number of torrential rain disasters so far, including the one in July 2020 which inflicted the damage totaling 330 billion yen and left 69 people dead or missing. Moreover, it suffered a huge earthquake disaster in 2016. In response to these natural disasters, national and local governments as a whole have been pushing ahead with reconstruction and recovery efforts, while strengthening disaster prevention initiatives and those aimed at increasing resilience. Tomorrow, I am going to visit Hitoyoshi, which was affected by the heavy rain, to inspect the progress in reconstruction and recovery. Despite the ongoing, global impact of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), I am truly pleased to organize the Water Summit here in Kumamoto with the presence of overseas participants.

Dr. KITASATO Shibasaburo, who was born in Kumamoto around 130 years ago and studied medicine, devoted himself to the fight against infectious diseases, including through his discovery of plague bacilli threatening the world, and lit up the future of humanity. Today, the battle against COVID-19 has once again led us to become acutely aware of the importance of countries around the globe working together to overcome common threats to humankind and achieve development together. I believe that it is highly meaningful that we, who have gathered for this summit, have an opportunity to discuss social issues surrounding water, which is essential for our survival, in order to create high-quality societies together. The COVID-19 pandemic has made me appreciate easy access to clean and safely treated water for hand-washing and other purposes.

The impact of climate change is emerging as social issues, such as frequent and severe flood disasters and droughts, not only in the Asia-Pacific region, but also throughout the world. Water is closely linked to various social issues, including poverty, public health, food, the environment, energy, and peace and security.

Who is in charge of all of these water-related social issues? The answer is us, the world leaders. As an old saying goes, the one who governs water governs the country. Nowadays, governing water greatly contributes to the resolution of social issues on a global scale. Following the 1st APWS in 2007, Japan established the Headquarters for Water Cycle Policy led by the Prime Minister and has strongly promoted its water cycle policy. As we meet here, we have the duty to take the opportunity of this summit, be united as one, and spearhead efforts to address water issues to facilitate resilient and sustainable development.

I also would like to renew my sincere respect for the leadership of former Prime Minister MORI Yoshiro, Chair of the Joint Executive Committee of the 4th APWS, who has led the Water Summit since its first conference. I myself participated in the 2nd World Water Forum, which was held in the Hague, the Netherlands in 2000, as the then Parliamentary Vice Minister of Construction and have been actively engaged in the resolution of global water issues. On the occasion of this summit, I, as the Prime Minister of the host nation, feel a strong sense of mission to further expedite action toward the solution of water issues in the Asia-Pacific region. I am confident that discussions and outcomes of this summit will go beyond the Asia-Pacific region and give great momentum and wisdom to future debates on global water issues, disaster prevention, and climate change. I believe that now is a good opportunity to gather the wisdom and resolve of the Asia-Pacific region from here in Kumamoto, in order to take a major step toward the resolution of global water issues.

In closing, I express my deep respect for organizers and other people who have committed themselves to holding this summit. Thank you.”

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