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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Speech by Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio at the 4th Asia-Pacific Water Summit

April 23, 2022

[Provisional translation]
 

(Introduction)

I feel so honored to be given this opportunity to share my commitment to global sustainable development and the creation of a resilient society and economy with you at this Water Summit held here in Kumamoto with the participation of leaders from throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Water is a blessed resource that underpins our society. In the form of natural disasters, however, it can pose a threat to human life and prosperity. Water issues are thus deeply related to a range of challenges in society such as climate change, natural disasters, sanitation, and poverty.

In recent years, the frequency of water-related disasters has been increasing across the world. In Japan, the frequency of torrential rains has increased by about 40 percent compared with 30 years ago, and in the Asia-Pacific region, the number of water-related disasters impacting large populations has nearly tripled over the past 30 years.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to recognize once more the importance of maintaining a hygienic environment related to water. Also, using water to improve local sanitary environments is essential for the eradication of poverty.

I am aiming for the realization of a “New Form of Capitalism,” solving social issues the international
community faces such as climate change and poverty through public-private partnerships and the promotion of digitization and innovation, while supporting sustainable economic development.

This also applies to the solution of social issues related to water. I am committed to leading the
implementation of measures to develop quality infrastructure by making use of Japan’s advanced technologies with the New Form of Capitalism concept as a base, thereby simultaneously contributing to both the resolution of social issues and sustainable economic development in the Asia-Pacific region.

(Advanced measures implemented by Japan)

In Japan, in order to deal with climate change, we are promoting digitization and technological development for the maximum use of infrastructure, including dams.

For instance, we are pushing ahead with the development of technologies to optimize the AI-based forecasting of the inflow of water into dams and the operation of dams, while enhancing mutual data linkage among 1,500 dams in Japan for the maximization of their flood-control effects. In addition, we are working to make optimal use of related infrastructure such as sewerage systems and agricultural facilities and to make effective use of land, as well as more proactive use of the water storage function provided by rice paddy fields and reservoirs, in order to improve river basin sustainability and resilience to water-related disaster risks.

To this end, it is essential to increase the precision of precipitation and flood forecasts. Accordingly, we are pressing forward with research and development utilizing our meteorological satellite “Himawari,” which is equipped with a cutting-edge observation sensor, and our supercomputer “Fugaku,” which boasts computing speed ranked No. 1 in the world for four consecutive terms.

As I mentioned in my opening speech for the Summit, heavy rains hit Kumamoto and caused tremendous damage in 2020. This disaster was due to the unpredicted formation of a linear rainband. With a strong commitment to preventing the reoccurrence of similar damages, we have been promoting research and development through industry-academia-government cooperation, and we can now predict the formation of similar linear rainbands using the world’s most advanced technology in our Fugaku super computer.

Moreover, by disclosing big data about weather events and the water levels of rivers to the private sector and by proactively adopting digital technologies they develop, we are working to minimize human losses caused by disasters through measures such as sending out evacuation alerts and related information via smartphones in real time.

In addition, we will make flexible use of water by utilizing our weather forecast technology for the promotion of hydroelectric power generation, thereby also contributing to the realization of carbon neutrality.

Through these measures implemented by both the public and private sectors capitalizing on Japan’s advanced technologies, we aim to solve social issues, which will simultaneously help drive sustainable economic growth.

(“Kumamoto Initiative for Water”)

Today, I have the honor to declare the “Kumamoto Initiative for Water.”

Japan has accumulated an abundance of water-related knowledge and technology. We will share this expertise with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region from the perspectives of governance—namely of systems, human resources, and capacity—and of finance, as well as science and technology.

The Kumamoto Initiative for Water will be implemented using two approaches to contribute to the creation of quality-oriented society in the Asia-Pacific region.

The first approach is to “implement climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.”

Japan’s hybrid technology can be applied at more than 30,000 existing dams in the Asia-Pacific region, rapidly increasing their flood control and water supply functions for climate change adaptation while simultaneously enhancing their hydroelectric power generation capacity for climate change mitigation, all without causing any additional environmental impacts.

Furthermore, through the provision of Japan’s cutting-edge technologies, we will contribute to improvement of agricultural irrigation and drainage facilities, more effective use of the rainwater storage function of paddy fields, promotion of small hydroelectric power generation, and improvement of sewerage systems for the reduction of inundation damage and creation of biomass energy in Asian monsoon areas. We will thereby promote the establishment of “quality infrastructure” that facilitates both climate change adaptation and mitigation.

In the Asia-Pacific region, we have yet to build the capacity to collect and accumulate observational data and make forecasts for water management planning. To meet these challenges, Japan will collaborate with European countries, the United States, Australia, and India to conduct activities to enhance the earth observation network, thereby making it possible for areas where not enough ground observation data is available to make use of the observation data provided by a number of satellites for weather forecasts such as precipitation estimates.

In addition, we will support the assessment of water-related disaster risks and the visualization of the
infrastructure development and operation effects while simultaneously encouraging companies to make ESG investments and disclose more of their climate change risk-related information. Furthermore, we will increase the number of partner countries for the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM).

In addition, it is also important to make “investments in human resources” handling water management to ensure the practical use of scientific technology in society. To this end, we will provide support by using the Data Integration and Analysis System (DIAS) built by Japan and conducting joint research in cooperation with organizations in each country, thereby contributing to human resource development.

Climate change is progressing day by day and continually posing a greater risk to all of us. It is therefore essential to implement measures against it before we face disasters as the actualization of a serious risks. The financial costs for implementing such measures will also skyrocket if we wait until such risks have already materialized. We need to act promptly so that later on we will not regret postponing countermeasures.

Now, as the second approach taken for the “Kumamoto Initiative for Water,” I would like to talk
about measures to improve people’s basic living environment.

Japan will contribute to the provision of wider access to safe water and maintenance of hygienic
environments, and we will also facilitate the improvement of water environments in various areas for the public water body.

By making use of Japan’s technologies and providing financial support, we will assist in the expansion and renovation of water supply facilities in the region while also encouraging private companies to participate in this field, thereby helping water utilities to expand their revenue base by establishing a billing and tariff collection system based on the use of IoT technologies. This will help improve their water leakage detection capabilities and reduce non-revenue water, improving their profitability for the enhancement of their overall capacity.

We will also increase the number of member countries of the “Asia Wastewater Management Partnership (AWaP)” from the current six in order to share our knowledge and experience across Southeast Asia for the further promotion of sewage management. At the same time, we will contribute to the improvement of water environments and biomass power generation by making use of Japan’s sewerage facility development
technologies.

For water supply, sanitation, and other facilities to serve as “quality infrastructure” and an engine for
economic growth, Japan will support not only the structural development but also the digitization of
infrastructure operation and the introduction of advanced technologies.

(Conclusion)

Based on the Kumamoto Initiative for Water, Japan will provide financial assistance worth approximately 500 billion yen over the next five years.

The details of this initiative will be incorporated in the “Kumamoto Declaration” to be finalized today, and Japan is committed to implementing the measures as described in this document.

To ensure the Asia-Pacific region can achieve the SDGs and to create a quality-oriented society where
people can enjoy a high quality of life with a high level of resilience against water risks, Japan will
spearhead these efforts in a sincere manner.

Now, taking the opportunity presented by this meeting held with the participation of leaders from across the Asia-Pacific region, I would like to comment on the situation in Ukraine, which is another very important challenge that the international community should address together.

The international community is now facing a crucial moment. In order to end Russia’s outrageous aggression and to maintain peace and order in the world, we need to make a concerted effort and speak with a unified voice to make it clear that we will not tolerate any attempts to alter the status quo by force.

To this end, I would ask for cooperation from the leaders who gathered to take part in this Summit before concluding my speech.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

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