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Opening Speech by H.E. Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan at the Special Conference on Somalia

Friday, May 31, 2013

[Provisional translation]
Pacifico Yokohama Conference Center, Yokohama, Japan

Your Excellency, Mr. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia,
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government and Ministers,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


Today it is my great honor to be able to convene this Special Conference on Somalia, jointly with the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia and the African Union Commission, with the gracious participation of those who are involved in the nation-building and peacebuilding of Somalia.

Last year, Somalia overcame its arduous history marked by a 21-year-long internal conflict and established a new government and constitution which now serves as the foundation for the nation. For those of us who have believed in and have worked together with the Somali people, the dedication shown by Somalia to build a new nation atop these new foundations is rewarding.

I would like to pay our respect to those, including the Troop Contributing Countries to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), who have struggled together until now, believing in the potential of Somalia.

The Significance of this Conference

Under the leadership of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Somalia has now begun once more to take steps forward. However, for Somalia, which has only recently overcome its long internal conflict, the path ahead may not be smooth and the country faces significant challenges. Nevertheless, for we who wish for the peace and prosperity of Somalia, this challenge is also an opportunity that has presented itself for the first time in 21 years.

The stability of Somalia is important for the stability and prosperity of East Africa. Its stability is also indispensable for fundamentally resolving the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia and ensuring the safety of a major sea artery, one that plays a prominent role even on the global level, from the Indian Ocean into the Rea Sea and then out through the Mediterranean Sea. In order to achieve that, Japan wishes to work hand in hand with the Somali people and the international community. It is on account of this wish that we have convened today's Conference.

Issues for Somalia

What is most necessary for Somalia at present is to achieve the well-being of the people in Somalia. To bring this about, basic human needs in people's daily lives must be satisfied. Through a recovery of the economy and through improvements in people's livelihoods, one can sustain the well-being of its people. It is vital to improve employment opportunities for the youth and encourage people to obtain skills that will enable them to support their own livelihoods. In order to achieve this, individual Somalis who influence the nation and support society need to be empowered. Now that a new government has been established, it is imperative, from a medium-to long-term perspective, to invest in its people, who will be the driving force in society. Building societies, while recognizing the importance of protection and capacity-building of individuals is the concept of "human security," whose importance Japan has consistently emphasized. I believe that human security is exactly what is needed in Somalia from now on.

The Somalia Conference, recently held in London, confirmed the importance of political stability and the restoration of security. Japan believes human security will also be critical in tackling these important challenges. When people's basic needs are satisfied and people are able to perceive a peace dividend, it serves as deterrence against new conflicts, which will be the cornerstone of Somalia's peace and stability.

Japan's Future Efforts

As Somalia gets off to a new start, Somalia's will and desires must be placed at the center of its efforts. Immediately after taking office, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced his Six Pillar Policy embodying the will of the Somali people. Japan wishes to express its respect for the leadership demonstrated by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. We will vigorously support the determination shown towards the future of the Somali people. In addition, respecting the concept of ownership, Japan will support the efforts undertaken through the "New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States" that the Government of Somalia is advancing, together with the international community. It is my hope that today's discussions will further contribute to these efforts.

Japan's assistance for Somalia can be summarized in the following three approaches. The first is improving Somalia's socio-economic conditions, with particular emphasis in the area of providing basic services, specifically health, education, and water. The second is ensuring security. We will support to enhance the capacity of the Somali police force and others to maintain security, which is key to restoring security in Somalia. The third is economic revitalization. In addition to creating employment opportunities for youth by nurturing industries such as fisheries, going forward, we will work to link these to invigoration of trade and investment relations with Japan.

In order to move these efforts forward, Japan decided in March to provide new assistance in the amount of 55.4 million U.S. Dollars to Somalia. Moreover, in order to contribute to Somalia's nation-building in a fully-fledged manner, Japan has decided to resume direct bilateral assistance to Somalia. Japan is determined to continue to support Somalia's nation-building through development centered on people and is determined to work towards Somalia's bright future together with the Somali people.

In Closing

In 1587, Ito Mancio and other members of the Tensho embassy in Europe, who were the first Japanese people to visit Europe, also became the first Japanese people to visit Mogadishu, Somalia, during a trip from Rome. I can only feel that, after more than 420 years since Japan and Somalia's first encounter, it is historical destiny for Japan to be able to contribute to the reconstruction of Somalia by holding this Conference. I regret to say that because of meetings with various heads of state and government, I myself need to leave this Conference at this time, but I wish very strongly for constructive discussions for the bright future of Somalia.

Thank you very much for listening.

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