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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

The ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit, Gala Dinner, Prime Minister’s Remarks

Saturday, December 14, 2013

[Provisional translation]

Good evening, everyone.

Once again let me start my remarks by extending a wholehearted welcome to you all. To all of you from ASEAN and from Japan, I say that tonight is for us to celebrate our friendship, the chapter we have lived together. It's a story that heart to heart ties have bound us, ASEAN and Japan together. A story of innumerable efforts and achievements. I ask you to join with me in making tonight a night of profound celebration.

My friends, I would now like to introduce to you Mr. Ryotaro Sugi, our ASEAN-Japan Special Ambassador. Mr. Sugi, if you would kindly raise your hand. Mr. Sugi has built a rainbow-colored bridge between Japan and ASEAN through his big and warm heart. Later we will have the opportunity to enjoy some superb entertainment that Mr. Sugi has prepared, so stay thrilled.

Let me also tell you, that in seven years time, we will be hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games here in Tokyo! That's thanks to your help. I cannot thank you more.

Here in Japan, we all have our eye on seven years from now.  We aim to be upstanding as a people, and more virtuous as a nation.

But it won’t do for us to make these efforts in isolation.  It is a Japan that grows together with ASEAN that can best work towards these goals.  Indeed, we will succeed by working together with an ASEAN with which we share a vision, an identity, and most of all, a future.

From Japan to ASEAN; from ASEAN to Japan.  Exchanging cultures; exchanging people.  The government of Japan will forge a new cultural exchange policy for the next seven years in order to bring to life our “heart to heart” connections on both sides.

This will build up and strengthen the “wa”--W-A--that exists between us.  In Japanese, “wa” means “links,” and “wa” also means “peace.”  It means linking together with each other, our sights set on stability and peace and greater prosperity.  That is “wa.”  Our gala tonight celebrates our “wa.”

And so now, I would like you all to raise your glasses along with me.  Is everyone ready?

Now, I propose a toast:  let us celebrate together the long road ASEAN and Japan have walked down these 40 years and envision the glittering future between us that “wa” will create.


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