Remarks by Prime Minister Hatoyama
Mr. President, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to express my sincere appreciation to our host, His Excellency Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the President of the Republic of Indonesia, for his excellent arrangement and hospitality rendered to us. I extend my warmest welcome to all the participants from so many countries, and pay sincere tribute to you, Mr President, for your far-sighted initiative in hosting this event.
The Bali Democracy Forum is an important platform for dialogue among Asian governments seeking to promote democracy through their own self-motivated efforts. Japan, being a nation that upholds universal values such as democracy and human rights, attaches importance to this Forum and intends to contribute actively to its endeavors. As part of our contribution, we look forward to putting our experienced personnel and expertise at the disposal of the Institute for Peace and Democracy operating under the umbrella of this Forum, whose activities Japan appreciates very highly.
This Forum seeks to focus on the correlation between democracy and development -- a perspective that Japan supports. Since the general theme of this year's Forum is "Promoting Synergy between Democracy and Development in Asia," the Japanese government wishes to contribute to the discussions actively by drawing from its past experience.
Economic development raises income levels, improves access to education and nurtures an independent press, which will then lead to a civil society mature enough to foster democracy. Especially, as for education it is important to build a society in which anyone with aspirations can receive quality education. In such a society, government corruption and lack of transparency in policy-making are rectified, and good governance achieved. That, again, will prompt further economic growth.
For democracy to truly take hold, it is essential that we work towards building a society where peace and security are ensured at both national and regional levels and where full account is taken of the perspective of human security, just as Japan has long advocated.
Democracy is basically a principle that allows us to avert conflicts by talking our differences out. That said, even in societies where the democratization process is moving forward, confrontation between religions or over ethnic minorities can surface, at times getting amplified into full-blown conflicts. It is therefore imperative for us to maintain a profound respect for diversity of religions, ethnicities and languages if we are to achieve democracy as a political system for national integration. And this sense of respect is also essential in our efforts towards regional integration.
I am proposing the spirit of "yu-ai", or fraternity. This "yu-ai" guides our aspiration for a society in which the highest priority is placed on human life, individuals can be independent, diversity is respected and people coexist in dignity. We should aim to develop as a peaceful and prosperous region, without sliding into extreme forms of nationalism.
Ladies and gentlemen, Asian countries have charted a course unique to themselves, reflecting their respective circumstances, in making the transition to democracy, whilst also achieving economic growth and developing civil society. Ever since the Second World War, Japan has remained thoroughly committed to peace, has striven relentlessly for economic development and the improvement of people's lives, has established democracy on firm foundations and has achieved the prosperity that we enjoy today. I think we can be proud of all that we have achieved in our part of the world. The new administration of Japan will work together with other countries in this region to bolster such trend of democratization in Asia.
This year, important elections have been held in India and Indonesia, two of the world's largest democracies. In Japan, a historic election led to a change of government. What really ought to be a common occurrence in a nation's democratic life was finally brought about in Japan after many years without it. We are now making further efforts for deepening our democracy. For example, amidst the very tough fiscal situation, the Japanese government has been undertaking a totally innovative process for national budget formulation, in a "glass-house" style if you like, by inviting citizens and media to witness in person the session whereby experts scrutinized budget wastes.
Here in Indonesia, both economic development and democratization have been moving forward steadily in tandem. Indonesia is a country of remarkably diverse ethnicities, languages, cultures and religions, and yet with all that, steady progress has been made in the endeavor to firmly establish democracy in this country. Indonesia's case could serve as a role model for other countries, not only in Asia but throughout the entire world.
This experience is also a source of great inspiration in terms of the correlation between democracy and development. Japan praises Indonesia's democratization process and, in partnership with the democratic Indonesia, stands ready to share widely in this region our experiences and accomplishments of democracy. Such an act of sharing can also create opportunities to further deepen mutual understanding in this diverse region that is Asia.
China, home to the largest population in Asia and experiencing remarkable economic growth, has been undergoing an economic and social transformation to open itself to Asia and the wider world. In the 2008 joint statement between Japan and China, our two countries pledged to "engage in close cooperation to develop greater understanding and pursuit of basic and universal values that are commonly accepted by the international community." There is great expectation that China will continue to make progress, as a responsible power, on the issues of democracy and human rights, along with various other issues.
In Myanmar, we have seen gradual positive developments towards democratization. Japan continues to encourage, rather than impose, the positive efforts of the Government of Myanmar to carry forward their democratization process so that next year's general election will be held with the participation of all parties concerned and with the blessing of the international community. I believe that this expectation is shared among all of you who are present today.
It is regrettable that there still remain deep-seated distrust and confrontation in Northeast Asia. I call on North Korea to join the trend under way elsewhere in Asia and throughout the world. The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula needs to be achieved through the Six Party Talks process, which plays an important role for peace and stability in Asia. At the same time, as regards Japan and North Korea, it is essential that the abduction issue and the outstanding issues of the past be settled. It is my hope that North Korea will eventually become a state open to the international community as the process of establishing a framework for peace in Northeast Asia moves forward.
Ladies and gentlemen, The ASEAN Charter deserves high praise for its clear reference to the importance of universal values such as democracy and human rights. And I hope that the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights established under this Charter will take the lead in region-wide efforts to promote human rights and democracy.
On the other hand, there is great diversity among the countries of Asia in terms of their political systems, their levels of economic development, and their religions, cultures, and traditions. Naturally, the process and the speed of democratization may also vary, with some twists and turns on the road ahead.
It is important to note that there is no end to the process of evolving democracy; it is always a work in progress with the possibility of further improvement. One could argue that the recent change of government in Japan was an example of such a process for improvement. It is essential that we recognize each other's differences and advance our collaboration in an open and mutually supportive manner. Japan supports the self-motivated efforts of other governments towards democracy. I believe that an East Asian community, of which I am a proponent, will also come into view in time as we forge ahead in this way.
To this day, Japan has actively provided a variety of assistance to Asia, ranging from its aid to development so as to build the foundations of democracy, to its support for democratization itself. Japan has delivered assistance to a range of Asian, and especially Southeast Asian, countries. It supported the reform and open-door policy of China. And it was quick to make the largest contribution possible in tackling the Asian currency crisis in 1997 and the financial and economic crisis last year. Last month, I hosted the Summit Meeting between Japan and the Mekong region countries in Tokyo, which was another occasion for Japan to reaffirm its support for the efforts to realize the further integration of ASEAN and to promote regional cooperation.
Japan has implemented a number of specific projects to assist democratization including human resource development, improvement of legal systems, the strengthening of the media, and election monitoring. Japan will do everything in its power to support the efforts to foster mature civil societies and good governance in Asian countries. From this viewpoint, Japan wishes to capitalize upon the Bali Democracy Forum and support the process of democratization in each country vigorously, in partnership with other countries sharing the same goal. As a part of this support, let me propose that we implement a project whereby the countries participating in this Forum visit each other's elections so as to share good practices in consolidating and developing democracy. I would like the Institute for Peace and Democracy to play a central role in this endeavor; we in Japan will certainly extend our cooperation to this end.
Ladies and gentlemen, Let me close by reiterating that, without development and economic growth, there is no progress in democracy; and without progress in democracy, neither individual happiness nor national prosperity can be complete. There is indeed no end to the process of democracy, and therefore we need to continue our relentless efforts. Japan is committed to the success and continuation of this Forum, and wishes to work closely with the countries represented here today so that this Forum will thrive even more in the future.