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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Address by Prime Minister Nodaat the invitation of the Indian Council of World AffairsStrategic and Global PartnershipBuilt on People-to-People "Kizuna"(the Bonds of Friendship)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi, India

1. Introduction

Good afternoon everyone. I am Yoshihiko Noda, Prime Minister of Japan. It is truly an honor to be here today, at this event hosted by the venerable Indian Council of World Affairs, a place for the genesis and exchange of Indian knowledge since the time of Prime Minister Neru, with the opportunity to speak about Japan-India relations on the eve of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries. It is really nice to have this event at a very good time slot. Everyone would be sleepy if it had been held after lunch. At a timing before lunch, I am convinced that everyone would be able to listen attentively to my speech.

Five years have passed since we first described the Japan-India relationship as a "Strategic and Global Partnership." Since then, both countries have been expanding this partnership every year. Our two countries have an unshakeable resolve to cultivate the seeds we have sown for a new, 21st century relationship. There is no doubt that in both countries, there is a bipartisan consensus to strengthen the Japan-India relationship. I belong to the Domocratic Party of Japan. There are many other political parties, including the Liberal Democratic Party, in Japan, but all of them hope to strengthen the relationship with India.

In Japan, as the year draws to a close, there have been many challenges to keep us busy. Even so, I was determined to visit New Delhi before the end of the year. It is because continuing annual reciprocal visits has not only symbolic significance but also substantial meaning for our two countries to confirm the achievements for each year.

Democracy. Rule of Law. Market-oriented economies. It needs no further argument that Japan and India share these universal values. Likewise, it does not need a lengthy explanation that Japan and India share "strategic interests" as well.

What we are asked for the next decade, therefore, is how to expand concrete exchanges and cooperation to build a solid and firm relationship between our two countries.

In the international community, Asia's power is on the rise and a new world order is emerging. For the coming years, our mission will be to further deepen our bilateral relationship, founded on shared fundamental values and strategic interests, into a mature partnership that can make meaningful contributions to Asia, and the international community beyond.

As a major economic power in Asia, India is blessed with abundant labor force and sustained high rates of economic growth. Japan is a nation that has technologies, experiences and finance conducive to the sustainable development of India.

As a globally-connected world economy today presents both opportunities and risks, we need a "strategic" response to continue sustainable growth. Now is the time for Japan and India to jointly develop concrete strategies, by taking advantage of our countries' mutual complementarity, as well as making use of such forums as the Ministerial-Level Economic Dialogue.


2. The Great East Japan Earthquake and Industrial Development - Face-to-Face Interaction Between People

The most important part of strengthening our bilateral relationship is multi-layered and face-to-face exchanges at the grassroots level.

On March 11, an earthquake of unprecedented scale struck Japan's Tohoku region. Nations around the world, including India offered warm support for Japan. On behalf of the Japanese people, I would once again like to express my sincere gratitude for the assistance we received from Indian people in all walks of life, including heroic efforts by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) of the Government of India.

Under the leadership of Commandant Alok Awasthy, the 46 members of the Force showed such outstanding discipline in their work that no one thought that it had been the Force's first overseas operation ever since its creation.

I imagine how hard it was for NDRF members, coming from India to work under the bitter chill of Tohoku's blustery winds in late March. Despite such harsh conditions in Onagawa, a port town of Miyagi Prefecture severely damaged by the tsunami, they listened to the needs of local residents and worked painstakingly with their hands to search for victims' bodies and their belongings from piles of rubble more than 10 meters deep. Their dedication, whole heartedness and warm smiles touched the hearts of those who were grieved at the disaster and gave them immeasurable hope.

Looking back, I recall that India has always stood by Japan during our difficult times. Following the Second World War, India's gift of "Indira the elephant" rekindled the hope of countless numbers of Japanese children to live through the post-war devastation.

Now, half a century later, Japanese people have surely felt warmth and compassion from India. India supported Japan by extending tangible assistance and strong messages of encouragement to cheer those affected to get back on their feet. Tagore once wrote, "Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain but for the heart to conquer it." In the same way, Japanese people were given the "strength to overcome" this ordeal.

Nurturing such face-to-face, warm-hearted relationships with heart-to-heart communications provides the foundation for building mutual trust and deepening "Kizuna" - the bonds of friendship between Japan and India. The dedicated efforts by NDRF members have reminded us of this importance.

You may know a Japanese gentleman whose thoughts and actions have resonated deeply with the Indian people. Ladies and Gentlemen, have you heard of Professor Shoji Shiba?

Japan has been contributing to human resources development in India in the manufacturing industry, which is Japan's principal industry, through a cooperation program involving industry, academia, and government. Professor Shiba played a leadership role from the planning stage in the program (Visionary Leaders for Manufacturing (VLFM)) aimed at fostering senior managers in the Indian manufacturing sector.

In the post war period, Japan experienced rapid growth, often referred to as an economic miracle. Behind the miracle were infrastructure development and industrial policy, but the economy has been mainly driven by the private sector. And what factors do you think might have contributed the most to the private sector's development?

According to Professor Shiba, working not just for personal gain or for the profit of one company, but rather for the greater cause of society as a whole is what motivates people and makes them happy. The professor made this belief a framework for the VLFM program.

During the four years since its inception, this program has turned out more than 400 graduates under the leadership of Professor Shiba. "ChotuKool," compact refrigeration unit that is currently on the market in India, was developed by Mr. Gopalan Sunderraman, Vice-President of Corporate Development at Godrej & Boyce Mfg Co. Ltd, using the management skills gained as a participant of the program. I understand that ChotuKool's reach is expanding in India's rural areas, greatly changing people's lives by making refrigeration units accessible to people who until now have not been able to afford the high cost of typical refrigerators.

At the root of the high growth rate during Japan's economic miracle is more than just what's visible to the eye. I am delighted that, through Professor Shiba's efforts, know-how and philosophy, the intangible "essence" of Japanese business is being transmitted to India and contributing to the advancement of industry here.

We must remember that such quiet dedication at the individual level, multiplied over and over, is what makes up the bilateral relationship between our two countries.


3. Towards a Deeper and Broader Exchange

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In order to deepen the bond between our two countries throughout the 21st century, it is essential that even more people engage in ever deeper exchanges. In this regard, I would like to see enhanced cooperation in three areas.

The first is the expansion of grassroots-level exchanges at the individual level.

In particular, exchange between Japanese and Indian youth, who will forge the future of our two nations, will be the basis that supports the friendly relations between our two countries. Since 2007, Japan has invited approximately 2,300 Indian youth to Japan under the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) Program.

Following the Great East Japan Earthquake, in order to promote understanding on Japan's recovery, we will carry out the "Kizuna (Bond) Project," under which nearly 600 Japanese and Indian youth visit each other's country.

Although adults may be unaware of it, I understand that the Japanese anime "Ninja Hattori" and "Doraemon" are gaining popularity among Indian youth. Growing cultural exchange, by way of such media as anime and movies, will surely contribute to mutual understanding between our countries.

Also, there is a saying that "seeing is believing." Actually coming to Japan is the most effective way to know and appreciate our country. I would like more and more tourists from India to visit Japan. One pillar of Japan's "New Growth Strategy" is becoming a tourism-oriented nation, and I would like Indian people to help us realize this goal.

The second area is the expansion of the bilateral trade and investment.

Boosting bilateral economic exchange will deepen our countries' people-to-people ties. While India has an abundant labor pool and sustained high rates of economic growth, Japan has the technology and experience, including in infrastructure development, to be able to contribute to the sustainable development of India. No two other countries in the world have an economic relationship marked by such a clear-cut, win-win, "mutual complementarity."

The Japan-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which came into effect this past August, will no doubt provide a great push in this respect. With this trend, the number of Japanese businessmen visiting India has already seen a dramatic increase and the number of Japanese companies based in India has grown to over 800. Japanese companies, including small and medium size enterprises, keep fervent eyes on India as they choose the location of their next investment.

We also welcome investment in Japan by Indian companies, and particularly appreciate those companies wishing to be a part of the reconstruction of the disaster-afflicted areas through investment in the region. The Government of Japan has been supporting the recovery through various measures, including the suspension of corporate taxes in the Special Zone for Reconstruction for the next five years.

Another thing that we can cooperate with India is to provide our know-how regarding the development of domestic infrastructure. Infrastructure is the life-blood of economic growth. Japan achieved rapid economic growth in the post-war period through the Pacific Belt Zone Initiative, which connected the southern Kanto region to northern Kyushu.

That is why we have been so keen to provide support to the Dedicated Freight Corridor and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. Furthermore, Japanese industry has a strong interest in such mutually beneficial projects as infrastructure development in southern India where an increasing number of Japanese companies establish their presence, as well as high-speed railway system which could take advantage of Japan's high standards of safety from bullet-train (Shinkansen) technologies.

As you know, Japanese urban transportation and urban environment know-how is being put to use in the construction of metro networks in Delhi and other cities. The Delhi metro network has now reached the same scale as that of Tokyo with the opening of the Phase Two this past August. I would also like to call attention to the introduction of Japanese-style "Safety First" workplace standards in India, such as wearing safety helmets and protective footwear, following this project.

I'd like to add a few words on Japan's philosophy and views on energy and environment.

While Japanese companies succeeded in achieving high growth, they had suffered in the past from air and water pollution. We also felt the significant impact of two oil crises, as we depended on foreign countries for more than half of our energy resources.

Having learnt lessons from these experiences, Japan undertook technological innovation and improved the legal framework to overcome environmental problems. This is how we have become one of the world's most energy efficient countries. Reducing environmental pollution or conserving electricity is not imposed on Japanese companies. It has rather become one of the corporate ethics that companies are promoting by themselves. I witnessed this evidence last summer when, faced by a crunch between electricity supply and demand following the earthquake, low-volume contract customers such as small and medium-size enterprises responded to government's calls to conserve electricity, managing to reduce consumption by as much as around 20% compared with last summer's peak consumption rate.

The transition to a green economy that accompanies the evolution into a low-carbon society is now a global agenda. It will certainly become a pressing issue for countries like India as its energy demands are expected to rise sharply in the years to come. While many avenues of bilateral cooperation should therefore be explored, I would like to stress here that such values or corporate ethics as environmental protection and energy conservation need to be widely shared in society in order for us to make transition to a green economy. Based on this, Japan will spare no effort to promote cooperation at the bilateral and regional levels on projects such as bilateral offset credit mechanisms and the East Asia Low Carbon Growth Partnership.

With regard to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, I am paying a close attention to the progress of the negotiations on a Japan-India Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. On the matter of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station of Tokyo Electric Power Company, our government announced this month that "cold shutdown condition" of the rectors had been achieved. The Government of Japan will continue to take measures as appropriate and will share with the international community including India the knowledge and lessons obtained from a thorough investigation of the accident, in order to contribute to the enhancement of nuclear safety worldwide.

The third area is the strengthening of cooperation for the stability of the region as a whole and for the solution of global issues.

Both Japan and India, as maritime nations in Asia, have a vital interest in maritime safety, including the safety of sea lanes. Japan's Self Defense Force vessels have called at Indian ports during its anti-piracy operations. We have also been holding various regular dialogues. Both countries have coordinated with the United States, China and other countries concerned in anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden.

Let me also add that, while Japan and India have already conducted joint naval drills in the context of the multilateral Malabar exercises, Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force will conduct bilateral exercises with the Indian Navy in the near future. Security cooperation of this kind must progress on the basis of close personal contacts and exchanges together with the sharing of various know-how.

Japan and India are both global players that can have significant influence on the world. We must face the regional and the global issues together, and cooperate to pave the way for a better future for all humankind. The recent East Asia Summit welcomed the United States and Russia as new members and made great strides as a forum to discuss regional security matters as well as global issues. It is important that Japan and India cooperate in the Asia-Pacific region with such countries as the U.S., China, South Korea, Russia, and the ASEAN countries in order to strengthen open and multilayered networks in various fields including political and security areas. Through these efforts, I would like to vitalize trade, investment and human interaction in the entire region, and particularly enhance a connectivity of the region though infrastructure development. I also welcome the recent launch of Japan-US-India trilateral dialogue, through which we advance cooperation for the stability and prosperity of the region as well as on global issues.

I don't have time to list all the issues that deserve our attention. Our bilateral cooperation is crucial for expanding intellectual exchanges among Japan, India, China and other Asian countries through India's initiative to revive Nalanda University, as well as strengthening regional connectivity through infrastructure development in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. Other regional issues such as assistance to Afghanistan, democratization and national reconciliation in Myanmar, and the situation in North Korea in the post-transition , as well as global issues including disaster risk reduction and counterterrorism, climate change, and development and peace-building in Africa are the areas where we would like to deepen bilateral cooperation between Japan and India.


4. Conclusion

In a world where it has become easy to deepen one's global personal connections, interaction between Japan and India has certainly expanded over the past 10 years. However, in my opinion, compared to what might be seen as the ideal level, there is much more to be done.

We need a transition from a relationship anchored by "someone with special attachments" to a relationship deepened naturally through regular interactions among ordinary citizens. I will do my best to make next year's 60th anniversary of our diplomatic relations an opportunity to achieve this goal. Commandant Awasthy and Professor Shiba have both advanced our interactions at a profound level. Instruments for deepening and expanding our exchanges, such as the Japan-India CEPA, are also being set in motion.

From the seeds of friendship that our predecessors sowed 60 years ago, many flowers have blossomed. Let us cooperate now in sowing new seeds for a better future for humanity - one that is more peaceful, prosperous, and safer. All of us here today are to stand at the forefront of this endeavor. As we look towards a new era, let us join hands in nurturing those seeds so that the sprouts will take root with vigor and bring an even more fruitful future.

Thank you.



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