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Remarks by Mr. Yoshihiko Noda, Prime Minister of Japan at the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Remarks by H.E. Mr. Yoshihiko Noda,
Prime Minister of Japan
Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan
July 8, 2012, Tokyo

Your Excellency Mr. Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,
Your Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honor for Japan to host the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan as a peace-loving country which has been making its contributions to stability and prosperity in the international community. I would like to express my heartfelt welcome to the ministers from Afghanistan and other countries.

A decade ago, we gathered here in Tokyo and celebrated the start of a new Afghanistan -- the then-called "Afghan interim government"-- and pledged together to make a new nation-building a success.

"There is nothing but war and tragedy." At that time, we had to start by listening carefully to such voices of grief and sorrow and by facing harsh reality filled with difficulties. The nation-building of a newborn Afghanistan has been a creative process. It was a departure from its past when the country suffered from a historical upheaval. It was also like painting on a blank canvas.

Ten years have been passed since we started this great project. People have come to cherish peace in a land devastated by long years of war. We see hope, even in tragic circumstances. Meanwhile, the Afghan-led nation-building has made a remarkable progress, and Afghanistan has come to a point where it is about to assume once again security responsibilities for the entire nation.

While there are still many challenges for Afghanistan, it is no doubt that the environment which enables future development has been formed over the last ten years. Based on this foundation, we can sow more promising "seeds" of peace and hope, and nurture the "bud," so that "flowers" of great reconstruction will bloom.

This conference is a forum where all stakeholders renew their commitment to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Afghanistan must show a picture that Afghanistan is willing to achieve reconstruction with its own hands including through improvement of its governance.
At the same time, the international community must show that it stands together with Afghanistan, which will take over full security responsibilities at the end of 2014, by showing specific financial contributions.

When a new commitment underlined by mutual trust is made, the message inside will surely reach the heart of all Afghan people including those of insurgents. Let us send to the world our strong will and sincere passion to advance the process of reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Many Japanese people have strong, special sentiments to the word "reconstruction." Having been reduced to the ashes in the Second World War, Japan's post war economic growth could not have been possible without the support from other countries. Encouragement and support from the world greatly contributed to the recovery in affected areas, which was stricken by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March last year which caused an unprecedented level of damage. One of such examples is a town meeting in Bamiyan in which the Afghan people solicited solidarity with Japan just after the earthquake.

The reconstruction of devastated land requires assistance from the international community. This is not just about material support. The Japanese people have felt many times that the sense of being connected to someone outside will give hope and courage for tomorrow to people in despair and anxiety. This is why Japan, as a member of the international community, renews its commitment to continuously assist Afghanistan's reconstruction.

Let me conclude by expressing my hope that Japan's determination will be supported by as many countries as possible and that the conference will be a success.

Thank you very much

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