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Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan

Japan Must Repay the World's Kindness with Engagement


"Since the earthquake, over 170 countries and global institutions have expressed support or provided aid to Japan. ... Learning from these catastrophes, providing specific recommendations for international cooperation and leading the discussion - that is how we will repay the kindness that the world has shown us."




Translated By Violet Knight


April 22, 2011


Japan - Yomiuri Shimbun - Original Article (Japanese)

A protester dressed in a traditional Japanese garb marches to demand an end to nuclear power during a May Day march in Tokyo, May 1.


NTN NEWS VIDEO, COLOMBIA: U.S. and Japan join hands to find Japanese missing after March quake and tsunami, 00:01:08, Apr. 25.RealVideo

What form should Japanese diplomacy take after the devastating earthquake? It is crucial that Japan does not retreat into its shell, but actively involves itself in global society, particularly with a view to rebuilding and invigorating the country.


On April 21, Prime Minister Kan held talks with his visiting Australian counterpart, Julia Gillard, and agreed to strengthen cooperation in the areas of energy and disaster relief. On such occasions, it is vital that Japan clearly communicates its resolve to rebuild.


On April 9, a special foreign ministerial meeting between Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was held in Indonesia. Indonesia convened the meeting to express solidarity with Japan, a country that has supported us for so many years.


Since the earthquake, over 170 countries and international institutions have expressed support or provided aid to Japan, all because Japan has worked with other nations, providing financial and other forms of support.


The reconstruction of affected areas will require vast amounts of capital and manpower. However, this is not the time to be preoccupied with domestic issues and forget our international role and perspective.




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First, we must strive not to reduce our foreign aid budget. The government considered a 20 percent cut to the 573 billion yen ($7.6 billion) foreign aid budget to help fund the first supplementary budget for reconstruction. It was a simple, not particularly well thought out idea to take money from an area that is easy to take from. In any case, objections erupted and a compromise was agreed to for a 10 percent reduction instead.


Japans foreign aid budget has declined for 12 years in a row, and it is now half of what it was at its peak. Japan has tumbled from being the leading provider of foreign aid to number five. Meanwhile, with the rise of the emerging economies, Japans foreign influence has declined. To maintain its voice on the global stage, Japan needs to continue making contributions commensurate with having the worlds third largest economy.


The issue of whether to join the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP) should not be put off. The Kan cabinet has said it will make a decision in June, but no work has been done since the earthquake. Japan must reform its agricultural industry and make progress in talks with its neighbors to avoid being left behind by the TPP's nine member states, including the U.S. and Australia, which seek a deal by November.



It is also important to stay involved with U.N. peacekeeping operations. The Self Defense Forces achieved a great deal in the aftermath of the earthquake, but it should also actively consider participating in international operations, such as those in southern Sudan.


On the agenda for leading nations this year will certainly be joint efforts to prevent disaster and ensure that nuclear power plants are safe. In particular, as a country that has experienced both an earthquake and a nuclear emergency, Japans actions will attract wide attention. Learning from these catastrophes, providing specific recommendations for international cooperation and leading the discussion - that is how we will repay the kindness that the world has shown us.



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US May 1, 8:11pm]


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