It takes effort to gain wisdom

Responsibility for tomorrow and three pearls of wisdom

Photo: Prime Minister's Office

 

Mister President,
dear delegates,
Dear Madam or Sir,

First of all, I would like to thank His Excellency Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser for the great dedication he has shown during his one year tenure as President. I would also like to congratulate His Excellency Vuk Jeremic on assuming his duties as President of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly. I also extend my sincere respect to His Excellency General Secretary Ban Ki-moon for his excellent conduct.

A year ago I began my speech on this podium by expressing our heartfelt thanks to the world.

A year and a half have passed since the severe earthquake in eastern Japan last March. The people in the affected areas are making great efforts to rebuild their hometowns and their will is unbroken. In order to repay the generous help from all over the world, we, the people of Japan, have committed ourselves to the souls of the deceased to pass on the lessons of this catastrophe to future generations across national borders. Japan will continue to share these lessons with the world in order to shape societies better prepared for natural disasters and to make concrete contributions to the safety of nuclear power. The Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety, which will be held in Fukushima at the end of the year and which the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is co-hosting, and the third United Nations Conference on Civil Protection, which Japan will host in three years' time will provide valuable opportunities to share these teachings and experiences.

 

Mister President,
The warning from nature that the unprecedented earthquake and tsunami bestowed upon us confronted us with the fundamental question of how we can maintain our civilization.

From the moment they are born, people transform their own “wisdom” into force in order to be able to survive the adversities in their natural environment. Despite the advanced science and technology that our modern civilization possesses, the forces of nature keep reminding us that we humans are still weak and fragile existences.

Threats to human existence are not only inherent in nature, but also hidden in our advanced civilization itself. There are a number of such threats, such as environmental degradation, terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Now what does it take for mankind to maintain its presence on this earth and continue to enjoy peace and prosperity? The answer is clear: we humans need to gain wisdom.

People have already acquired a wealth of knowledge. The revolution in the field of information and communication technologies ensures that human “knowledge” continues to grow on a geometric scale and at an exponential rate. Human "wisdom" seems to have increased dramatically.

But is that really true? Today we are at the forefront of a long history of humanity and at the same time live in a time of complex and tremendous change. Tensions between states have emerged in many parts of the world and the prospects for the future are uncertain.

The real test of our survival in this unprecedented era is not in gaining as much knowledge and information as possible, but in realizing the true value of the many pearls of "wisdom" that we humans have amassed.

 

Mister President,
The first of these pearls of wisdom that we humans have acquired is the ability to adequately consider not only the “now” but also the “future”. This is the ability to imagine the well-being of future generations beyond one's own advantage and to act accordingly.

The agrarian society, which led people to open up a new perspective, was made possible by a long-term perspective with a view to the future. People have acquired this perspective by learning to wait for the harvest instead of dealing with their immediate needs alone.

It is now time to apply our wisdom and build a sustainable future for the good of future generations.

Many countries today have huge budget deficits, so fiscal consolidation is a shared responsibility for all of us. If the people living today do not reduce this debt by cutting expenses and finding new sources of income, it will be the generations to come who will have to repay those debts. The current structure is nothing other than the exploitation of future generations by today's generation.

Democracy has proven to be the best political system in history. However, today we are faced with the difficult question of whether democracy is capable of maintaining justice between generations around the world. In parliamentary democracy, made up of representatives of the people who live now, there is no guarantee that the interests of future generations will be properly represented. Rather, this structure invites the future generations to tacitly continue to burden and postpone problems.

We all have a responsibility for future generations. The tasks we face must be solved by our generation. Political actors must now take responsibility for tomorrow. In order to maintain strong democratic societies, it is now time to apply the "ability to think about the well-being of future generations".

Over the past twenty years, Japan has repeatedly postponed much-needed action and has been seen as an example of "a country postponing decisions". However, I have insisted on changing politics in Japan, and I have linked my political existence to the realization of "a comprehensive reform of social security and tax systems".

This reform includes a very ambitious package of measures to support Japan's social security system. In view of a rapidly aging society, these measures will create a stable financial basis and at the same time prepare the way for the recovery of public finances. It is a major reform that seeks both economic growth and fiscal consolidation. Japan has taken a big step towards "a country that makes decisions" without further ado.

 

Mister President,
Another pearl of wisdom that humans have acquired is the ability to take a perspective from which we can see the whole world in which we live.

I recently had the opportunity to call the astronaut Akihiko Hoshide directly from my official residence while he was in orbit on the International Space Station. A primary school student who was present at this conversation asked the astronaut the following riddle:

“What the earth has, but space does not, are air and gravity. But what does space have that the earth does not have? "

He replied, "The perspective of looking at the earth from the outside." This conversation makes it clear in simple terms what I want to say today.

Because we are able to "take this perspective of looking at the earth from the outside", humanity as a whole has the task of protecting the global environment. We must always return to this perspective, taking concrete steps across the borders of countries to preserve the earth as the basis for human survival.

As part of the commitment to preserving the global environment, a key result for sustainable development was achieved at the Rio + 20 conference in June of this year. Japan announced its "Green Future Initiative" proposing to achieve "sustainable growth" for prosperity without the exploitation of natural resources and energy, and without the deterioration of the global environment. Japan will shape a low-carbon society with a fully-fledged recycling system for a wide variety of materials, and it will play a leading role in meeting the common energy challenges facing the world today. For this we need even more innovations in energy efficiency and renewable energies. In view of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 11th last year, the government of Japan will devote all political resources to presenting the world with a model that can strike a balance between green energy transition and economic growth. In doing so, we are striving for a society that is no longer dependent on nuclear power in the 2030s, while at the same time we are constantly reviewing the measures and adapting them to the future prospects, including the international situation in the energy sector.

Because we are aware that we have "only one earth, which is therefore infinitely valuable," we must direct our full attention to the uniqueness of every form of life on this earth. The resolution on human security passed by the UN General Assembly on the 10th of this month under the auspices of Japan can act as a solid guide for visions for the development of the next generation. Great importance is attached to the perspective of every individual, including women and young people. With a view to the common understanding of "human security" enshrined in this resolution, Japan is determined to make a significant contribution to global efforts to achieve and shape the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to use a new framework for development.

The ideal of “human security” must be implemented in particular on the African continent, where there is still great potential for development, but where there are also great challenges such as poverty, natural disasters or conflicts. At the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V), which will take place in Yokohama in June next year, Japan is planning to discuss appropriate measures that the international community and Africa should take and implement.

We have to completely solve the tasks that threaten our very existence. Afghanistan is now devoting all its might to its reconstruction after decades of war. South Sudan is continuing its efforts to build its own state and Myanmar has now resolutely embarked on the path towards democracy and reconciliation. Japan will do everything in its power to support and promote peacekeeping, peacebuilding and human security in all regions.

 

Mister President,
a third pearl of wisdom that we humans have acquired is the ability to reasonably resolve disputes with the help of rules.

Humans have the ability to speak and have acquired wisdom, but even in modern times they have failed to resist the temptation to use violence to resolve conflicts.

Despite two world wars and the two atomic bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as well as the prevention of terrorism are still important tasks today. Since the nuclear and missile programs in North Korea and Iran currently pose a major threat to the whole world, it is essential for all countries to coordinate within the framework of the UN and the IAEA, including the implementation of the resolutions of the UN Security Council, and both North Korea and the also to urge Iran to take concrete steps. Japan, which is the only country in the world to experience the horrors of nuclear destruction in a war first hand, continues to feel obliged to realize a “world without nuclear weapons”.

The problem of the kidnapping of Japanese citizens by North Korea constitutes a grave violation of basic human rights. This makes it a matter of universal concern and one of concern to the entire international community. Japan is determined to continue doing everything in its power to ensure that all victims can return to Japan as quickly as possible and is coordinating with the other countries involved. Japan continues to intend to seek a comprehensive solution to all outstanding issues, to overcome the unfortunate past and to normalize bilateral relations in accordance with the joint Japan-North Korean declaration of Pyongyang. Japan continues to urge North Korea to take positive steps towards this.

We humans do not allow ourselves to be guided by our desire to exercise violence alone. Rather, we have developed the ability to calmly and reasonably resolve conflicts. This ability is known as the "rule of law".

Every state has an obligation to defend peace, to guarantee the security of its citizens and to protect its sovereignty and its national territory - be it land or water. Japan will also fulfill this obligation in accordance with international law. With advancing globalization, the challenges facing the international community are becoming more and more complex, and tensions can arise between states at any time. At this critical juncture we must establish the “rule of law” as the basis for global peace, stability and prosperity. This "rule of law" is essential to the prevention and resolution of conflict in a peaceful manner, and it plays a vital role in maintaining a stable and reliable society. It must therefore be further strengthened. Any attempt to enforce a country's beliefs or claims through the unilateral use or threat of force is contrary to the fundamental spirit of the UN Charter and is contrary to human wisdom; such behavior can therefore not be accepted under any circumstances. It is extremely important that we try to develop international law and ensure that it is implemented even more effectively. I call on all heads of state and government to strengthen the “rule of law” so that we can leave a more peaceful and stable international community for future generations.

Today we can see with our own eyes how conflicts between states are resolved on the basis of international law. A typical example of this is the dispute settlement system within the World Trade Organization (WTO). This mechanism enables states to resolve trade disputes using the common language of "law" within the arbitration board rather than "force".

With its human and financial contributions, Japan is a world leader in promoting international legal institutions. In addition to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), judges from Japan also worked at the International Tribunal for the Sea (ITLOS), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and in the special chambers of the courts in Cambodia. Japan also made the largest financial contribution to the three last-named institutions. Japan is asking all countries to provide further financial support to the special chambers of the Cambodian courts, which are currently in a difficult financial situation.

Supporting the United Nations in promoting the “rule of law” is also a major challenge. I would like once again, in cooperation with the UN, to call on the member states to recognize the mandatory jurisdiction of the ICJ, as Japan has, as well The states that have not yet acceded to the Convention on the ICJ and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) should do so as soon as possible.

There are still a number of disputes over territories and territorial waters in many parts of the world.It is the philosophy of the United Nations Charter and also the recognized principle of the international community to resolve disputes on the basis of international law and in a peaceful manner. Japan is determined in all circumstances to follow this principle and seek peaceful solutions based on international law. The world should pay more attention to the role that international legal institutions can play in resolving disputes peacefully.

The Near and Middle East as well as Africa are still in a time of turmoil and unrest, even if these regions are now moving towards democracy. Japan will continue to support democratization and reform efforts in these countries in the future. We must not ignore both the ongoing violence and oppression in Syria and the serious crimes against human rights from the standpoint of the "rule of law". Japan strongly condemns the serious attacks in Syria, which involved tens of thousands of innocent civilians, journalists and aid workers, including Japanese journalist Mika Yamamoto. Japan intends, together with the international community, to exert even greater pressure on the Syrian government and to expand its humanitarian aid to the people of Syria.

I would like to emphasize once again that the protection of civilians and the safety of diplomats and employees of international organizations must be guaranteed within the international community. This must be done through the "rule of law". Violence against these principles, for whatever reason, is no longer acceptable today.

The concept of the “rule of law” forms the basis for a stable and reliable society; it promotes the mobility of people and goods and is therefore also the basis for prosperity. I am convinced that the “rule of law” can function as a kind of important infrastructure that brings order and prosperity to a broad network of states with the Asia-Pacific region at its center. Japan will work hard to establish rules to further expand trade and investment and to improve the order of the seas, including the safety of shipping, in order to create order and prosperity.

The international community doesn't just need rules to solve individual problems. Rather, orderly relationships between states or international organizations also require the “rule of law” - as a kind of “extended global governance”. Unless all states live up to their responsibilities according to their respective capabilities, we will not be able to meet various common challenges facing the world today. In particular, I hope that the emerging economies will fulfill their responsibilities according to their respective national potential. As part of this effort, it is important that we engage in a thorough discussion about how the United Nations should develop in the future. We strongly support the UN administrative reform. The Security Council must also be given a legitimation that reflects the realities of today's world so that this body can act more effectively. Japan is ready to take on greater responsibility within the international community. It is now time to restart the slow reform process in relation to the Security Council and to start real negotiations.

I have listed three pearls of wisdom that mankind needs in order to be able to exist in a sustainable way in the future. In addition, I have also tried to convey Japan's contributions regarding these three pearls.

I have a firm conviction. People will continue to adapt to this complex society in the future and increase their wisdom. You will adequately consider future generations and resolve disputes calmly and sensibly. In doing so, they will take a perspective in which they look at the earth from the outside.

Let's take responsibility for tomorrow together. For us who live today, the great task is to “take action that will keep future generations in mind” and to bring together all of our wisdom to tread the path for human survival.

I would like to conclude my speech with an assurance to all of you that Japan will be at the forefront of shaping the future of human history towards a peaceful and prosperous society.

Thank you for your attention.

 

 


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