My friends, where exactly do we now stand historically and geographically? To answer this question, I would like to quote here the title of a book authored by the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh in 1655. We are now at a point at which the Confluence of the Two Seas is coming into being. The Pacific and the Indian Oceans are now bringing about a dynamic coupling as seas of freedom and of prosperity. A “broader Asia” that broke away geographical boundaries is now beginning to take on a distinct form. Our two countries have the ability — and the responsibility — to ensure that it broadens yet further and to nurture and enrich these seas to become seas of clearest transparence.
This is the message I wish to deliver directly today to the one billion people of India. That is why I stand before you now in the Central Hall of the highest chamber, to speak with you, the people’s representatives of India.
This rich history notwithstanding, I would like to state one firm conviction here. The changes now beginning to take place between India and Japan are those that truly have no precedent. First of all, as we can see from recent fascination among the Japanese people with India and the increasing eagerness among Indians to learn Japanese, the interest shown to each other goes far beyond a limited stratum of society but reaches the general public. Behind this is, of course, the great expectation that economic relationships between our two countries will be deepened.
Secondly, the feeling of Japanese general public who has started to show interest in India is now trying to catch up to the reality of this “broader Asia.” Japan has undergone “The Discovery of India”, by which I mean we have rediscovered India as a partner that shares the same values and interests and also as a friend that will work alongside us to enrich the seas of freedom and prosperity, which will be open and transparent to all. I wonder, here in India, whether there is now a similar change underway in your perception of Japan. If, by some chance, this has not yet taken place, would you allow me to say that it started here, now, with all of you?
All statistics indicate that India will become world’s most populated nation by 2050. According to United Nations forecasts, even if we look ahead only as far as 2030, some 270 million people in India are expected to stream anew from the countryside into towns and cities. India is trying to fight poverty that still persists today and to overcome social issues that are symbolic of demographic movement while consistently upholding democracy, and, at the same time, striving to achieve high economic growth. This, I believe, is precisely the challenge that India faces today.
As a person responsible for setting the direction of a nation, the scope of your aspiration and the enormity of the difficulties that are likely to accompany their realization leave me at loss for words. The world has its eyes focused on you as you undertake these challenges, and I too will be watching in great anticipation.
My friends, Japan and India have come of late to be of the same intent to form a “Strategic Global Partnership.” in which the two countries are going to expand and fortify their relations.
As for how Japan has come to such a conclusion, I hope that through what I have just laid out as my personal views you have come to understand the recognition and expectations Japan has towards India. This partnership is an association in which we share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, and the respect for basic human rights as well as strategic interests. Japanese diplomacy is now promoting various concepts in a host of different areas so that a region called “the Arc of Freedom and Prosperity” will be formed along the outer rim of the Eurasian continent. The Strategic Global Partnership of Japan and India is pivotal for such pursuits to be successful. By Japan and India coming together in this way, this “broader Asia” will evolve into an immense network spanning the entirety of the Pacific Ocean, incorporating the United States of America and Australia. Open and transparent, this network will allow people, goods, capital, and knowledge to flow freely.
Can we not say that faced with this wide, open, broader Asia, it is incumbent upon us two democracies, Japan and India, to carry out the pursuit of freedom and prosperity in the region? In addition, as maritime states, both India and Japan have vital interests in the security of sea lanes. It goes without saying that the sea lanes to which I refer are the shipping routes that are the most critical for the world economy. From now on let us together bear this weighty responsibility that has been entrusted to us, by joining forces with like-minded countries, shall we not, ladies and gentlemen?
We, the people of Japan, hope strongly that the Indian people will nurture their forests and enable them to thrive and also be able to enjoy the blessings of an abundance of clean water. That is why cooperation from Japan in the form of ODA invariably includes items to assist in forest conservation and water quality improvement, year in and year out.
Not long ago I presented to the world an initiative to address global warming entitled “Cool Earth 50.” Under this initiative, I proposed to cut global emission of greenhouse gases by 50% from the current level by the year 2050. I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to you regarding this proposal. I would like to work together with India towards the target of “reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050”.
What I would like to convey to you, the representatives of the citizens of India, is that Prime Minister Singh and myself are steadfastly convinced that “Japan-India relationship is blessed with the largest potential for development of any bilateral relationship anywhere in the world.” We are also in perfect agreement that “a strong India is in the best interest of Japan, and a strong Japan is in the best interest of India.”
In closing today, let me pose a brief question to you. When Japanese people come to India, what do you think they almost invariably marvel at? It is none other than Indian dancing, such as the ‘Bharatanatyam’ and ‘Kathak dance’, in which the contrasts of the static and the dynamic are lively and brilliant. The breathing of the dancers and the musicians match perfectly at the culmination of incredibly delicate rhythms, as if scripted that way.
Watching it, one can hardly help but think that it is a result of very complex computations. We, India and Japan, want to become partners who exhibit just this type of perfect match with each other. No, let me state here that we most certainly can become just such partners.