On June 13, Ambassador Ryozo Kato spoke at the International Student House in Washington, DC on Japan's role in world affairs. He emphasized the importance of shared values, and stated that Japan's roles and responsibilities are to spread democracy, engender respect for human rights and dignity, and promote the development of free economy through Asia and the world at large. The following is his speech:
1. Opening Remarks
Good evening Mr. Benge, ISH board members, alumni, residents and ladies and gentlemen.
I am delighted and honored to have this opportunity to discuss Japan's role in world affairs before such a distinguished group of current and future decision makers.
The International Student House has produced prominent leaders across a broad spectrum and there are numerous ISH alumni all around the globe.
I am particularly pleased to note that over the past fifty years, there have been over 70 Japanese in residence within these solemn halls including the five Japanese residents currently living here.
Yogi Berra, formerly of the New York Yankees, was an excellent player in major league baseball from the 1940s through the 60s.
He is also well known for his witty "Yogi-isms."
He once said, "Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical."
If I may borrow his logic, "Diplomacy is 90% physical, the other half is mental."
Diplomacy requires a great deal of energy, and I hope I will be able to absorb some your youthful energy to carry me through this opportunity to speak with you.
2. Asia's Path Since the End of World War II
Today I would like to talk about Japan's place in the world, and what type of relationships it is building with the United States and with the rest of the world.
First off, I would like to look back over the path Asia has taken since World War II.
Europe differs substantially from Asia.
In Europe, dependence among nations and affinity among peoples are largely common; in Asia, however, while there is a certain degree of dependence among the nations, affinity among peoples leaves much to be desired.
For example, Japan played a vital role in the economic development of both China and Korea, but it did not produce corresponding feelings of affinity between peoples.
To the contrary, the fact that Japan was involved in their economic growth and development has often been a source of resentment in both China and Korea.
Such differences between Europe and Asia are reflected by the development of regional frameworks such as NATO and the EU in Europe and by the lack of any such similar frameworks in Asia.
Europe and Asia took divergent development paths because of different strategic environments.
Europe, in facing the threat from the Soviet Union, created a common security environment; in Asia, however, there was no single, unifying enemy.
The strategic environment in Asia was further complicated by the fact that many Asian nations were former European colonies.
Once they had achieved their independence, in their search for political identity, it was extremely difficult for them to form alliances with their former colonial masters.
Instead, they naturally leaned towards non-alignment.
Therefore, throughout Asia, bilateral security treaties with the United States secured regional peace and stability.
The United States became the hub of the wheel, while Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines became spokes around that hub.
It is often said that Asia's diversity is a source of its strength.
This captures one aspect of the truth.
It should, however, be noted that the nations of Asia have fostered "shared values" only to a limited degree despite its "common interests."
Given this background, just how have things changed since the end of the Cold War?
In order to develop this point, I would like to touch a little upon the progress in Japan-U.S. relations.
3. Progress in Japan-U.S. Relations
Many people say that the relationship between Japan and the United States has never been better.
However, since the end of the Second World War, we experienced a few bumps in the road before arriving at this point.
After the war, the foremost goal of U.S. occupation policy was to render Japan harmless.
Japan's military and industrial conglomerates were disbanded.
The idea was that the Japanese people should be put to work in innocuous pursuits, such as farming and handicrafts, in the countryside.
However, with the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, the occupation policy changed.
The U.S. now needed Japan to rearm itself and revive its heavy industrial capabilities.
Japan could hardly keep up with the sudden shift.
Amid the trauma of defeat, Japan's public sentiment was inclined to be against rearmament but economic recovery was taken to be a legitimate goal.
Japan then embarked on an era of historic economic growth.
Throughout the 1960's, Japan sustained rapid GNP growth of more than 10% annually.
In the United States, the stark contrast between Japan's "economic audacity" and its "political timidity" was widely discussed.
On security matters, for many years, the U.S. asked nothing more from Japan than to contribute to its own defense.
One factor behind this U.S. policy was its overwhelming economic strength.
Prior to the Nixon Administration, for example, the U.S. GDP accounted for a full 55% of the world GDP while now it is 28.5%.
Nonetheless, with a decline in the relative economic strength of the U.S., increasingly critical eyes were cast upon Japan as a "free rider" on defense issues.
America has never called upon Japan to acquire power projection capabilities.
Instead of calling for Japan to have combat operation capabilities, the U.S. has expected Japan to expand its host nation support for US Forces in Japan while providing logistic support for U.S. operations in the surrounding area of Japan.
It has been our consistent stance that Japan does not pursue offensive military capabilities.
Japan-U.S. defense relations are extremely good at present.
Basically, the division of labor between the countries has become well established as a "shield" and "sword" type of relationship.
Japan has purchased a great deal of military equipment from the U.S., including more than 200 F-15 fighters, more than 100 P3C Orion patrol planes, 4 AWACS surveillance aircraft, and 4 Aegis ships.
Japan, with the strictest non-nuclear policies in the world, also does not possess capabilities for projecting offensive power.
It has no aircraft carriers, no ICBMs, no long-range bombers, and no marines.
Further, Japan's defense policy is 100% transparent.
It is open for anyone in the world to see.
I do not think that this pattern of division of labor, with the U.S. holding the "sword" and Japan the "shield" is likely to change anytime soon.
Japan's economy is also recovering. Year 2005 saw a growth of 2.7% in GDP, with 2.5% arising from domestic demand.
Compared with the late 90s, when economic growth averaged less than 1%, even showing negative growth at times, this growth is aclear indication of Japan's economic revival.
Recently, China's rapid economic growth has attracted much attention.
Still, China's share of the world GDP now stands at 4% while Japan's is 11%.
The combined Japan-U.S. GDP accounts for some 40% of the world GDP.
However, Japan is under no illusion about itself.
The sources of Japan's national strength lie in its economy, technology, and cultural appeal as well as coherent policies based on the sense of shared values.
Japan's economic and technological prowess accounts for a large part of its national strength.
However, neither the economy nor technology was built up overnight.
It is common in Japan for a worker to diligently share his skills and knowledge with his colleagues and subordinates.
Thus, Japan has an outstanding ability to transfer its expertise on from one generation to the next.
This efficient transfer of knowledge supports a very broad base of technology at a very high level all across Japan.
This same process also led to Japan's speedy modernization since the end of the 19th century.
Although Japan's almost complete lack of natural resources may appear to undermine our national strength, it is really a blessing in disguise.
Precisely because we lack natural resources, we have invested in our people to make the people our best asset.
Yet people alone cannot sustain our economic and technological strength.
One vital element is secure sea lanes.
Japan imports over 90% of its oil from the Middle East.
Thus, how to secure the 6000 miles of sea lanes extending from the Middle East to Japan is a pressing issue for Japan as it is for the world at large.
To that end, the forward presence of U.S. Forces is absolutely essential to keeping the sea lanes open.
It can be said that the presence of U.S. Forces provides international "public goods."
Since large part of it is underpinned by the Japan-U.S. security alliance, Japan's role is also essential.
Japan should, thus, painstakingly maintain amicable relations with countries along the sea lanes.
In any event, during the Cold War era, Japan, with the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty as its foundation, spared no effort to enhance the defense of the West.
It was not a weak link in the defense of the free world.
Thus, we have been able to build a firm relationship of trust with the United States and this is one of the reasons why the Japan-U.S. defense relationship remains strong today.
4. After the Cold War
At the beginning of my remarks, I touched upon the progress of Asia since World War II.
But just how has the end of the Cold War changed the situation?
At the conclusion of the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama, wrote about "the end of history."
Samuel Huntington predicted the "clash of civilizations." Are their dire forecasts correct?
I am not prepared to make a determination on these questions in a comprehensive manner.
However, I can answer the question of "what has happened to Japan's roles and responsibilities since the end of the Cold War?"
The answer is that Japan's roles and responsibilities have certainly expanded, and they should continue to do so.
But just what are those roles and responsibilities?
In considering them, Japan cannot avoid the so-called "history issue."
Even if a nation could erase its past deeds, Japan would not do so.
Indeed, Japan has taken important opportunities to express its apologies and feelings of remorse over its past.
This includes statements by the highest levels of our government.
Japan must squarely face this issue, now and in the future.
At the same time, it should also be noted that Japan has accomplished great things as a model of democracy over the past 60 years.
This is a source of quiet pride among the Japanese people.
I believe that Japan's roles and responsibilities are, in alliance with the United States, to work to spread democracy around the world, engender respect for human rights and dignity, and promote the development of free economy throughout Asia and the world at large.
I will not go into detail about Japan's contributions in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Indian Ocean, the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere.
However, I would like to emphasize that Japan believes that while pursuing the best interests of our nation, we, at the same time, contribute to making the world a better place to live.
Prime Minister Koizumi will reiterate this belief when he talks with President Bush during his visit the United States later this month.
Japan has its own issues too.
Let me introduce them with a joke. An American, Frenchman, German, and Japanese wrote research papers on elephants.
The title of the American's paper was, "A Cost-Benefit Analysis on Elephants."
The French paper was titled "The Love-life of Elephants."
The German wrote, "Introduction to Methodological Analysis for Authoring Academic Works Related to Elephants as one Species of Mammal."
Finally, the Japanese paper was, "How Do Elephants View the Japanese People."
Certainly the Japanese people have often wondered how Japan is viewed by others.
The joke reveals this aspect of Japanese people, but I think that the joke has become a little outdated.
Now there are more and more cases where other countries take account of what Japan does rather than Japan simply looking to others to determine what to do.
At least, that is the direction in which Japan is changing.
And I believe that Japan should go further and be more audacious in making its own contributions to the international community, based upon the basic values I mentioned earlier.
Japan is making efforts to build a "Pacific Alliance." This may sound too ambitious a goal, but I believe it is Japan's mission to do so.
As I said at the outset, there were huge differences in the geopolitical climate between Europe and Asia during the Cold War Era. Frankly speaking, some of those differences remain.
However, I would like to note the great advances towards democracy that have been made throughout Asia.
Democracy has made tremendous strides in Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia.
There has been much talk in the region about building multilateral frameworks and institutions such as APEC, ASEAN+3, and East Asia Community.
In the process, the challenges that confront Asia are how to go beyond sharing interests, how to reach the point of sharing values, and how quickly we can make progress in this respect.
Without common shared values, it is not feasible to create any political or security framework that will get beyond the very beginnings of confidence building.
5. Concluding Remarks
It is vital that Asian countries share values if they are to build regional frameworks rooted in mutual trust. It is not an easy task.
However, Asia has overcome a number of formidable hardships and has greatly advanced from a disadvantaged position to achieve eye-opening growth and development.
As Yogi Berra also said, "Prediction is difficult; especially about the future."
I think what Yogi said is true, but nonetheless, I am optimistic about the future of Asia.
Thank you very much.