Prime Minister NODA's BLOG

Last night (the 24th), I returned safely to Japan from New York, the location of my first trip overseas since taking office as Prime Minister.

A report of the effects of the intense rainfall caused by the typhoon arrived just as I was about to depart Haneda Airport on Tuesday. I was worried about the situation throughout my stay in the US, even though I had given instructions to the Chief Cabinet Secretary (whom I had placed in charge of affairs while I was away) and was receiving daily briefings. I extend my sympathy to the people who suffered damages from the typhoon, and I also continue to urge people to remain vigilant against landslides.

In New York, which was the venue of the United Nations General Assembly, heads of state and government from all around the world gathered, creating a distinctive atmosphere in which the pomp of the front line in diplomatic engagements mixed together with the sense of tension from a heightened state of alert.

In addition to delivering two addresses at the UN General Assembly's large meeting hall, I had a series of meetings with various heads of state and government, including US President Barack Obama. A substantial number of leaders set aside time to meet with me within the very limited time that each of us were there, and I was able to go forward with all of these meetings amidst a good atmosphere. I consider this to have been a good start for deepening our relationships of personal trust into the future. Although I am said to be the third-youngest Japanese prime minister in the post-war era, a number of the national leaders that I met were younger than I. I reaffirmed my thinking that I must engage in diplomacy tirelessly, devoting my passion and my energy to it in a way that measures up to that shown by these leaders.

More than anything, in my speeches at the United Nations addressing the world, I was careful to approach them in a calm state of mind. The High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security, which took place first, was convened through the initiative of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The participating heads of state and government also referred to "Fukushima" numerous times, and I felt heightened interest in Japan's "lessons learned" and "knowledge" regarding nuclear safety. I believe that I delivered an address that lived up to that level of interest.

The address I delivered at the General Assembly was the second of my speeches, and the hall was abuzz, as I spoke directly after Dr. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, who drew a great deal of attention, as Palestine is the subject of the question of United Nations membership. I resolutely geared myself up, and as I began my address, my eyes met the gaze of a number of delegates and I could tell that they were listening intently. I have great hopes that my messages of 'thanks' for the assistance Japan received from around the world and 'determination' towards Japan's revival were conveyed to the world with certainty.

I spent a very intense time there, handling a great number of matters over just a few days, but there are a couple of points that I would like to introduce to you in particular.

The first one is from when I had the opportunity to meet with Japanese staff members of the United Nations. There are many Japanese working as staff of the United Nations and its related organizations. It is not only people in the field of sports such as Mr. Hideki Matsui or Mr. Ichiro Suzuki that are "major leaguers" taking the world as their stage and accommodate the world in the course of their work. The staff of international organizations should be considered new models for Japanese, being actively engaged abroad and devoting themselves to resolve the various problems facing the world. I believe that we should have a greater number of such people corresponding to Japan's national strength. The government will provide proper assistance so that these people can engage in their activities and have younger staff pursue that same path.

Another point I would like to share is from when I hosted a reception thanking the countries of the world for their assistance. In response to the earthquake and tsunami disaster, Japan received offers of assistance from over 160 countries and regions and more than 40 international organizations. A large number of heads of state and government and foreign ministers gathered at this reception as well, including President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka, and President Roza Otunbayeva of the Kyrgyz Republic, among others, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also graciously stopped in briefly, despite his extremely busy schedule.

I spoke individually with each person attending. As we at the reception partook of sake sourced from the disaster affected area, I conveyed my appreciation to each person, saying, "The fellowship and solidarity shown to us from around the world lit up the hearts of a great number of Japanese and persons affected by the disaster and provided them with hope for tomorrow." It was a night on which I once more felt very keenly the fact that the bonds of friendship?the kizuna?between Japan and the world are both wide-reaching and deep.

In the press conference held just before I returned to Japan, I stated that this visit to the US had four aims. These were, first, to express our gratitude to the countries of the world and to pledge Japan's revival; second, to convey to the international community the lessons learned through the earthquake and tsunami disaster and to share our experiences and knowledge; third, to announce Japan's intention to make further contributions to the realization of a brighter future; and fourth, to build relationships of trust with other world leaders. I feel there has clearly been a good response regarding each of these areas.

Yoshihiko Noda
Prime Minister of Japan
September 25, 2011

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