Prime Minister NODA's BLOG

I returned to Japan on the afternoon of the 7th after attending the ASEM summit held in Vientiane, the capital of Lao PDR.

Taking the opportunity of this forum in which the leaders of the countries of Asia and Europe come together to meet once every two years, I was able to deepen the dialogue with the leaders of these countries regarding economic and financial issues and a wide range of global-level issues. To the extent that our schedules matched, I also succeeded in holding bilateral meetings and deepening exchanges with other heads of state and government, with both neighboring Southeast Asian nations and also European countries quite far from Japan.

In the middle of the session in which we discussed the regional situation there were some inappropriate statements made by some countries regarding territorial issues, and this was followed by exchanges between us. While that was an unfortunate happening, I appealed strongly to the leaders concerning the position of Japan, which since the end of World War II has consistently followed the path of a peaceful nation and as a democratic country wants to continue to work for the peace and prosperity of East Asia, and I sought their understanding.

So while there were some strained scenes, I found Lao PDR to be a place with a somehow familiar feeling where I could sense a very welcoming atmosphere, even though it was my first time ever to visit there. I too became a fan of Lao PDR through my encounters with Laotian food, whose seasonings are very pleasing to the Japanese palate, and also with the kind-hearted hospitality of the local people.

At the ambassador's official residence, which is located close to the Mekong River, which forms the border with Thailand, I had the opportunity to talk with Japanese residents of Lao PDR who are playing an active role there as well as with representatives of former exchange students to Japan.

The young people now living away from Japan who are struggling to become a bridge between Japan and Lao PDR, the older people working to help Lao PDR in their life after retirement, and the former exchange students standing at the vanguard of Lao PDR's future nation building all seemed to have great sparkle in their eyes. I felt keenly the passion by which people have left for overseas full of ambition, working for something beyond themselves.

When we speak of Japanese who have continued their achievements on the world stage, one who can be considered a prime example is Ms. Saori Yoshida, who has opened up frontiers as a member of Japan's national team in women's wrestling.

Immediately after my return to Japan, I had the pleasure of presenting the National Honor Award to Ms. Yoshida at the Prime Minister's Office in recognition of her magnificent achievement of having won 13 consecutive world tournament titles including Olympic and world championship titles, an unprecedented accomplishment. A very striking moment for me was the sight of Ms. Yoshida's father, who had taught her how to wrestle since her early childhood, and of her mother, who placed around her neck the golden pearl necklace, adorned with a decoration in the image of the Olympic torch, that was presented to her as part of the award, as they watched their kimono-clad daughter with a warm look full of joy. I wish Ms. Yoshida the very best in extending her achievements to her 14th and 15th world tournament titles.

Deliberations began today (the 8th) in the House of Representatives on the bill on special provisions concerning issuance of government bonds. Yesterday (the 7th), I sent a message of congratulations to President Barack Obama of the United States upon his reelection. There are a great many matters lying before us at present that must be tackled. I will exert every possible effort to move those matters forward in a reliable manner.

Yoshihiko Noda
Prime Minister of Japan
November 8, 2012

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