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Speeches

Y. Harada: Address to World Summit 2022, Plenary Session 2

Address to World Summit
February 11-13, 2022

 

Good morning. I am Yoshiaki Harada. I am a former member of the House of Representatives of Japan, and I have served as minister of the environment in the Japanese government.

I am also the president of the IAPP (International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace) Japan Forum, which is an officially registered caucus for members of the National Diet comprised of more than 70 members. It is a great honor for me to speak here at the opening plenary of the World Summit 2022.

First, I would like to commend UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon for convening this Summit and addressing the important topic of peace on the Korean Peninsula. I would also like to thank the leadership of the co-chairs of the Summit, H.E. Prime Minister Hun Sen of the Kingdom of Cambodia and H.E. Ban Ki-moon, former secretary-general of the United Nations.

It is my belief that, currently, the biggest threat to the peace and security of Northeast Asia—which includes Japan and the Korean Peninsula—is China’s desire to become the hegemony in Asia. In particular, Japan is most concerned with China’s invasions into the territorial waters of the Senkaku Islands, which are no doubt Japanese territory from ancient times. Almost at a daily clip, Chinese coast guard ships sail in these waters, and the Japan Coast Guard is having to ensure the safety of Japanese fishing vessels, as well as warn the Chinese ships to leave Japanese waters.

Japan is also worried about a possible contingency in Taiwan which may happen within three to four years. A Taiwan contingency would be an emergency for Japan and for the Japan-U.S. security alliance.

The island nation is only about 100 kilometers away from Yonaguni Island of Okinawa Prefecture. If the Chinese military were to invade Taiwan, the American troops stationed in Japan would have to respond, and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces would also be involved in the American operations. So, this is not somebody else’s problem, but it is all of ours.

In Japan, amending the Japanese constitution is one of the biggest political issues. The Constitution of Japan has remained unchanged since it came into effect 75 years ago.

It must keep up with the times and be revised in accordance with the current geopolitical situation. Especially, Article 9 of the constitution bans the formation of armed forces, but in reality, our Self-Defense Forces have served as a “de facto” military. This is incongruent.

Therefore, Article 9 should be revised as soon as possible. Of course, Japan has very strong economic ties with China and doesn’t carry any hostility toward Chinese people, but we cannot overlook China’s military ambitions and human rights abuses towards Tibetans and Uighurs.

Japan is also concerned about the division of the Korean Peninsula. We truly respect the wish of the Korean people to unify and become one nation again.

The Japanese government currently does not have a specific policy to help the unification process, but I personally hope that the Korean people of both North and South can come together in the near future.

At the same time, we are very much concerned with North Korea’s missile launchings, which are happening almost every week. I earnestly hope that Mr. Kim Jong-un will listen to the voices of the international community and stop these launchings.

Japan and the U.S. have affirmed the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region based upon the shared values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

There is also the QUAD, a strategic security dialogue between the U.S., India, Japan and Australia. These are means to deter the Chinese aggression.

Since South Korea shares the same values as Japan and the U.S., I hope that she will join us. I believe that cooperation between Japan, South Korea and the U.S. is indispensable, and that it will lead to peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia.

Unfortunately, Japan-South Korea relations remain politically strained. I and my fellow Diet members would like to show our highest respect for Korean assemblymen and promise to be committed to improving bilateral relations between both countries.

Thank you very much.

 

 


To go to the World Summit 2022 Schedule page, click here.