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A. Yamanaka: Address to World Summit 2017

Address to World Summit 2017, Seoul, Korea, February 1 to 5, 2017


I believe it is important to recognize that the 21st century is the age of balance. The struggle for balance is being waged on an international, state and individual level, between dichotomies of competing value.

They include:

  • development vs. environmental protection
  • globalization vs. regionalization
  • high-tech information vs. individual privacy
  • group orientation vs. individualism
  • work vs. leisure
  • materialism vs. spiritualism
  • male vs. female
  • military solutions vs. non-military alternatives,
  • and even national interests vs. international interests (in other words, common interests)

The international landscape has been extensively marked by increasing ethnic and religious conflicts, drugs and terrorism; the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in certain countries; and the rise of new diseases.

In addition to these global issues, new phenomena have emerged such as pirates, oil spills, the financial crash, cyber terrorism, ISIS violence and political instability—as we saw with Brexit and other elections, which can change the landscape of the world community.


The Concept of Preventive Diplomacy on Natural Disasters

I believe that the prevention of natural and human-caused disasters is based on the same concept of preventive diplomacy.

In its simplest form, preventive diplomacy can be divided into and explained in four stages:

  1. prevention of violence from breaking out
  2. prevention of conflict from expanding
  3. ceasefire, stop the conflict and recovering
  4. prevention of the resumption of hostilities (44 percent of current conflicts are recurring)

This concept can be applied to natural disasters:

  1. preparation for a natural disaster
  2. quickly rescue victims
  3. recover from the disaster
  4. reconstruction to reduce risk of the next disaster

I believe in the Japanese saying, “Be prepared and you will have no regret.” (備えあれば、憂いなし.) Therefore, I wrote a book entitled, “Think, or Sink,” arguing preventive state theory.

We have to cooperate and work together to help provide education, lifelines and infrastructure support, including housing, which are required simply from a human security point of view, regardless of any difference in race, religion or nationality.

As you know, Japan was on the side of the victors in the First World War and became arrogant and was subsequently defeated in the Second World War. The mainland was occupied by the U.S. for nearly seven years, and Okinawa for even longer. The people suffered severely, especially women who had children and whose husbands had perished. Through this experience we can understand the mindset of both winner and loser. Therefore, Japan can be a mediator between the victors and the defeated, introducing the mindset of each side.

It is vitally important for the leaders of nation-states to seek for the national resilience as well as global responsibility based on the rule of law, human rights and liberal economy.

As a base of our global community, every nation-state has to come back to the concept of pacta sunt servanda; that is, “every treaty in force is binding upon the parties to it and must be performed by them in good faith."

In closing I would like to share a quote from Aristotle, the Greek philosopher who lived 2,000 years ago: “It is more difficult to organize peace than to win a war, but the fruits of victory will be lost if the peace is not well organized.”

Let Japan walk and work together with you all for a more stable and peaceful world community.


Hon. Professor Akiko Yamanaka, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs (2005-2006), Japan

Hon. Professor Akiko Yamanaka served as Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs (2005-2006), Japan. Professor Yamanaka is currently a Professional By-Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University and Visiting Professor at the Science Academy of Chiba University of Commerce. She is a Member of the Advisory Group on International Peace Cooperation for Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Advisor for Research of the Japan Institute for International Policy Studies, and Board Member of the Global Partner Forum 2010. Professor Yamanaka has had a long-term presence in the National Diet as Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

To go to the 2017 World Summit Conference Schedule, click here.