July 20, 2021
JICA HQ, Tokyo, Japan
Greetings to distinguished guests.
I would like to offer my sincere appreciation to the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ananta Aspen Center for convening the India-Japan Forum.
It's my pleasure to deliver this video message today.
I will focus on 3 points for the discussion.
My first point is on the significance of India and Japan relations.
India-Japan relationship goes back to more than 1,000 years, when Buddhism served as a catalyst to connect the two nations.
Ever since, India and Japan have demonstrated strong partnership. We have always influenced each other in a preferable manner.
For example, in the modern era, Japan's victory in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 inspired nationalism in India.
In the aftermath of World War II, India waived off all reparation claims against Japan and extended warmest support for its reconstruction.
"Japan-India Eminent Persons' Group" marked the beginning of new era in year 2001, where I was deeply involved.
I also have fond memories of working closely with India during my tenure as ambassador for the United Nations from 2004 to 2006.
Japan and India enthusiastically cooperated as members of the G4 nations for the UN Security Council reform.
Ties between us have become much stronger under the leadership of His Excellency Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India and Mr. Shinzo Abe, the former Prime Minister of Japan.
Based on our common values, such as "the rule of law", it is crucial that both nations assume leading roles in the global arena, especially under the current uncertain international order.
In this context, this forum is timely and has a great significance, as the platform for Track-2 dialogue, to promote further collaborative partnership.
The second point is about the change in the international order under the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 is an ongoing threat to the international community.
It shows major impact not only on people's health and livelihood, but also on the international order.
History tells us that world-historic events have brought substantive structural changes.
If such changes happen this time, it would be the further rise of a super power in the region.
Under such circumstances, as President of JICA, I would like to highlight two potential areas where Japan and India can cooperate to lead the world.
The first area is the health sector.
JICA has launched "the Initiative for Global Health and Medicine" to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
It aims to promote the construction of hospitals as well as human resource development for the health sector.
It also focuses on prevention measures such as handwashing and hygiene improvement programs.
India is a giant of generic drug production, known as the "Pharmacy of the World", while Japan has huge potential in advanced medical research and technology.
There is a great opportunity to combine our strengths and contribute to the world in the medical field.
The second area is the promotion of "quality infrastructure" .
Delhi Metro is the famous shining example of India-Japan cooperation in this field.
It has brought "social innovation" with significant change in the public mindset.
Delhi Metro is well-known for safe, timely and comfortable movement of people.
And it has positively impacted the citizens' life, especially the middle class in Delhi, too.
I believe that such experiences are exemplary to be shared globally.
The last point is about India-Japan development cooperation.
India and Japan are the largest bilateral cooperation partners for each other.
Needless to say, stable growth of India is essential for the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.
Today's discussion will cover multilateral frameworks, such as "Free and Open Indo-Pacific" and so called "Quad", from various point of views including regional security.
In that sense, I would like to say that the stability and growth of India serves the broader national interest of Japan.
Having said that, in order for India to build back better from the COVID-19 calamity, I would like to emphasize that "Human Security" is a key aspect.
In particular, I hereby stress 3 focus areas to achieve Human Security:
Number one; support to the poor and the vulnerable, who have been most affected by COVID-19,
Number two; support for strengthening of the health sector to ease critical gaps in medical facilities and human resources,
Number three; support for access to safe water, toilet and clean sewerage infrastructure.
I would also like to emphasize the importance of human resource development including exchange of personnel between the two nations.
I expect the field of science and technology including space science will be a major pillar of such cooperation.
For the young generation of India, experiences of Japan's modernization may also give some hints and deepen mutual understanding.
At last, I close my remarks here with my sincere hope for fruitful discussions today.
Thank you very much.