1st Heads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting

Tokyo, Japan

I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude for this opportunity to speak on this important occasion.

I know those of you gathered here today work day and night to protect the safety of your countries, and that your vital responsibilities make it very difficult to take time away from your jobs. For this reason, I am extremely thankful to you for coming all the way to Japan to attend this meeting.

As you know, I am the chairperson of The Nippon Foundation, but I am first and foremost a novelist. And until recently, most of the people in my circle believed that pirates had not existed since the times of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.” However, as you know, pirates are still very much active today. I believe that the efforts of those of you here today, to tackle the problems facing the world’s oceans and improve safety, shine even brighter against the backdrop of the repeated violence, destruction and bloodshed wracking Iraq.

What I have presented so far have been my formal greetings. But as I commented earlier, I am a novelist, and I have spent much of my time with other writers, many of whom are unique and eccentric individuals. And so my mind sometimes moves in eccentric ways. Please bear with me as I speak in my own, novelist’s way.

I was lazy as a child and just as lazy as a university student. I was always trying to think of ways to get through life the easy way. About the only thing I have worked hard at in my life is writing novels, which is my passion.

Now, back when electronic household appliances first became available, the machine that most impressed me was the remote-
controlled lawn mower. The person who invented this lawn mower was in a way a lazy person. Apparently, he invented the remote-controlled lawn mower so that he wouldn’t have to work hard at cutting the lawn himself under the hot sun. He tried to find an easier way and succeeded in turning his laziness into a virtue. This example impressed me.

When I was told that coast guard agencies from various countries were working together in an effort to fight piracy in the Asian Seas, I was reminded of this lazy man, who could very well have been a character out of Aesop’s fables. It costs countries a lot of money to chase pirates far out to sea. However, if instead each country plays its part in ensuring the safety of the seas by arresting pirates in their own waters, it not only serves the national interests of all countries, but it also contributes to the even more important aim of promoting mutual understanding, friendship and trust among the countries. This is an easier way. It is a way of using our mind to improve our effectiveness.

I would like to congratulate all those involved in this pioneering initiative. It is a great honor for The Nippon Foundation to be able to contribute to cooperation among nations, collaborative safety and security efforts, and human welfare through our support for this important initiative.

I sincerely hope that the next two days of talks will bring about fruitful results for all participants and for the future of navigational safety and regional cooperation.