2nd Ulaanbaatar Forum for East Asia
Your Excellency President Enkhbayar, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
To begin with, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the Mongolian Development Research Center, Board Chairman Batbayar, and members of the National Mongolian Ulaanbataar Forum executive committee, for kindly inviting me to address you on the memorable occasion of this first forum.
In February, I had the opportunity to meet with His Excellency President Enkhbayar when he visited Japan. We talked about the history and culture of our two countries, and about how to maintain the good relationship that exists between Mongolia and Japan as we move into the future. I was deeply impressed, not only by the president’s patriotism and his passion to develop his country, but also by his profound knowledge and understanding of Japanese, Russian, Chinese, and other neighboring cultures.
Since the end of the Cold War, Mongolia has found its place in Asia, and has begun to participate actively in building political and economic relationships with countries in the region. I believe that the international community is in agreement that the democratic reforms and market economy introduced by the president have brought significant change to Mongolian society and raised the living standard of the people. The exceptional foreign policy that he has been promoting has also been well received.
In their long history of interaction, Japan, Mongolia, Russia, China, and Korea have built close ties while mutually influencing each other. Of course, there have sometimes been periods of antagonism. However, if we take a step back and look at this history from a broader perspective, we can see that these differences and confrontations have clearly been the trigger for mutual development and for laying foundations for cooperation. These foundations have given rise to this gathering of experts and intellectuals from around North East Asia, here in Ulaanbataar, to seek new relationships among countries that share so much in terms of culture and traditions.
In the 21st century, the world has become increasingly globalized, and information technology has become an essential component of everyday life. At the same time, we are faced with environmental degradation, global warming, infectious diseases, refugee-related issues and other problems that transcend national boundaries.
Security around the globe is, as always, under constant threat from terrorism. Meanwhile, military expansion, including nuclear armament, is becoming ever more complex and widespread.
These problems cannot be solved by the efforts of one country alone.
The situation in North Korea is unsettling the whole of North Eastern Asia; therefore, bringing stability to this region is a vital factor in guaranteeing its peace and security. The question of nuclear development in North Korea is currently being addressed through six-party talks. While some progress is being made on the road to non-proliferation, it appears there is still a long way to go before a real and lasting solution can be found.
I am convinced that, without close partnership and the establishment of cooperative regional mechanisms among all countries concerned, there can be no improvement in North East Asia’s situation.
As has been pointed out by several speakers at this forum, there are still no region-wide cooperative political or economic mechanisms at work in North East Asia, although such mechanisms are clearly needed. In regions where the last vestiges of World War II and the Cold War remain, it is important to establish a multi-country framework through which we can build mechanisms of regional cooperation.
The problems on the Korean Peninsula represent a vital security issue in North East Asia. Mongolia, which has drawn attention from around the world because it enjoys a good relationship with both North Korea and South Korea, will surely play a significant role in the establishment of a regional cooperative mechanism by acting as a mediator in North East Asian security.
For a number of years, The Nippon Foundation has supported Mongolia’s efforts in becoming self-sufficient and coexisting with the international community, while paying close attention to Mongolia’s role in North East Asia. In order for Mongolia to achieve its goals, we at The Nippon Foundation believe it is necessary to nurture young people with outstanding potential, who will be the leaders of the next generation of Mongolians. With this in mind, we helped create a Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders’ Fellowship Fund at the Academy of Management. I sincerely hope that these exceptional young students will become the driving force in creating a regional mechanism for collaboration.
Mongolia has recently had great success in reaching out to the world, through the medium of the WHO, to promote the value of traditional medicine. An international conference on traditional medicine will be hosted by the WHO and The Nippon Foundation tomorrow in Ulaanbataar. The Nippon Foundation supported the introduction of a program to supply the nomadic people of Mongolia with a system of distributing traditional medicine, whereby individual households receive “medicine boxes.” The medicines in these boxes are all traditional Mongolian remedies. With impetus provided from Japan, a country sharing similar cultural traits with Mongolia, the people of Mongolia have rediscovered the benefits of traditional medicine, which they are utilizing to improve their level of healthcare.
I believe that the proposals put forward here at the Ulaanbataar forum will help build a new security framework among Mongolia and its neighbors, and that this security framework will propel each country toward even greater development.
Needless to say, relationships between countries are not quickly or easily formed. However, I truly believe that the links that hold people together can be used to build an international society where we can all live in peace and prosperity.
Our mission at The Nippon Foundation is to nurture human resources and create relationships in which people help each other. I am sure that all participants of this forum have been able to make new acquaintances and develop personal ties through the discussions they have had.
I feel that this forum is the first step toward a North East Asia in which all countries and all peoples in the region respect and recognize each other, and in which they work together for peace and prosperity.
Let me end by saying that I hope for significant progress and concrete results by the time of next year’s forum, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to address you all today.