14th Forum 2000 Conference: “The World We Want to Live In”

Prague, Czech Republic

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor to say a few words to introduce this session of the 14th Forum 2000.

Last year, for the first time, Forum 2000 hosted a panel with an Asian focus.

It generated a lot of interest among all who took part. This year we have another panel with an Asian connection. It applies “The Asian Perspective” to this year’s theme, “The World We Want to Live In.”

On my travels for The Nippon Foundation, I have seen and felt the dynamic changes taking place in the world. Nowhere have I felt these changes more strongly than in Asia. Asia has a huge population and brims with vitality. The region is developing fast. Economic growth in Asia benefits people around the world. The region is destined to become ever more influential.

Yet, Asia faces major challenges. Though its economy is growing, economic disparities are widening. Rapid industrialization is causing environmental destruction. And although democratization is progressing, deep-seated human rights problems remain.

These are not just Asia’s problems; they are complex, global issues that the whole world is grappling with. Asia cannot solve these problems by itself. And the world cannot solve them without Asia. Asia is indispensible to global development, and to solving the problems that development brings. Asia boasts a rich treasure trove of language, faith, and culture. By including the perspectives of this diverse region, we can only enrich our discussions here.

The panelists for this session are some of the foremost experts on Asia. They come from such fields as academia, journalism and politics. I have no doubt that their experience and knowledge will contribute much to our debates on this year’s theme, “The World We Want to Live In.”