UK-Japan Global Seminar 2014 “The Role of the Nation State in Addressing Global Challenges: Japan-UK Perspectives”

Tokyo, Japan

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted that The Nippon Foundation is co-organizing this UK-Japan Global Seminar Series titled, “The Role of the Nation States in Addressing Global Challenges: Japan-UK Perspectives,” along with Chatham House and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.

It is a great honor to have Sir John Major, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, present us with his keynote speech. I would also like to express my appreciation to His Excellency, Mr. Timothy Hitchens, the British ambassador to Japan, for his continued support in deepening our bilateral relationship.

I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Chatham House, represented by Director Robin Niblett, for their strong direction. It is also a great pleasure to see so many distinguished individuals from Europe, the United States, and Asia participating in this second conference.

In our desire to solve global challenges with our key partners, The Nippon Foundation has established various organizations and funds over the years in countries and regions that include France, China, the United States, Scandinavia, and the Middle East. The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation is also one of these key partners; it was established in 1985, with the primary objective of strengthening mutual understanding between Japan and the UK and nurturing leaders who are capable not only of building bridges between our two countries but also addressing global challenges within a larger framework. I would like to extend my sincere welcome to the Earl of St. Andrews, who is the chairman of the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, and to the distinguished board members from both countries who are present.

The 20th century was an era of conflict and war, and so there was much anticipation or even a sense of obligation that the 21st century would be a century of peace. But looking at the world today, it is an extreme disappointment that we still face a multitude of challenges, such as a growing population, an expanding gap between rich and poor, increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, and rising global conflicts and the threat of terrorism. It is under these circumstances that the partnership with Chatham House began, and I am very grateful that it has since gathered wide support from leading researchers, professionals, and experts.

This conference, which marks the second year of a five-year plan, aims to find ways in which our two nations can work together to address these global challenges. The first conference held last year was a great success. Discussions took place on a wide range of global issues, which laid a strong foundation for more focused discussions at this second conference.

This year, discussions will focus on three themes: failing states, disaster management, and democracy in transition. I am confident that all of you in this room will bring your diverse views to the discussion floor to not only enhance our knowledge of the global issues at hand, but also offer different ways in which Japan and the United Kingdom can join hands to address them.

I would like to end by expressing my hope that the UK-Japan Global Seminar will develop into a platform that captures the attention of the world’s leading thinkers and doers and shares groundbreaking ideas with others in the global community.

Thank you.