International Symposium “Future Prospect of Japan-Iran Relations: From Changing International and Cultural Environment”

Teheran, Islamic Republic of Iran

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Islamic Republic of Iran, specifically Institute for Political and International Studies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran, and all relevant parties for the cooperation in order to make today’s international Symposium possible.

Iran is an old friend of the Japanese people. Our two countries are connected by the Silk Road and artifacts which are said to be of the Sassanid Dynasty that were brought to Japan, are preserved to this day in a temple in the 8th century capital of Japan, it is called Nara.Recent research found that already as early as those days, there were people from Persia visiting Japan, which tells us about the long history of years of exchanges of people between our two countries.

The Sasakawa Peace Foundation has continued to promote this long historical relationship by developing bilateral exchange programs between Iran and Japan.

As part of this program, the international symposium that was held last May in Teheran, thanks to the cooperation of many people present here today, to discuss peace, role of women and sustainable development resulted in giving the world an impression of the active exchange between our two countries. The 2nd symposium was held in Tokyo just last month with the presence of her Excellency Vice President Molaverdi.

On this occasion, Her Excellency visited our ancient capital of Nara. I am very happy that this trip has resulted in the possibility of, for example, a bilateral historical tour, creating yet another area of exchange, tourism.

The goal of the symposium today is to strengthen still further the bilateral relationship between Iran and Japan by focusing on a wide spectrum of society such as history, culture and politics. I feel that this is the time, as big changes and heightened uncertainty surround the international environment, that we must give a thought to how to strengthen the bilateral relationship secured by a long, friendly history and furthermore how our two countries can contribute to the stability and development of the world. I would like that this symposium would be the opportunity to actively discuss these issues.

Needless to say that the foundation of world peace and friendship is definitely mutual understanding. But mutual understanding is not achieved overnight. I believe that the first step to peace is no other than steady exchange of people and mutual understanding based on extended viewpoint. Iran is a very important pillar of exchange programs of The Sasakawa Peace Foundation. That is why I would like, in all seriousness, to continue this endeavor with a long-term perspective.

I do hope that our dialogue today will contribute to building a new bilateral step toward the contribution of world peace and stability.