Remarks by Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister, Japan
May 1, 2002
Mr. Hugh Morgan, Chairman of the Asia Society Austral Asia Centre,
The Honorable Minister for Trade, Mr. Mark Vaile,
The Honorable Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Alexander Downer,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Mr. Morgan for giving me an opportunity to speak here today. In his capacity of President of the Australia-Japan Business Co-operation Committee, Mr. Morgan, together with Mr. Imai, President of the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations and Mr. Murofushi, Chairman of ITOCHU Corporation, has long worked for the promotion of bilateral economic relations, and has given me significant proposals on the future course of our relationship. I would like to thank him once again for his efforts.
I last visited Australia in 1998 when I was Minister of Health and Welfare. I vividly remember Dr. Wooldridge, then-Minister for Health and Family Services, showing me his wonderful wine collection. Mr. Smith, then-Minister for Family Services, took me to his farmhouse in a beautiful area of Tasmania. Mr. Smith recently came to see me in Tokyo, and we talked about the memories at the time of my visit. Australia is a valuable mate to Japan as well as to myself.
The Japanese people think highly of Australia. A recent public opinion poll indicated that Australia is the most popular country among Japanese. My son homestayed in Australia two years in a row during his summer vacation. I suggested to him that he visit another country in the second year, but he chose Australia. He clearly feels Australia's hospitality.
Australia and Japan have a long history of cooperation. Let me give you a symbolic example. Around 90 years ago, Japan dispatched for the first time an Antarctic expedition party led by Lieutenant Shirase. The party failed to reach the Antarctic and arrived in Sydney to prepare another attempt. Australians offered moral and financial support to the Shirase party, which was suffering from various difficulties. 87 years later, the icebreaker Shirase, named after the lieutenant, rescued an Australian research and transportation vessel, the Aurora Australis, which was trapped in the ice. I do not know of a better basis for friendship than the people of one country helping the people of another country in times of difficulty.
Japan and Australia have different landscapes and histories, but we share values and interests that provide the basis for our cooperation. We are friends, and I believe we should be even better friends. I came to Australia to let you know that Japan seeks to deepen the spirit of cooperation between us.