And, thus, it should be possible to guarantee that if a child goes to school, she or he will get a meal and this will encourage them to stay in school. This may seem to be a small thing, but it could contribute greatly to enabling them to continue their education and prepare for a constructive life later on.
Fourth is the critical importance of building up human resources in these areas that I have mentioned in the developing nations, and it is crucial that a wide variety of people from all over the world work together closely in this regard.
I was a rugby buddy of Ambassador Oku Katsuhiko, who was killed while serving in Iraq. Many people have already heard about how he sent 71 emails to the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from his post in Iraq. However, it is not widely known that he was also exchanging messages with some of the players on his old rugby team. Ambassador Oku told these university students, “ Right now I am doing something that is extremely risky. I may never return to Japan. But when I look into the bright eyes of the Iraqi children, I want to try to somehow give them a better life. For this reason, I am willing to sacrifice myself for them. The rugby spirit is ‘One for all, all for one.’ If we can bring this spirit to the whole international community, there is so much we can accomplish.”
I first visited Africa as the prime minister of Japan. Sadako Ogata, the former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, took me to visit a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya. Tens of thousands of children were living inside tents. I saw a mother who would not let go of her dead child. The doctors told me that the child had been dead for several hours, but she kept stroking its back. I wanted to do something to save those children. There was a mother who had traveled 200 or 300 kilometers to get to the camp, all the while clutching four infants. Their arms and legs were so covered in dust and sweat that they resembled the shell of a tortoise. Without thinking, I took the hand of one of the children and began wiping off the sand, but the women glared at me and snatched back the child. She probably thought I was going to steal her baby.
Yet, with all of this going on around us, when we visited the camp school, I saw that all of the children were sitting on the ground listening attentively to their teacher. When I joined them, they sang a wonderful song for me. Then, I asked them what they wanted most and they told me pencils and notepads. When I returned to Japan, I called together the vice-ministers and ministry officials and told them to gather up pencils and notepads, and we sent three truckloads to Kakuma. This sort of thing does not solve the larger problem, but I was just overtaken by the impulse to do something.
Now, if you look at Japan, there is a great deal of unease with the weak economy. But young people can all buy expensive goods, go to concerts, and follow their favorite singers around Japan or even around the world. That is all Japanese youth are using their money to do. Sometimes they use their money to support themselves, but most are supported by their parents. I wish they would want to give one-tenth or one-twentieth of this money to help the world’s children. This is something that we politicians have to call upon the people to do. I hope that everyone gathered here today will call for this to be done all around the world. This is an important role we can all take upon ourselves.
One of the advantages of the Global Fund is that it is not merely a traditional international cooperation scheme driven by governments, but rather one that forges new partnerships combining the strengths of many diverse players. As Ambassador Oku would say, “one for all, all for one.” I am delighted by the report of the launching of the Friends of the Global Fund Japan at the initiative of Tadashi Yamamoto, which will give form to this spirit in Japan, and I wish to assure my wholehearted support for this effort to draw upon the participation of many in the private sector in encouraging nongovernmental and governmental support to advance the work of the Global Fund. I look forward with great anticipation to working together with everyone gathered today in the global fight against communicable disease in order that every single human being can live a life of dignity.