Opening Address by Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi at The Ceremony for The Japan Foundation Awards and The Japan Foundation Special Prizes

Opening Address by Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi at The Ceremony for The Japan Foundation Awards and The Japan Foundation Special Prizes

(Transcript)

Ms. Yoriko Kawaguchi, Minister for Foreign AffairsMs. Yoriko Kawaguchi, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I would like to offer my congratulations on the occasion of the presentation ceremony for The Japan Foundation Awards and the Japan Foundation Special Prizes, which is graced by the attendance of Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Princess and Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Takamado, being held in the year which marks the 30th anniversary for the Japan Foundation.

My heartfelt congratulations also go to the recipients of The Japan Foundation Awards and the Japan Foundation Special Prizes. Mr. Makoto Ooka, winner of the Japan Foundation Award, did not confine himself to disseminating Japanese culture abroad, but he has created a new form of exchange through international joint creation of poetry. Professor Gerald L. Curtis has made an astute analysis of the policymaking process in Japan and has written numerous books that have attracted many Japanese readers. I would like to express my deepest respect for the accomplishments of these two awardees.

I also regard highly the "Japanese Mothers for Foreign Students Movement" of the Tokyo YWCA and the activities of the Old Japan Students' Association, Thailand, which have exerted efforts for successful personal exchange that formed the basis of mutual understanding, as well as the Department of Japanese and Korean Studies at the Oriental Studies Institute of Warsaw University, which has continued to carry out high-quality education in the field of Japanese studies.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Japan Foundation, and this is the 30th occasion that The Japan Foundation Awards and the Japan Foundation Special Prizes have been awarded. When The Japan Foundation was first established, Japan was receiving the attention of the world due to its remarkable economic development, while Japan's history, culture, and thought, which formed the basis of the Japanese approach--including the Japanese way of manufacturing--were not very well known then. Over the past 30 years, thanks, in part to the efforts made by the Japan Foundation, interest in, and understanding of, Japan by the rest of the world has been steadily rising. During the five-year period until I became the Director-General of the Environment Agency in July 2000, I had the pleasure of serving as an Advisory Committee Member of the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership. From that perspective also, I value highly the progress and contributions that the Japan Foundation has made until today.

In today's global society, deeper globalization and adoption of IT have brought benefits to society at large. There are more opportunities for different cultures to come into contact with one another. This can sometimes result in cases where intolerance for a culture different from one's own is engendered in the minds of people. The importance of nurturing tolerance for different cultures to learn to coexist with diverse cultures is ever more strongly recognized in the international community since the September 11th terrorist attacks of last year. The roles to be played by The Japan Foundation and those people who have striven for the promotion of international mutual understanding and international friendship, such as the recipients of the awards today, are gaining their importance.

In closing, I would like to express my sincere wish for further success of everyone who is gathered here today. Thank you very much.

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