Tokyo at night
Now, our two countries, as Mr Morgan mentioned, have enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship, and also not just beneficial bilaterally, I think we have played on many occasions a very proud role of making our region more productive and interactive with the others. And Australia has played a very, very important role in taking the leadership in many of these developments. We have come a long way, and we very much look forward to the visit of Prime Minister John Howard in April on the occasion of the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, and next year, 2006, is designated as the year of exchange to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Basic Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in 1976. The responsibilities that Australia and Japan commonly share as two leading democratic nations in the Asia-Pacific region have not really lessened, but I'm sure they will simply continue to increase and bear greater importance.
I mentioned China as being one of the subjects to be addressed. China has become a very important part of not only this region but the world, and as I said earlier, the Japanese economic recovery and very strong performance in the last couple of years would not have been possible without a very healthy Chinese economy, both in terms of their healthy domestic economy, but also their ability to provide opportunities, for instance to the Japanese manufacturers, to be a better, more effective value-added player in the global market. Yes, in the meantime we have suffered what you might call the hollowing-out effects, but the total net has been the big plus for the Japanese economy. But you are also aware of the sensitive bilateral relationship between China and Japan, largely because of our past history, but partly because of a number of speculations as to what China might become or do, not only to Japan but also to the rest of the world.
Quite recently I was interested to read a remark by the Chairman of Intel, Mr Grove. A Japanese journalist was interviewing him about the future of China. He made two very interesting, important comments. First, he said: I have no doubt that China has passed the point of no return, it has become a very important part of the world, and it will be more important in the future; this is something we have to accept. It is not a question of liking or not liking it, it is going to be a fact. But the second comment was more interesting to me: this was in answer to a question that because China is not a democratic country, they just cannot encourage creativity and imagination. In the future the competition will be decided on how effective your R & D will be, how imaginative, how creative your people will be in responding to the challenges. The gentleman said: nonsense, the political system has nothing to do with how imaginative people can be. Look back at what Germany in the Nazis' time did; they were at the height of technology.