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Japan and Australia: Toward a Creative Partnership

Junichiro Koizumi (

Junichiro Koizumi (

Our structural reform includes the disposal of non-performing loans over the course of next two or three years, the reform of government-affiliated corporations, the participation of private capitals in postal businesses, the abolition of regulations preventing free economic activities in the private sector and changes in rigid fiscal and social systems. Reforms are already underway, and I believe we can see indications that the economy is moving toward bottoming out.

The structural reform is expected to encourage foreign investment in Japan, which would further accelerate the recovery of the Japanese economy.

Our cooperation in the Asia Pacific region is also an important agenda for our Creative Partnership. Today, I would like to focus upon one aspect of that, our cooperation in East Asia.

East Asia is the region with the greatest potential for growth in the world. In the speech I made in Singapore, I made a proposal of a "community that acts together and advances together." Australia should become a core member of such a community.

I do not believe it is always the best policy to set up new organizations or institutions to build a community. In a region like East Asia where there is a great deal of diversity, I believe functional cooperation itself can be more effective. We will do by doing. Acts of cooperation in themselves will create a sense of community. Let me give you some examples of the kind of functional cooperation that I mean.

The first example would be joint efforts for regional stability. Japan respects the leadership shown by Australia in the stabilization of East Timor. I sincerely hope that Australia, in cooperation with the United Nations and countries in the region, will continue to play an active role in the nation-building process, which will significantly contribute to the stability of the entire region. Japan has already dispatched engineering units of our Self Defense Forces to East Timor as a part of UN peace keeping operations. We would like to cooperate with Australia in this context.

Second, we need intensive cooperation to solve transnational issues such as smuggling of people. I greatly appreciate the work of Australia and Indonesia in co-chairing the Regional Ministerial Conference last February in Bali. This type of joint initiative is extremely useful.

Third, further strengthening of regional economic partnership by focusing on trade and investment is very important. I know that the Australian government has been pursuing ways to bring about closer economic relations with Korea, China, Singapore and Thailand. Such endeavours will add significantly to the creation of a community. Japan, too has been exploring comprehensive economic partnership with ASEAN and Korea. I believe this is a policy agenda that we can work on respectively.