Table Speech


“World Understanding Month” Meeting
Rotary’s 104th Anniversary Meeting & Family Party

Special Speech

“Expanding Partnership for International Cooperation” -Japan and the World-

February 25, 2009

Dr. Sadako Ogata,
Honorary Member of Rotary Club of Tokyo
President of JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency)

1. The US and Japanese Societies in the 1950’s
 In 1951, I visited the United States as the second Japanese Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and studied in the faculty of international political science at my university in San Francisco. When I first set foot in San Francisco, it was during the time of the San Francisco Accords between the US and Japan. The United States, at that time, was intoxicated with their status of victorious nation in World War II, and full of confidence in becoming a world leader. There was a strong sense that pervaded the US that if Japan were to get to know the United States, Japan would also become a democratic country and the world would head toward peace.
 When I returned home some 18 months later, Japan was in the early stages of the post-war and an air of pacifism and a strong will toward recovery permeated the entire Japanese society.
 The Rotary Club in Japan at that time was somewhat like a new-life movement. I still remember local millionaires attending meetings punctually, performing community services and devoting great efforts toward building new communities.

2. Japanese Economic Growth and the Development of the Rotary Club (RC)
 After World War II, the Japanese RC underwent dramatic development. The number of districts grew to 34 and I hear that there were 2,308 clubs.
 Post-war Japan experienced a remarkable expansion of industry and economy through government-led economic development. This was also partly due to US influence, but was mostly a type of New Deal program in which new opportunities were created. As a result, a fully participative society was formed in Japan and developed. The RC played a role in promoting such development. The RC strove to undertake services that were inclusive of all elements in society. This action played an important role in promoting civilian life in Japan.

3. International State of Affairs (Heightened Mutual Dependence)
From 1990, I worked as a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees at the United Nations organization, and was engaged in saving and providing assistance to refugees.
 Entering the 90’s, with the ending of the Cold War, it was thought that the East-West confrontation would come to an end and the world would become one of peace, however, domestic conflicts erupted, and social, historical, and religious discrimination and confrontations arose in many countries and regions. Those conflicts continue even today and the issue of how to save refugees in their own countries and regions has become a major issue.
 The world moves across borders. Information and people move. What made all this painfully hit home for me was the spread of infectious diseases such as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
 The multiple terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001 sent a major shock throughout the world. In wars between nations, armed forces can be deployed. However, the formidable issue of how to deal with persons with an ideology, who are trained and possess sufficient funding, and who are willing to blow themselves up for their cause has arisen.
 What I have become painfully aware of is that “It is not possible to guarantee peace and secure prosperity single-handedly by one’s own country”. This is the reality of the 21st century, an age where such responses are being tested.

4. Guaranteeing Human Security in a World of Mutual Dependence
 At the UN General Assembly in 2000, Japan proposed a new way of thinking called “human security”. In 2003 under the request of the Secretary General of the United Nations, the Commission of Human Security defined “human security” as “all people exist protected by fundamental human rights and vital freedoms, whereby their ability to protect their livelihoods and dignity as human beings is adequately respected”. This is easy to define, but it is a difficult issue as to how to satisfy the parameters of this definition.
 There are two general ways to respond to this. In other words, “Governments must take political measures to protect people in a clearer manner. What is more important is the enhancement of people’s abilities. The biggest key is for the people to possess knowledge and develop autonomous abilities”.
 Even if the abilities of individuals are improved, if there is nothing that ties them together, this will not lead to strength. I came to the conclusion that “most important is the collective improvement of abilities through community building that ties together a variety of sectors”, and raised the target of improving peoples’ abilities through civil society.

5. The role of Development Assistance and the New Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
 In today’s JICA, the organization’s objectives for development have become increasingly consolidated. Our assistance philosophy is also gradually developing. JICA has been able to make a theoretical consensus of not only empowering people in developing countries one by one by ascertaining what others need through interactions with such persons and by providing training to enhance their abilities, but also to set objectives so that the country we are providing assistance to will become autonomous, and it’s society will be set in motion. Of course, many hurdles still remain before this can be realized.
 Last year, the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) was held in Yokohama. This was a plan that the countries in the Asian region will work together in providing assistance to Africa. In particular, for the climate change issue, no single country bears the full responsibility, but all countries in the world need to think about it.

6. The New Mission and Expectations for the Rotary Club
 A great deal of expectation is placed on the role of Rotary International as an entity that will deal with such issues as I have mentioned above. The theme of 2008-2009 for Rotary International is “Make Dreams Real”. This emphasizes the decline in infant mortality rates, the preservation of health, elimination of starvation, security of water supply, and proliferation of literacy education.
 We at JICA are making limited concerted efforts, but with the help of Rotary International and the Japan Rotary Club, we hope to become a powerful input to the new world. I urge you to promote the projects that are needed the most in the world.