|The Australia-Japan Research Project under the Peace, Friendship and Exchange Initiative|
by His Excellency Mr Yukio Satoh, Ambassador of Japan
The opening of the homepage of the Australia-Japan Research Project (AJRP) on the Australian War Memorial website is by itself a significant event in the history of Japan-Australia relations. For this is the first tangible result of the joint efforts of the Japanese government and the Australian War Memorial to promote studies and research on what took place between the two countries in the past, particularly in time of war.
On 26 August 1996, the Japanese Embassy in Canberra and the Australian War Memorial agreed to establish the AJRP with a view to creating a database of information concerning Japan-Australia relations, with the initial focus on the Second World War. Since then, the Memorial has conducted the project, with financial support made available by the Japanese government’s Peace, Friendship and Exchange Initiative.
One of the two important purposes of the Peace, Friendship and Exchange Initiative is to provide support for research on history in order “to enable everyone to face squarely the facts of history”. Announced by the then Prime Minister, Tomiichi Murayama, on 31 August 1994, as we approached the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, the Peace, Friendship and Exchange Initiative reflected official Japanese recognition of what the country did during the war and the period which preceded it.
Reflections on the Japanese wartime conduct were manifest in the announcement of the initiative:
Japan’s actions in a certain period of the past left the peoples of neighbouring Asia and elsewhere with scars that are painful even today. I am thus taking this opportunity to state my belief, based on my profound remorse for the fact that these acts of aggression, colonial rule, and the like caused such unbearable suffering and sorrow for so many people, that Japan’s future path should be one of making every effort to build world peace in line with my no-war commitment.
Needless to say, to pass on to future generations correct accounts of what happened in the past is critically important in order to build a better future. And correct accounts of the past can be obtained only through studies and research on the basis of original documents and materials.
From now on, the AJRP homepage, which will grow further in the coming years, will make an invaluable contribution to such studies and research. I hope that the AJRP homepage will be accessed by as many people as possible, not only in our two countries but also in the other parts of the world.