Australia-Japan Research Project

AustraliaJapan Research Project at the Australian War Memorial
Australian and Japanese attitudes to the war

Speech given by KOIZUMI Junichiro, Prime Minister of Japan, in Canberra on 1 May 2002

[Listen to a recording of this broadcast: 18 Mb]

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome His Excellency, the Prime Minister of Japan.

Junichiro Koizumi [in Japanese]:
His Excellency, Prime Minister Howard, Mrs. Howard, opposition leader and distinguished guests. I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation that you have organised such a magnificent luncheon for me and also gave warm speeches.

[in English] Thank you very much for kind and encouraging words, Prime Minister Howard and the opposition leader. I am going to Sydney from now to make a speech in English in Sydney. But here, I am going to make my speech in Japanese.

Four years ago, I visited Australia as Minister of Health and Welfare. At that time, the then Minster of Health, Mr. Wooldridge, and Mr. Smith who are here today welcomed me very warmly. It was such a nice memory for me and I remember that even now.

I will give my speech in English in Sydney, so I would just like to express my gratitude briefly.

I have visited Australia a few times in the past, but this is my first visit to Canberra. I think this visit has been a very wonderful one as I have been able to meet so many people here, and also to hold a very frank and useful discussion with Prime Minister Howard and his cabinet members.

Japan and Australian have maintained an extremely friendly relationship for over fifty years. I think our friendly relationship is the most successful one in the Asia-Pacific region. During the discussion that I had with Prime Minister Howard, we have agreed that Australia and Japan will work together to strengthen our friendly and cooperative relationship comprehensively as partners. I would like to learn from the example that the Prime Minster has strongly demonstrated in his passionate and determined approach to reforms, and to put my utmost effort into rebuilding the Japanese economy.

There is one incident which impressed me strongly and it still remains with me. It relates to the noble spirit that the Australian government and Australian people expressed. About sixty years ago, Japanese midget submarines entered into Sydney Harbour to carry out an attack. Some of the crew were caught by the Australian Navy. In general, those combatants would be treated with hatred and hostility in most countries.

After this luncheon, I am going to visit the war museum in Canberra because I heard the submarine is still exhibited there. I would like to view the submarine.

At that time, a Naval Admiral and the Royal Australian Navy treated the enemy sailors not with contempt and hostility but with civility as brave men. A funeral was carried out at that time, according to the highest level of naval tradition. Then the remains were returned to Japan. About twenty years later, a mother of one of the crew visited Australia to thank the Australians for their treatment of the dead crewmen and to commemorate her son’s death. At that time, the Australian people and Prime Minister Gorton welcomed her warmly in saying that “the mother of the brave man has come”. I do not know who were the people who expressed civility and generosity at such a level to the enemy soldiers.

The past is very important. We cannot forget the past. However, the relationship between Australia and Japan has demonstrated the importance of overcoming past troubles and difficulties, and building friendly relationships for the future.

There are still many areas where Japan and Australia can help each other. I hope we will develop strong friendly and cooperative relationships for the future. Thank you very much for the opportunity of addressing you today.

Printed on 05/20/2022 08:24:07 PM