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President Obama Participates in a Wreath Laying Ceremony

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GKlg0whAIY

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Abe of Japan at Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Hiroshima Peace Memorial
Hiroshima, Japan

5:45 P.M. JST

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Seventy-one years ago, on a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.

Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not so distant past. We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 in Japanese men, women and children; thousands of Koreans; a dozen Americans held prisoner. Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become.

It is not the fact of war that sets Hiroshima apart. Artifacts tell us that violent conflict appeared with the very first man. Our early ancestors, having learned to make blades from flint and spears from wood, used these tools not just for hunting, but against their own kind. On every continent, the history of civilization is filled with war, whether driven by scarcity of grain or hunger for gold; compelled by nationalist fervor or religious zeal. Empires have risen and fallen. Peoples have been subjugated and liberated. And at each juncture, innocents have suffered, a countless toll, their names forgotten by time.

The World War that reached its brutal end in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was fought among the wealthiest and most powerful of nations. Their civilizations had given the world great cities and magnificent art. Their thinkers had advanced ideas of justice and harmony and truth. And yet, the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes; an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints. In the span of a few years, some 60 million people would die -- men, women, children no different than us, shot, beaten, marched, bombed, jailed, starved, gassed to death.

There are many sites around the world that chronicle this war -- memorials that tell stories of courage and heroism; graves and empty camps that echo of unspeakable depravity. Yet in the image of a mushroom cloud that rose into these skies, we are most starkly reminded of humanity’s core contradiction; how the very spark that marks us as a species -- our thoughts, our imagination, our language, our tool-making, our ability to set ourselves apart from nature and bend it to our will -- those very things also give us the capacity for unmatched destruction.

How often does material advancement or social innovation blind us to this truth. How easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause. Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill. Nations arise, telling a story that binds people together in sacrifice and cooperation, allowing for remarkable feats, but those same stories have so often been used to oppress and dehumanize those who are different.

Science allows us to communicate across the seas and fly above the clouds; to cure disease and understand the cosmos. But those same discoveries can be turned into ever-more efficient killing machines.

The wars of the modern age teach this truth. Hiroshima teaches this truth. Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us. The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution, as well.

That is why we come to this place. We stand here, in the middle of this city, and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell. We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see. We listen to a silent cry. We remember all the innocents killed across the arc of that terrible war, and the wars that came before, and the wars that would follow.

Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering, but we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again. Someday the voices of the hibakusha will no longer be with us to bear witness. But the memory of the morning of August 6th, 1945 must never fade. That memory allows us to fight complacency. It fuels our moral imagination. It allows us to change.

And since that fateful day, we have made choices that give us hope. The United States and Japan forged not only an alliance, but a friendship that has won far more for our people than we could ever claim through war. The nations of Europe built a Union that replaced battlefields with bonds of commerce and democracy. Oppressed peoples and nations won liberation. An international community established institutions and treaties that worked to avoid war and aspire to restrict and roll back, and ultimately eliminate the existence of nuclear weapons.

Still, every act of aggression between nations; every act of terror and corruption and cruelty and oppression that we see around the world shows our work is never done. We may not be able to eliminate man’s capacity to do evil, so nations –- and the alliances that we’ve formed -– must possess the means to defend ourselves. But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without them.

We may not realize this goal in my lifetime. But persistent effort can roll back the possibility of catastrophe. We can chart a course that leads to the destruction of these stockpiles. We can stop the spread to new nations, and secure deadly materials from fanatics.

And yet that is not enough. For we see around the world today how even the crudest rifles and barrel bombs can serve up violence on a terrible scale. We must change our mindset about war itself –- to prevent conflict through diplomacy, and strive to end conflicts after they’ve begun; to see our growing interdependence as a cause for peaceful cooperation and not violent competition; to define our nations not by our capacity to destroy, but by what we build.

And perhaps above all, we must reimagine our connection to one another as members of one human race. For this, too, is what makes our species unique. We’re not bound by genetic code to repeat the mistakes of the past. We can learn. We can choose. We can tell our children a different story –- one that describes a common humanity; one that makes war less likely and cruelty less easily accepted.

We see these stories in the hibakusha –- the woman who forgave a pilot who flew the plane that dropped the atomic bomb, because she recognized that what she really hated was war itself; the man who sought out families of Americans killed here, because he believed their loss was equal to his own.

My own nation’s story began with simple words: All men are created equal, and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Realizing that ideal has never been easy, even within our own borders, even among our own citizens.

But staying true to that story is worth the effort. It is an ideal to be strived for; an ideal that extends across continents, and across oceans. The irreducible worth of every person, the insistence that every life is precious; the radical and necessary notion that we are part of a single human family -– that is the story that we all must tell.

That is why we come to Hiroshima. So that we might think of people we love -- the first smile from our children in the morning; the gentle touch from a spouse over the kitchen table; the comforting embrace of a parent –- we can think of those things and know that those same precious moments took place here seventy-one years ago. Those who died -– they are like us. Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life, and not eliminating it.

When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done.

The world was forever changed here. But today, the children of this city will go through their day in peace. What a precious thing that is. It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child. That is the future we can choose -– a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare, but as the start of our own moral awakening. (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As translated.) Last year, at the 70th anniversary of the end of war, I visited the United States and made a speech as Prime Minister of Japan at a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress. That war deprived many American youngsters of their dreams and futures. Reflecting upon such harsh history, I offered my eternal condolences to all the American souls that were lost during World War II. I expressed gratitude and respect for all the people in both Japan and the United States who have been committed to reconciliation for the past 70 years.

Seventy years later, enemies who fought each other so fiercely have become friends, bonded in spirit, and have become allies, bound in trust and friendship, deep between us. The Japan-U.S. alliance, which came into the world this way, has to be an alliance of hope for the world.

So I appealed in the speech. One year has passed since then. This time, President Obama, for the first time as leader of the United States, paid a visit to Hiroshima, the city which suffered the atomic bombing. U.S. President witnessing the reality of atomic bombings and renewing his determination for a world free of nuclear weapons -- this gives great hope to people all around the world who have never given up their hope for a world without nuclear weapons.

I would like to give a whole-hearted welcome to this historic visit, which had been awaited not only by the people of Hiroshima, but also by all the Japanese people. I express my sincere respect to the decision and courage of President Obama. With his decision and courage, we are opening a new chapter to the reconciliation of Japan and the United States, and in our history of trust and friendship.

A few minutes ago, together, I and President Obama offered our deepest condolences for all those who lost their lives during World War II and also by the atomic bombings. Seventy-one years ago in Hiroshima and in Nagasaki, a great number of innocent citizens’ lives were cost by a single atomic bomb without mercy. Many children and many citizens perished. Each one of them had his or her life dream and beloved family. When I reflect on this sheer fact, I cannot help but feel painful grief.

Even today, there are victims who are still suffering unbearably from the bombings. Feeling of those who went through unimaginable tragic experiences, indeed, in this city 71 years ago -- it is unspeakable. In their minds, various feelings must have come and gone -- that of those, this must be in common: That any place in the world this tragedy must not be repeated again.

It is the responsibility of us who live in the present to firmly inherit these deep feelings. We are determined to realize a world free of nuclear weapons. No matter how long and how difficult the road will be, it is the responsibility of us who live in the present to continue to make efforts.

Children who were born on that unforgettable day lit the light believing in permanent peace. To make every effort for the peace and prosperity in the world, vowing for this light -- this is the responsibility of us all who live in the present. We will definitely fulfill our responsibility. Together, Japan and the United States will become a light for hope, for the people in the world. Standing in this city, I am firmly determined, together with President Obama. This is the only way to respond to the feelings of the countless spirits -- victims of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I am convinced of this. (Applause.)

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Prime Minister Trudeau offers a formal apology for the Komagata Maru incident

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Wx1KLtRgQY

http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/05/18/komagata-maru-apology-house-commons


Ottawa, Ontario
18 May 2016


Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by acknowledging the hard work done by many of my colleagues.

From my own caucus, I’d like to thank the Members from Surrey-Newton and Winnipeg North for their tireless advocacy. They have petitioned the Canadian government for years to make the apology that will be made today. I thank them for their commitment to this cause.

From the Opposition benches, special mention must be made of the Members from Calgary Heritage, Calgary Midnapore and the former Member for Surrey North. Each deserves recognition for the work they have done to seek resolution for victims and their families.

As do the many organizations that have sought the same, in particular, the Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation.

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in this House to offer an apology on behalf of the Government of Canada, for our role in the Komagata Maru incident.

More than a century ago, a great injustice took place.

On May 23, 1914, a steamship sailed into Burrard Inlet in Vancouver. On board were 376 passengers of Sikh, Muslim and Hindu origin.

Those passengers, like millions of immigrants to Canada since, came seeking better lives for their families. Greater opportunities. A chance to contribute to their new home.

Those passengers chose Canada. And when they arrived here, they were rejected.

They were rejected because in the early years of the last century, the Government of Canada put in place a law that prohibited passengers from disembarking in Canada if the vessel they were on had stopped at any point during its journey here.

This would have prevented immigrants from faraway countries such as India from entering Canada, because in that era, it was impossible to travel great distances by sea without making any stops.

Because of this law, when the Komagata Maru arrived in Canada, only a small number of passengers were allowed to disembark. The ship, and all remaining passengers on it, was ordered to leave.

Members of the local Sikh community tried to convince authorities to reverse their decision, but those efforts were unsuccessful.

And on July 23, 1914 – two months after it arrived – the Komagata Maru was escorted out of harbour by the Canadian military, and forced to return to India, where 19 passengers were killed and many others imprisoned.

Mr. Speaker, Canada does not bear alone the responsibility for every tagic mistake that occurred with the Komagata Maru and its passengers.

But Canada’s government was, without question, responsible for the laws that prevented these passengers from immigrating peacefully and securely.

For that, and for every regrettable consequence that followed, we are sorry.

I apologize, first and foremost, to the victims of the incident.

No words can fully erase the pain and suffering they experienced. Regrettably, the passage of time means that none are alive to hear our apology today.

Still, we offer it, fully and sincerely.

For our indifference to your plight.

For our failure to recognize all that you had to offer.

For the laws that discriminated against you, so senselessly.

And for not formally apologizing sooner.

For all these things, we are truly sorry.

I also wish to apologize to the descendants of the passengers of the Komagata Maru, including those who are here with us here today.

We can never know what your lives would have been like had your relatives been welcomed to Canada.

The ways in which your lives would have been different.

The ways in which Canada would have been enriched.

Those possibilities are lost to history.

For that – and to you – we apologize.

Just as we apologize for past wrongs, so too must we commit ourselves to positive action – to learning from the mistakes of the past, and to making sure that we never repeat them.

That is the unique promise and potential of Canada.

We believe that every person – no matter who they are, no matter where they came from – deserves a real and fair chance at success. Canada’s South Asian community exemplifies this success every day.

We believe that our diversity is a source of strength. That we are strong not in spite of our differences, but because of them.

And we believe in the values enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including multiculturalism. Our government will ensure that these values are always upheld.

Mr. Speaker, before I finish, I would like to acknowledge one more Member who has helped to bring the Komagata Maru incident to our national attention – the Minister of National Defence.

Before entering political life, the Minister was the commanding officer of The British Columbia Regiment Duke of Connaught’s Own – the same regiment that once forced out the Komagata Maru.

A century ago, the Minister’s family might well have been turned away from Canada. Today, the Minister sits beside us, here, in this House.

In a House that includes immigrants. That includes the daughters and sons – the granddaughters and grandsons – of immigrants.

The very makeup of this House should remind all of us that when we have the choice between opening our arms to those in need or closing our hearts to them, we must always choose the more compassionate path.

When we see injustice, we must speak up, and attempt to make things right.

When we make mistakes, we must apologize, and recommit ourselves to doing better.

Mr. Speaker, Canada is a country unlike any other. We are blessed to call it home.

Let us always endeavour to do better, and to be better.

Let us do that in honour of the victims of the Komagata Maru incident, and every courageous person who leaves behind family and familiar things, to bring to Canada the very best of who they are.

Thank you.

- See more at: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/05/18/komagata-maru-apology-house-commons#sthash.LDQ9Ocv0.dpuf

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PM Direct: easyJet

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q68ZRtZwUmc


Thank you, it’s great to be here with you here in Luton, and I am a proud easyJet passenger. You’ve flown me actually all over Europe: Portugal, Majorca, France, Spain, and almost always on time, although I have to admit that I’m not always on time. Actually, as I drove in here this morning, I remember once when I missed a flight altogether and had a lovely night in the Ibis hotel on the way into the airport. So I’ve let you down more often than you’ve let me down.

But it is actually, funnily enough, interesting point: very few people have I stopped on the street to tell them that I think that they’ve done an amazing thing, but actually your founder is one of them. I did do that once, because I think easyJet was a fantastic creation. And today, with whatever it is: 800 routes, 70 million passengers, supporting around 10,000 jobs in our country, this is a fantastic great British success story. So it is a pleasure to be here, talking to you about this vital issue and taking your questions.

Because on 23 June, we’ve got to make a really big decision for the future of our country. General elections are important, of course I believe that, but actually I think this is more important than a general election. If you don’t like the result of a general election, 5 years later you can make a different decision and have a different team running the country. Obviously not something I’m looking forward to, but nonetheless that’s the way the system works.

But this is a really big choice about Britain, and I’m arguing very clearly that we are safer if we stay in, because we can fight terrorism better if we’re part of this team. I think we’ll be stronger, because I think Britain gains from being in these organisations rather than losing by being in them. But crucially, I think we’ll be better off. And it’s not a complicated argument to make. It’s because we’re part of a market of 500 million people; the biggest single market anywhere in the world. And that is good for jobs, it’s good for companies, it’s good for investment, it brings businesses here to Britain. It means great businesses like this one can expand throughout the single market. It’s good for our economy, and so if we were to leave, it would be bad for our economy. It would mean less growth, it would mean fewer jobs, it would mean higher prices. It would mean, as we set out yesterday, a recession for our economy. So we’re better off if we stay in this organisation.

And it’s not a static thing, because of course the single market is still expanding. It’s good we’ve got a single market in aviation; that has massively helped your business. I can remember days, I’m old enough to remember, when flying off on holiday meant getting on a sort of state owned aeroplane and going to a state owned airport in another country, and paying a very high price for it. And as Carolyn has said, prices have come down 40% since the single market has come about, and since the radical transformation that companies like easyJet have brought about.

So I’m quite convinced that when it comes to this economic argument, we are better off if we stay in and we’re worse off if we leave. And as I said, it’s not static, because the single market is going to go into energy, it’s going to go into digital, where we’re a real leader, and it’s going to go further into services industries, which actually make up 80% of our economy. So for those reasons I think we’ll be better off.

And today we’re talking about some quite specific things, some quite ‘retail’ things, if you like, which is what would happen to the cost of a holiday if we were to leave. If we were to leave, and the pound were to fall, which is what most people expect and what the Treasury forecast, that would put up the cost of a typical holiday for a family of 4 to a European destination by £230 . It could, as Carolyn has said, put up actually the cost of air travel, because if you’re outside the single market, which is what those who want us to leave think, then you’d face all sorts of bureaucracy and restrictions that you don’t face today.

Another very retail thing that is happening in Europe, and there are a few people with mobile phones right now – don’t worry, film away, this is all live anyway. We’re abolishing roaming charges in the European Union. It’s one of the most annoying things: you’re on holiday, you use your mobile phone, you get an enormous bill. Getting rid of roaming charges could mean on a 10 minute call back to the UK, you’re saving almost £4 on that 10 minute call. So I think there’s some very strong retail arguments about the cost of a holiday, the cost of food, the cost of using your phone, for staying in the European Union.

Now, before I take your questions, I just want to make one other argument, because I think in this debate it’s very important to talk about the specifics, and we have, about jobs and prices and costs of holidays and costs of phone calls. But there is also, in my view, a bigger argument. I don’t believe those people who say, ‘Well, my head says we ought to stay in the European Union but my heart says somehow, we would be a prouder and more patriotic country if we were outside.’ I don’t think that is right. I think this is an amazing country. We are the fifth biggest economy in the world. We’ve done great things in this world. We’re a very interconnected country. What happens on the other side of the world matters to us. We care about tackling climate change; we care about trying to alleviate poverty in Africa; we know we need to have the world’s trade lanes open for British business and enterprise. And I absolutely believe, if you want a big, bold, strong United Kingdom, then you want to be in organisations like a reformed European Union, rather than outside of them. Britain is part of the G7, we’re part of the G20, we’re part of NATO, which helps to keep our defences strong. We are a very important part of the Commonwealth, which brings about a third of humanity together in one organisation. And we’re members of the European Union. Being in these organisations doesn’t diminish our standing and our strength in the world, in my view. It enhances it. So I think the big, bold, patriotic case is to stay in a reformed European Union, to fight for the sort of world that we want, rather than to stand back and be on the outside.

And in a way, that’s sort of what easyJet has done. Here you are, a British based business, but a business that has decided to take on the world in terms of being competitive, running routes all over Europe and beyond, and recognising that is in your interests, your passengers’ interests, your shareholders’ interests, all the people in this room’s interests.

And that’s my argument about Britain: let’s be the big, bold strong Britain inside the reformed European Union rather than voting to leave, and that’s the case I’m going to make every day between now and 23 June, with just under a month to go.

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Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Abe after Bilateral Meeting

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65Rx0dc_6Nk

Shima Kanko Hotel
Ise-Shima, Japan

10:42 P.M. JST

PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) At the very outset of our small group discussion, I firmly lodged a protest against President Obama as the Japanese Prime Minister with regard to the most recent case in Okinawa. The entire time for the small group discussion was spent on this specific case in Okinawa. And I feel profound resentment against this self-centered and absolutely despicable crime.

This case has shocked not only Okinawa, but also deeply shocked the entire Japan. I conveyed to the President that such feelings of Japanese people should be sincerely taken to heart. I also urged the United States to make sure to take effective and thorough means to prevent a recurrence, and vigorously and strictly address the situation.

In proceeding with the realignment of the U.S. forces without truly staying together with the feelings of the people in Okinawa we will not be able to make progress. And there is a tough and challenging road ahead of us as we seek to regain confidence, which was lost due to the most recent case. However, we both agreed to do our utmost in areas such as impact mitigation in Okinawa through Japan-U.S. cooperation.

At the plenary meeting, for myself, I conveyed to the President that I whole-heartedly welcome the decision by President Obama to visit Hiroshima, a place which suffered an atomic bomb. And he is going to visit Hiroshima as the first-ever U.S. President.

I am convinced that when the leader of a nation that is the only nation to have used the nuclear weapon and the leader of the nation that is the only nation to have suffered atomic bombings in the war express the feelings of sincere sorrow and pray for the repose of the souls of those citizens who sacrificed their life will create a significant and strong momentum toward the world free of nuclear weapons.

Japan and the United States, together, working hand in hand, and continuously doing utmost for global peace and prosperity -- I would like to send such a powerful message from Hiroshima together with President Obama.

So, tomorrow, finally, the G7 Ise-Shima Summit is starting. We could compare notes how we, the G7, can lead the world in addressing various challenges of the international community, including the global economy, which has become increasingly uncertain, and also the challenges against the international order.

In particular, the global economy is going to be the biggest theme for the G7 Ise-Shima Summit. And both President Obama and I could share the recognition the G7 should lead the global sustainable and powerful road. My determination is to demonstrate in a thorough manner a way forward toward resolving various challenges of the international community, through the close cooperation between Japan and the United States.

Japan and the United States, working hand in hand for regional and global peace and prosperity, based on our enduring bond, and also under our alliance of hope -- that is the determination that I could renew, together with President Obama today.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I want to thank Prime Minister Abe and the people of Japan for welcoming us. Prime Minister Abe and his team have done an outstanding job preparing for the G7 Summit. And we discussed, as Shinzo indicated, the need for us to continue to boost global growth and to move ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The alliance between the United States and Japan is a critical foundation for the security of both of our countries. That alliance has also helped to fortify peace and security throughout the region.

As Prime Minister Abe indicated, we did discuss the tragedy that took place in Okinawa, and I extended my sincerest condolences and deepest regrets. And the United States will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation to ensure that justice is done under the Japanese legal system.

We also discussed a range of regional issues, and given the threat from North Korea, we agreed to continue reinforcing deterrents and strengthening our defense capabilities.

On maritime issues, we are united in upholding freedom of navigation and the peaceful resolution of disputes.

We also discussed a range of global issues, including the need for additional resources to help migrants and refugees, and to support Iraq. And we discussed the role our countries should play in achieving the early entry into force of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Finally, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to visit with some of our American and Japanese military personnel to thank them for their service. And our visit to Hiroshima will honor all those who were lost in World War II and reaffirm our shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons, as well as highlight the extraordinary alliance that we have been able to forge over these many decades.

Q (As interpreted.) I would like to ask a question to Prime Minister Abe with regard to the most recent, very tragic case in Okinawa. I understand that more than 20 years have already passed since the rape incident, which involved U.S. Marine Corps officers back in 1995. But even so, we do not see the decreasing number of crimes involving the U.S. people. And it is quite a regrettable trend. And whenever Japan faces each of the case or accident, I understand that the Japanese government has been requesting the U.S. side to take measures to prevent the recurrence of such measures. And also, you have been dealing with the situation through the improvement of the implementation of the SOFA instead of having amendment to the SOFA itself. And I am aware of the fact that your judicial systems are quite different between Japan and the United States.

So my question to the Prime Minister is that whether or not you have requested to the President that we should have the revision or amendment to the SOFA. And also, in order for you to see the progress in the base-related issues, I understand that the key is to regain the confidence among the people in Okinawa, as well as ensuring safety and security among the people in Okinawa. So what specific measures are you planning to implement as you move forward?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) I, too, feel profound resentment. When thinking of fear and real disappointment of this victim, I am just speechless. We will investigate in a vigorous manner under the Japanese jurisdiction, in mind with the Japanese laws, this offender who committed this self-centered and absolutely despicable crime.

With regard to the Japanese investigation process, during our discussion, President Obama assured me that the U.S. side will offer full support as we move forward. The entire Japan was deeply shocked due to this most recent case. And as I said earlier, for myself, I conveyed to the President that such feelings of the Japanese people should be taken to heart sincerely. I also requested that the United States vigorously and strictly address the situation, including making sure to take effective and thorough measures to prevent recurrence.

On the Status of Forces Agreement, when facing issues, we will steadily realize the visible improvement in concrete terms as for each and every issue that we face. And by doing so, we will achieve results, one after another, in a steady manner, in parallel with such steady efforts. My view is that we both make efforts and persistently pursue the most appropriate form of the regime, based on the Status of Forces Agreement and related arrangements.

As a result of the case in Okinawa, people in Okinawa feel strong sense of uneasiness in light of their security situation. My intention is to thoroughly implement measures to prevent crimes, and ensure safety and peace of mind among the people in Okinawa. So I already gave the instruction to my Chief Cabinet Secretary to consider such measures in a timely manner.

Securing lives and property of the Japanese people is my responsibility as Prime Minister. I am determined to take every possible means so that such tragic case is never to be repeated.
Q Thank you very much, Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister.

Mr. President, on this trip you are confronting old warzones and the use of American military might in them. This week, you also crossed into sovereign Pakistani territory, where you did not have permission to operate, in order to kill the leader of the Taliban. After expanding the use of the drone program as you have, are you worried at all about handing it over to the next President? Could I also ask what your response is to the Chinese warnings this week that the U.S. and its partners in this region may be creating a tinderbox that would lead to regional conflict?

And, Mr. Prime Minister, if you would also reflect on that, I would appreciate it. Could you also tell us a little bit about what you think the President’s visit to Hiroshima means to the Japanese people? And will you also consider a trip to Pearl Harbor, sir? Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Before I answer your questions, Christi, let me just touch on the points that were made earlier about the Okinawa case, because this has shaken up I think people in Okinawa as well as people throughout Japan.

I want to emphasize that the United States is appalled by any violent crime that may have occurred or been carried out by any U.S. personnel or U.S. contractors. We consider it inexcusable. And we are committed to doing everything that we can to prevent any crimes from taking place of this sort. And that involves reviewing procedures and making sure that everything that can be done to prevent such occurrences from happening again are put into place.

I think it’s important to point out that the SOFA -- the Status of Forces Agreement -- does not in any way prevent the full prosecution and the need for justice under the Japanese legal system. And we will be fully cooperating with the Japanese legal system in prosecuting this individual and making sure that justice is served. And we want to see a crime like this prosecuted here the same way that we would feel horrified and want to provide a sense of justice to a victim’s family back in the United States.

So I think the Japanese people should know how deeply moved we are by what has happened and our intention to make sure that we’re working with the Japanese government to not only prosecute this crime but to prevent crimes like this from happening again.

Christi, with respect to your broader question, I wasn’t entirely clear on the parallel you were trying to draw. As Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States, my job is to protect the American people. I wish that never involves us having to take military actions. That’s not the world we live in.

Obviously, there are very few parallels between the deployment of 500,000 troops to Vietnam and us taking strikes against terrorists who are trying to kill our troops who are stationed in Afghanistan or potentially carry out actions in the homeland.

But I think that what might be a useful lesson to draw from the trip that I just took to Afghanistan -- or to Vietnam, rather -- is the extraordinary opportunities that have presented themselves through the diplomacy that we've been engaged in over the last seven years, and the fact that former adversaries are now working in partnership to provide economic opportunities to both of our peoples, to expand trade and commerce, to educate those remarkable young people that were in the town halls that we met today. And I am investing enormous amounts of time and energy and resources into those kinds of diplomatic initiatives because, to the extent that they’re successful, that shrinks areas of conflict, reduces the necessity of engaging in military action.

But, at the end of the day, it is still going to be a dangerous world and there are going to still be times where our U.S. fighting forces have to be deployed or have to take actions. And we have to do so in a way that is prudent, that is proportional, and that is mindful of the fact that any kinetic action, no matter how targeted and how justified, also can create tragedy. And one of the things that I hope to reflect on when I'm Hiroshima, and certainly something I reflected on when I was in Vietnam, is just a reminder that war involves suffering, and we should always do what we can to prevent it.

But, as I said early on in my presidency when I was in Oslo for the Nobel Peace Prize, I am the President of a nation that at times is threatened by very real risks, not imaginary risks, and it's important for us to act on occasion in order to make sure that the American people are protected.

My answer sounds so much longer in translation. So, just very briefly, on China. Our growing partnership with Vietnam is happening entirely independent from China, and is based on mutual interests to expand trade, to expand cooperation across a whole range of areas, and is 30 years in the making now. So the fact that China would perceive that as some sort of provocation to them I think says more about Chinese attitudes than it says anything about our attitudes.

The tensions between China and Vietnam, or China and the Philippines, or China and other claimants in the South China Sea are not of our making. And we would very much like to see a peaceful resolution of those disputes. What’s preventing that from happening is not anything we're doing. We would welcome China and Vietnam having a conversation and being able to resolve those disputes. We're not taking a position on those claims. So it's entirely within China’s power to resolve those disputes. And our goal with respect to our own interest in the South China Sea is simply to maintain freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight, and the maintenance of international rules and norms because we thing that benefits everybody, including China.

PRESIDENT ABE: (As interpreted.) With regard to China, we certainly welcome the peaceful rise of China. And what we have been advocating for vis-à-vis the situation in this region is as follows -- namely, three-pronged principles. First, if you are to make a claim you have to make a claim based on international law. And also, second, you should never intimidate others through the use of force or coercion, or you should not unilaterally change the status quo. And third, you should settle the disputes in a peaceful manner in accordance with international law.

With regard to President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, I'd like to touch on this. Seventy-one years ago, back in 1945, two atomic bombs were dropped. And in Hiroshima, numerous citizens sacrificed their lives, and even now there are those of us suffering because of the atomic bombing. And what those Japanese people’s suffering from the atomic bomb desiring is never to repeat such tragedy in the world. And I understand that the upcoming visit by President Obama to Hiroshima will no doubt create further powerful momentum towards realizing a world free of nuclear weapons.

At this moment, I don't have any specific plan to visit Hawaii. However, last year, when we marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, I made an official visit to the United States. During my visit to the United States last year, I had an opportunity to deliver a speech to the joint houses of the U.S. Congress. And on that occasion, I sincerely reflected on the past and expressed my sincere sense and also I highlighted the fact that former adversaries are now transforming into the relationship of allies, as the United States and Japan
-- as we stand at this moment. And also, during my visit to the United States, I had a chance to visit the Second World War Memorial, where I laid a wreath to pray for the souls of all the war dead.

So as we move forward, I am determined to work closely with the United States in addressing various challenges of the international community based on our robust alliance, namely the alliance of hope between Japan and the United States.

STAFF PERSON: Now, let us wrap up the joint conference. Thank you very much for your cooperation.

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テーマ:

G7 Japan 2016 Ise-Shima Summit: Welcome Message from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdByhZPy6AM


岸田外務大臣ASEAN政策スピーチ
「多様性と連結性-パートナーとしての日本の役割」


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiT1q36qoUs


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-hHWuxkMks

於:タイ・バンコク チュラロンコン大学

1 はじめに

日本の外務大臣の岸田文雄です。本日は歴史と伝統のあるチュラロンコン大学においてスピーチを行うことができ,大変光栄に存じます。協力いただいた同学の皆様に感謝するとともに,大勢の方にお越しいただき,私のスピーチを聞いていただくことに心から御礼申し上げます。

まず,先月日本の九州地方を地震が襲いましたが,タイをはじめASEAN各国からたくさんの温かいお見舞いを頂いたことに心から感謝申し上げます。特に,ASEAN外相が発出された声明に心から感謝申し上げるとともに,日本とASEANとの強固な絆を再認識させてくれました。

本日のスピーチは,ASEANがテーマであります。ASEANは,太平洋とインド洋を股にかけるアジアの心臓部であり,人口6億人を超える巨大な市場です。今やまさに世界経済の原動力となっている生産・消費の中心地となっています。その重要性は経済にとどまりません。ASEANは,東アジア首脳会議(EAS)やASEAN地域フォーラム(ARF)といった東アジアの政治的枠組みの核として,アジア地域の平和と繁栄において中心的な位置を占めています。こうしたASEANとのパートナーシップが,日本にとっていかに死活的かつ重要であるか,また,尊いものであるかについては,想像に難くありません。

3年半前に私は外務大臣に就任しました。そして最初に訪問したのはフィリピン,シンガポール,ブルネイでした。すなわちASEAN諸国が私の外務大臣としてのキャリアのスタートでした。今回のタイとラオスへの訪問によって,ASEAN全10か国の訪問を達成します。私の対ASEAN外交が一つの節目を迎えたこと,そして,それにより日本の外務大臣として,実際の行動を通して日本のASEAN重視の姿勢を示すことができたということを,この上なく光栄に思っています。本日私が申し上げたいのは,日本はASEANの「多様性」を活かしつつ,「連結性」を重視して,ASEANの大いなる潜在力を開花させる上で欠かせないパートナーであるということであります。

2 日ASEANの3年半の歩み

過去3年半の進展

私が外務大臣を拝命してからのこの3年半の間,日本とASEANは様々な進展を見てきました。2013年には,日・ASEAN関係は40周年を迎えまして,東京で開催された特別首脳会議では,今後日本とASEANが,「平和と安定」,「繁栄」,「より良い暮らし」,そして「心と心」の4つを柱とするパートナーとして協力関係を強化していくことを確認いたしました。日本からは,5年間で2兆円規模のODAによる新たな共同体構築支援,そして1億ドルの日・ASEAN統合基金(JAIF)2.0を通じた新たな統合支援も打ち出しました。

この3年半で,日・ASEAN間の経済関係は大きく発展しました。2013年以来,ASEANはアジアにおける日本の最大の対外投資先となっており,ASEANからの訪日者数は,この2年間だけ見ても,2013年の約117万人から2015年の約210万人へとほぼ倍増しました。

ASEAN共同体元年

昨年末にはASEAN共同体が設立され,本年はASEAN共同体元年という記念すべき年を迎えています。日本はこれまで一貫してASEAN共同体の構築,統合そして域内格差是正を支援してきました。その際重視しているのは,ASEANの「多様性」を尊重しつつ,一体性,中心性といったASEANの基本理念も尊重するということです。

ASEANが共同体として一体性を維持し,そして強化していくこと,ASEANが東アジアの地域協力の中で中心性を占めるということ,そして,ASEANが政治・経済・文化・社会の各面において内包する「多様性」を活かしていくということ,これらのいずれもが,この地域の平和と安定,そして繁栄を確保していく鍵となっていること。これは言うまでもないと思っています。

3 今後の課題と日本の支援

2025年に向けての課題

「多様性」を活かしつつ,ASEANの一体性を強化し,その潜在力を十分に開花させる。そのためには,「連結性」の強化が重要です。それは,昨年まさにASEAN自身が,共同体構築と同時に将来への指針として発表した「ASEAN共同体ビジョン2025」に描かれています。

連結性の強化

ASEAN統合を発展させるためには,潜在力に富むメコン各国の発展が不可欠です。どの国も成長の道筋から取り残されず,成長の果実が地域全体に広がるためにはどうすればよいか。キーワードは,「連結性」です。

経済を発展させるためには,道路や橋,鉄道などでお互いをつなぎ,モノやヒトの流通を活発化させること,これが必要です。日本は,ただ道路や橋を作って終わりというような協力にはいたしません。国境の通関手続を改善し,物資の輸送を円滑化いたします。また,経済回廊の周辺地域を開発し,ヒトやモノの流れを生み出しています。整備されたインフラを一層活用できるようにする。これこそ,私の考える「生きた」連結性であると思います。

タイの東部とラオスを結ぶ第二メコン国際橋は,日本の支援により2006年に開通し,それまで海上輸送で2週間かかっていたバンコク・ハノイ間は,最短で陸路3日となりました。通関業務を改善することで物流は更に円滑化すると思います。日本の技術を活用した税関システムが導入されるヤンゴンの港では,通関の簡易審査に必要な時間が2時間弱から1分以内にまで短縮されることが期待されています。

また,南部経済回廊の西の出口であるミャンマー・ダウェーの開発を進めるなど,周辺の開発・発展を広げることで,回廊のインフラが一層活用されることになると思います。また,プノンペンとホーチミンを結ぶ「つばさ橋」が昨年4月に日本の支援で開通したことによって,7,8時間もフェリーを待つ必要がなくなりました。こうした取組によって,朝バンコクから東に向かえば,夜にはホーチミンでフォーが食べられる。また,昼バンコクから西に向かえば,インド洋に沈む夕陽をその日のうちに見ることができる。そんな日が一日も早く来ることを願っています。

人材の育成

インフラ整備とともに,各国の産業を担う人材育成をすることも連結性の強化のために重要です。昨年11月に安倍総理が発表した「産業人材育成協力イニシアティブ」の下,各国の人材ニーズを把握し,日本の企業や教育機関とも連携して,着実に具体的な支援を実施します。

タイでは,今年3月に日タイの産官学関係者が集まって,人材育成円卓会議を実施いたしました。その中で,タイに今必要とされている人材は,製造業を支える技術者やエン
ジニアであり,そのためには高等教育機関や職業カレッジ強化が重要だということが確認をされました。現在,技術者やエンジニアを育成する教育機関への協力を強化する準備を進めています。こうしたきめ細かい人材育成を各国で具体的に進めていきます。

また,タイの近代化を推進した偉大な国王の名を冠する,ここチュラロンコン大学には,ASEANと日本のトップ大学間ネットワークである「アセアン工学系高等教育ネットワーク(Seed-Net:シードネット)」の事務局があります。カンボジア工科大学を卒業後,チュラロンコン大学で修士号を取得したあるシードネットOBは,その後,日本の大学で博士号を取得し,現在はプノンペンの高速道路開発プロジェクトの一員として活躍をしています。ASEANで人を育てる流れを日本が支援をし,ASEANと日本は人の絆で結ばれています。こうした人的ネットワークの構築により,ASEANの連結性は一層強くなる。私はそのように確信しています。

メコン河支援

母なる河メコンの存在を抜きにして,このメコン地域を語ることはできません。メコン各国は,大規模な干ばつに直面しています。また,その一方で,洪水に悩まされる年もあります。気候変動による自然災害の激化は,この自然豊かなメコンの地域でも逃れることはできません。メコン河の環境や生態系保全等に対応するため,日本の能力強化や知見・経験の共有等,新しい取組を進めてまいります。

生きた連結性を実現するための支援枠組みの立ち上げ

これまで私が申し上げたインフラの一層の整備や活用,制度改善,そして人材育成,さらにはメコン地域の中央を貫くメコン河のための支援。これらは全て「生きた」連結性につながるものです。そして,連結性に命を吹き込むのは,メコンの国々や人々です。本日,私は,ここバンコクにおいて,そのような自発的な取組を支援するための新しい協力枠組み「日メコン連結性イニシアティブ」を立ち上げることを提案したいと思います。私は,本年から3年間で7500億円のメコン協力のための資金を活用してメコン諸国の取組をきめ細かく支援するための枠組みを,メコン諸国と共に作り上げていきたいと思います。このイニシアティブは,ドナーであるタイの協力なくしては成り立ちません。共に手を携え,この枠組みを進めていけることを期待しています。

連結性は陸から海へ広がる

先ほど述べた連結性は,陸がテーマでした。今後の地域の発展のためには,海の連結性も重要です。冒頭に述べたように,東南アジアは2つの大洋を股にかける,こうした位置にあります。地図を眺めてみますと,メコン地域の西には,インド洋が広がっています。ベンガル湾周辺のインド,バングラデシュ,スリランカ等の諸国は今や力強い発展を遂げようとしています。メコン地域とインド洋諸国との経済的つながりはますます深くなっています。一方,メコン地域の東には,南シナ海を経て太平洋が広がっています。TPP(環太平洋パートナーシップ)には既にブルネイ,マレーシア,シンガポール,ベトナムが参加をしています。タイ,フィリピン,インドネシアがTPP参加に関心を示していることを日本は大いに歓迎します。日本はベトナムに対し,国内実施体制を強化する支援を行っていきます。また,RCEP(東アジア地域包括的経済連携)が締結されると,ASEAN,メコン地域を中心にインド洋,太平洋を結ぶ広がりとなります。こうした一体的市場の機会を最大限生かし,これらの地域が一層緊密に結びついていくためにも,ASEANの陸と海での連結性強化が重要であり,日本としても協力を惜しみません。

4 地域・国際社会における協力

もちろん,こうした経済的繁栄を可能とするための前提は,平和と安定にほかなりません。平和と安定なくして地域の繁栄はあり得ない。この地域において,テロや過激主義,海洋の安全保障を始め,ASEANと日本を含むパートナーが直面する様々な課題が山積をしています。私たちは,これらの課題に共に立ち向かい,地域の秩序を維持していかなければなりません。そのために重視すべきは「多様性」の尊重であり,その根底となる「法の支配」です。

多様性

地域の平和と安定を確保するために,私は「多様性」の重要性を訴えたいと思います。日本は,自由,民主主義,人権等の普遍的価値をASEANと共有する一方で,宗教,民族,信条など,ASEAN各国が抱える事情,「多様性」を一貫して尊重してきました。

テロ対策において重要な穏健主義とは,「多様性」に対する寛容にほかなりません。本年1月にジャカルタで発生したテロ事件に象徴されるように,ASEANでも,テロの脅威がますます高まっています。日本は,この理念に基づいて,マレーシアの推進する穏健主義を支持し,日・ASEAN統合基金(JAIF)を活用して,暴力的過激主義対策のプロジェクトを進めています。

法の支配

「多様性」の尊重を支えるのは,「法の支配」です。「ASEAN共同体ビジョン2025」でも,ASEAN政治・安全保障共同体が価値と規範を共有する,ルールに基づく共同体として,ASEANの基本原則や共有する価値・規範及び国際法の原則を堅持する,こうしたことを掲げています。

今,「法の支配」の原則が最も問われているのは,海洋の安全保障の分野と言えるでしょう。日本は,「海における法の支配の3原則」,すなわち,「(1)国際法に基づく主張,(2)「力」を用いないこと,(3)紛争の平和的解決」という3つの原則を主張しています。先月,私の地元である広島で開催したG7外相会合においては,国際法の原則に基づく海洋秩序を維持することの重要性が再確認され,南シナ海における一方的な現状変更の動きに対して強い反対が示されました。「法の支配」の原則が徹底され,実践されるような地域秩序を作っていかなければなりません。また,かかる観点から,実効的な南シナ海行動規範(COC)の早期策定を改めて呼びかけたいと思います。

「法の支配」の確保に向け,鍵となる機構がEASです。昨年のEASにおいて,日本とASEANを含む地域18か国の首脳は,地域における政治・安全保障の問題に一層取り組み,機構を強化していくことに合意をいたしました。「法の支配」を確固たるものにするためにも,地域のプレミア・フォーラムとしてのEASを更に強化していかなければなりません。そのためには,ASEANが中心となり一体となった地域協力の推進が鍵となることは言うまでもありません。日本は全面的に協力してまいります。

来年はASEAN結成50周年

さて,来年はASEAN結成50年という記念すべき節目の年です。日本は,古くからのパートナーとして,この40年余りASEANと共に歩んできました。次なる半世紀におけるASEANの更なる発展に向け,日本は引き続き,ASEANと手を取り合って,ASEANの「多様性」を尊重しながら「連結性」の強化を支援してまいります。

今年のG7伊勢志摩サミットには,議長国ラオスを始め,アジア大洋州から6か国が参加する予定であり,また,7月にはASEAN関連外相会議,9月にはASEAN関連首脳会議が控えています。ASEAN全10か国を訪問するこの節目に当たり,日本国外務大臣として,ASEANとの協力を更に深化させていく決意を新たにし,これからのASEANとの外交日程に臨んでいきたいと思っています。

5 日タイ関係

バンコクはASEAN誕生の地

1967年8月,このバンコクの地において,ASEANは生まれました。タイを始め5か国の外相による共同宣言,通称「バンコク宣言」がASEANの設立文書であります。当時,タイの外務大臣を務めておられたタナット・コーマン氏は,ASEAN共同体の発足を見届けるかのように,本年3月に他界されました。氏の業績に深く敬意を示すとともに,改めて衷心よりお悔やみを申し上げたいと思います。

日タイ関係

タイは比較的安定した国内情勢を背景に,外資優遇政策を維持しながら,ASEAN域内で随一の産業集積を実現いたしました。日本経済のグローバル・サプライチェーンの一環として,生産,輸出拠点となったタイは,今や日本にとって欠くことのできない経済パートナーであると考えます。

約4500の日本企業がタイ国内で操業しております。アジア太平洋地域でも最大規模となっています。多数の日本企業は長年にわたって投資や人材育成を通じて,タイ経済の不可欠の一部を担うまでになっています。

ASEAN統合のために不可欠な域内格差の是正について,タイは長年にわたり近隣諸国支援を続けてきたドナー国です。日本の対メコン協力の主要パートナーとして,また,先ほど申し上げた「日メコン連結性イニシアティブ」を共に進めていくパートナーとして,タイの一層の取組に期待しております。

現在,プラユット首相は,民政復帰を含む国内の諸課題に粘り強く取り組んでおられます。累次にわたり安倍総理と首脳会談を行い,その中でも,プラユット首相は,持続的な民主主義がタイには必要であると強調しておられました。タイの皆様方が,現在直面している困難な課題を克服した上で,地域や国際社会において,これまで以上に積極的に役割を担うことを強く祈念しております。

御静聴いただいたことに,心から感謝申し上げます。
(タイ語で)コープクン・マーク・クラップ。

ASEAN Policy Speech
“Diversity and Connectivity – Role of Japan as a Partner”

1. Opening Remarks

I am Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan. I am greatly honored to deliver a speech at Chulalongkorn University renowned for its history and tradition. Let me express my gratitude to the University for extending kind cooperation. I am also truly grateful that many people have gathered here to listen to my speech today.

First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation for the many kind messages of sympathy that we have received from Thailand and other ASEAN countries, following the great earthquake that hit Kyushu, Japan last month. In particular, let me extend my heartfelt gratitude for the statement issued by the ASEAN foreign ministers. The statement has reminded me of the strong bond between Japan and ASEAN.

My speech today is focusing on ASEAN. ASEAN is at the heart of Asia, straddling the Pacific and Indian Oceans. As a huge market with the population of over 600 million, ASEAN has become the center of both production and consumption, as a driving force of the world economy. Furthermore, its importance is not limited in economy. ASEAN occupies a central role in peace and prosperity in the Asian region, as the core of political frameworks in East Asia, such as the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). It would not be difficult to imagine how vitally important and valuable it is for Japan to have such partnership with ASEAN.

It was some of the ASEAN countries, namely the Philippines, Singapore and Brunei, that I visited as my first trip abroad upon my assumption of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan approximately three and a half years ago. I am greatly honored to say that, with this current trip to Thailand and Laos, I will complete my tour to all 10 ASEAN countries, representing a milestone in my diplomacy toward ASEAN, and thus demonstrating the importance that Japan attaches to ASEAN by my actions as Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan. What I would like to state today is that Japan is an indispensable partner of ASEAN in its efforts to express its great potential by making use of its “diversity” and placing importance on “connectivity”.

2. The Japan-ASEAN Relationship in the Past Three and a Half Years

Progress in the Past Three and a Half Years

The Japan-ASEAN relationship has made progress in various respects in the past three and a half years since I took the office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan. The year 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of the relationship between Japan and ASEAN. At the commemorative summit held in Tokyo, Japan and ASEAN confirmed that they would strengthen their cooperative relationship as partners for “peace and stability,” “prosperity,” “quality of life” and “heart-to-heart”. Japan also announced a new assistance package for ASEAN community building through Official Development Assistance (ODA) worth 2 trillion yen over five years and for ASEAN integration through the new Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) 2.0 of 100 million dollars.

The economic relationship between Japan and ASEAN has developed significantly over the past three and a half years. Since 2013, ASEAN has been the largest outbound investment destination for Japan in Asia. The number of visitors to Japan from ASEAN countries almost doubled in the past two years alone, from around 1.17 million people in 2013 to around 2.1 million in 2015.

Inaugural Year of the ASEAN Community

As the ASEAN Community was established at the end of last year, the year 2016 marks the memorable inauguration of the Community. Japan has consistently supported ASEAN in its efforts to build and integrate the ASEAN Community, as well as to narrow the development gap within the region. In supporting ASEAN, Japan has placed emphasis on respecting ASEAN’s “diversity”, as well as its fundamental principles such as unity and centrality.

It goes without saying that, if regional peace, stability and prosperity are to be ensured, it is essential that ASEAN maintain and strengthen its unity as the Community, exert its centrality in regional cooperation in East Asia and make use of the “diversity” that it contains politically, economically, culturally and socially.

3. Future Challenges and Japan’s Support

Challenges towards 2025

In order to fulfill ASEAN’s potential while making use of “diversity” and strengthening unity, it is important to enhance “connectivity”. That is exactly what is described in ASEAN Community Vision 2025, which ASEAN itself announced last year on the occasion of the community building as its future guidelines.

Enhancing Connectivity

To promote the ASEAN integration, it is essential for the Mekong countries, which are rich in potential, to achieve development. What should be done in order to ensure that no country is left behind on the path to growth and that the benefits of growth spread throughout the region? The key is “connectivity”.

Invigorating the flow of goods and people by connecting the region through roads, bridges and railways is indispensable for promoting economic development. Japan’s cooperation is not just building roads and bridges but doing more. Japan will facilitate smooth transportation of goods by improving cross-border customs procedures. It will also create flows of people and goods by developing areas around economic corridors. Make it possible to better utilize improved infrastructure. That is precisely “vibrant and effective” connectivity as I understand it.

The Second Mekong International Bridge, which connects the eastern part of Thailand with Laos, opened in 2006 with support from Japan. It made it possible to transport goods between Bangkok and Hanoi in a minimum of three days by land, whereas previously it took two weeks to do so by sea. Improvement of customs procedures is expected to further facilitate transportation of goods. In the port of Yangon, where a customs system using Japanese technology will be introduced, the time required for simplified customs examination is expected to be reduced from two hours to only less than a minute.

Infrastructure in the Southern Economic Corridor will be further utilized through the development of surrounding areas, including the city of Dawei in Myanmar, which is located at the western exit of the corridor. In addition, the Tsubasa Bridge (The Neak Loeung Bridge), which connects Phnom Penh with Ho Chi Minh City, was opened in April last year, doing away with the need for local people to wait seven or eight hours for ferry service. I am expecting the day when, as a result of these efforts, I can depart from Bangkok eastward in the morning and arrive in Ho Chi Minh City at night and enjoy pho for dinner, or leave westward from Bangkok at noon and reach the Indian Ocean coast to watch the sunset above the sea. I hope that such a day will come as soon as possible.

Human Resource Development

As well as improving infrastructure, developing human resources who will lead industries in individual countries is also important in order to enhance connectivity. Under the Industrial Human Resource Development Cooperation Initiative, which was announced by Prime Minister Abe in November last year, Japan will identify the human resource needs and steadily conduct specific assistance activities in cooperation with Japanese companies and educational institutions.

In Thailand, Thai and Japanese officials from industries, governments and academia gathered at a roundtable conference on human resource development in March this year. At the conference, it was confirmed that the human resources required by Thailand are technicians and engineers who support the manufacturing industry and that it is important to enhance higher education institutions and vocational colleges in order to satisfy the needs. At the moment, we are preparing to enhance cooperation with educational institutions that foster technicians and engineers. Japan will conduct such detailed and concrete human resource development activities in various countries.

Here at Chulalongkorn University, named after the great King who promoted the modernization of Thailand, there is a secretariat office of the ASEAN University Network/Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network (SEED-Net), which is a network of leading universities in ASEAN and Japan. An alumnus of SEED-Net who obtained a master’s degree at Chulalongkorn University after graduating from the Institute of Technology of Cambodia went on to acquire a doctor’s degree in Japan, and is now working as a member of an expressway development project in Phnom Penh. As Japan is supporting human resource development in ASEAN, Japan and ASEAN are strongly tied to each other through the human bond. I am sure that building such a human network will further strengthen the connectivity within ASEAN.

Support for the Mekong River Region

We cannot talk about the Mekong region without mentioning Mother Mekong, as the Mekong River is known. The Mekong countries are facing the threat of massive drought. Meanwhile, these countries have also suffered from floods in some years. The Mekong region, despite being blessed with rich nature, cannot escape the impact of extreme natural disasters due to climate change. In order to preserve the environment and ecology in the Mekong River region, Japan will take new actions, including capacity building and sharing of knowledge and experiences.

Creation of a Support Framework to Realize Vibrant and Effective Connectivity

The further improvement and use of infrastructure, improvement of systems, human resource development and support for the Mekong River region that I have mentioned all lead to “vibrant and effective” connectivity. It is countries and people of the Mekong region that bring life to the connectivity. Today, here in Bangkok, I would like to propose the launch of a “Japan-Mekong Connectivity Initiative,” a new framework of cooperation to support voluntary efforts by the Mekong countries. I would like to work with the countries of the Mekong region to create a framework to support efforts by the Mekong countries in a detailed manner, by utilizing Japan’s contribution of 750 billion yen in three years from 2016 toward the Mekong countries. This initiative cannot be realized without cooperation from Thailand as a donor country. I hope that Thailand will work hand-in-hand with Japan to promote this framework.

Connectivity Spreading from Land to Sea

The connectivity that I mentioned earlier is relating to land. For the future development of this region, connectivity in the sea is also important. As I mentioned at the beginning, Southeast Asia straddles the two oceans. The Indian Ocean stretches to the west of the Mekong region. Countries surrounding the Bay of Bengal, including India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, are achieving strong development. The economic relationship between the Mekong region and the Indian Ocean countries is increasingly getting closer. On the other hand, the Pacific Ocean stretches to the east of the Mekong region beyond the South China Sea. Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam are already participants of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In addition, Japan highly welcomes the interest shown by Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia in participating in it. Japan will provide Vietnam with support to enhance its domestic systems to implement the TPP. Once the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) is concluded, it will cover a region extending from the ASEAN/Mekong region to the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. In order to make the most of opportunities created by such an integrated market and connect these regions more closely, enhancing the connectivity of ASEAN on its land and sea is important. In this respect, Japan spares no effort in providing cooperation to ASEAN.

4. Cooperation in the Region and the International Community

Of course, peace and stability is a prerequisite for such economic prosperity. Without peace and stability, regional prosperity cannot be achieved. In this region, ASEAN and its partners, including Japan, are confronted with a pile of various challenges, including terrorism, extremism and those related to maritime security. We must face up to these challenges and maintain regional order. To that end, we should place our importance on the respect for “diversity”, and its underlying principle of the “rule of law”.

“Diversity”

I would like to stress the importance of “diversity” in securing peace and stability in the region. While sharing universal values with ASEAN, such as freedom, democracy and human rights, Japan has consistently respected the differing circumstances of ASEAN countries as well as their “diversity” in terms of religion, ethnicity and belief.

Moderation, an important value for the fight against terrorism, means nothing but tolerance for “diversity”. As symbolized by the terrorist attack in Jakarta in January this year, the threat of terrorism is growing in ASEAN as well. Japan supports the principle of moderation promoted by Malaysia and is implementing projects to counter violent radicalism based on our ideal, by making use of the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF).

“Rule of Law”

It is the “rule of law” that bolsters up the respect for “diversity”. Indeed, “ASEAN Community Vision 2025” states that the ASEAN Political-Security Community, as a rules-based community sharing values and norms, upholds ASEAN fundamental principles, shared values and norms as well as principles of international law.

The area where the principle of the “rule of law” is now most at stake is maritime security. Japan is proclaiming the Three Principles of the Rule of Law at Sea, namely (1) states shall make and clarify their claims based on international law, (2) states shall not use force or coercion in trying to drive their claims and (3) states shall seek to settle disputes by peaceful means. At the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, which I hosted last month in Hiroshima, my home town, the importance of maintaining maritime order based on the principles of international law was reaffirmed, and strong opposition to attempts to unilaterally change the status quo in the South China Sea was demonstrated. We must establish a regional order whereby the principle of the “rule of law” is truly upheld and practiced. From this perspective, I would like to renew my call for the early conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).

The EAS is the key organization to secure the “rule of law.” At the EAS meeting last year, regional leaders from 18 countries, including Japan and ASEAN, agreed to devote further efforts to political and security issues and strengthen the organization. In order to secure the “rule of law”, we must further enhance the EAS as the premier forum in the region. It goes without saying that promoting regional cooperation with ASEAN in unity at its center is a key to the goal. Japan will fully cooperate for such efforts.

The year 2017 will be the 50th Anniversary of the Founding of ASEAN

The year 2017 will commemorate a milestone, the 50th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN. Japan has walked side by side with ASEAN as its long-time partner for the past more than 40 years. Toward further development of the community in the next half century, Japan, by working hand-in-hand with ASEAN, will continue to extend support in enhancing “connectivity” while respecting “diversity” of ASEAN.

Six countries from the Asia-Pacific region, including Laos, the incumbent ASEAN chair, will participate in the G7 Ise-Shima Summit this year. We are also expecting the ASEAN-related Foreign Ministers’ Meetings in July and the ASEAN-related Summit Meetings in September. On the occasion of this trip, which completes my visit to all of the 10 ASEAN countries, I have renewed my resolve to further deepen Japan’s cooperation with ASEAN in my capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan as we work toward diplomatic events with ASEAN.

5. Japan-Thailand Relationship

Bangkok is ASEAN’s Place of Origin

It was here in Bangkok that ASEAN was founded in August 1967. The Bangkok Declaration, a joint declaration issued by the foreign ministers of five countries including Thailand, was the founding document of ASEAN. H.E. Dr. Thanat Khoman, who was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand at that time, passed away in March this year, soon after the establishment of the ASEAN Community as if he saw through the launch of the Community. I would like to pay my deepest respects to his achievements and renew my heartfelt condolences.

Japan-Thailand Relationship

Thailand has achieved the greatest industrial integration within the ASEAN region while maintaining a policy favorable to foreign investment against the backdrop of the relatively stable domestic situation. Thailand, which has become a production and export base as part of the global supply chain of the Japanese economy, is now an indispensable economic partner for Japan.

About 4,500 Japanese companies are operating in Thailand, one of the largest numbers in the Asia-Pacific region. Many Japanese companies have now taken indispensable parts in the economy in Thailand through their investment and human resource development for many years.

Thailand is a donor country that has been supporting the neighboring countries for many years in order to narrow the development gap within the region, a task essential to the ASEAN integration. Japan has high expectations for further efforts by Thailand as a major partner in Japan’s support for the Mekong region and also as a partner in promotion of the proposed Japan-Mekong Connectivity Initiative, which I mentioned earlier.

Prime Minister Prayut is currently resolutely dealing with various domestic challenges, including the return to rule by a civilian government. In a series of his summit meetings with Prime Minister Abe, Prime Minister Prayut emphasized that a sustainable democracy is necessary for Thailand. I strongly hope that people of Thailand will overcome the current difficult challenges and play a more active role in the region and the international community.

Thank you very much for your kind attention. Khop Khun Maak Khrap


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Steven Spielberg Inspirational Speech

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULwhcNgf3jA


A report released in April by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) painted a grim picture of child poverty in Japan.

It said children of the poorest households in Japan are much more disadvantaged than their peers in many other industrialized countries.

The study focused on the disparities between children at the bottom and those in the middle in the wealthiest nations. The inequality gap in Japan was the eighth largest among the 41 countries surveyed.

Japan also ranked far below the average among industrial nations in terms of the relative poverty rate, or the ratio of people living on less than half the median income. One in six Japanese children was poor by this relative measure, which reflects how far the poorest children have plummeted behind those in the middle tier.

The UNICEF study highlighted the fact that child poverty in Japan is spreading and deepening.

The government needs to tackle this problem with policy support measures targeted at needy households.

Obviously, effective welfare and other relief for poor families, such as allowances to help cover their daily expenses and steps to help parents get jobs, are vital for tackling this growing problem.

Even more important, however, is support focused on children. The principal challenge facing policymakers and others concerned is how to break the “chain of poverty,” in which children in poor families remain stuck in poverty even after they grow up, causing the cycle to fester for generations.

Education is the key.


OPENING UP NEW HORIZONS


A community center in the city of Saitama is on the frontline of the war against poverty among children.

Twice each week, junior high school students in school uniforms or gym clothes converge on the center after 6 p.m.

The facility is a venue for a free “learning support class” program, under which university student volunteers help children of financially strained families with their studies.

An 18-year-old student who has been working as a volunteer at the center since April once received learning support under the program.

“Whenever I came here, I could find someone who was ready to listen to me,” she says. “This place was a source of emotional and spiritual support for me.”

The student has been living only with her mother. When she was in her second year at junior high school, her mother, the family’s bread earner, fell ill and had to rely on financial assistance under the government’s livelihood protection program.

“I wondered if I should start working instead of going on to a university. But after a university student volunteer (at the center) clued me in about college life and other things, I grew more ambitious.”

Now, she is learning about welfare, courtesy of a university scholarship.

The program is operated by a nonprofit organization called “Saitama Youth Support Net” on behalf of the municipal government.

Yasushi Aoto, who heads the organization, stresses the importance of learning support to help poor students. “The problem of poverty can never be solved unless children acquire the ability to carve out a better future for themselves,” Aoto says. “Learning support should be at the core of efforts against poverty.”

The welfare ministry placed much importance on learning support as a key element of policy efforts introduced in April last year to tackle the problem of child poverty under a program to help the needy become financially independent. The ministry has urged local governments to take steps to expand learning support for children of needy families.

Since this is a program based on voluntary policy initiatives, however, as many as 45 percent of the local governments have no plan to implement specific measures, according to a survey by Aoto’s group.


SURVEYS ONLY WAY TO GRASP THE REALITY


One potentially effective way to accelerate policy efforts to reduce poverty is to make the problem more clearly “visible” to the public.

Earlier this year, Okinawa became the first prefecture to announce its own estimate of its child poverty rate. According to a survey commissioned by the prefectural government, 29.9 percent of children in the prefecture live under the poverty line, a figure that is 80 percent higher than the national average.

“It's impossible to come up with the appropriate measures unless we grasp the severity of the situation concerning poverty among children in Okinawa,” said Kenta Kishaba, who heads the section for child policy.

Prefectural authorities had to persuade many initially unwilling municipal governments to cooperate in the endeavor.

The survey’s findings showed that the existing systems to support needy families are not working.

Nearly half of families living under the poverty line didn’t use the local government’s program to subsidize the costs of learning materials used at schools, for instance. Nearly 20 percent of these families didn’t even know about the program.

The prefectural government has drawn up a six-year plan to address the problem by setting 34 numerical targets, including reducing the number of needy families that don’t know the subsidy program to zero and ensuring that all municipalities operate learning support classes. It established a 3 billion yen ($28.3 million) fund to achieve those targets.

Ai Tatsuno, who heads the nonprofit corporation that carried out the survey on behalf of the prefectural government, said the local governments took steps to solve the problem after facing the reality (grasped by the survey).

“Understanding the reality is vital also for evaluating the effectiveness of policy measures,” Tatsuno added.

Osaka City also plans to conduct a similar survey of elementary and junior high school students within this fiscal year. Grasping the situation in each area will provide strong impetus to policy efforts to tackle the problem. Other local governments should follow suit, and swiftly.


UP TO SOCIETY TO CONFRONT THE CHALLENGE


The central government’s policy guidelines for addressing the problem were endorsed by the Cabinet after the law to deal with child poverty came into effect in 2014. They call for effective measures to create the right surroundings and ensure equal opportunities for education so that the future of children will not be affected by the environment in which they grow up.

But these words should be matched with specific policy actions. The government needs to enhance its policy responses, mainly in the areas of social security and education.

In particular, Japan’s public spending on education in terms of its ratio to the size of its economy is among the lowest in the developed world. The government should drastically increase its education budget.

A lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party recently made disheartening remarks about the proposal to expand scholarships.

“The government should be firmly committed to compulsory education, but students at high schools and universities should work on their own,” the lawmaker said.

This comment echoes a widespread view. But it is high time Japanese society stopped being wedded to this kind of simplistic and outdated thinking based on the principle of personal responsibility.

Children will become the backbone of society. Supporting their healthy development is an investment in the future.

Society at all levels must reach out to support its children. There needs to be broad social consensus on the merits of this principle and what it will entail.

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 5


(社説)子どもの貧困 学び支え、連鎖断ち切ろう


最も貧しい家庭の子どもが、他の多くの先進国と比べて、厳しい状況に置かれている――。

 4月に公表された国連児童基金 ユニセフ )の報告書は、そんな日本の現状を浮かび上がらせた。最貧困層と標準的な層との格差を国ごとに分析しており、日本の格差は41カ国の中で8番目に大きいという。

 所得が真ん中の人の半ログイン前の続き分に満たない人の割合を示す「相対的貧困率 」でも、日本の子どもは6人に1人が貧困層にあたり、先進国の中で悪い方だ。貧しさの広がりに加え、ユニセフ の調査でその度合いも深刻であることを指摘されたと言える。

 対策としてまず問われるのは、そうした家庭へのサポートだ。日々の生活を助ける各種の手当や親の就労への支援など、福祉を中心とする施策が重要であることは言うまでもない。

 それ以上に考えなければならないのは、子どもたちに焦点を当てた支援だ。生活の苦しい家庭で育った子が、大きくなってもその状態から抜け出せず、世代を超えて続いてしまう「貧困の連鎖」をどう断ち切るか。

 カギとなるのは教育だ。


 ■教育で広がる将来

 さいたま市 内のコミュニティセンター。午後6時を回ると制服や体操着姿の中学生が次々とやって来る。経済的に厳しい家庭の子どもたちに、学生ボランティアが週2回、勉強を教える無料の「学習支援教室」だ。

 4月からボランティアをしている女子学生(18)は、かつて教室で学んだ一人だ。「ここに来ると、いつでも私の話を聞いてくれる人がいる。心のよりどころみたいな場所でした」

 母と2人暮らし。女子学生が中学2年生の時、家計を支えていた母が体を壊し、生活保護 を受けるようになった。「進学するより働いた方が、と思った時もあった。けれど、大学生のボランティアさんから学生生活のこととか、いろんな話を聞くうちに夢がふくらんで」。今は奨学金 で大学に通い、福祉の分野を学んでいる。

 市の委託で教室を運営するNPO「さいたまユースサポートネット」の青砥恭(やすし)代表は言う。「子どもたちが自分自身で未来を切り開く力をつけなければ、貧困問題は解決しない。学びは貧困対策の核です」

 昨年4月に始まった生活困窮者自立支援 制度で、厚生労働省 は学習支援事業を貧困対策の柱の一つと位置づけ、自治体に実施を促している。しかし任意事業のため、青砥さんのNPOの調査では「実施予定なし」の自治体が45%もある。


 ■地域の実態調査を

 こうした取り組みをどう加速させるか。ヒントになりそうなのが、貧困の「見える化 」だ。

 沖縄県 は今年、都道府県で初めて独自に子どもの貧困率 を29・9%と推計し、公表した。全国の1・8倍という高さだ。

 「沖縄の子どもの状況がどれだけ厳しいか。それを把握しないと必要な対策も見えてこない」(喜舎場〈きしゃば〉健太・県子ども未来政策室長)。渋る市町村を説得し、協力を仰いだ。

 学校で必要な教材の費用などを援助する就学援助 を貧困家庭の半分近くが利用しておらず、制度を知らない人も2割近い。同時に行ったアンケートからは、既存の支援制度が十分に機能していない実態もわかった。

 県は「就学援助 を知らない貧困世帯ゼロ」「学習支援教室を全市町村に拡大」など34の数値目標を含む6カ年計画を作り、30億円の対策基金を設けた。調査を担当した一般社団法人「沖縄県 子ども総合研究所」の龍野愛所長は「現実を突きつけられたから政策が動いた。実態把握は、政策の効果を検証する上でも欠かせない」と強調する。

 大阪市 も今年度、小・中学生らを対象に調査を予定する。地域ごとに実態をつかむことが、対策を前進させる大きな力になる。取り組みを急ぎたい。


 ■社会全体で向き合う

 「子どもの将来が生まれ育った環境によって左右されることのないよう、必要な環境整備と教育の機会均等を図る」。2014年に施行された子どもの貧困対策法を受け、政府が閣議決定 した大綱がうたう理念だ。

 言葉だけで終わらせてはならない。社会保障 と教育を両輪に、対策を充実させたい。とりわけ教育分野では、経済規模と比べた公的支出が先進諸国 の中で最低水準にとどまる。予算を思い切って増やすべきだ。

 「義務教育 は国がしっかりやるが、高校や大学は自立してがんばってもらわないと」。自民党 の国会議員が奨学金 制度の拡充をめぐって最近、こんな趣旨の発言をした。今も根強い主張だが、そうした単純な「自己責任論 」から卒業する時だ。

 子どもたちは社会の担い手になっていく。その健やかな育ちを後押しすることは、「未来への投資」にほかならない。

 社会全体で子どもを支える。その合意と負担に向き合う覚悟が問われている

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Full Speech: Bernie Sanders Rally in Carson, California (5-17-16)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AlkajCgOD0


(社説)三菱自と日産 「外部の目」で解明を


燃費不正問題に揺れる三菱自動車 が、軽自動車分野で提携する日産自動車 の傘下に入り、再出発を図ることになった。

 日産は2300億円余を投じて三菱自の筆頭株主となり、取締役会長を含む複数の役員を送り込む。三菱自のブランドや販売網は維持しつつ、資材の購入や生産拠点の共用化、電気自動車 を含む次世代車の技術ログイン前の続き開発、海外市場の共同開拓など、幅広い提携に踏み込む。

 環境対策や自動運転を巡る競争を勝ち抜くには巨額の投資が必要で、経営規模がモノをいう。ルノー・日産グループに三菱自が加われば、トヨタ自動車 グループなどと並ぶ世界トップ級の生産台数になる。三菱自から供給を受けている軽自動車は、日産の国内販売台数の4分の1を占めるだけに、中断している生産と販売を早く再開させたい……。

 日産としては、2度にわたるリコール 隠しの反省を生かせなかった三菱自について、手をさしのべる損得をてんびんにかけた末の判断だろう。三菱自の従業員や販売店、下請け部品メーカーに加え、先行きを案じていた購入者にとっても、ひと息つける話かもしれない。

 ただ、言うまでもなく、提携の成否は三菱自がウミを出し切り、法令を守る会社に生まれ変われるかどうかにかかる。

 データ偽装や違法な試験を続けていた問題は、三菱自から国土交通省 への2度の報告を経ても全容がわからない。軽自動車以外でも、乗用車の人気車種で公式に届けていた燃費と実際に大きな隔たりがあることがわかったが、原因は不明のままだ。

 軽自動車4車種のデータ偽装では、試験を委託した子会社の管理職社員が関与を認めたという。しかし、具体的な不正の経緯は明らかでない。社内の指示系統や責任の所在があいまいだから調査にも手間取っているのでは、との疑問すらわく。

 日産は「不正の解明は三菱自の責任」との姿勢だが、積極的にかかわるべきではないか。今回の三菱自とは状況が異なるが、90年代に経営危機に陥った日産に乗り込んだカルロス・ゴーン 氏は、社内の組織や慣行にとらわれず病巣をあぶり出し、対策を練り上げた実績がある。

 三菱商事 の出身で、00年代半ばから三菱自の再建を指揮してきた益子修 会長は、企業体質が変わらなかった理由について「外部からの目や人材が入りにくい閉鎖的な社会で仕事が行われてきた」と語った。

 今、「外部の目」を務めるべきなのは日産だ。


EDITORIAL: Nissan efforts needed to reveal all in Mitsubishi Motors scandal


Mitsubishi Motors Corp. has decided to try to rebuild its brand and reputation, which have been badly damaged by a scandal over cheating on gas mileage tests, under the umbrella of Nissan Motor Co.

Mitsubishi Motors, manufacturer of the 660cc mini-vehicles for Nissan, has accepted its partner’s offer to support the recovery efforts.

Under a deal announced on May 12, Nissan will spend more than 230 billion yen ($2.11 billion) to become Mitsubishi Motors’ largest shareholder and also provide some directors, including the chairman of the board, for the troubled automaker.

The two automakers will maintain separate identities, brands and dealerships. But they will form a broad alliance involving joint purchases of components, sharing production bases, joint development of next-generation automobiles including electric vehicles and joint efforts to expand into overseas markets.

Winning in the fierce global competition over environmental and autonomous driving technologies requires hefty investments, and automakers must be large enough to finance such spending.

Nissan’s effective control of Mitsubishi Motors will create a gargantuan car-manufacturing group that also includes Renault of France. The group’s global production will rival those of the Toyota Motor Corp. group and other leading players.

Nissan also has good reason to help Mitsubishi Motors resume, as quickly as possible, production and sales of the minicar models that have been implicated in the scandal. The light vehicles supplied by Mitsubishi Motors account for a quarter of Nissan’s unit sales in Japan.

There is no doubt Nissan decided to rescue Mitsubishi Motors, which has failed to learn vital lessons from its two past recall cover-up scandals, after carefully assessing the pros and cons of doing so.

The deal will provide some breathing room for not only Mitsubishi Motors’ employees, dealerships and suppliers but also for Mitsubishi car owners concerned about how things will pan out.

However, the success of the alliance will depend on whether Mitsubishi Motors can identify and address all the problems that have led to the scandal and transform itself into a company that complies with the rules and regulations.

Mitsubishi Motors has admitted to systematically falsifying fuel-economy data to inflate mileage figures and adopting an improper fuel-economy testing method. The whole picture of the scandal has yet to become clear despite the company’s two reports on the problem submitted to the transport ministry.

Besides the minicar models, a popular Mitsubishi passenger vehicle was also found to be far less fuel-efficient than the mileage figure reported to the transport ministry. But the cause of this gap remains unknown.

A senior official at a Mitsubishi Motors subsidiary that was commissioned to conduct the mileage tests has reportedly admitted to wrongdoing concerning the manipulation of data for four minicar models. But it remains unclear how the data were actually falsified.

This raises suspicions that the investigation into the scandal is dragging on because the chain of command and the responsibilities of the sections and people involved are still unclear.

Nissan says the responsibility for clarifying the truth should be borne by Mitsubishi Motors itself. But Nissan should be actively involved in efforts to get to the bottom of the scandal.

Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn engineered the now legendary turnaround of Nissan, which was in serious trouble in the 1990s. However, Nissan’s situation back then is quite different from the current predicament of Mitsubishi Motors.

At that time, Ghosn, sent to bail out Nissan by Renault, accomplished his mission by taking drastic actions to ferret out the ills afflicting the company and cure them without being fettered by the in-house organizations or practices.

At his joint news conference with Ghosn on May 12, Mitsubishi Motors Chairman and CEO Osamu Masuko, who came from trading giant Mitsubishi Corp. and has been leading the company’s reform efforts, pointed to a closed corporate culture when he was asked how the carmaker has repeated the same mistake.

“Work has been done in a closed society, which is not open to outside scrutiny and human resources,” he said.

It is Nissan that should now serve as the vital outsider’s eye.


--The Asahi Shimbun, May 13

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FM Al-Jubeir Addresses Munich Security Conference

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBkloV3ztUA

Remarks of Dr. Jill Biden at Northern Virginia Community College Commencement Ceremony as Prepared for Delivery

Jiffy Lube Live
​Bristow, Virginia

Hello, NOVA!

This is a special night for me. This will be my final commencement address as Second Lady, and what an honor to do it at the college that means the most to me. Thank you to President Ralls and the Board of Trustees.

Congratulations, graduates, you did it! On behalf of President Obama, the First Lady and the Vice President, my husband Joe — we are all so proud of you. Graduating from college is an extraordinary achievement. Cherish this moment. Yes, it’s an individual accomplishment. But, it’s also a team effort. So, let’s thank your teachers, your friends and your families.

You never know where life will take you. I grew up in Philly. After I married Joe, I lived in Delaware for most of my life. I raised our children and taught full-time at another community college. Then, in 2008, Joe was asked to be President Obama’s running mate. And when we won, everything changed.

I started receiving emails from someone at NOVA. He would write, “Jill, you have to keep teaching. Please consider us. We know you would love it here!” Well, Dean Jimmy McClellan, thank you for all those emails. Thank you for your encouragement, and for all of your support during the last 8 years. Truly, I wouldn’t be here tonight without you.

When I took Jimmy up on his offer to visit the Alexandria campus, I immediately fell in love. It felt like home. Joe and I had just moved into the Vice President’s Residence at the Naval Observatory in DC. And I was given a new office in the White House. It has marble floors and columns, a fireplace, and large windows that over-look the National Mall.

Then of course, I have my cubicle at NOVA. But, like all the other teachers, my cubicle is filled with family photos, crayon drawings from my grandchildren, notes from my students. It’s a place that feels most like me.

It’s been an honor to serve our country but I knew at the time that if I wanted to stay true to myself, I had to keep teaching. Because teaching is not just what I do; it’s who I am.

All of the teachers here today understand that. We take this responsibility home with us every single night. Teaching doesn’t end when you walk out of the classroom. We’re invested in you — our students and your future. We cajole. We counsel. We mentor. We do whatever it takes to make that connection with our students; to give them the confidence they need to succeed in school and beyond.

As a lifelong educator, I couldn’t leave that behind. I couldn’t just move to Washington and only live Joe’s life. So, ever since then, I’ve pretty much been living a double life.

One moment, I’m taping a live interview at 7:15 AM in the Blue Room at the White House for the TODAY Show talking about President Obama’s State of the Union address and his continued support of community colleges. And then the next moment, at 8:00 AM, I’m in class at NOVA teaching English Comp 111.

Many of my students don’t know I have two jobs. For example, at the end of one semester, about a year ago, a student of mine came running into my classroom and said, “Dr. B I saw you on the television last night with First Lady Michelle Obama.” My student said to her mother, “Mom! Mom! That’s my English teacher!” And her mother said, “That’s not your teacher, that’s the Second Lady.” They may not know that I’m married to the Vice President, but my students know that my first priority is to them.

And I’ve loved being part of this Administration. I’ve tried to use my position to make a difference for military families, for women and girls around the world, and for teachers and community colleges and their students.

As a community college educator, I feel like I was in the right place at the right. The Obama-Biden administration has lifted up community colleges, recognizes their value and the importance of investing in them. It’s been the opportunity of a lifetime. It’s been an incredible journey.

But when I’m at NOVA, I’m home. I’m one of you. A member of the faculty. Your English teacher. I’m part of the NOVA community. And I’ve learned as much from my students — from all of you — as I have from traveling around the world. So, you’re probably thinking, as Second Lady she’s met famous people like the Queen, stayed in exotic palaces and dined with world leaders.

But every step of the way, I’ve been inspired by the strength and courage of ordinary people across our country doing extraordinary things — just like you, the students at NOVA. What you are doing is emblematic of America’s very best traditions — hard work, self-improvement, asking for only one thing: opportunity.

Just as America has progressed over the years, so too has NOVA. This is NOVA’s 50th anniversary. The first class to graduate from NOVA had 82 students. Ten were women. And they received degrees in eight different fields. Tonight, over 7,600 students will receive their college diploma. Fifty five percent are women. You have earned degrees in 60 fields of study. And half of you will transfer to a four-year college within a year.

When I started teaching 30 years ago, community college students were typically seen as “non-traditional.” But today, with more than half of our nation’s college students attending community colleges, with so many of you working full time, supporting families, and still attending school, non-traditional has become the new traditional.

You are single parents who come to school in the evening, weary from a long day, yet eager to create a brighter future for your children. You are workers, who have gone as far as you can in your jobs, coming back to school to get the skills you need to reach the next level. And, several of tonight’s graduates are veterans.

As a military mom, I am always inspired by the strength, resilience and pride of our veterans. I know you have the skills, discipline and leadership to succeed in anything you put your mind to. You are among the best our nation has to offer. Thank you, to all of the veteran graduates here tonight, for your service to our country.

Now, most commencement speakers give graduates advice on what to expect when they graduate and enter the real world. But most of you already live in the real world. The average age of a community college student is 28 years old. And one of my students was 83. Regardless of circumstances, you show up. You work hard. And, I am profoundly moved by your determination to learn, and by your quest to make a better life for yourselves.

So, as I was thinking about what to say to all of you tonight, rather than give you advice on how to succeed in life, I gave myself an assignment. Every semester in my class, I assign an essay to my students using the title, “This I Believe.” I first heard about it on National Public Radio. I ask them to tell me their core beliefs. Something they would be willing to stand up for; to speak for; to fight for.

Tonight, I’d like to share with you my own essay about what I believe.

This I believe: I have long said that community colleges are America’s best kept secret, but I believe it’s time for that to change. I believe we need to celebrate community colleges — and their students — for who they really are: innovative, inspiring and essential. Not just celebrate, but support.

But this, too, I believe: Too many hardworking Americans still have to worry about whether college is affordable. For millions of people across the country, community college is the single best path to opportunity — to achieving their dreams — whether that means earning a four-year degree or finding a rewarding career.

This I believe: The more than 1,100 community colleges nationwide are not just the key to a brighter future for their students, they are the backbone of America’s postsecondary education and training system — and one of the keys to a more prosperous economic future. That’s why I also believe — as does President Obama — that community college should be free for all responsible students.

This I believe: With the education that you have received here at NOVA, there is literally no limit to how high you can go. Community college graduates have gone on to become successful CEO’s, journalists, Hollywood directors, even astronauts.

Finally, this I believe: a community college education can truly change people’s lives. And community college graduates — including every single one of you — can change the world.

I believe in you. Always believe in yourselves.

Congratulations, graduates!

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Remarks by the President at Commencement Address at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

Brunswick, New Jersey


THE PRESIDENT: Hello Rutgers! (Applause.) R-U rah-rah! (Applause.) Thank you so much. Thank you. Everybody, please have a seat. Thank you, President Barchi, for that introduction. Let me congratulate my extraordinarily worthy fellow honorary Scarlet Knights, Dr. Burnell and Bill Moyers.

Matthew, good job. (Applause.) If you are interested, we can talk after this. (Applause.)

One of the perks of my job is honorary degrees. (Laughter.) But I have to tell you, it impresses nobody in my house. (Laughter.) Now Malia and Sasha just say, “Okay, Dr. Dad, we’ll see you later. Can we have some money?” (Laughter.)

To the Board of Governors; to Chairman Brown; to Lieutenant Governor Guadagno; Mayor Cahill; Mayor Wahler, members of Congress, Rutgers administrators, faculty, staff, friends, and family -- thank you for the honor of joining you for the 250th anniversary of this remarkable institution. (Applause.) But most of all, congratulations to the Class of 2016! (Applause.)
I come here for a simple reason -- to finally settle this pork roll vs. Taylor ham question. (Laughter and applause.) I'm just kidding. (Laughter.) There’s not much I’m afraid to take on in my final year of office, but I know better than to get in the middle of that debate. (Laughter.)

The truth is, Rutgers, I came here because you asked. (Applause.) Now, it's true that a lot of schools invite me to their commencement every year. But you are the first to launch a three-year campaign. (Laughter.) Emails, letters, tweets, YouTube videos. I even got three notes from the grandmother of your student body president. (Laughter.) And I have to say that really sealed the deal. That was smart, because I have a soft spot for grandmas. (Laughter.)

So I'm here, off Exit 9, on the banks of the Old Raritan -- (applause) -- at the site of one of the original nine colonial colleges. (Applause.) Winners of the first-ever college football game. (Applause.) One of the newest members of the Big Ten. (Applause.) Home of what I understand to be a Grease Truck for a Fat Sandwich. (Applause.) Mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers on your cheesesteaks -- (applause.) I’m sure Michelle would approve. (Laughter.)

But somehow, you have survived such death-defying acts. (Laughter.) You also survived the daily jockeying for buses, from Livingston to Busch, to Cook, to Douglass, and back again. (Applause.) I suspect that a few of you are trying to survive this afternoon, after a late night at Olde Queens. (Applause.) You know who you are. (Laughter.)

But, however you got here, you made it. You made it. Today, you join a long line of Scarlet Knights whose energy and intellect have lifted this university to heights its founders could not have imagined. Two hundred and fifty years ago, when America was still just an idea, a charter from the Royal Governor -- Ben Franklin’s son -- established Queen’s College. A few years later, a handful of students gathered in a converted tavern for the first class. And from that first class in a pub, Rutgers has evolved into one of the finest research institutions in America. (Applause.)

This is a place where you 3D-print prosthetic hands for children, and devise rooftop wind arrays that can power entire office buildings with clean, renewable energy. Every day, tens of thousands of students come here, to this intellectual melting pot, where ideas and cultures flow together among what might just be America’s most diverse student body. (Applause.) Here in New Brunswick, you can debate philosophy with a classmate from South Asia in one class, and then strike up a conversation on the EE Bus with a first-generation Latina student from Jersey City, before sitting down for your psych group project with a veteran who’s going to school on the Post-9/11 GI Bill. (Applause.)

America converges here. And in so many ways, the history of Rutgers mirrors the evolution of America -- the course by which we became bigger, stronger, and richer and more dynamic, and a more inclusive nation.

But America’s progress has never been smooth or steady. Progress doesn’t travel in a straight line. It zigs and zags in fits and starts. Progress in America has been hard and contentious, and sometimes bloody. It remains uneven and at times, for every two steps forward, it feels like we take one step back.

Now, for some of you, this may sound like your college career. (Laughter.) It sounds like mine, anyway. (Laughter.) Which makes sense, because measured against the whole of human history, America remains a very young nation -- younger, even, than this university.

But progress is bumpy. It always has been. But because of dreamers and innovators and strivers and activists, progress has been this nation’s hallmark. I’m fond of quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” (Applause.) It bends towards justice. I believe that. But I also believe that the arc of our nation, the arc of the world does not bend towards justice, or freedom, or equality, or prosperity on its own. It depends on us, on the choices we make, particularly at certain inflection points in history; particularly when big changes are happening and everything seems up for grabs.

And, Class of 2016, you are graduating at such an inflection point. Since the start of this new millennium, you’ve already witnessed horrific terrorist attacks, and war, and a Great Recession. You’ve seen economic and technological and cultural shifts that are profoundly altering how we work and how we communicate, how we live, how we form families. The pace of change is not subsiding; it is accelerating. And these changes offer not only great opportunity, but also great peril.

Fortunately, your generation has everything it takes to lead this country toward a brighter future. I’m confident that you can make the right choices -- away from fear and division and paralysis, and toward cooperation and innovation and hope. (Applause.) Now, partly, I’m confident because, on average, you’re smarter and better educated than my generation -- although we probably had better penmanship -- (laughter) -- and were certainly better spellers. We did not have spell-check back in my day. You’re not only better educated, you’ve been more exposed to the world, more exposed to other cultures. You’re more diverse. You’re more environmentally conscious. You have a healthy skepticism for conventional wisdom.

So you’ve got the tools to lead us. And precisely because I have so much confidence in you, I’m not going to spend the remainder of my time telling you exactly how you’re going to make the world better. You’ll figure it out. You’ll look at things with fresher eyes, unencumbered by the biases and blind spots and inertia and general crankiness of your parents and grandparents and old heads like me. But I do have a couple of suggestions that you may find useful as you go out there and conquer the world.

Point number one: When you hear someone longing for the “good old days,” take it with a grain of salt. (Laughter and applause.) Take it with a grain of salt. We live in a great nation and we are rightly proud of our history. We are beneficiaries of the labor and the grit and the courage of generations who came before. But I guess it's part of human nature, especially in times of change and uncertainty, to want to look backwards and long for some imaginary past when everything worked, and the economy hummed, and all politicians were wise, and every kid was well-mannered, and America pretty much did whatever it wanted around the world.

Guess what. It ain’t so. (Laughter.) The “good old days” weren’t that great. Yes, there have been some stretches in our history where the economy grew much faster, or when government ran more smoothly. There were moments when, immediately after World War II, for example, or the end of the Cold War, when the world bent more easily to our will. But those are sporadic, those moments, those episodes. In fact, by almost every measure, America is better, and the world is better, than it was 50 years ago, or 30 years ago, or even eight years ago. (Applause.)

And by the way, I'm not -- set aside 150 years ago, pre-Civil War -- there’s a whole bunch of stuff there we could talk about. Set aside life in the ‘50s, when women and people of color were systematically excluded from big chunks of American life. Since I graduated, in 1983 -- which isn't that long ago -- (laughter) -- I'm just saying. Since I graduated, crime rates, teenage pregnancy, the share of Americans living in poverty -- they’re all down. The share of Americans with college educations have gone way up. Our life expectancy has, as well. Blacks and Latinos have risen up the ranks in business and politics. (Applause.) More women are in the workforce. (Applause.) They’re earning more money -- although it’s long past time that we passed laws to make sure that women are getting the same pay for the same work as men. (Applause.)

Meanwhile, in the eight years since most of you started high school, we’re also better off. You and your fellow graduates are entering the job market with better prospects than any time since 2007. Twenty million more Americans know the financial security of health insurance. We’re less dependent on foreign oil. We’ve doubled the production of clean energy. We have cut the high school dropout rate. We've cut the deficit by two-thirds. Marriage equality is the law of the land. (Applause.)

And just as America is better, the world is better than when I graduated. Since I graduated, an Iron Curtain fell, apartheid ended. There’s more democracy. We virtually eliminated certain diseases like polio. We’ve cut extreme poverty drastically. We've cut infant mortality by an enormous amount. (Applause.)
Now, I say all these things not to make you complacent. We’ve got a bunch of big problems to solve. But I say it to point out that change has been a constant in our history. And the reason America is better is because we didn’t look backwards we didn’t fear the future. We seized the future and made it our own. And that’s exactly why it’s always been young people like you that have brought about big change -- because you don't fear the future.

That leads me to my second point: The world is more interconnected than ever before, and it’s becoming more connected every day. Building walls won’t change that. (Applause.)

Look, as President, my first responsibility is always the security and prosperity of the United States. And as citizens, we all rightly put our country first. But if the past two decades have taught us anything, it’s that the biggest challenges we face cannot be solved in isolation. (Applause.) When overseas states start falling apart, they become breeding grounds for terrorists and ideologies of nihilism and despair that ultimately can reach our shores. When developing countries don’t have functioning health systems, epidemics like Zika or Ebola can spread and threaten Americans, too. And a wall won't stop that. (Applause.)

If we want to close loopholes that allow large corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, we’ve got to have the cooperation of other countries in a global financial system to help enforce financial laws. The point is, to help ourselves we’ve got to help others -- (applause) -- not pull up the drawbridge and try to keep the world out. (Applause.)

And engagement does not just mean deploying our military. There are times where we must take military action to protect ourselves and our allies, and we are in awe of and we are grateful for the men and women who make up the finest fighting force the world has ever known. (Applause.) But I worry if we think that the entire burden of our engagement with the world is up to the 1 percent who serve in our military, and the rest of us can just sit back and do nothing. They can't shoulder the entire burden. And engagement means using all the levers of our national power, and rallying the world to take on our shared challenges.

You look at something like trade, for example. We live in an age of global supply chains, and cargo ships that crisscross oceans, and online commerce that can render borders obsolete. And a lot of folks have legitimate concerns with the way globalization has progressed -- that's one of the changes that's been taking place -- jobs shipped overseas, trade deals that sometimes put workers and businesses at a disadvantage. But the answer isn’t to stop trading with other countries. In this global economy, that’s not even possible. The answer is to do trade the right way, by negotiating with other countries so that they raise their labor standards and their environmental standards; and we make sure they don’t impose unfair tariffs on American goods or steal American intellectual property. That’s how we make sure that international rules are consistent with our values -- including human rights. And ultimately, that's how we help raise wages here in America. That’s how we help our workers compete on a level playing field.

Building walls won't do that. (Applause.) It won't boost our economy, and it won’t enhance our security either. Isolating or disparaging Muslims, suggesting that they should be treated differently when it comes to entering this country -- (applause) -- that is not just a betrayal of our values -- (applause) -- that's not just a betrayal of who we are, it would alienate the very communities at home and abroad who are our most important partners in the fight against violent extremism. Suggesting that we can build an endless wall along our borders, and blame our challenges on immigrants -- that doesn’t just run counter to our history as the world’s melting pot; it contradicts the evidence that our growth and our innovation and our dynamism has always been spurred by our ability to attract strivers from every corner of the globe. That's how we became America. Why would we want to stop it now? (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: Can't do it. (Laughter.)

Which brings me to my third point: Facts, evidence, reason, logic, an understanding of science -- these are good things. (Applause.) These are qualities you want in people making policy. These are qualities you want to continue to cultivate in yourselves as citizens. (Applause.) That might seem obvious. (Laughter.) That's why we honor Bill Moyers or Dr. Burnell.

We traditionally have valued those things. But if you were listening to today’s political debate, you might wonder where this strain of anti-intellectualism came from. (Applause.) So, Class of 2016, let me be as clear as I can be. In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue. (Applause.) It's not cool to not know what you're talking about. (Applause.) That's not keeping it real, or telling it like it is. (Laughter.) That's not challenging political correctness. That's just not knowing what you're talking about. (Applause.) And yet, we've become confused about this.

Look, our nation’s Founders -- Franklin, Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson -- they were born of the Enlightenment. They sought to escape superstition, and sectarianism, and tribalism, and no-nothingness. (Applause.) They believed in rational thought and experimentation, and the capacity of informed citizens to master our own fates. That is embedded in our constitutional design. That spirit informed our inventors and our explorers, the Edisons and the Wright Brothers, and the George Washington Carvers and the Grace Hoppers, and the Norman Borlaugs and the Steve Jobses. That's what built this country.

And today, in every phone in one of your pockets -- (laughter) -- we have access to more information than at any time in human history, at a touch of a button. But, ironically, the flood of information hasn’t made us more discerning of the truth. In some ways, it’s just made us more confident in our ignorance. (Applause.) We assume whatever is on the web must be true. We search for sites that just reinforce our own predispositions. Opinions masquerade as facts. The wildest conspiracy theories are taken for gospel.

Now, understand, I am sure you’ve learned during your years of college -- and if not, you will learn soon -- that there are a whole lot of folks who are book smart and have no common sense. (Applause.) That's the truth. You’ll meet them if you haven't already. (Laughter.) So the fact that they’ve got a fancy degree -- you got to talk to them to see whether they know what they’re talking about. (Laughter.) Qualities like kindness and compassion, honesty, hard work -- they often matter more than technical skills or know-how. (Applause.)

But when our leaders express a disdain for facts, when they’re not held accountable for repeating falsehoods and just making stuff up, while actual experts are dismissed as elitists, then we’ve got a problem. (Applause.)

You know, it's interesting that if we get sick, we actually want to make sure the doctors have gone to medical school, they know what they’re talking about. (Applause.) If we get on a plane, we say we really want a pilot to be able to pilot the plane. (Laughter.) And yet, in our public lives, we certainly think, “I don't want somebody who’s done it before.” (Laughter and applause.) The rejection of facts, the rejection of reason and science -- that is the path to decline. It calls to mind the words of Carl Sagan, who graduated high school here in New Jersey -- (applause) -- he said: “We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depths of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”

The debate around climate change is a perfect example of this. Now, I recognize it doesn’t feel like the planet is warmer right now. (Laughter.) I understand. There was hail when I landed in Newark. (Laughter.) (The wind starts blowing hard.) (Laughter.) But think about the climate change issue. Every day, there are officials in high office with responsibilities who mock the overwhelming consensus of the world’s scientists that human activities and the release of carbon dioxide and methane and other substances are altering our climate in profound and dangerous ways.

A while back, you may have seen a United States senator trotted out a snowball during a floor speech in the middle of winter as “proof” that the world was not warming. (Laughter.) I mean, listen, climate change is not something subject to political spin. There is evidence. There are facts. We can see it happening right now. (Applause.) If we don’t act, if we don't follow through on the progress we made in Paris, the progress we've been making here at home, your generation will feel the brunt of this catastrophe.

So it’s up to you to insist upon and shape an informed debate. Imagine if Benjamin Franklin had seen that senator with the snowball, what he would think. Imagine if your 5th grade science teacher had seen that. (Laughter.) He’d get a D. (Laughter.) And he’s a senator! (Laughter.)

Look, I'm not suggesting that cold analysis and hard data are ultimately more important in life than passion, or faith, or love, or loyalty. I am suggesting that those highest expressions of our humanity can only flourish when our economy functions well, and proposed budgets add up, and our environment is protected. And to accomplish those things, to make collective decisions on behalf of a common good, we have to use our heads. We have to agree that facts and evidence matter. And we got to hold our leaders and ourselves accountable to know what the heck they’re talking about. (Applause.)

All right. I only have two more points. I know it's getting cold and you guys have to graduate. (Laughter.) Point four: Have faith in democracy. Look, I know it’s not always pretty. Really, I know. (Laughter.) I've been living it. But it’s how, bit by bit, generation by generation, we have made progress in this nation. That's how we banned child labor. That's how we cleaned up our air and our water. That's how we passed programs like Social Security and Medicare that lifted millions of seniors out of poverty. (Applause.)

None of these changes happened overnight. They didn’t happen because some charismatic leader got everybody suddenly to agree on everything. It didn’t happen because some massive political revolution occurred. It actually happened over the course of years of advocacy, and organizing, and alliance-building, and deal-making, and the changing of public opinion. It happened because ordinary Americans who cared participated in the political process.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Because of you! (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's nice. I mean, I helped, but -- (applause.)

Look, if you want to change this country for the better, you better start participating. I'll give you an example on a lot of people’s minds right now -- and that’s the growing inequality in our economy. Over much of the last century, we’ve unleashed the strongest economic engine the world has ever seen, but over the past few decades, our economy has become more and more unequal. The top 10 percent of earners now take in half of all income in the U.S. In the past, it used to be a top CEO made 20 or 30 times the income of the average worker. Today, it’s 300 times more. And wages aren’t rising fast enough for millions of hardworking families.

Now, if we want to reverse those trends, there are a bunch of policies that would make a real difference. We can raise the minimum wage. (Applause.) We can modernize our infrastructure. We can invest in early childhood education. We can make college more affordable. (Applause.) We can close tax loopholes on hedge fund managers and take that money and give tax breaks to help families with child care or retirement. And if we did these things, then we’d help to restore the sense that hard work is rewarded and we could build an economy that truly works for everybody. (Applause.)

Now, the reason some of these things have not happened, even though the majority of people approve of them, is really simple. It's not because I wasn’t proposing them. It wasn’t because the facts and the evidence showed they wouldn't work. It was because a huge chunk of Americans, especially young people, do not vote.
In 2014, voter turnout was the lowest since World War II. Fewer than one in five young people showed up to vote -- 2014. And the four who stayed home determined the course of this country just as much as the single one who voted. Because apathy has consequences. It determines who our Congress is. It determines what policies they prioritize. It even, for example, determines whether a really highly qualified Supreme Court nominee receives the courtesy of a hearing and a vote in the United States Senate. (Applause.)

And, yes, big money in politics is a huge problem. We've got to reduce its influence. Yes, special interests and lobbyists have disproportionate access to the corridors of power. But, contrary to what we hear sometimes from both the left as well as the right, the system isn’t as rigged as you think, and it certainly is not as hopeless as you think. Politicians care about being elected, and they especially care about being reelected. And if you vote and you elect a majority that represents your views, you will get what you want. And if you opt out, or stop paying attention, you won’t. It’s that simple. (Applause.) It's not that complicated.

Now, one of the reasons that people don’t vote is because they don’t see the changes they were looking for right away. Well, guess what -- none of the great strides in our history happened right away. It took Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP decades to win Brown v. Board of Education; and then another decade after that to secure the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. (Applause.) And it took more time after that for it to start working. It took a proud daughter of New Jersey, Alice Paul, years of organizing marches and hunger strikes and protests, and drafting hundreds of pieces of legislation, and writing letters and giving speeches, and working with congressional leaders before she and other suffragettes finally helped win women the right to vote. (Applause.)

Each stage along the way required compromise. Sometimes you took half a loaf. You forged allies. Sometimes you lost on an issue, and then you came back to fight another day. That’s how democracy works. So you’ve got to be committed to participating not just if you get immediate gratification, but you got to be a citizen full-time, all the time.

And if participation means voting, and it means compromise, and organizing and advocacy, it also means listening to those who don’t agree with you. I know a couple years ago, folks on this campus got upset that Condoleezza Rice was supposed to speak at a commencement. Now, I don't think it's a secret that I disagree with many of the foreign policies of Dr. Rice and the previous administration. But the notion that this community or the country would be better served by not hearing from a former Secretary of State, or shutting out what she had to say -- I believe that’s misguided. (Applause.) I don't think that's how democracy works best, when we're not even willing to listen to each other. (Applause.) I believe that's misguided.

If you disagree with somebody, bring them in -- (applause) -- and ask them tough questions. Hold their feet to the fire. Make them defend their positions. (Applause.) If somebody has got a bad or offensive idea, prove it wrong. Engage it. Debate it. Stand up for what you believe in. (Applause.) Don't be scared to take somebody on. Don't feel like you got to shut your ears off because you're too fragile and somebody might offend your sensibilities. Go at them if they’re not making any sense. Use your logic and reason and words. And by doing so, you’ll strengthen your own position, and you’ll hone your arguments. And maybe you’ll learn something and realize you don't know everything. And you may have a new understanding not only about what your opponents believe but maybe what you believe. Either way, you win. And more importantly, our democracy wins. (Applause.)

So, anyway, all right. That's it, Class of 2016 -- (laughter) -- a few suggestions on how you can change the world. Except maybe I've got one last suggestion. (Applause.) Just one. And that is, gear yourself for the long haul. Whatever path you choose -- business, nonprofits, government, education, health care, the arts -- whatever it is, you're going to have some setbacks. You will deal occasionally with foolish people. You will be frustrated. You’ll have a boss that's not great. You won’t always get everything you want -- at least not as fast as you want it. So you have to stick with it. You have to be persistent. And success, however small, however incomplete, success is still success. I always tell my daughters, you know, better is good. It may not be perfect, it may not be great, but it's good. That's how progress happens -- in societies and in our own lives.

So don’t lose hope if sometimes you hit a roadblock. Don't lose hope in the face of naysayers. And certainly don’t let resistance make you cynical. Cynicism is so easy, and cynics don’t accomplish much. As a friend of mine who happens to be from New Jersey, a guy named Bruce Springsteen, once sang -- (applause) -- “they spend their lives waiting for a moment that just don’t come.” Don’t let that be you. Don’t waste your time waiting.

If you doubt you can make a difference, look at the impact some of your fellow graduates are already making. Look at what Matthew is doing. Look at somebody like Yasmin Ramadan, who began organizing anti-bullying assemblies when she was 10 years old to help kids handle bias and discrimination, and here at Rutgers, helped found the Muslim Public Relations Council to work with administrators and police to promote inclusion. (Applause.)

Look at somebody like Madison Little, who grew up dealing with some health issues, and started wondering what his care would have been like if he lived someplace else, and so, here at Rutgers, he took charge of a student nonprofit and worked with folks in Australia and Cambodia and Uganda to address the AIDS epidemic. “Our generation has so much energy to adapt and impact the world,” he said. “My peers give me a lot of hope that we’ll overcome the obstacles we face in society.”

That's you! Is it any wonder that I am optimistic? Throughout our history, a new generation of Americans has reached up and bent the arc of history in the direction of more freedom, and more opportunity, and more justice. And, Class of 2016, it is your turn now -- (applause) -- to shape our nation’s destiny, as well as your own.

So get to work. Make sure the next 250 years are better than the last. (Applause.)

Good luck. God bless you. God bless this country we love. Thank you. (Applause.)

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