Address by President Nelson Mandela at a luncheon hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Tomichi Murayama

5 July 1995

Your Excellency, Mr Tomichi Murayama, Prime Minister of Japan;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Since we arrived in your beautiful country, we have been treated with the kind of hospitality which makes us feel exceptionally important. Your warm reception has exceeded our wildest expectations. For that we are deeply grateful.

What must strike any visitor to Japan is the complete recovery you have made from the devastating effects of war. You have also been repeatedly struck by natural disasters. And yet, like the daily rising of the sun, your people have elevated themselves to ever loftier heights. As we set out on our own path of rebuilding, we shall borrow a few chapters from your experience.

Your Excellency;

The support which Japan gave to us in the struggle to free ourselves from apartheid is remembered with gratitude by our people. Our victory and our achievement of democracy is yours, too.

We believe that our task of reconstruction will also become that much more achievable and more lasting because Japan intends to share in it.

The relationship between our two nations has a long history. Trade with Japan already looms large in South Africa's relations with the world. But it is only now, when South Africa has become a democracy and is free of apartheid, that we can dream of realising the enormous potential for fruitful relations between our countries and our peoples.

It will be a relationship based on mutual economic interest and shared commitment to democracy, peace and development. It will draw strength from the deepening of the warm relations between each of our countries and their respective neighbours and continents.

The generous package of assistance which your government made available to us for our reconstruction efforts, so early in the process, is a fine expression of your commitment to our newly born democracy. It has greatly encouraged us, particularly in the formidable task of creating the infrastructure essential to development. We thank you sincerely for it.

We also deeply appreciate the importance of the benefits granted to us under your Generalised System of Preferences, as a practical and substantial measure for the promotion of trade.

The talks which we held this morning will definitely take us further towards our goals. They pave the way for a deepening of bilateral relations in all spheres.

We are confident that an expansion of economic relations will benefit both our countries.

For South Africa the benefits will be many and substantial. They reach far beyond the immediately tangible advantages of increased trade with a large economy which is an integral part of a continental market.

We do also anticipate that we will learn much from Japan in human resource development, innovation and work organisation. We will need strength in these matters as we shift our economy from a focus on primary products to one equipped to meet the economic challenges of the next century.

Much more frequent exchange between our countries would be of great advantage, and that too should flow from the discussions which our visit has made possible. Scientific, technical and cultural interchange, along with tourism and sport will help broaden our relationship by promoting mutual understanding between our peoples.

Your excellency;

We are appreciative of the confidence which you have in our commitment to contribute, on the basis of equal partnership, in the rebirth of our Southern African region and our continent of Africa.

South Africa is proud to have been able to contribute in small measure to our region's decisive move towards democracy, peaceful resolution of conflicts and co-operation for security and development. This has laid the basis for the rational exploitation of our natural resources, the pooling of technical expertise, the harmonisation of trade practices, development of infrastructure and the promotion of economies of scale.

If we lay emphasis on the benefits to ourselves that flow from the developing relationship between South Africa and Japan, it is not for lack of confidence that Japan too has much to gain.

In our first year of democracy, South Africa has laid a sound foundation for sustained growth in a climate which offers substantial opportunity for productive and profitable investment.

We draw much hope and encouragement from our visit and our talks today. They help to underwrite a new relationship, one which is not only deeper and broader, but which is purposefully fashioned towards promoting the values we share: peace, democracy and prosperity.

Thank you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation