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Address to the People of Japan by H. E. Tsakhia Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia, delivered at the National Diet of Japan
Address to the People of Japan by H. E. President of Mongolia Tsakhia Elbegdorj delivered at the Parliament of Japan, the National Diet of Japan, made during H.E President’s State Visit to Japan at the Invitation of the Government of Japan
TWENTY YEARS OF MONGOLIA’S DEMOCRACY, OR THE MONGOL SEAL
Tokyo The National Diet Building
Your Excellencies Chairmen,
Distinguished Chancellors and Representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am happy to have this opportunity to speak on behalf of the ancient-history and free people of Mongolia in this historic and honorable Hall.
I extend my deep gratitude to the honorable Chairmen, Chancellors and Representatives of the Parliament of Japan for the hospitality and respect accorded to my delegation. Please accept the heartfelt sincere greetings of the Mongolian people to you, distinguished Parliamentarians, ladies and gentlemen, and through you, to the people of Japan.
Mongolians are a benevolent people with a heroic history and a bright future. Mongolia is a country with an ancient history of modern statehood. In the coming 2011 Mongolia will commemorate the 2220th anniversary of the establishment of our state. Mongols are the founders of the largest continental state and civilization ever known in the history of the humankind. There were also times in the past when Mongols bent under external forces and fell victims of inhumane policies.
Mongols do not like painting black our past. We regard the history, how ever glorious, or how ever obnoxious it is, as our shrewd teacher, and we’ve strived to learn from our past. I am glad to speak today in this Hall in the name of the vivid generation of Mongolia’s newest history. 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of the democratic revolution, embodying the free and new choice of the Mongolian people.
The Democratic Revolution of the Mongolian people is an achievement of not merely one country, it is a collective accomplishment. It has proven that human rights, liberty, human integrity and dignity are not the rights exclusively enjoyed in developed and rich countries, but can also legitimately triumph in any country. No matter a man lives in a rich country, or poor one, he or she can shape his own the society and the state by his own choice, and live by his choices.
Mongolians have demonstrated that it is possible to conduct revolutionary reforms peacefully and simultaneously in the broadest societal spectrum. Some argue that simultaneous political and economic reform is not an “Asian way”. Yet with our new choice we broke this old assertion. Although Mongolia can be regarded as a small country by the size of its population or the level of development, our open and democratic policies of the past 20 years have made Mongolia a model of democracy.
For a country to consolidate its integrity in the ever globalizing world, the size or the level of development do not really matter much. My people are proud with the democratic achievements which mold Mongolia’s integrity. And Mongolians are the people who hold dear our integrity and good name. We have a saying, better have one’s bones broken than honor discredited. The attribute “democratic country” is inarguably an important indicator of a solid reputation Mongolia enjoys internationally.
The achievement the Mongolian people have made in the past 20 years is inseparable of the 2000 years’ history of the Mongolian statehood. Being the true owner of our fates, securing and strengthening our independence, sovereignty and freedom has been the sacred desire of the generations of our forefathers. And in that lies the essence of the choice the Mongolian people made in the year of the White Horse. Put succinctly, the spirit of our choice rightly transpires in the witty saying of my people “it is better to live by your own choice how ever bitter it is than to live by other’s choice how ever sweet it is”.
Realization of the people’s new choice wasn’t easy. The centuries-long aspirations and efforts of the Mongolian people to enjoy a free and honored life still persevere. Mongols have seen a lot and are an old pro. The descendents of the warriors, who saddled their horses to see the world some 8 centuries ago must have seen a lot, and have created a lot.
Once Chinggis Khaan uttered that it was easier to go round the world on horseback than to take off the horse and come to grips with administering a state. For Mongolia, which was the second country to take up communist in the vast Eurasia, the path of becoming Asia’s first country to entirely make over the very system was not at ease.
The lives of most of our people remain hard. One of every three Mongolians live a life below the poverty line set by the UN. Government red-tape and centralization persist. Citizen participation and monitoring are still missing in the public decision making. There cannot be a civil society without citizen participation. There cannot be human rights that cannot be enjoyed by humans. Injustice, unemployment remain our acute social problems.
Nevertheless, I have no doubt that the Mongolian people, the Mongolian State and our ever-strengthening open social system are capable to address and resolve these challenges. And the greatest hope is the people of Mongolia. A free Mongolian citizen, aware of his rights as a citizen and cognizant of his duties as a member of the society, who relies not on the government policies but on his own capacities and hard work is the guarantor of the development and prosperity of Mongolia.
Myself as the Head of State of Mongolia, Mongolian Parliament, our Government and the public sector in its entirety bears one single sacred duty. That is to serve – to serve the rights and interests of our people. The people of an open and democratic country demands justice, openness, transparency and creativity from its state. And the State is ought to strive to meet this demand, as the diligence to embrace these features forms the foundation for Mongolia to further aspire accountability, development and prosperity.
Distinguished Members of Parliament,
Now let me address relations between Mongolia and Japan. The relations between our two countries are of special nature. Our people to people relations, our people’s aspirations and activities prove the special character of Mongol-Japanese ties.
The movement to promote friendly relations with Mongolia began in Japan since mid 60s. And noteworthy, this movement was initiated and partook by the Japanese citizens who were held captive in Mongolia during war. Today Japan counts more than 70 voluntary associations of citizens with relations and cooperation with Mongolia. Mongolia has more than 30 organizations and societies with relations with Japan. This is a unique feature and distinctive indicator of relations between our peoples. There was a streak of hard times in relations between our two countries. Yet the storms of hard times could not stifle the flame in the minds and hearts of our people to befriend and cooperate.
Our history also proves the uniqueness of Mongol-Japanese relations. Mongolia has always expressed her interest to develop friendly relations and cooperate with Japan at every critically important juncture of our history. For instance, in the first year of founding the Yuan Empire, the great Mongolia Khaan Khubilai dispatched an envoy with a message to the Emperor of Japan Kameyama. Noteworthy, a copy of the message is kept in Toodaiji Temple in Nara. In early 20th century, when Mongolia restored her national freedom and independence, within the policy to have her historic achievement recognized by great powers, Bogdo Khaan, Head of State and Religious Leader of Mongolia, addressed a letter to the Emperor of Japan. Alas the message hadn’t gone through to the addressee. The letter was dated November 18th, 1912. Today, on this historic day, I will hand a copy of that letter to distinguished chairmen upon conclusion of my speech.
1990 was a year when democracy was made real in Mongolia, and was a time when the fate of the new choice of the people of Mongolia was teetering on the edge of vulnerable precariousness. At the time, the then Prime Minister of Mongolia Dash Byambasuren addressed a letter to the Government of Japan requesting all-around support. In 1991, the First President of Mongolia Punsalmaa Ochirbat, while participating in the ceremony of Heisei Emperor Akihito ascending to the Emperor’s Throne, reiterated the will and interest of the Mongolian people to befriend and cooperate with Japan in the broadest array of fields. This is a history. A history which chronicles the trust and hope the Mongolia and the Mongolian people have vested in Japan and its people at the critical junctures and happy moments of our history.
Dear Chancellors and Representatives,
Another merit of the relations between our peoples lies in the deep respect, trust and confidence to each other and in our common value. Mongols made a new choice in the last decade of the past century, and indeed, we were really like a new-born foal trying to solidly sense the ground under his hooves. The help and support, attention and care of the Japanese people and the Government of Japan were truly vital for us in those hard times. Had not only Japan helped Mongolia, but it also directed the attention of the participants to the G7 meeting to the historic choice of the Mongolians. Japan helped Mongolia, which had just chosen a new development path, to become a member of the international financial and regional organizations. Japan was the dedicated leader of the entire process of organizing Mongolia-assistance donor meeting.
It would be hard to imagine the success of Japanese tireless efforts to help Mongolia without the participation and leadership of the then Prime Minister of Japan Kaifu Toshiki. Mr. Kaifu made a historic visit to Mongolia in 1991 and declared Japanese policy to support Mongolia’s democracy. And this policy was eagerly embraced, enriched and persistently implemented by the successive generations of the Government of Japan. The people of Japan, the government of Japan rendered invaluable help to Mongolia to find herself, to the world to find Mongolia and to the Mongolian people to firmly stand on our feet. The people and the State of Mongolia are earnestly grateful to the people of Japan and the Japanese Government for this heartfelt help and support. I am delighted to reiterate from this respectable rostrum on behalf of my people our gratitude for the help in times of hardship to the people of Japan and the Government of Japan.
We all know well that the assistance Japan rendered to Mongolia exceeds all aid and assistance by other countries and international organizations taken together granted to Mongolia in the past 20 years. And the assistance and help Japanese people and the Government of Japan have been rendering to Mongolia is distinguished among others by one virtue. That is, as Mongols say, Japan’s help has always fit the case. When Mongolia runs out of coal in the stove, these are Japanese people who come to make badly needed investment in coal mines and thermal stations. When public transport fails and people in the cities have no means to move, this is the Japanese Government who comes ready with vehicles. When tens of thousand of Mongolian children come short of kindergartens and schools to attend because of heavy migration to the city, this is Japan who builds new schools and repairs old ones with the money of its taxpayers. And are still building more and more schools and kindergartens. When ambulance cars go out of order, when our fire extinguishing equipment fall broken, when we run out of life-saving medicines, again, Japan comes handy with help. When harsh winter snow-blizzard disasters hit Mongolia, it is Japan who comes to back us up.
And the list of such examples of immediate help can be continued with tens of cases in dozens of sectors. If this policy is not called right, if such a help can’t be rendered as “timely”, what other policies can be attributed as such?! Mongols put this as briefly as “the friend in need is a friend indeed”. An inarguable truth.
Dear Members of the Parliament,
Today the relations between Mongolia and Japan are entering a qualitatively new level, and new opportunities are opening up ahead of us. Favorable conditions and prerequisites for Mongolia and Japan to engage in mutually beneficial cooperation in a multitude of sectors are being created. Mongolia is a resource rich country. For many years we kept saying that Japan has high technologies. The time has come to deploy these advantages in a mutually beneficial manner. The volume of Japan’s investment in Mongolia and our bilateral trade indicators remain modest. The alarm of the “clock” to wake us up to boost trade and investment is ringing. Appealing to the Japanese businessmen willing to invest and trade with Mongolia, I state again “The time has come, wake up”.
There were times when such an awaiting attitude would prove to be right – first let others get in, let us see. Now that attitude doesn’t fit Mongol-Japanese relations. Now is the time to rush to Mongolia. The times when Mongolia would be overlooked for old laws, weak infrastructure and uncertain policies are a history now. Different times unfold today – now is the time to act together and create wealth together.
Many things were new to Mongolia when we entered a new system. We made mistakes, and not few. We learned lessons. We learned by doing, by creating. We want to be good learners, and also good partners. The key to Mongolia’s development are free, responsible, sensible, healthy, educated and skilled citizens. Today Mongolia needs experts and professionals in various high and advanced technologies.
Mongolia does have rare earth elements, uranium, coking coal, copper, molybdenum that Japan desperately needs, while Mongolia acutely needs Japanese private investment and high technologies. It is Mongolia’s interest to become a value-added producer than remain a supplier of raw materials, and engage in mutually beneficial cooperation. Japanese investment in Mongolia shall be an investment consistent with Mongolia’s interests and benefits. And the reason is that Japanese investment is an investment of our “third neighbor” meeting the world standards, and that it originates in a country of high technology, and equally importantly, a country which has been helping and supporting Mongolia at the times of formidable challenges and difficulties.
One of the ways to boost Japanese private investment in Mongolia could be increasing the volume of the Japanese official development assistance for a particular sector in consistency with the interests and benefits of Japan. It could prove to be right for the Japanese investors to follow its Government to enter Mongolia than waiting to see until other countries’ private investment flow in to Mongolia.
Compared to a certain period in the past, Mongolia is building necessary capacities to engage in a mutually beneficial cooperation – mega projects of national and regional scale are being implemented in infrastructure, energy, mining, agriculture, road, financial sector so as to process raw materials and absorb capital domestically. Therefore, Mongolia supports the New Growth Strategy of the Government of Japan to encompass investment, human resources, technical and technological capacities, and propose Japan to constructively cooperate within the confines of this policy.
I firmly believe that Mongolia and Japan can be the role model for other countries in North-East Asia by intensifying our economic partnership. Both Mongolia and Japan are now at critical junctures of development: Mongolia entering a new era of development, and Japan, having attained the apex of development, is marching out to the world in search of new markets, new opportunities, which could be preemptively realized jointly by Mongolia and Japan for mutually beneficial effects. Such a productive engagement with a country in a region with consistent interests would create solutions to many challenges in the development and prosperity of both of our countries. And it is within these premises that in my current visit to Japan I aim to elevate the level of our bilateral relations to a strategic level. I am glad to acknowledge the earnest efforts of both sides to create conditions conducive to attaining this high level of bilateral relations.
I also do firmly believe that Mongolia and Japan will constructively expand our relations and cooperation in the regional and international fora, in defense and security. Mongolia has always highly valued and appreciated Japan’s efforts to contribute to the cause of peace and prosperity in the world. Mongolia has consistently supported Japan’s aspiration of permanent membership in the UN Security Council, and we reaffirm that our position on the issue will remain the same. Mongolia is glad for the regularization of high and highest level visits, and that creative and constructive mechanisms for dialogue are being cultivated. The people of Mongolia have always been grateful to His Imperial Majesty Emperor and His Majesty Imperial Family Members for the constant care and attention to expanding and developing friendly relations between our peoples.
Broad avenues of cooperation open up for Mongolia and Japan in environmental conservation and rehabilitation, culture, humanitarian activities, sports and arts, education, local governments and communities, and people-to-people relations. It is a good news indeed that no visa is required for Japanese citizens travelling to Mongolia. Visa-free travel entails not only eradication of visa-related bureaucracy, more importantly, it is an expression of warmhearted welcome of the people of Mongolia to the people of Japan, it is an invitation of the Mongolian people to every citizen of Japan to visit and befriend with Mongolia. As the President of Mongolia, I gladly join this hearty invitation of the Mongolian people. Now, every Japanese citizen has a President’s invitation to visit Mongolia.
Both a Mongolian and a Japanese are born with a piece of heaven’s seal. Many people around the world associate that seal with Mongolia. And in particular in Japan that seal is called “the Mongol Seal”. It was not an accidental matter for me to title my address “Democracy or the Seal”. The essence of democracy is human rights, which is naturally born with us; it is not something that is bestowed upon us from the government. The seal gradually vanishes sopping up in our body whereas human rights are articulated in relations between a human being and the society.
Relations between Mongolia and Japan are of special nature, which dwell on the sincere wishes and desires of our peoples and which are fed by the eternal heaven. Hand in hand our peoples can achieve and create a lot. I sincerely thank you for giving me this opportunity to convey the heartfelt greetings of the Mongolian people to the people of Japan with who we share the heaven’s seal.
May all good deeds prosper.
November 18, 2010
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