Happy New Year.
Happy New Year.
It is regrettable and I am very sorry that we will not be able personally to greet the people who wish to visit the Imperial Palace to offer their New Year greetings. Due to measures for the preventing of the spread of COVID-19 this year just as last year we would like to deliver our New Year message by video.
Over the past year, the COVID-19 scourge continued to infect and take the lives of many people in and outside of Japan. I would like to express my deepest condolences for those who lost their lives and my heartfelt sympathy goes out to all those who lost their loved ones. I would also like to pay tribute and express my appreciation once again for the extraordinary efforts put in by all the healthcare workers who have devoted themselves to treatment.
Fortunately, the number of COVID-19 cases in Japan has fallen significantly compared to previous months, and the number seems to remain low, thanks to the widespread vaccination program and the untiring efforts of the Japanese people. The situation seems to be showing signs of brighter days ahead, with the number of seriously ill people and the number of deaths from COVID-19 certainly showing a decline. Now, however, we are facing the threat of a new variant, the Omicron strain.
Outside of Japan, many countries are recording rising cases. There are many people who are unable to receive vaccines or the necessary treatment. I hope that this situation will soon improve.
It pains me greatly when I turn my thoughts to the large number of people in Japan who have lost their jobs or find themselves in difficult living conditions due to the impact of COVID-19. I earnestly hope that many helping hands will be extended to those needing help.
I can only imagine the hardships the people of Japan have endured. It is my sincere hope that, alongside learning from our experience and continuing our efforts to combat the infectious disease, we will all overcome this difficult situation by placing even greater importance on people-to-people relationships and sharing each other’s pain and supporting each other.
I look forward to the day when COVID-19 is brought under control and I am again able to see the people in person.
Last year marked ten years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. Reconstruction has progressed step by step thanks to the tireless efforts of the people. At the same time, I am concerned about all those who are still struggling under difficult circumstances. It also pains me that last year once again typhoons and torrential rains affected and took the lives of many people. The people in the affected areas will always be in my heart.
In the face of various difficulties that still lie ahead of us, I am sure last summer’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games gave courage and hope to many people through the efforts of the athletes and other people involved.
I sincerely hope this will be a great year in which everyone can move forward with bright hopes and dreams. May the New Year bring happiness and peace to the people of Japan and the world.
I know that last year was another year of numerous hardships for a large number of people. I also realize that many have been afflicted by the cold wave at the end of last year. I hope everyone will take good care of themselves.
From the bottom of my heart, I pray that this year will be as much as is possible a peaceful and fruitful year for everyone.
I am delighted to participate through video in the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar, Republic of Senegal, the city that has fostered water and greenery, under the theme of “Water Security for Peace and Development”. I thank Your Excellency President Macky Sall, for your invitation and the Government of the Republic of Senegal, the World Water Council and all people associated with the Forum for organizing the conference despite the various challenges under the COVID-19 pandemic.
This 9th Forum is being held in Africa for the first time since the first Forum in Morocco a quarter century ago. Water plays a critical role on this continent where rapid socio-economic development is taking place. The annual rate of economic growth in Africa is over 3%, and that of the urban population is around 3.6%, that is twice as much as that of the world average. Hydropower production in the continent is expected to nearly triple by 2040. Water demand in major water-related sectors such as food, drinking water, sanitation and electric power are expected to increase rapidly. Africa is the continent to which higher attention will be given in the water section as its socio-economic and water demand are growing quickly. Indeed, I was impressed with the remarkable size of the Akosombo Dam in Ghana when I visited it in 2010. I recognized the importance of hydropower in the region when I learned that the power it generates is exported across its borders to the neighboring countries.
Regional socio-economic development as well as global challenges, such as climate change, should be addressed in a holistic manner when discussing the issue of “Water Security for Peace and Development”. I served on the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, or UNSGAB, as the Honorary President for 8 years from 2007. UNSGAB helped bring about the African Union Water Summit in 2008, which the group had proposed as one of its main recommendations in the “Hashimoto Action Plan”. The Declaration of the AU Water Summit called for putting in place adaptation measures to improve the resilience of the countries to the increasing threat of climate change and variability to water resources. COP27 will be held this year in the same city of Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt as the AU Water Summit. I sincerely hope that the spirit of the AU Water Summit is remembered in COP27, to deepen the discussion on the issue of water and climate change, and lead to concrete action on the subject.
The persisting COVID-19 pandemic made us realize that water and sanitation are fundamental to maintain our health. Securing water in areas affected by disasters or conflicts is also a major challenge. Efforts need to be accelerated to meet the SDG targets of achieving universal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all, as well as access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all. The situation also raises for all of us a critical question as to how concretely we can contribute to addressing various water challenges such as water and sanitation, cooperation between the water sector and food-energy sectors, water-related disasters, water environment and Integrated Water Resources Management, while at the same time coping with global challenges, such as climate change and recurrent threats such as the pandemic ― inter alia ― by undertaking trans-sectoral collaboration in an inclusive, sustainable and resilient manner.
In this context, the United Nations 2023 Water Conference, the first UN conference dedicated to water since the one in Mar del Plata in 1977, will be a significant occasion for the future of water. I hope that this Forum in Dakar, which is positioned as one of the major preparatory events in the lead-up process to the UN conference, will bring about a fresh approach to the water agenda in Africa and globally to help achieve our goal. The outcome will be further developed in the 4th Asia Pacific Water Summit in Kumamoto, Japan, as well. I hope that this sequence of major preparatory events will lead to fruitful discussions and action in the UN 2023 Water Conference.
Water circulates through oceans, land, and atmosphere, and thereby nurtures all living things. I sincerely wish all people on earth will share water and nature’s blessings and care for one another, and move on together towards prosperity and happiness for all. We are still in the midst of our long journey to fully meet the water challenges. I believe, however, that we will be able to address the intricate challenges at local levels if each of us learn from history and the experience of the relationship between water and mankind, share insights gained from good practices in various regions, and foster a water culture, which will lead to the peace and development of our society. I wish that we will be able to advance cross-fertilization on water issues through dialogue and actions in this forum and beyond, leading to a peaceful world in which people and societies are closely connected and mutually understood across borders. With the hope of making solid progress, I, too, will continue to pay sincere interest in water issues.
Prior to my address, I would like to express my sincere condolences to all the victims of the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake and the heavy rains in recent years such as those of 2020. I would hereby extend my deepest sympathies to families in bereavement and also to those who survived the catastrophies. I hope that recovery from the disasters will proceed smoothly and steadily.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to join online with all of you from the Asia-Pacific Region along with the rest of the world in the 4th Asia-Pacific Water Summit held in Kumamoto City.
The host city of Kumamoto is blessed with water. Abundant groundwater is distributed to all of its 740,000 citizens from this single source of water supply, which is actually an exceptional case in the world. The municipality, private sectors and citizens are jointly engaged in activities to foster groundwater and conserve the aquatic environment so that this rich resource is securely passed on to the next generation. The city has been on the way to recovery after having been severely affected by the Kumamoto Earthquake. It is thus meaningful that the Summit is being held with the theme of “Water for Sustainable Development - Best Practices and the Next Generation” in this sustainable and resilient city.
Water is at the origin of all living things. While water benefits us in so many ways, it also threatens us in the form of water-related disasters, such as flooding. Water is a cross-cutting issue that is closely connected to poverty, education, gender and other issues of the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. We were in fact reminded how water and sanitation is fundamental in maintaining our health when the COVID-19 pandemic threatened us all. It is also a significant challenge to secure water and sanitation in areas affected by disasters or conflicts.
It is hoped that the leaders of countries participating in the Summit will share their visions and thoughts. International organizations, national agencies, NGOs, experts, and many others are expected to bring together their wisdom through discussions and try to find solutions for various water challenges and turn them into concrete action. I understand that many young people have also been invited to the Summit. It is very meaningful that the youth, who will take up the challenges of the future, should join in discussions and action on water throughout the region, and I look forward to their contributions.
The United Nations will hold a conference dedicated to water next year for the first time in 46 years. I sincerely hope that this 4th Asia-Pacific Water Summit will bear fruitful results and become a momentous step towards meeting water challenges in the Asia-Pacific Region and around the world, and thereby will bring about peace and happiness for all human beings.
Thank you very much.
On this Day to Commemorate the War Dead and Pray for Peace, my thoughts are with the numerous people who lost their precious lives in the last war and their bereaved families, as I attend this Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead with a deep and renewed sense of sorrow.
Seventy-seven years have already passed since the end of the war. Our country today enjoys peace and prosperity, thanks to the ceaseless efforts made by the people of Japan. When I look back on the arduous steps taken by the people, I cannot help but be overcome with deep emotion.
While we are currently confronted with various difficulties caused by the spread of COVID-19, I sincerely hope that we all work together with a unity of mind to overcome this difficult situation and continue to seek happiness of the people and world peace.
Looking back on the long period of post-war peace, reflecting on our past and bearing in mind the feelings of deep remorse, I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never again be repeated. Together with all our people, I now pay my heartfelt tribute to all those who lost their lives in the war, both on the battlefields and elsewhere, and pray for world peace and for the continuing developments of our country.
I am very pleased that this Opening Ceremony of the 13th Congress of the World Federation of Nuclear Medicine and Biology (WFNMB) is being held with participants from many countries and regions around the world.
The very 1st Congress of the WFNMB, established in 1970, was held in Japan in 1974, with Their Majesties the Emperor Emeritus and Empress Emerita - at that time Crown Prince and Crown Princess - attending the opening ceremony. I am delighted to deliver an address to this congress that is being held in Japan for the first time in nearly half a century.
Nuclear medicine is a medical field that uses radiopharmaceuticals to diagnose and treat various organ diseases. It plays an important role in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, cases of which have been increasing worldwide, as well as in the diagnosis of myocardial infarction and other heart diseases, and especially more recently, in the treatment of cancer.
I understand that the main objective of the WFNMB is to promote nuclear medicine throughout the world and to support developing countries in this field. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all those worldwide who have worked tirelessly over the years for the development of nuclear medicine, and to all those in Japan who have continued to play an active part in cooperation with countries and regions around the world since the establishment of the WFNMB, making this congress possible despite various challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. I expect that this field in medicine will spread more widely throughout the world, thus leading to the improvement in people’s health.
I would like to conclude my remarks by expressing my best wishes to all participants of the congress and that you may deepen your knowledge and expertise through diverse discussions and exchanges with other participants. I hope this congress will achieve great outcomes and be a contribution to the further development of nuclear medicine.