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January 22, 2010

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A monument to Asian vitality

AFTER the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, another global pageant - World Expo 2010 Shanghai China - will soon begin. I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to extend my sincere greetings to all those who worked in the preparation of this event. With eager expectations and great pride, many Shanghai residents have lent their support to making this exposition a success, and they should be congratulated.

For us Japanese, hosting a World Expo has special meaning. Japan hosted its first World Expo in Osaka in 1970, when the country was in an era of rapid economic growth. At that time, international communications were not as sophisticated and far-reaching as they are today, so the exposition in Osaka provided us with a great opportunity for direct contact with foreign cultures. It also gave Japan a rare opportunity to showcase its economic achievements to the world.

Later, Japan hosted the International Ocean Exposition Okinawa in 1975, the International Exposition Tsukuba in 1985 and the International Horticultural Exposition in 1990. All these events played a key role in promoting the country's social and ideological development. In 2005, Japan hosted the Love and the Earth Expo in Aichi Prefecture under the theme "Nature's Wisdom." It was aimed at presenting the world with concepts about social patterns and cutting-edge technologies that can help create harmonious co-existence between man and nature. The exposition was a significant milestone in promoting environmental awareness. Attracting visitors from Japan and countries around the world, these expositions have shown the fruitfulness of promoting international exchange of ideas and information.

Following on the heels of the Love and the Earth Expo in 2005, the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai will stand as a monument to the vitality of East Asia and its role as a hub of global growth. That is especially important now as the world struggles to recover from a severe economic and financial downturn.

Shanghai World Expo, which will be the largest-ever World Expo and expects 70 million visitors, will bring courage and energy not only to the Chinese people but also to people of Asia and the rest of the world. We hope this exposition will be a crucial turning point for the revitalization of the global economy. For its active efforts in introducing foreign capital and technology, Shanghai has grown into an international metropolis. When I attended the commencement ceremony for the construction of the Japan Pavilion in Shanghai last February, I was impressed anew by the city's vigor and progress. Many countries and cities across the world will find a lot to emulate from the development concepts on offer at World Expo.

World Expo 2010 Shanghai China has taken as its theme "Better City, Better Life." I hope and expect this exposition will provide new and valuable insight into solutions that address the urban-related problems facing mankind in the 21st century.

Thanks to the development of Shanghai, an increasing number of Japanese have come to work and live in this city and now number about 50,000. At the same time, the number of Japanese-invested enterprises in Shanghai has grown to about 7,000. As a city housing the biggest Japanese community in the world, Shanghai has become an important platform for Sino-Japanese relations and has helped deepen the friendship between Japan and China. The World Expo will build on those gains.

The whole Japanese nation has involved itself in participating in World Expo 2010 Shanghai China. Japanese exhibitions in the Expo site include the Japan Pavilion, which is named "Purple Silkworm Island;" the Pavilion of Osaka Prefecture and Osaka City in the Urban Best Practice Area; and the Pavilion of Japanese Industry, which was jointly built by Japanese companies. These pavilions offer an array of innovative ideas and wisdom built on experience. We extend an invitation to all World Expo participants to visit Japan's pavilions.

To conclude, I wish World Expo 2010 Shanghai China great success, and I welcome all the efforts that contribute to the continuing development of friendship between Japan and China.


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