July 28, 2014 – Tokyo, Japan

Check Against Delivery

Thank you for that kind introduction.

I’m grateful to Keidanren for inviting me to join you and for welcoming me into its impressive headquarters this afternoon.

It’s a real honour to speak to such a distinguished audience and especially to be here with some of the key people who bridge the ocean between Japan and Canada.

This is now my fifth visit to Japan, and I’m very glad to be back in Tokyo. Often on these diplomatic trips to different countries you fly into an airport, go to a hotel, have a meeting in a conference centre and you don’t see much else.

I’m sure you’ve had business trips that are similar. But I made sure to find a little extra time to soak up some of the sights, sounds—and tastes of this world-class city.

The more I see of this country, the more impressed I become with the inspiring balance of the traditional and the modern that you have achieved.

This unique strength is reflective of a culture that values the wisdom of what has come before, while embracing the opportunities of the future.

These are complementary values that Canada shares with Japan, and they are reflected in our relations, which span more than a century.

This year, our two countries mark several significant milestones:

  • 125 years ago, the Japanese government opened its first mission in Canada, the Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver;
  • 110 years ago, the Canadian government opened its first trade office in Japan in Yokohama; and
  • this year, we mark 85 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Canada and Japan.

I learned recently that Canada was also the first foreign country visited by then 19-year-old Crown Prince Akihito in 1953.

Our nations have come together in many ways.

Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent and then-Japanese Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida exchanged visits in the early 1950s, which acted as a pivot to a new relationship between Canada and Japan.

At the time, Canada was one of the few countries that brought Japan back into the international community following the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1952.

The global landscape has changed in many ways since that time.

Our people and economies are more intertwined than ever.

Our common values have developed but remained unwavering.

Your heartache has been our heartache.

When the world stood still in shock and grief following the tragic earthquake and tsunami in 2011, we saw the best in our people.

Canadians from every corner of this country raised millions to aid the Japanese people through these horrendous circumstances.

Japanese students showed up on our west coast to help clean up debris that washed up on our shores many months later.

And a Victoria man returned a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to its rightful owner back in Yamamoto, but not before the good people at Harley-Davidson had refurbished it.

I can still remember very vividly what the Fukushima plant and the surrounding area looked like several months later as I toured the site by helicopter.

Three years on, Canada continues to support the renewal of the affected regions, including through the Canada-Tohoku Reconstruction Project, which is helping to rebuild public facilities using Canadian wood.

While these efforts may seem to some as symbolic, I believe they tell a much different story.

They tell this story: while the distance between our countries is great—5,000 miles in fact—we face similar realities as Pacific nations:

  • The reality of our common threats.
  • The reality of our economic futures.
  • The reality of the uncertainties our people face.

That is why, in uncertain times, it’s far better to face your common challenges as friends and partners than as adversaries.

In Canada, we know that Japan’s role as a stable democracy in the Asia-Pacific Region is vital to our own economic future.

The Canada-Japan relationship has been nurtured over decades as a priority for successive Canadian governments.

Japan is Canada’s fourth-largest export market.

Japan is alone our largest bilateral investment partner in all of Asia, with two-way investment reaching $21 billion last year.

More than 300 Japanese companies have a presence in Canada, including the 50-plus members of this committee that invest or sell goods and services in our country.

We believe that Japanese businesses and investors can find a very welcoming, lucrative environment in Canada.

Both Forbes and Bloomberg have called Canada the best country in the G-20 in which to do business.

The World Economic Forum has repeatedly declared Canada’s banking system to be the soundest in the world.

We also offer an overall tax rate on new business investment that is among the lowest in the G-7.

Through the depths of the recession, and well before and after—our government made jobs and economic prosperity our primary objective.

We have sought to break down barriers and drive into new markets.

Forge new relationships and rekindle old ones.

We do so because we know that our prosperity is linked to much more than jobs. It’s linked to our security and common defences.

It’s linked to the dignity of our people. And it’s linked to their freedoms.

A good deal of the world’s unrest can be blamed on economic uncertainty and on the cronyism and corruption that run rampant. Such corruption stifles progress, bankrupts people morally and materially, and drives business and investment elsewhere.

Therefore we cannot afford to be complacent about our economic cooperation.

Idle hands won’t build success.

It’s certainly not what brought us to today.

What brought us here are the continued bridges and links we have built through hard work between our two nations.

Our business communities are also being brought closer in a more literal way.

Negotiations have been successful on giving Canadian air carriers daytime access to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

And starting this month, Japanese and Canadian business people can now fly directly between Haneda and Toronto in a brand new Dreamliner aircraft.

In fact, this is the first route on which they are being used by Air Canada.

Our industries continue to benefit from these connections.

One industry with a lot of common interest is the energy industry.

In a time of global concern about risks to energy supply, the world is looking to Canada as a stable, reliable, resource-rich partner.

In particular, I know that Japan relies heavily on liquefied natural gas, or LNG. I saw one of your impressive LNG terminals for myself on Friday.

Canada is actually the fourth-largest exporter of natural gas in the world, and we have more than 200 years of supply at current rates of production.

Overall, there are over 600 major natural resource projects planned in Canada over the next 10 years alone. These projects will require investments of over $650 billion.

The majority of these investments are in the energy sector. And I am pleased that companies from Japan—such as Mitsubishi, JAPEX, Inpex, Idemitsu and Totoya Tsusho, to name a few—are directly involved in these exciting developments.

So I think it’s clear that there is a lot going on right now that we can be proud of and optimistic about.

But ladies and gentlemen let me speak frankly to you now.

If you’re somewhat familiar with Canadian politics, you’ll know I’ve never been accused of being subtle.

However, sometimes it’s important to speak frankly about important issues—so there is no ambiguity.

While I am excited about the trajectory of our relationship, I also think opportunity is staring us in the eye.

There is more we can do.

On my last visit here, I joined Prime Minister Stephen Harper to launch the Canada-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations.

A joint study in 2012 concluded that this agreement could generate billions of dollars in incremental GDP and export growth, creating jobs and prosperity for both peoples.

In fact, the study found that a bilateral Economic Partnership Agreement could boost Japanese exports to Canada by up to 40 percent.

I’m pleased to say that negotiations are proceeding well—in fact, the sixth round of negotiations is being hosted in Canada this very week.

Canada is ready.

We are ready to accelerate progress because we know how many benefits would come from an ambitious and comprehensive deal.

An Economic Partnership Agreement will help unlock the full potential of our economic relationship by making it easier and less costly for our companies to do business together.

It would give businesses a stronger investment framework, with enhanced protection and stability.

It would allow us to strengthen bilateral trade and investment opportunities in many areas of mutual interest—including natural resources, agriculture and agri-food products, and manufactured products in the chemical, automotive and forestry sectors.

For importers and consumers, an agreement would lead to greater choice at competitive prices for high-quality Canadian inputs and goods and could serve to enhance energy and food security in Japan.

Canada also has a solid reputation here as a trusted source of safe food products. Canadian foods are part of everyday life in Japan.

Last year, Japan imported over $4 billion worth of agriculture and agri-food products from Canada, including a diverse group of goods.

For Japanese exporters, an Economic Partnership Agreement would enhance their market access in Canada.

It would level the playing field with other Asian countries such as South Korea, which just concluded a free trade agreement with Canada.

But an agreement would go far beyond imports and exports.

And it would contribute to job creation and increased GDP.

Ladies and gentlemen, you and I both know that the benefits of this agreement would be immense.

As two free-market economies, Canada and Japan need to work together to liberalize trade and take advantage of every single opportunity we have before us.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation is but another opportunity, right before our eyes.

Our view has long been that the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the economic partnership agreement are mutually reinforcing initiatives.

We can, and must, pursue them in parallel. The incentives are far too great, and the future prosperity of our peoples is much too important.

Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve been generous with your time, and I would like to end by simply saying that while our governments work to complete these agreements and others that sit before us—we know that it will simply be the first step.

But we cannot get this done alone.

We need leadership like we see here today, the leadership on which Keidanren was built.

We need your help and that of those like you.

The drivers of our economies.

The investors in our future.

The time to move forward is now, because the rewards for our people are far too great.

A young Japanese man set sail for Canada in 1877—his name, Manzo Nagano. Forever immortalized in the name of a mountain north of Vancouver Island, he was the first connection made between our two countries, the first recorded immigrant from Japan.

He embodied the full character of the Japanese people—honourable and hard-working.

A carpenter in his hometown of Nagasaki, a fisherman in Canada.

Working his way up to run a lumber mill, a restaurant and then a hotel. However, he made his fortune exporting pickled salmon back to Japan.

Tens of thousands have made that same voyage in the 137 years since Manzo landed on our west coast.

The trials and the triumphs we’ve faced as two nations since Manzo’s time have been great.

But our shared history has fortunately brought us to today.

In Canada, Japan has a trusted ally, a forthright partner—and an eternal friend.

Arigato. Thank you for your time and attention today.

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