On behalf of the people of Australia, I would like to thank Prime Minister of Japan HE Mr Shinzo Abe for his enduring commitment to Australia-Japan relations over his long and successful career.
Shinzo Abe is a true friend. He is Australia’s true friend.
Japan is one of Australia’s closest partners, propelled by Prime Minister Abe’s personal leadership and vision, including elevating the relationship to new heights under our Special Strategic Partnership. The political stability he has delivered over eight years has been a major asset for Japan.
One of the most moving experiences I’ve had as Prime Minister was to lay a wreath with Prime Minister Abe at the Cenotaph in Darwin. Standing side by side, we honoured Australia’s fallen and marked the bonds of loyalty and friendship that our two countries now share. It was another symbolic step in our journey, started many years ago.
The foundation of our modern relationship was laid by Sir Robert Menzies, and Japanese Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi – Mr Abe’s grandfather - with the commerce treaty they signed in 1957. It is a journey that looks to the future.
Prime Minister Abe has often quoted the guiding words of Sir Robert: “It is better to hope than always to remember.” That is the guiding light for both of us.
Today, Australia and Japan share a vision for an open, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, strengthened by cooperation between our likeminded countries.
Prime Minister Abe is a man of integrity and wisdom. He has been the senior statesman in our region and across the globe, a strong promoter of open trade and an outstanding international diplomat for Japan.
He has advocated for the region’s prosperity and stability, bringing his leadership as an experienced statesman of the first order. Prime Minister Abe steps down as a regional leader having made unprecedented contributions, particularly as we respond to the health and economic impacts of COVID-19.
Prime Minister Abe may be standing down, but the legacy begun by his grandfather that he has continued magnificently, will endure.
I wish Prime Minister Abe all the best for his health. I look forward to continuing our friendship, and Jenny and I wish he and Akie the very best for the future.