(As delivered)

Statement by Mr. Yasutoshi Nishimura
Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
On the Occasion of the Ministerial Meeting of the Security Council
on the Issue of Piracy off the Coast of Somalia

(photo) Parliamentary Vice-Minister Nishimura

16 December 2008

Mr. President,
Distinguished Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to express my appreciation to H.E. Mr. Ivo Sanader, Prime Minister of Croatia, for his initiative to convene this timely and very important meeting of the Council. We welcome the adoption of the resolution by the Council today and the Council's recent call for further international collaboration in addressing the issue of piracy off the coast of Somalia. In this connection, we are grateful to the delegation of the United States for its strong leadership on this particular subject.

The area off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden is a critically important sea lane connecting Europe, the Middle East and East Asia. Given this fact, those carrying out the incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea in this region, which are unique in their gravity, frequency, number of affected countries, and negative effect on the situation in Somalia and the peace and security of the region, are quite literally common enemies of the human race (hostes humani generis) in today's world. It is therefore essential that the international community address this issue in a determined and concerted manner.

In this connection, we welcome the recent initiatives of the Security Council to suppress acts of piracy in the region, as demonstrated by the adoption of a series of resolutions this year. We also wish to pay tribute to the efforts of those countries that have been deploying naval vessels in the region. In addition, we cannot overemphasize the importance of coordination in combating piracy and thus strongly hope that the countries and organizations concerned will take unified and collaborative action to this end.

Mr. President,

Japan, a maritime State and a trading nation, attaches great importance to ensuring the safety of marine navigation and security at sea, including through anti-piracy measures. Clearly, these matters are directly linked to the survival and prosperity of our country. The issue of piracy is both a challenge for the international community and a matter related to the protection of the lives and assets of our own citizens. We are therefore gravely concerned about the dramatic increase in acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia and recognize that measures to tackle this problem are urgently required. In this context, the Government of Japan has been conducting serious study among the relevant ministries and agencies with regard to the issue of piracy. What new laws should we develop? What actions can we take under the existing legal frameworks? These are some of the questions that we have been addressing. It is our intention to take measures in a prompt and effective manner, beginning with what we can do now. We also plan to provide assistance for the capacity-building of neighboring countries of Somalia.

With this resolve in mind, it is our intention that, once an appropriate international cooperation mechanism on the issue of piracy off the coast of Somalia is established, we will join at its inception and actively participate in the discussions within the framework. In this connection, I wish to note that Japan has gained practical experience in this area through its initiative to realize the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP). It is our belief that, against this background, we can provide useful expertise in regard to the possible creation of a cooperation framework similar to ReCAAP in the region neighboring Somalia.

Mr. President,

Finally, let me reiterate that efforts to suppress acts of piracy are urgently needed from the point of view of the safety of maritime navigation and the protection of human lives and assets. At the same time, I must stress that the genuine resolution of the issue of piracy off the coast of Somalia requires peace and stability in the country. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has been making tireless efforts for that goal and we would like to pay our respects for its admirable endeavors under difficult circumstances. We, for our part, will extend our support to the fullest extent possible for the Somali peace process initiated by the Djibouti Agreement. Japan, as a non-permanent member of the Council from January, is determined to contribute in a proactive way to the peace and stability in Somalia.

Thank you for listening.

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