Statement by Ambassador Takahiro Shinyo
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
On Agenda Item 49 (Culture of Peace)
30 October 2007
United Nations General Assembly
I would like to express my pleasure at the success of the High-level Dialogue that was held at the beginning of this month. It made clear once again that people of different races, religions, and cultures can coexist peacefully, both within and beyond national borders. It also provided participants with a valuable opportunity to hear about the important efforts that are being made in this area by the private sector.
The statements made at the High-level Dialogue, both by delegations and by representatives of the private sector, gave us food for thought about what we need to do if we are to create a Culture of Peace. While unfortunately there may be something in human nature that leads people to discriminate against, exclude, or attack those who have different religions or cultural backgrounds, such differences do not have to lead to conflict, as many speakers pointed out. On the other hand, all too often the response to people who are different is hostility, which, combined with politics, can lead people to take up arms, and sometimes embrace terrorism.
As some delegations pointed out, it is wrong for any of us to think we have unique access to the truth. We must avoid imposing our beliefs on others, or exercising our rights without giving due consideration to their views.
In adopting its Constitution, Japan renounced war and the use or even threat of force as a means of resolving international conflicts. In keeping with that commitment, in the sixty years that have passed since the conclusion of the Second World War, it strives to prevent the development of a political basis for conflict, even striving to eliminate it. And it also works to avoid the generation of the kind of hostility that would make a Culture of Peace impossible.
To this end, for example, Japan has hosted the World Civilization Forum and the Seminar for Inter-Civilizational Dialogue with the Islamic World, dispatched an exchange and dialogue mission to the Middle East, and invited people involved with Islamic boarding schools to visit Japan. We also support the "Dialogue Among Civilizations" lead by UNESCO and in addition, became a member of the "Alliance of Civilization" Group of Friends.
Education has an important role to play in preventing the generation of hostility and hatred. It must be impressed on everyone in the world that there are many religions and cultures, and tolerance is therefore essential if international peace and security are to be realized and human rights and fundamental freedoms secured.
The cooperation of the mass media is also essential. So it is important to continue to convene the Middle East Peace Media Seminar, in accordance with the General Assembly resolution "Special information programme for enforcement of peacebuilding among the Israeli and Palestinian societies of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat." Last June the seminar was held in Tokyo.
It is likewise crucial to continue to engage in inter-religious and intercultural dialogue at all levels, including the national and regional. Needless to say, the cooperation of the private sector, here as in so many other areas, is needed.
Advocating and actually creating a Culture of Peace are two different matters. If a Culture of Peace is ever to be realized, we will need adequate social capital. Thus we need to foster democracy and human rights and legal standards such as those Japan's Constitution sets. At the same time, it is necessary to improve human capital, as by doing so, we foster personal independence and the dignity of the individual through education and ethical treatment. We believe that these two kinds of capital complement each other and help create a Culture of Peace.
I would like to talk now about human security. Human security is what a society achieves by protecting and empowering every individual, ensuring they are free from fear and want. The goal of human security has much in common with the goal of a Culture of Peace, which is the satisfaction of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In this sense, human security improves human capital. We are therefore convinced that in order to build a Culture of Peace, human security is important.
To help bring about a functioning Culture of Peace, Japan is providing support of various kinds to developing countries. Recently, for example, it has been making a particularly great effort to achieve and maintain post-conflict peace, an interest that is also reflected in its chairing the Peace Building Commission.
Turning to another area, since at least 1993, when it hosted the first Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD, Japan has devoted considerable energy to the development of Africa. At the fourth conference, which will be held in Yokohama next May, one of the principal themes to be discussed will be establishing peace through human security. We intend to do everything in our power to work with the nations of Africa to help construct a Culture of Peace.
Finally, to promote peace in the Middle East, Japan has been promoting the framework of what we are calling a "Corridor for Peace and Prosperity." Under this framework, an agro-industrial park would be established in the West Bank and the transportation of goods facilitated to and from a distribution center to be built. Our aim is to bring the parties together, here and in all of the places in the world where there is now conflict, by creating economic prosperity and, once again, a Culture of Peace.
Thank you very much.
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