Check against delivery
Statement by Ambassador Shigeki Sumi
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
General Debate of the Second Committee
63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
6 October 2008
Let me first of all congratulate you on assuming leadership of the Second Committee. My congratulations are also extended to the other members of the Bureau. I wish to assure you that my delegation stands ready to engage constructively in the discussions of the committee, which are on some of the most critical issues the world faces today, and to support the work of the Chair and the Bureau. I would only add that in order to ensure that our deliberations are effective and productive, we should adopt a pragmatic approach and take steps to streamline our agenda.
1. World Economic Situation
This year, rising food and fuel prices have threatened the lives of the world's poorest people. At TICAD IV and the G8 Summit Japan responded to rising food prices, both in terms of policy formulation and aid implementation. Also, since January, my Government announced, and is now steadfastly implementing, assistance totaling approximately 1.1 billion dollars to provide food and boost agricultural production in developing countries. At the G8 Summit, leaders issued a special statement that expressed our strong commitment to resolving the food crisis and laying out a number of actions to be taken. Furthermore, Japan will support African countries in building the capacity of 50,000 people engaging in agriculture and assist in increasing rice production in collaboration with other development partners, with the goal of doubling rice production in African countries over the next ten years.
The recent turmoil in the financial sector has the potential to cause a worldwide economic downturn. In his statement in the general debate at the General Assembly on 25 September, Prime Minister Taro Aso declared that "Japan is eager to contribute its experiences and its knowledge" to the solution of the current problems of the world economy, as both the second largest economy and a country that has suffered "a debt overhang as a result of the previous craze of the 1980s and 90s."
2. MDGs, Human Security
The High-Level Event on the MDGs on 25 September provided an ideal opportunity for world leaders to send a strong message that we should act together to put efforts for the achievement of the MDGs on track. For its part, Japan placed the MDGs at the top of the agenda at the two important summits it hosted earlier this year, namely, TICAD IV and the G8 Summit.
At the G8 Summit, leaders declared that in tackling the MDG agenda, they would "work to improve human security through protection and empowerment of individuals and communities." It was recognized that ensuring human security was the key to achieving the effective delivery of assistance required to realize the MDGs. And the concept of human security involves both a "multi-sectoral approach," to achieve synergy among different sectors of development, and a "participatory approach," in which all key players and stakeholders including NGOs and civil society would be engaged on the ground.
In its discussions, from the perspective of human security, the G8 focused on the areas of health, water and sanitation, and education. In the field of global health, it emphasized the importance of pursuing a comprehensive approach in order to strengthen health systems; improve maternal, newborn and child health; and combat infectious disease. In this regard, earlier this year, Japan pledged an additional US$ 560 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in the coming years. In the field of water and sanitation, the G8 Summit also emphasized the importance of good water cycle management. As we indicated at the successful MDGs Partnership Event on Water and Sanitation on 24 September, Japan, as the largest donor of development assistance in this field, is determined to put even greater effort into addressing these important issues.
3. Development of Africa
We cannot achieve the MDGs without realizing African development. Africa has experienced unprecedented economic growth and achieved increasing political stability, but it still faces major problems as well as some new challenges.
At TICAD IV, which was co-organized by Japan, the UN, UNDP and the World Bank, leaders of Japan and 51 African countries, together with other donor countries and a wide range of international organizations, reaffirmed the importance of the ownership of developing countries and the partnership of the international community in advancing development. They also emphasized the need to accelerate broad-based economic growth, to ensure human security including consolidating peace and good governance, and to address environmental and climate change issues, all of which are of fundamental significance if we are to overcome extreme poverty and hunger.
The TICAD Follow-Up Mechanism was also established, to produce periodic reports on the progress of implementation and ensure that the progress is reviewed and evaluated at the ministerial level. With the overarching goals of ownership and partnership always in mind, Japan stands ready to work with Member States and the relevant agencies towards a vibrant Africa.
4. System-wide Coherence, Groups of Countries in Special Situations
In order to realize the MDGs, it is essential to make full use of the resources and expertise of all the relevant UN agencies. Achieving system-wide coherence is particularly important in this regard. My delegation appreciates the efforts to that end of the Co-Chairs, Ambassador Kavanagh of Ireland and Ambassador Mahiga of Tanzania, particularly their endeavor to involve the Europe-based agencies. As the Co-Chairs found in course of the extensive work they did, "Delivering as One" has seen good progress in the field, but more efforts are necessary at the headquarters level. We should continue to work together, bearing in mind that the ultimate objective of system-wide coherence is to find the most effective means of delivering services to people and communities in need.
When we discuss development, we should always take care to consider the special needs of groups of countries in special situations. I would note that Japan facilitated the negotiation of the outcome document of the high-level plenary meeting devoted to the midterm review of the Almaty Programme of Action. My delegation hopes that the declaration issued at that meeting will be recognized as articulating the principles that should guide the development of landlocked developing and transit countries during the second five years of the Programme of Action.
5. Climate Change
Japan is committed to exercising strong leadership in the efforts to address climate change. It has set up the Cool Earth Partnership on the scale of US$ 10 billion, and is extending assistance to developing countries that aim at work to contribute to climate stability by achieving emissions reductions and pursuing economic growth in a compatible manner. We are also assisting developing countries suffering from severe adverse impacts of climate change. Despite occasional complaints that have been heard, we are also proud that Japan's initiative to reduce the use of air conditioning was introduced this summer under the title of "Cool UN."
At the G8 Summit, the leaders sought to share with all Parties to the UNFCCC the vision of, and together with them to consider and adopt in the UNFCCC negotiations, the goal of achieving at least 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050. They also emphasized the importance of mid-term goals and national plans, and shared the view that sectoral approaches are useful tools for achieving national emission reduction objectives. The leaders were also committed to increasing investment in environmental and clean energy technology research and development.
My delegation hopes that through its deliberations, the Second Committee will play a catalytic role in ensuring the success of the negotiations under the UNFCCC.
As I mentioned at the outset, the Second Committee deals with some of the most pressing issues the world faces. As current problems threaten the livelihoods of ordinary citizens, and particularly the most vulnerable, a solution, in our view, needs to be based on the concept of human security and a people-centered approach. Under your able leadership, my delegation is ready to contribute to achieving that solution.
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