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Statement by Ambassador Shigeki Sumi
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations

15 October 2008

Agenda items:

  • 57 (a): NEPAD: progress in implementation and international support
  • 57 (b): Causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa
  • 43: 2001-2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, particularly in Africa

Mr. President,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure and honour to address the Assembly today to discuss these very important agenda items relating to African development. Before I begin, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Secretary-General and his staff for their diligent work in consolidating the reports we have received.

Mr. President,

African development is today one of the most urgent priorities for the world and for the United Nations. The high-level meeting on Africa's development needs on September 22nd successfully increased the momentum needed to follow up the various commitments made to and by Africa, and it also served as a forum for the international community to hear the views of African leaders on this subject. Throughout the round tables, many expressed the view that private investment and infrastructure development were of critical importance. The same view was expressed at the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) back in May and at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July.

We have heard the voices of Africa's leaders, and now it is time for us to respond. For its part, Japan pledged at TICAD IV, first, to double its ODA to Africa; second, to proactively and flexibly provide up to 4 billion US dollars in soft loans; and third, to work to double Japanese private investment to Africa, over the next five years. Our ODA will focus on the priority areas of infrastructure development, including in the area of agriculture, achieving the MDGs, and combating climate change. Loans will focus more specifically on infrastructure development through enhanced public-private partnerships with a view to improving the investment climate in Africa.

In implementing the above commitments, the Government of Japan aligns its priorities with those set in NEPAD, believing that this partnership reflects the genuine needs of Africa articulated, in the area of infrastructure, in the Short Term Action Plan (STAP), and in the agricultural field, in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). This reflects Japan's respect for the principles of ownership and partnership, which it regards as essential to the promotion of sustainable development in Africa.

As special envoy and former Prime Minister of Japan Yoshiro Mori stated at the opening plenary on 22 September, the Government of Japan is steadily implementing the commitments it made at TICAD IV, and has already dispatched joint public-private missions for the promotion of trade and investment to 12 African countries. Furthermore the Japan-UNDP Joint Framework for Building Partnerships to Address Climate Change in Africa, to which Japan has contributed 92.1 million USD, is in the process of receiving concrete proposals for projects to be undertaken.

In order to ensure that the desired accelerated growth will benefit and empower individuals and communities and not aggravate social and economic disparities, the principle of human security needs to be taken into consideration in the implementation of policy measures, especially those relating to realization of the MDGs. Japan stands ready to provide just such support to the efforts the nations of Africa make in areas including education, health and community development.

We also received another vital message from Africa's leaders, namely, that there is an essential linkage between peace and development. Japan, as Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, is committed to providing a range of assistance to post-conflict countries that it hopes will better enable them to avoid lapsing back into violence and instead achieve a durable peace. We have already taken steps to that end by extending support to PKO training centers in Africa, and other assistance will follow.

The progress we make in fulfilling all of these commitments will be closely monitored via the TICAD Follow-up Mechanism, which includes annual ministerial follow-up meetings. The importance of follow-up was mentioned by almost every African leader last week and the Government of Japan stands ready to monitor, follow-up and assess the steps taken to honor the commitments made, not only by Japan, but by all relevant stakeholders represented at TICAD IV.

Mr. President,

Regarding agenda item 46, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the Secretary-General's report A/63/219 entitled "2001-2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa" and also the World Malaria Report 2008, recently issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).

My delegation was pleased to learn from these reports that the number of deaths attributed to malaria has declined in several African countries and that a few have even managed to cut such deaths in half by implementing the measures recommended by the WHO. In addition, the reports showed that increases in funding resulted in accelerated access to malaria interventions such as the provision of bed nets and medicines in 2006.

My delegation nevertheless notes with concern that the number of malaria cases worldwide is estimated still to be as high as 247 million for 2006, and we note with concern that children under age five remain by far the most likely to die of the disease. We note also that in Africa only three percent of children in need have access to artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), which is recommended by WHO.

Mr. President,

This July G8 leaders met during the occasion of the Hokkaido Toyako Summit hosted by the Government of Japan. It was there that the G8 leaders agreed on the importance of ensuring that comprehensive approach which embodies disease-specific measures and health systems strengthening contributes to achieving all of the health MDGs by focusing in particular on the capacity building of health workers. The "Toyako Framework for Action" which was set forth by the G8 health experts includes the principles for action, and actions to be taken on health, drawing on the expertise of international institutions as well as the establishment of a follow-up mechanism to monitor progress on meeting the commitments made.

My delegation recognizes the positive impact that the efforts made by a number of stakeholders have had. I refer in particular to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to which Japan pledged an additional USD 560 million earlier this year. My delegation also welcome the Global Malaria Action Plan and other outcomes announced at the MDG Malaria Event that took place on 25 September under the initiative of Mr. Ray Chambers, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Malaria.

G8 leaders also agreed to focus on promoting the expansion of access to long-lasting insecticide treated nets, with a view to providing 100 million nets through bilateral and multilateral assistance, in partnership with other stakeholders by the end of 2010. I would note in this regard that a number of African countries have expressed great appreciation for one such net, Olyset-net, made by Sumitomo Chemical. This net is made in Africa, and Japan hopes that both the net itself and its production will contribute to sustainable development in Africa.

In closing, Mr. President, my delegation would like to reaffirm Japan's readiness to contribute constructively and concretely to the development of an Africa, that will realize its vast potential, a truly vibrant Africa, a continent of hope and opportunity.

I thank you for your kind attention.

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