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Statement by Ambassador Shigeki Sumi
Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
General Debate of the Second Committee
64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
5 October 2009
Let me first of all congratulate you on assuming the chair of the Second Committee. My congratulations are also extended to the other members of the Bureau. I am sure, Mr. Chair, that with your rich experience and knowledge in the field of international economic affairs, you will provide us with the most able guidance as we strive to face the multiple crises of food, energy, recession and pandemic flu. As the Secretary General said in his report to the General Assembly, "the world looks to us for answers." I wish to assure you that my delegation stands ready to engage constructively in the discussions of this committee and to support the work of the Chair and Bureau.
I would just add that although we attach the highest importance to the work of the Second Committee, we are also concerned about the possible duplication in the activities of this committee, the General Assembly's ad-hoc working group, and ECOSOC. Thus while we appreciate the initiative taken by the Chair in proposing several special events and expect to take an active part in them, the calendar of the Second Committee in the month of October and November already seems quite full. I would therefore ask the Chair to consult and coordinate with the chairs of the ad-hoc working group and the ECOSOC to guard against redundancy and the over-loading of schedule.
(World Financial and Economic Crisis)
While the global economy appears to have emerged from the worst stage of the crisis, it is still difficult to predict its future prospects. The vulnerable people are most severely hit by the crisis, and unemployment rates are continuing to climb in many developed and developing countries. Thus the High-level Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development in June was timely and useful.
One of the top priorities of the new Japanese government under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is to bring its economy back to a solid recovery and sustainable growth through enhancing domestic consumption. Japan's GDP recorded annualized growth of 2.3% in the 2nd quarter of this year, the first time it has grown in more than a year.
With the largest potential for growth in the world, Asia can do much to contribute to the revival of the global economy. Japan has supported the recovery and growth of Asian economies through a wide range of tools, such as ODA, guarantees for yen-denominated bonds, strengthening the capital basis of local banks, and provision of trade finance. International financial institutions (IFIs) also have a pivotal role to play in the efforts being made to overcome the current crisis and prevent its recurrence. Japan appreciates the swift response of the IMF and the World Bank and welcomes the reform process they are undergoing, which is certain to enhance the voice and participation of emerging and developing countries.
One of the most important lessons we learned from the East Asian financial crisis in the late nineties was that, whenever there is a sudden economic downturn, it is the vulnerable and voiceless that suffer the most. It is their lives, their livelihoods and their dignity that are the first to be threatened. Recognizing this, it was then that Japan began to take the initiative to enhance human security, and to encourage every country to adopt people-centered measures -- measures that would help to empower individuals and communities.
(Achievement of MDGs)
Even in the midst of the current economic crisis, donor countries should deliver on their existing commitments they have made in the area of development so that the progress that has been achieved towards the realization of the MDGs will not be reversed. For its part, Japan intends to continue and strengthen the TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) process, and redouble its efforts towards the achievement of the MDGs.
At the same time, every country should shoulder primary responsibility for its own development with a strong sense of ownership. This is a task that is all the more critical in times of difficulty. Japan pioneered triangular cooperation and has supported South-South cooperation, both bilaterally and multilaterally. For this reason, my country is a strong advocate of enhancing the effectiveness of South-South cooperation activities including increasing transparency.
During the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly, we have an important responsibility to pave the way for the high-level plenary meeting of September 2010. My delegation appreciates the report of the Secretary-General on this issue, and supports his proposal to make the scope of the meeting "consistent with the Millennium Declaration and have the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals at its core." It also looks forward to the comprehensive report of the Secretary-General on progress towards implementing the Millennium Declaration.
(Food Security, Agriculture)
According to the MDGs Report 2009, the trend in the eradication of hunger since the early 1990s was reversed in 2008, largely due to higher food prices. While prices did fall in the second half of 2008, this failed to make food more affordable for most people. As the largest net importer of food, Japan is keenly interested in the issue of food security. On the occasion of the general debate of the General Assembly, Japan hosted, along with UNCTAD, FAO, IFAD and the World Bank, a side event entitled "Promoting Responsible International Investment in Agriculture." Participants shared the view that responsible investment in agriculture will harmonize and maximize the interests of receiving countries, local communities, and investors. This meeting marked the first step toward developing principles and an international framework to promote such investment.
The fight against disease and promotion of maternal, new born and child health is among the most important components of the MDGs. On the occasion of the ECOSOC High-level Segment this July, Japan made a National Voluntary Presentation on global health, and advocated the importance of taking a "comprehensive approach," which would strengthen health systems. The presentation also stressed the importance of the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, including governments, private sector, academia, and civil society. As one of the founders of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Japan continues to participate wholeheartedly in the struggle against infectious diseases.
The latest challenge to the global health is the H1N1 influenza pandemic, which is taking a growing toll. In response to the request made by UN system and WHO, Japan decided last month to provide approximately 1.1 billion yen in emergency grant aid through the WHO to help extend vaccination against H1N1 influenza in developing countries.
(System-wide coherence, Gender entity)
In order to achieve the MDGs by delivering assistance to those people in need on the ground in the most effective and efficient manner, the UN development system does not have the luxury of staying fragmented, uncoordinated and weakened through inefficiency and duplications. This is why system-wide-coherence is important. My delegation therefore participated in the consensus welcoming the adoption of the General Assembly resolution supporting the establishment of a new gender entity.
Japan strongly believes that it is crucial to promote gender mainstreaming in every phase of UN activities in the areas of development and humanitarian assistance, namely, planning, implementation and evaluation. Simply creating a new gender entity headed by a high-ranking officer, however, is not sufficient to ensure the coherence of the entire UN system in this field. The new gender architecture should be established by rationalizing the allocation of existing resources within the system and by carefully avoiding new duplications and fragmentation of the gender-related activities implemented by different UN agencies. My delegation accordingly will continue to engage actively in the discussions on this issue.
(Climate Change, Environment)
Protecting our planet for our future generations is one of the major challenges facing us. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama announced on the occasion of the Summit on Climate Change that Japan will aim to reduce its emissions by 25% by 2020, if compared to the 1990 level. However, Japan's efforts alone cannot halt climate change. It is therefore imperative to establish a fair and effective international framework in which all major economies participate. The commitment of Japan to the world is premised on agreement on ambitious targets by all major economies.
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama also stated that Japan is prepared to provide more financial and technical assistance, in particular to support adaptation efforts by vulnerable developing counties and small island counties, in accordance with the progress of the international negotiations. Public financial assistance and technology transfer to developing counties are critically important but they alone will not meet the needs of developing countries. It is important to create a mechanism that not only ensures the effective use of public funds but also and facilitates the flow of private investments.
In October next year, Japan will host the COP10 of the Convention of Biological Diversity in the city of Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture. We will continue our preparation process in close cooperation with a wide range of stakeholders towards a successful COP10. We are fully committed to making our contribution so that ambitious, realistic and action-oriented post 2010 biodiversity targets could be established.
With regard to the proposal to hold a high-level event on sustainable development, my delegation believes that we should first give thorough consideration to possible themes, timing and preparatory process. Due consideration should also be given to the relationship with the ongoing work plan of the Commission on Sustainable Development regarding the implementation of Agenda 21. I assure you that my delegation will engage proactively in the discussion on this issue in the current session of the General Assembly.
Last but not least, the new Japanese administration remains deeply committed to the concept of human security. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama stated in the general debate that, Japan intends to redouble its efforts towards the promotion of human security. The human security approach aims to protect and empower every individual so that each can fully realize his or her rich potential and live in dignity. We strongly believe that this approach provides us with a relevant guidance in addressing the issues upon which the Second Committee is expected to deliberate.
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