Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

Opening Remarks by Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Okamoto at the 25th Asian Export Control Seminar

February 27, 2018

  • (Photo1)25th Asian Export Control Seminar
  • (Photo2)Opening Remarks by Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Mitsunari Okamoto

Distinguished participants,
Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, I would like to extend my warmest welcome to all of you joining the 25th Asian Export Control Seminar. Let me also thank all the presenters and moderators for their valuable contribution to this annual event. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Seminar, which has played a significant role in strengthening export controls in the region for the past quarter century.

The urgent agenda that I must take up today is the issue of North Korea. As we have all witnessed, North Korea has been escalating its outrageous acts of provocation in flagrant violation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Since 2016, North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests and launched approximately 40 ballistic missiles. North Korea' s nuclear and missile development poses an unprecedented, grave and imminent threat not only to Asia but also to the entire international community. Export control is an essential and crucial part of the measures to fully implement the UN sanctions.

Asian countries are enjoying the world' s fastest rates of economic growth. They have also expanded their capacities to manufacture and develop highly sensitive products and technologies, which could be diverted for WMD production. Additionally, major ports in Asia serve as important transit hubs for global trade. Proliferators including North Korea are taking advantage of these developments to conduct procurement activities in an increasingly sophisticated manner.

To counter their activities, each country must effectively enforce domestic measures and close any possible loopholes by harmonizing its system with that of other countries. We have to closely cooperate with partners in the region. A spirit of team work is extremely important. Owing to Asian countries’ commitments, we have seen a series of steady developments in this area. There is, however, still considerable room for improvement. We all understand that implementing and enforcing export controls requires great efforts and resources, and that each country faces different challenges. Japan is ready to assist our Asian partners.

There is a false argument that export controls impede trade and investment. But let me emphasize that effective export control measures contribute to economic growth by fostering confidence among trade and investment partners. Such measures would also make it possible for developing countries to have better access to high technologies by giving reassurance to providers. In sum, establishing reliable export control systems is a wise investment for further economic growth.

Terrorist attacks occurring in various regions are another source of great concern. As Asian economies continue to grow, the risk of illegal procurement activities by non-state actors is increasing in the region. In this connection, the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 is a crucial task. We should be reminded that the establishment of export control systems is one of the main responsibilities every country must fulfill under the resolution. To this end, Japan contributed approximately one million US dollars to the United Nations last March. I encourage our Asian partners to consult with the 1540 Committee to draw up concrete projects that help improve their export control capacities.

Face-to-face contacts among export control experts and relevant actors is essential in establishing an effective region-wide network. I hope that this seminar will serve as an opportunity to further strengthen our partnership and cooperation towards the shared non-proliferation objectives.

Thank you.