STATEMENT BY H. E. MR. YOHEI KONO MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF JAPAN AT THE FIFTY-FIFTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS
"TACKLING THE CHALLENGES OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY"
First I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to His Excellency Mr. Harri Hermanni Holkeri, the former Prime Minister of the Republic of Finland, on his assumption of the office of President of the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly.
I would also like to pay my respects to His Excellency Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Namibia, for all his efforts during his tenure as President of the fifty-fourth session of the General Assembly.
It is also my great pleasure to welcome the admission of Tuvalu as a new member of the United Nations.
Before proceeding to my main topic, I would like to mention two important developments that took place in the international community in recent months. Concerning the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the recent Inter-Korean Summit was indeed epoch- making, and I strongly hope that this positive development will continue and progress in the future, and lead to peace and stability in Northeast Asia. With regard to the Middle East peace process, Japan is very much encouraged by the commitment of both parties to continue their negotiations, and, together with the international community, will strongly support the efforts by the parties to achieve a lasting peace in the region.
In order to ensure that the twenty-first century is truly a century of peace, it is of greatest importance that the international community make united efforts to address the issues of disarmament and non-proliferation.
In 1945, Hiroshima and Nagasaki became the first two cities in human history to suffer indescribable nuclear devastation. That experience is the starting point of Japan's actions aimed at the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons. With succeeding generations in this half-century, the extremely shocking experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki might very well be pushed to the edge of our memory. In such circumstances, new signs of proliferation of nuclear weapons and missiles are arousing our concern. I believe, however, that engraving the tragic experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in our minds is the first step toward the "creation of a world free from the nuclear threat," which is one of the biggest challenges facing the United Nations. In light of such experiences, Japan has maintained the three non-nuclear principles as its fundamental national policy, and has focused particular attention on nuclear issues; it will continue to stress the importance of this issue.
Since the Second World War, we have adopted as basic ideas of nation, democracy, commitment for peace and respect for fundamental human rights which are enshrined in the Japanese Constitution. Moreover, under its basic policy of not becoming a military power, Japan has mobilized all its available resources for the prosperity of its people and achieved economic development. It hopes to utilize that experience and make a further contribution to the economic development and enhancement of the welfare of developing countries.
Throughout my political career, I have been deeply committed to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation issues. A senior politician for whom I have great respect once told me with great fervor: I hope that somebody among the peoples of the world will take the lead in advocating peace, and that all others will cooperate for that cause, so that the earth will avoid a crisis. I believe that Japan must play the role of that somebody." These words have become my political credo, as well as the resolve of many Japanese people. When I was Foreign Minister in 1994, Japan submitted to the General Assembly for the first time a resolution entitled "Nuclear disarmament with a view to the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons," which gained. the support of an overwhelming majority of Member States. Japan's support of the indefinite extension of. the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1995, is attributed to strong will of the Japanese people. I highly appreciate the final document adopted at the 2000 NPT Review Conference this spring, since it contains practical steps to be taken in the future in the fields of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including an unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the total elimination,of nuclear arsenals. I also appreciate the postponement by the U.S. Government of its decision to deploy a National Missile Defense, as a result of prudent consideration with an emphasis on a further dialogue on this important issue. Japan hopes that this announcement will inspire a further deepening of the discussion on issues surrounding NMD. I hope other countries respond to this move by taking actions to avoid a vicious circle of an arms race, and to create a beneficent circle toward nuclear disarmament. The international community must continue its efforts for the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and also demand that the nuclear-weapon States further reduce their nuclear arsenals. This will strongly require a further reduction by the United States and Russia in their nuclear weapons through the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, as well as efforts by other nuclear-weapon States, unilaterally or through their negotiations, to reduce their nuclear arsenals. I also believe that we must seriously consider what kind of practical paths we should take to realize a world free from fear of nuclear weapons. A world free of nuclear weapons is not a dream it is within our reach.
With this recognition, Japan will submit to this session of the General Assembly a draft resolution on the elimination of nuclear weapons which displays a "paths" toward the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons, while ensuring the non-proliferation of weapons of mass-destruction. It does so through measures such as the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and the immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, as well as the promotion of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty- (START) III negotiations, and through further deeper reductions in later stage in nuclear arsenals, leading to the final stage for total elimination. Japan expects that this resolution will gain wide support from the international community.
Further, I would like to point out the importance of concluding negotiations on the protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) by the year 2001, and strengthening efforts to cope with missile proliferation.
Now I would like to discuss international efforts for conflict prevention.
For the effective prevention of conflicts, it is important to employ various policy measures in a comprehensive and effective manner. As Secretary-General Kofi. Annan advocates, it is incumbent upon the international community to nurture a "culture of prevention."
The "G8 Miyazaki Initiatives for Conflict Prevention," which was drawn up at the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Miyazaki, over which I presided, embodies this idea of "culture of prevention." On the issue of small arms and light weapons, in which Japan has been actively engaged, the G8 countries made clear for the first time that they will not authorize the export of small arms if there is a clear risk that these might be used for repression or aggression against another country. I hope this achievement will lead to the success of next summer's UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. Moreover, at Japan's initiative, the "Small Arms Fund" was established at the United Nations this spring. The purpose of this fund is to extend assistance for the collection of small arms and the reintegration of ex-combatants into civilian society.
Under the "G8 Miyazaki Initiatives for Conflict Prevention" we will actively work to strengthen such development assistance that contributes to preventing the outbreak or recurrence of conflicts. For this purpose, Japan will promote its collaboration with non- governmental organizations (NGOs) by, for example, providing assistance for their emergency humanitarian activities and dispatching joint study missions for emergency rehabilitation.
In recent years, UN peacekeeping operations (PKOs) have been required to be deployed more rapidly. Moreover, as the examples of Kosovo and East Timor have shown, PKOs are now required to carry out diverse mandate that include humanitarian assistance, emergency rehabilitation, and even civil administration. To make possible the rapid and effective deployment of such PKOs, strengthening the Secretariat's functions as well as more quick-responding cooperation on the part of the international community are all the more important. Japan welcomes the publishing of the report and its recommendations by the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations established at the initiative of the Secretary- General.
The continued high toll in, human life among UN personnel taking part in PKOs and humanitarian missions is a matter of profound concern. Recently there was an unforgivable militia attack upon the local office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in West Timor. Measures must be taken to ensure the safety of UN personnel through close cooperation between the United Nations, the country concerned, and its neighboring countries.
With regard to UN peace operations, Japan intends to continue to do its best including personnel and financial contributions to PKOs, and assistance for emergency rehabilitation, democratization and the establishment of legal frameworks, as well as assistance to international organizations.
Poverty reduction is a high priority issue for the leader of every country.
Japan, consistently aware of the importance of this issue, has been providing the world's largest aid for nine consecutive years since 1991. Henceforth, considering what would be most effective for the development of developing countries, Japan will continue to make active efforts on development issues in cooperation with those countries. It accordingly intends to contribute toward the success of the "High-level International and Intergovernmental Event on Financing for Development" expected to be held in the year 2001 by the United Nations and others.
Moreover, it is extremely valuable that developing countries which have achieved certain levels of development put to use their own experience and know-how in providing assistance to other developing countries. Japan, in collaboration with the United Nations and other organizations, will strengthen its endeavors for South-South cooperation.
Concerning Africa, where poverty is an especially serious issue, Japan has twice hosted the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), in 1993 and 1998. It intends to continue to actively cooperate for African development through the TICAD process. Bearing in mind the possibility of also hosting a third Conference, Japan is considering holding a ministerial level meeting before the end of FY 2001, and would like to ask for the cooperation of the countries and organizations concerned.
In April Japan hosted the Second Japan-South Pacific Forum Summit Meeting (PALM 2000), at which it put forward a common vision and a course for mid- and long-term cooperation, together with small island states burdened with geographically disadvantageous conditions. Moreover, this fall Japan will hold the first ministerial-level conference with the countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). As for the issue of sustainable development in land-locked states, it is Japan's policy to extend active cooperation for the improvement and development of their transportation infrastructure, and others.
On the debt problem of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs), Japan has decided to contribute up to a total of US$200 million to the HIPC Trust Fund of the World Bank. It will continue to make utmost efforts for the speedy and effective implementation of the enhanced HIPC Initiative, for example by extending technical assistance to HIPCs as they prepare their poverty reduction strategies.
As we enter the twenty-first century, we are faced with various issues such as conflicts, poverty, refugees, human rights violations, health, crime, terrorism, and environmental degradation. Also, we need to build communities in which the rights of women, children, and various vulnerable members of society are protected, in which they can demonstrate their talents, and in which all people can live together. In addressing such issues, it is increasingly important from the viewpoint of securing the existence, life and dignity of each individual to strengthen efforts that place human beings at the center. This is the concept of "human security."
I would like first of all to touch upon the issue of infectious diseases, which are not only a threat to the life of the individual, but also a serious obstacle to development and nation-building. Japan will extend assistance to the efforts of developing countries to combat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. It will also actively support the activities of NGOs in developing countries working in this area.
Moreover, Japan believes that the development of a UN-centered legal framework for combating transnational organized crime and terrorism is urgently required.
Efforts to address global environmental issues are becoming increasingly important from the viewpoint of human security as well. Attaching greater importance to development assistance with the consideration of environment, Japan has allocated approximately 40 percent of its ODA to environmental cooperation. The primary tasks at this moment on the environmental agenda -are the success of the Sixth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP6) and the entry into force no later than 2002 of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming issues. Concerning the "Rio+10" event in 2002, Japan believes that future- looking agenda should be set, taking into account the debates on the effective implementation of many international environmental conventions, as well as the globalization and the technological innovations which have occurred since the Earth Summit in 1992. Mapping out strategies to implement more effectively the large number of environmental conventions concluded in recent years will also be important. Japan strongly supports holding the conference in Asia, and welcomes Indonesia's candidacy to host the conference.
Further endeavors must be made to solve the problems confronting women, children, and various vulnerable members of society. Japan highly appreciates efforts made in this regard by the United Nations including its convening in June of the Special Session of the General Assembly entitled, "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-first Century." Furthermore, Japan will host the "Second World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children," and will advance its efforts for the protection of the rights of the child.
I have touched upon only a limited part of the efforts focusing upon "human security." Japan has contributed more than 9 billion yen (or well over million) to the "Human Security Fund" which was established at the United Nations last Year, and in the near future intends to make a further contribution of approximately 10 billion yen (or roughly million) to this fund. The fund has borne fruit in assisting efforts particularly in such areas as post-conflict emergency assistance and reconstruction, health and medical.care, and basic education. To further develop and deepen the concept of human security and to study ways to strengthen efforts in this context, Japan intends to establish an international committee on human security, with the participation of opinion leaders.
As I have stated, issues requiring the actions of the international community are becoming ever more diverse and complex. We must urgently strengthen the United Nations system to enable it to deal with these issues.
First of all, this requires, as a matter of urgency, that the Security Council be recreated as a body that reflects the tremendous changes in the international community. At the Millennium Summit held last week, the representatives of approximately one hundred Member States referred to this issue in their speeches within the limited time.
The Millennium Declaration expressing the determination to intensify our efforts to achieve a comprehensive reform of the reflects the over-all views of the heads of state and government of Member States. In particular, reform is needed in a way that reflects the views of developing countries which are playing an ever more important role in the international community, and that fosters the participation of those countries which have the capability to contribute to the solution of various issues facing the developing countries. I believe that both the representativeness and effectiveness of the Security Council can be enhanced through an expansion of both the permanent and non-permanent membership, and the inclusion of both developing and developed countries in the new permanent membership. Although we have already spent seven years discussing reform, during which relevant aspects of the issue have been exhaustively explored, we have yet to see the reform materialized. Even during those discussions, conflicts have broken out and poverty is worsening in various parts of the world. I would like to emphasize that the time has come to seek a convergence of views among Member States on the concrete form of Security Council reform.
Today, the maintenance of international peace and security requires action, not only in political and security areas, but also in economic, social and various other areas. When the reform of the Security Council is realized, Japan would like to assume a greater responsibility as a permanent member of the Council, mobilizing its capabilities and its experiences in various areas, such as disarmament and non-proliferation, development and human security, and based upon the ideas which I have discussed today.
Prerequisite to the strengthening of UN functions is securing a sound financial base. In addition to streamlining as well as improving the efficiency and transparency of UN finances, achieving a balance in financial burden-sharing is especially important. Today's financial burden-sharing cannot be considered to reflect the economic strength of respective countries or their positions and responsibilities within the United Nations; Japan would like to appeal for its urgent revision. I strongly hope that an agreement can be reached on a more equitable scale of assessments for the regular budget at this session of the General Assembly, as an important step toward the establishment of a more stable financial base. Moreover, I hope that substantive discussions for PKO budgets, which is rapidly increasing, will be conducted likewise during this session of the General Assembly and that a more equitable scale of assessments for PKO budget can be agreed.
As we welcome the twenty-first century, while respecting diversity, we must transcend the differences that arise out of our sense of belonging to an ethnic, religious, or cultural group. The foundation for these endeavors is provided by international relationships based upon universal values common to all humankind, such as democracy, human rights, and freedom. The United Nations must play a central role in our efforts to construct such international relationships. In order to achieve peace, we must engage in dialogue with each other in a spirit of tolerance, and join hands in tackling various challenges. At the United Nations, this year is designated the "International Year for the Culture of Peace," and 2001 the "United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations." These designations and the implementation of related substantive activities reflect a growing recognition of this idea. As globalization progresses and economy-oriented rationalism prevails, we should pay special attention to the task of raising awareness of cultural diversity, nurturing the special character of respective countries and regions, and preserving historical and cultural heritage. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) should play a central role in this regard. Every country should recognize the role of UNESCO, and join together in extending assistance to strengthen its activities
I believe that this Millennium Assembly, which began with the Millennium Summit, should be an epochal starting point of meaningful progress in the twenty-first century, both in consolidating our efforts to tackle various challenges, and in strengthening UN functions through Security Council and financial reform. Toward that end, I would like to conclude my speech by underscoring once again the growing importance of cooperation among all Member States.
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