Address by H. E. Mr. Taro Aso
Prime Minister of Japan
at the High-level evening event on the food and climate change crises convened by the Secretary-General
September 25, 2008
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
First I would like to express my gratitude to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for holding this timely event. I also wish to commend President Zoellick of the World Bank for his leadership. Responses to the food crisis and climate change are vital for achieving the MDGs and Human Security.
Japan has taken on these challenges at the TICAD IV and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. We hope that our proposals and commitments have stimulated positive responses by the international community. We need to form a global partnership to tackle these challenges, with all relevant stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society.
On global food security, the G8 called for an expansion of emergency assistance to those still suffering from hunger and malnutrition.
Since January, Japan has already carried out the majority of 300 million dollars emergency aid commitment. We hope to make further contribution.
On the topics tonight, the G8 called for the overall removal of export restrictions. We also promised to explore the possibility of a virtual reserve system. Based on discussions at this table, we will find ways to advance these initiatives.
Over and above, the G8 promised a number of medium- to long-term measures to stimulate world food production. We will largely increase aid and investment in the agricultural sector in developing countries. We are also working toward the goal of doubling production of key food staples in Africa. Taking this opportunity, I call on other donors to join in our commitments, and also urge developing countries to invest more in agriculture.
Japan is determined to fulfill these commitments speedily, while trying to achieve greater domestic production in agriculture.
Next, I will comment on the topic of "Investing in agriculture". I will raise three points.
The first is the importance of R&D of crop varieties and human resource development. The "green revolution" of the 1960's was also the result of steady improvement of crop varieties and technology transfer. Dr. Gonjiro Inazuka of Japan made a huge contribution through developing a seed variety called "Norin 10 wheat".
Now, Japan is supporting the development of NERICA rice, among others, in Africa. We spread high-quality seeds, along with capacity building of farmers' organization and individual farmers.
Second, it is important that technology transfer be linked with financial cooperation for infrastructure, such as irrigation facilities. At the same time, we have to strengthen distribution and market access.
We have one success story in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Our assistance for irrigated rice production increased yield by 2.5 times per hectare there. In these efforts, the roles of NGOs and private sector are essential.
As my third point, climate change. Climatic anomalies have been felt also in Japan. Statistically, three typhoons on average should strike Japan annually. But four years ago, ten hit the islands, and this year, none. So random.
It is our urgent task to scale up adaptation measures in developing countries, along with mitigation efforts.
To this end, Japan set up the "Cool Earth Partnership" with the scale of 10 billion US dollars.
We must establish an effective international framework beyond 2012. In the lead-up to the COP14, Japan will make concrete proposals on the post-2012 framework. We are keen to take a lead, to reach an agreement by the end of 2009.
Lastly, the "Proposals for Action" tonight are certainly in line with these efforts. It might be difficult to agree on numerical targets, but we should work out how to proceed with these proposals.
Thank you for your kind attention.
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