Statement by Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda at the Tokyo Workshop on Transparency in Armaments

May 12, 1997
Tokyo, Japan

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, permit me to offer a few opening remarks on this occasion of the Tokyo Workshop on Transparency in Armaments.

First of all, I would like to express my hearty welcome and sincere gratitude to all the participants from Japan and abroad who are attending this workshop.

As you are aware, the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms was established pursuant to the resolution on "Transparency in Armaments", submitted to the 1991 U.N. General Assembly under a joint initiative by Japan and countries of the then European Community and subsequently adopted by an overwhelming majority.

As a global confidence-building measure established in the United Nations, the Register has been highly regarded for its steady achievement in promoting transparency in armaments.

Japan has been contributing to the Register in various ways. Ambassador Donowaki has represented Japan at the Governmental Experts Group meetings on this Register from its outset. Japan has also worked actively to encourage other countries' participation in this Register. And Japan held two previous workshops on the Register in 1992 and 1994.

The Government of Japan intends to continue its efforts to strengthen and develop this Register, in close cooperation with other concerned countries.

It is based on this determination that we hold the workshop again, this time together with the Centre for the Promotion of Disarmament and Non-Proliferation and the University of Bradford of England.

It is our intention in the agenda for today's and tomorrow's workshop to have a comprehensive discussion among governmental and nongovernmental experts on the Register itself, as well as on various related issues in the area of transparency in armaments.

In their deliberations during the session the day after tomorrow, that is the workshop's last day, governmental experts are expected to continue discussions centering on how the Register should be improved for the future.

These three days of meetings will cover quite a number of issues, and among them, there may be some issues for which it is difficult to reach full agreement among the participants.

A difficult issue will be whether the scope of the Register should be expanded to include military holdings, or procurement through domestic production, or both of them.

For our part, Japan supports this kind of expansion, because it can clearly enhance the effectiveness and credibility of the Register itself as a confidence-building measure.

At the same time, since this matter is obviously directly related to the security policies of each country, we also consider it important to adopt a realistic approach that will bring about gradual and step-by-step expansion of the Register.

This workshop aims at promoting active and frank discussions among governmental and nongovernmental experts on the Register and related issues in the area of transparency in armaments, rather than at reaching agreement on individual issues.

However, I believe such exchanges of views will greatly contribute to this year's deliberations of the U.N. Governmental Experts Group meetings which are reviewing the Register. In this sense, our workshop has real significance.

Allow me to conclude my remarks by reiterating my heartfelt wish that your discussions here may help us to strengthen and further develop the Register.

Thank you.

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