(As delivered)


10 March 2003

Mr. President,

I would like to thank you for convening this meeting on the situation in Timor-Leste. I also thank Under-Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno for his introduction of the special report of the Secretary-General.

Let me join the previous speakers in expressing my sincere condolences to the families of the five peacekeepers from the Republic of Korea, who lost their precious lives last week in the course of their service to the cause of peace in Timor-Leste.

Mr. President,

I will focus my statement today on the question of the adjustment to the downsizing plan for the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET). Up to now, international involvement in Timor-Leste has been a success story. A lot of effort has been expended, and much has been achieved in keeping the peace and building the nation. It is important that we continue to make steady efforts toward the successful completion of UNMISET's mandate by June of next year as scheduled.

The Government of Japan is concerned, however, as is the Secretary-General, over some changes we have come to witness in the internal security situation in Timor-Leste since November/December last year. We also recognize the need, in general, to adjust the configuration of the peacekeeping mission to changes in the security environment, both for the successful achievement of its mandate and for the safety and security of the peacekeepers.

As for the observations and proposals contained in the Secretary-General's special report, my Government shares his assessment that the Timorese police force is still lacking the capacity to cope effectively with civil disturbances or incidents by armed groups of such magnitude as recently erupted in Timor-Leste. We therefore consider it desirable to take special measures in the police sector, and we support the proposals for enhancing the international civilian police presence and for increasing assistance to the Timorese police force.

On the other hand, there are apparently different views among the governments concerned on the proposed measures relating to the military component of UNMISET. Such differences seem to arise from the disparate assessments of the recent incidents and the security situation in the border area, as well as the possible roles that the Timorese defense force may play. If the downsizing plan is to be modified as proposed, troop-contributing countries will have to adjust their deployment schedule; this will not be an easy task and it will require a considerable amount of time and effort on their part. Should the international involvement in the field be prolonged longer than necessary, it would not only be undesirable for the international community but could also impede the self-reliance of Timor-Leste. My Government hopes that an early decision that takes these factors into consideration will be made in a manner acceptable to all concerned.

Mr. President,

My Government fully supports the recommendation that UNMISET promote better relations with the people of Timor-Leste and greater public information capabilities in order to enhance understanding of the military component's role and to counter potential misinformation campaigns. In this context, I wish to note that the Japanese engineering unit has endeavored to establish good relations with the Timorese people through various civil assistance efforts, public information events, and training for the local population. We will continue such efforts.

Mr. President,

Lastly, I would like to stress that, as the Secretary-General has rightly pointed out, lasting stability depends on the strong political commitment of the Timor-Leste leadership to the rule of law and on its continuing efforts to strengthen governance. So long as the leaders of Timor-Leste make such earnest efforts on their own, it is incumbent upon the international community to continue to assist them. The Government of Japan, for its part, is determined to continue to extend as much assistance as it can for the consolidation of peace in Timor-Leste.

Thank you very much.

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