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Statement by H.E. Mr. Yoshiyuki Motomura
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
At the Meeting of the Second Committee
Fifty-eighth Session of the General Assembly

6 October 2003

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

First of all, I would like to congratulate Your Excellency and the other members of the bureau on assuming your pivotal roles in managing the Second Committee at this session of the General Assembly.

At the high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council held in Geneva this summer, Ms. Shinako Tsuchiya, then Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan, clearly expressed Japan's view that "community empowerment" and "good governance," as well as robust, broad-based, and equitable growth, are necessary in order to reduce world poverty. My statement today is in the same spirit.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me start by briefly touching upon the domestic economic situation of my country, as this will help to explain Japan's policy on international development. Many Japanese people are today in difficult straits due to the economic stagnation and recessions that have buffeted us since the nineties. My Government, led by Prime Minister Koizumi, has been making the utmost effort to carry out a structural reform of the economy in the belief that this is indispensable to a recovery. This effort, based as it is on the determination of the Government, seems to be producing results. In the second quarter of this year we achieved 3.9 percent growth, and the forecast for the year 2003 is for growth significantly greater than in 2002 and 2001.

We are nevertheless still struggling to achieve a stable economic recovery, and the people of Japan feel that we should review our policies, internal and external, with a view to having reform produce concrete results. Recently, the Government of Japan revised the ODA Charter, first approved by the Cabinet in 1992 and the foundation of Japan's aid policy for more than ten years. The revision has as its aim enhancing the strategic value, flexibility, transparency, and efficiency of ODA. It also has the aim of encouraging wide public participation, and of deepening the understanding of Japan's ODA policies both within Japan and abroad. The salient points of the new Charter are :(1) the objective of Japan's ODA is clearly defined as "to contribute to the peace and development of the international community, and thereby to help ensure Japan's own security and prosperity;" (2) poverty reduction and peace-building, among other issues, are identified as priorities;(3) Asia, which has close relations with Japan and can have a major impact on Japan's stability and prosperity, is designated a priority region; and (4) the perspective of human security, which focuses on individuals, is included in all basic policies. In addition, Japan will pursue collaboration with United Nations organizations and other stakeholders to enhance partnership with the international community.

African development continues to be a central issue for the international community. My Government has redoubled its efforts in that area, with the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) continuing to serve as a framework for the concrete assistance we provide, principally in the economic and development fields. My Government just hosted TICAD III from 29 September to 1 October, with the participation of 23 heads of State or heads of Government and many ministers, and it concluded with the adoption of the TICAD Tenth Anniversary Declaration. My Government on that occasion announced an initiative to extend US$1 billion in assistance in areas that directly benefit people. I would like once again to express our sincere thanks to all the countries that participated so actively in TICAD III for their valuable contributions. "Ownership and partnership" has been the central concept underlying TICAD since its inception in 1993. Japan hopes that both African countries and their development partners further develop this concept through NEPAD and other forums as they intensify their efforts to increase assistance to African countries.

At TICAD III, we reaffirmed our recognition of the vulnerability of many African countries, and this reminds us of the vulnerability of other groups, such as the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing States. My delegation appreciates the outcome of the Almaty International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and the Donor Community on Transit Transport. This was a historical step, in that the international community for the first time produced concrete documents on landlocked developing countries and the issues that affect them at such a high level.

Mr. Chairman,

Sustainable development is among the items that the Second Committee must take up with a sense of urgency.

Japan is of the view that disaster reduction is an essential requirement for achievement of overarching objectives of sustainable development. It is also highly important in terms of carrying out the WSSD Plan of Implementation, as well as follow-up to the Ministerial Conference of the 3rd World Water Forum. In line with the WSSD Plan of Implementation, the members of the international community must redouble their efforts to cooperate and jointly combat national disasters. My delegation would like to propose, in close consultation with other delegations, that the General Assembly adopt a resolution enabling the UN to hold a World Conference on Disaster Reduction in order to conclude the review of the Yokohama Strategy and formulate a new strategy including appropriate policy measures for the 21st century. If this proposal is accepted, Japan would like to host the conference in Kobe in January 2005.

Education is another key issue, and one on which Japan puts great emphasis as a means of promoting sustainable development. Whether future generations will be able to inherit a world free of environmental degradation depends on the wisdom of our generation and the awareness of our children. Hence the importance of education. My Government remains determined to promote the decade of education for sustainable development and, also this year would like to propose a draft resolution containing this initiative. We hope to receive broad, continuing support for this action.

Last but not least, my delegation wishes to briefly touch upon the important step that the General Assembly has taken in assigning responsibility to the Second Committee for discussing reform of its agenda. The Secretary-General described quite frankly what we face in this Committee by pointing out "an agenda crowded with items that either overlap or are of interest to only a few States," "repetitive and sterile debates which crowd out the items that really matter," and "decisions, once reached, that command little or no attention beyond the confines of the GA Chamber." We should be courageous enough to address the issue of reforming our work, so that resolutions produced in this room can have an impact on the real world. Otherwise I fear that the United Nations' role in the economic field will become less and less relevant to the outside world except for the activities of its funds and programmes.

I thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

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