(As delivered)


14 October 2003

Mr. President,

Let me first of all thank the former President of the General Assembly, H. E. Mr. Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic, for his effort to efficiently conduct the work of the Open-ended Working Group on Security Council reform in the last session. I also express my gratitude to Ambassador Ingolfsson of Iceland and Ambassador Kasemusarn of Thailand for preparing a comprehensive report of the Working Group. It is a pity that we are losing these able colleagues from the Working Group as both Ambassadors are leaving New York. I sincerely wish them success in their future endeavors.

Mr. President,

In the process of discussion of the situation in Iraq since last year, questions have been raised as to the effectiveness of the Security Council with regard to its primary role of maintaining international peace and security. These questions added greater momentum to the discussion on the need for Security Council reform than we have seen before. In his address to member countries at the opening of the General Debate of this session of General Assembly, Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated, "If you want the Council's decisions to command greater respect, particularly in the developing world, you need to address the issue of its composition with greater urgency." Statements from Member States followed in the General Debate, and more than two-thirds of them touched upon the need for United Nations reforms including that of the Security Council. That figure strongly indicates the increasing momentum on this issue.

Mr. President,

On reviewing the discussions in the Working Group that started 10 years ago, it is regrettable that we do not see any significant progress or any way out of the deadlock, despite the fact that the necessary elements to reach general agreement on Security Council reform are already on the table. Former President Kavan stated in his summary of the responses to the informal questionnaire that, "with one exception, all Member States that responded found the movement of the Working Group unsatisfactory." Japan also expresses its strong dissatisfaction with the current lack of progress of the Working Group. We have to recognize that most of responsibility for this stalemate lies with the Working Group itself.

Leaving the current situation as it is will call into question the ability of the United Nations to adjust itself to changes in the world. As the Working Group is the only body that was established by the General Assembly to discuss Security Council reform, we must make our utmost effort to achieve concrete result in the Working Group during this session. If we cannot make any progress in the next Working Group meeting, Japan thinks that it may be necessary to review the way the Working Group manages its discussions. In this connection, Japan looks forward to the leadership of the new President, Mr. Julian Hunte, as the Chairman of the next Working Group and its new Bureau. I would also like to add that Japan will try its best to present new ideas to assist in the process and to promote discussion in the Working Group.

Mr. President,

I would be remiss if I fail to mention the Secretary-General's initiative to establish a High-Level Panel of eminent personalities. Japan supports the initiative of the Secretary-General and will be following those developments with great interest. Although it is the Member States that can take the firm and clear decisions, as the Secretary-General pointed out in the above-mentioned address, I expect substantive recommendations to be issued with regard to United Nations reforms that addresses reform of the Security Council in particular. Japan intends to make as much contribution as possible to this initiative.

The Secretary-General also makes a strong case for United Nations reform in his report entitled, "Implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration." He proposes that we set 2005 as a deadline for reaching agreement on the changes that are needed in our international institutions if they are to meet the new challenges, because 2005 not only marks the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations but is also the year in which a review of progress on the Millennium Declaration will take place. Japan takes this proposal very seriously. Japan is of the view, as our Minister for Foreign Affairs Ms. Yoriko Kawaguchi mentioned in her statement at the General Debate on the 23rd of the last month, that a political decision should be taken on the occasion of such review, by holding a meeting of heads of states and governments, regarding the reform of the United Nations and that of the Security Council in particular.

Mr. President,

The perpetuation of the same basic structure of the Security Council of sixty years ago leads many to question the legitimacy of the system under which the United Nations operates. I would like to urge that all member states take concrete action to strengthen the functioning of this organization and thereby restore its legitimacy. Japan reiterates its determination to play a positive role toward that end.

Thank you very much, Mr. President

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