Statement by H.E. Mr. Jiro Kodera
Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations

at the Meeting of the Heads of State or Government of Landlocked Developing Countries
Havana, Cuba
14 September 2006

Mr. President,
Your Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,

First of all, I would like to congratulate all concerned for holding this first-ever Meeting of the Heads of State or Government of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs). I would also like to pay tribute to the Chair of the Group, the Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, for its initiative in convening the meeting, and express my sincere appreciation to the Government of Cuba for graciously acting as host.

It is a truly great honor and privilege for me to participate in this high-level meeting on behalf of the Government of Japan.

Mr. President,

I am proud to say that Japan has consistently attached great importance to the international effort to accommodate the serious challenges LLDCs have been facing. It has actively participated in LLDC meetings since the first Ministerial Conference of Landlocked Developing Countries and Transit Developing Countries was held in 2003. It has also long provided development assistance to LLDCs in various forms.

Last year, Prime Minister Koizumi announced that Japan intended to increase its ODA volume by an aggregate US $10 billion over the next five years and double ODA to Africa over the next three years. And at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong, Foreign Minister Aso declared that Japan would make a ten-billion-dollar contribution to infrastructure-building efforts around the world and that it would introduce duty-free and quota-free market access for essentially all LDC products. We firmly believe that assistance of this kind will contribute significantly to development in LLDCs.

Mr. President,

The Almaty Programme of Action is the most important roadmap the international community has for addressing the challenges facing LLDCs, namely, the lack of fully developed transportation systems and inefficient trade procedures. These are complex issues, and both international and regional cooperation are needed to resolve them. For its part, in line with the two main pillars of its policy on development assistance, reducing poverty through economic growth and human-centered development, it has made numerous contributions to the implementation of the Programme in the areas of rule-making, infrastructure and capacity-building and will continue to do so. I would like to take this opportunity to mention some recent efforts my Government has made in these areas.

First, Japan has been working to realize the early resumption of WTO negotiations on the Doha Development Agenda because it fully recognizes the importance of facilitating trade, particularly, for LLDCs.

One of the main purposes of today's meeting is to raise awareness within the international community of the need to speed up the rule-making process. I think that this meeting itself is very timely, as it will help build political momentum for restarting the Doha process. Japan stands ready to participate in all international efforts to that end.

Second, Japan provides ODA grants and concessional loans to assist in the creation of infrastructure such as roads and bridges and the improvement of regional transportation networks. It has financed, for example, the Second Mekong International Bridge Project in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank, in order to develop and upgrade the transit transport infrastructure of the Lao People's Democratic Republic and its neighboring transit developing countries. Japan considers progress in this area critical for the future of LLDCs, whose underdeveloped infrastructure imposes serious constraints on their overall development. It is for this reason that Japan puts emphasis on assistance for infrastructure-building.

Third, Japan believes that capacity-building is essential for promoting understanding among countries about the need for border crossings that operate smoothly and efficiently. For this reason, technical assistance has played a core role in Japan's assistance to LLDCs. In the recent past, Japan has conducted seminars on road administration, aviation security and railway management planning to promote regional cooperation. We will continue to support much-needed capacity-building by providing technical assistance in various forms.

Mr. President,

We are pleased to note that substantial progress has been made towards implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action. A great deal of work remains to be done, however. The lack of appropriate international rules, for example, is a major bottleneck for efforts to facilitate trade. The international community must therefore devote greater effort to this difficult task, and today's meeting makes that more likely, in my view.

Mr. President,

It is my sincere hope that this first gathering of Heads of State or Government will facilitate cooperation among LLDCs, donor countries and international financial and development institutions, invigorating the economies of every region and contributing to global economic prosperity. I am certain, for example, that this meeting will accelerate implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action. We recognize the importance of the mid-term review in this regard and look forward to discussing it further in New York. In closing, I would like to assure all members of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries that as a longtime friend, Japan will continue to support you in addressing the unique set of problems you face and will make its utmost efforts to ensure that the Almaty Programme of Action is fully implemented.

Thank you.

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