Madam President,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please accept my congratulations, Madam President, on your assumption of the Presidency of the 61st session of the General Assembly. I wish you every success. I would also like to pay high tribute to, His Excellency Mr. Jan Eliasson, for his outstanding leadership during the last session.

Japan's sincere thanks also go to Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his dedication and many achievements in leading the work of this organization over the past decade.

Japan welcomes the accession of the Republic of Montenegro to the United Nations as its 192nd member.

Madam President,

Fifty years ago, in December 1956, from this very podium, then Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Mamoru Shigemitsu expressed the nation's great honor and delight at becoming the 80th member of the United Nations and declared Japan's firm determination to contribute to the high goals of this organization.

Since then, Japan as a nation committed to peace, has worked hard in promoting disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, supporting the undertakings of the United Nations for peace and stability in the world such as peacekeeping operations, and contributing to world development and prosperity. The Japanese people take pride in these contributions they have made over the years in the United Nations.

The challenges we face today differ significantly from those of fifty years ago. Yet the common goals of humanity that the United Nations has strived for - peace, development and human rights - remain unchanged. Japan reaffirms the commitment it made at the time of its accession, and, building on its experiences since then, will rededicate its efforts to achieve those goals.

Madam President,

As Member States, we are held responsible, not only for the actions we take, but also for our inaction. Within the United Nations, it is the Security Council that bears the responsibility of delivering swift and decisive action in the face of a crisis. This summer, the ability of the international community to mount a collective response through the Security Council was tested on several occasions. Let me cite three major events on which the Council acted: the ballistic missile launches by the DPRK, Iran's nuclear-related problem and conflict in Lebanon.

After the launch of ballistic missiles by the DPRK on 4 July, the Security Council, in a unanimous decision in resolution 1695, sent a firm message, on behalf of the entire international community, condemning this reprehensible act. In accordance with this resolution, all Member States are now required to take concrete action as specified therein, and call strongly on the DPRK to implement this resolution, fully and without delay. In that connection, Japan introduced on 19 September a set of measures for prevention of the transfer of financial resources to the DPRK, in addition to its long-standing strict export control measures.

Furthermore, Japan will continue to make its utmost efforts so that the DPRK's nuclear issue and abduction issue will be resolved comprehensively and in accordance with the Pyongyang Declaration of 2002.

With regard to Iran's nuclear issue, it is our belief that the adoption of resolution 1696 will serve as an important step towards a peaceful settlement of this issue through diplomatic negotiations. Japan strongly urges Iran to comply fully with the resolution by promptly suspending all enrichment-related activities, and to return to the negotiation process.

Concerning the recent crisis in Lebanon, Japan welcomes the adoption of resolution 1701 by the Security Council and supports the efforts underway for its implementation. At the same time, the protracted negotiating process for this resolution has reminded us, once again, of the importance of the ability of the Council to respond, swiftly as well as comprehensively, in such a crisis situation. This is never an easy task, but we must always strive to fulfill these requirements.

In response to some of these recent events affecting international peace and security, the Council succeeded in arriving at concrete decisions for the Member States to act upon. Japan is pleased to have played a proactive role in this process as a member on the Council, and we intend to cooperate closely with other Member States in following up on these resolutions.

Madam President,

In countries and regions emerging from conflict, the key to realizing sustainable peace and prosperity lies in consolidation of peace and laying the foundations for nation-building. It is encouraging to see the ongoing, concerted efforts of the international community for peace consolidation and nation-building in a number of countries and regions.

Iraq is one such country. Though currently still in the grip of great hardships, we have every confidence that Iraq will overcome them, develop as a democratic and stable state, and prosper as a responsible member of the international community. The International Compact with Iraq, which aims at forging a new mode of partnership between Iraq and the international community, will help accelerate the country's reconstruction. Japan intends to fully take part in those international endeavors.

In Afghanistan, Japan has also been an active supporter and a leading donor for the reconstruction and development. We have led the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) efforts in collaboration with the United Nations, and, upon the successful completion of the DDR process, are now taking the lead in the projects for disbandment of illegal armed groups (DIAG).

With regard to Timor-Leste, Japan hopes that the newly established UN mission will effectively support the country's nation-building efforts. As the lead country on Timor-Leste in the Security Council, Japan will continue to take the initiative to promote peace and stability and achieve the early restoration of law and order in that country.

In Africa, as a whole, we begin to see the continent moving towards less conflict and greater peace. The ministerial conference on consolidation of peace, held under the framework of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in February this year, not only made an intellectual contribution to the understanding of peace consolidation, but also strengthened the will and solidarity of African states for peacebuilding. Japan, for its part, has been expanding assistance for consolidation of peace in Africa, with particular focus on Sudan, the Great Lakes Region and West Africa.

Against such a backdrop, the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission represents a significant milestone in the history of the United Nations. We must ensure that the Commission's work will be translated into tangible, practical value added to peacebuilding efforts in countries recovering from conflict, and that it will thus help make a difference on the ground. Burundi and Sierra Leone, the first two countries on the agenda of the Commission, will provide the test cases, in which we must not fail. Japan has contributed 20 million dollars to the Peacebuilding Fund and intends to make an active contribution in the work of the Commission.

Post-conflict peacebuilding also requires knowledge and expertise in a wide range of fields, from ceasefire monitoring and refugee assistance, administrative or judicial institution-building, to reconstruction and development. Japanese experts have been working in Asian countries to assist their peacebuilding efforts, such as the formulation of legal and judicial systems. In order to strengthen Japan's cooperation in this area even further, Japan is now considering concrete measures to train civilians not only from Japan but also from other Asian countries. We envisage that, one day, those who have been trained in Japan will find themselves working side by side as fellow peacebuilders, including, for example, in Africa.

Madam President,

Regional conflicts continue to pose serious challenges. In addition, Secretary-General Annan is concerned about, as he pointed out earlier from this podium, "those who seem eager to foment a new war of religion." While poverty remains the main scourge in many developing countries, globalization has also brought to the fore transnational issues such as terrorism, infectious diseases and environmental degradation. It is clear that the international community still has a long way to go to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In tackling these issues, a spirit of tolerance, compassion and closer international cooperation is indispensable, and a strengthened United Nations must be at the center of the concerted efforts of the international community. At the same time, new concepts should also propel these efforts.

Japan has advocated the importance of "human security" as a concept that stresses the protection of individuals from threats to their life and dignity, as well as the value of their individual empowerment. Together with other interested countries, we will promote human security and the approach based on it during this General Assembly session.

Respect for the ownership of developing countries, based on good governance, should be another pillar, along with human security, guiding the strategy for reducing poverty through economic growth.

Under these principles, Japan intends to enhance its development assistance to achieve the MDGs, by faithfully implementing the commitments made last year to increase the volume of its ODA by 10 billion dollars over a period of five years and to double its ODA to Africa over a period of three years. On trade, Japan will make its utmost efforts for the early resumption and successful conclusion of the WTO Doha Round negotiations.

Close international cooperation is vital in our fight against terrorism. In this regard, Japan welcomes the adoption of the General Assembly resolution on the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and calls for the early conclusion of the negotiation on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

Health is another area in which Japan has worked extensively in cooperation with the international community, including in the efforts against avian and pandemic influenza and HIV/AIDS. Japan recognizes the importance of the activities of the World Health Organization (WHO), and, will further strengthen its cooperation with the organization, particularly in Africa.

As is often emphasized, peace, development and human rights are linked and complement one another. Japan's own experience in the 60 years since the Second World War is eloquent testimony to this point. We hold high expectations for the newly created Human Rights Council to open a new page in the promotion of respect for human rights, and as a member Japan will play a constructive role in the Council. Japan also supports the early adoption of the Conventions against Enforced Disappearance and on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Madam President,

The United Nations has heavy responsibilities in today's and tomorrow's world as an indispensable global instrument for resolving conflicts, building peace, addressing emerging global threats and laying the foundation for prosperity. To fulfill such a mission, it must be efficient and effective, as well as accountable and broadly representative in its decisions and operations. Reform of the Organization's structure and the manner in which it functions is therefore critically important.

In September last year, world leaders expressed their resolve to achieve comprehensive reform of this universal body. One year on, some encouraging progress has been made, including the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council. However, reform of the Security Council remains outstanding on the institutional reform agenda.

Perhaps a limited few may find it in their interest to leave the Security Council configured in the way it was in 1945. It is clear, however, that no one stands to gain from the waning credibility of the Council that failure to reform it could entail. The need for a more effective, representative and transparent Security Council that can live up to the demands of the new century is not a mere rhetoric but it is real and urgent. An overwhelming majority of the Member States including Japan agree that the international community should carry the reform through with a sense of urgency, and Japan is determined to continue to take the initiative in this critical endeavor. The Member States now need a new proposal - one that is both creative and persuasive - in order to take an early decision during the current session of the General Assembly.

At the same time, other important areas for reform must also be addressed. We need concrete results in management reform if we are to demonstrate that the United Nations is capable of reforming itself. It is also Japan's hope that there will be a constructive dialogue on the question of UN system-wide coherence, based on the report of the High-level Panel to be issued later this year.

In this connection, I would also remind the Member States that world leaders resolved last year to delete the long obsolete "enemy state" clauses from the United Nations Charter. This is another indication that the United Nations is ready to depart from the past and step into the new era.

Having made a significant contribution to the activities of the United Nations since its accession, Japan has had an exemplary record with regard to the fulfillment of its duties as a Member State, including assessed contributions. Nevertheless, Japan does strongly believe that the United Nations needs a reformed scale of assessments structure, one that is more equitable and fair, duly taking into account the status and responsibilities of each Member State. Japan will work together with other Member States to formulate such a structure, which will bring financial stability to this organization.

Our common task for the sixty-first session is to continue our work and translate those decisions on reform made at the World Summit into reality. Let us join forces once again, to create an efficient and effective United Nations, so that Member States can better respond to the aspirations and expectations of the international community for a better future.

Thank you very much.

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