Opening Statement by State Secretary for Foreign Affairs
at the Reception for Celebration and the Universalization
of the Convention on Cluster Munitions

March 26, 2010

H.E. Mr. Walther, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway to Japan,
Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to extend a cordial welcome to you who are present today at the reception for celebration and the universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Japan concluded the Convention in July last year. Since then Japan encouraged countries that have not concluded the Convention to ratify it as soon as possible. To our delight, it was confirmed that the Convention would enter into force on 1st August this year. On the occasion, Foreign Minister Okada made an announcement welcoming its entry into force. It is my great pleasure to be able to celebrate the confirmation of the entry into force together with you all.

This Convention is also known as "Oslo Convention", because the process of negotiation on the treaty was started by Oslo Declaration in 2007, and the Signing Ceremony was held in December 2008 also in Oslo. By taking this opportunity, I commend the contribution of those countries that facilitated the creation of the Convention, including Norway for their strong initiatives throughout the process.

Two years ago, Norway and other like-minded countries including Japan, have adopted the Convention, based on the shared recognition on the urgent needs to respond to the grave humanitarian concerns. It was an epoch-making event from the perspectives of international humanitarian law. Last month the Convention's entry into force was finally confirmed. Again, I wish to pay tribute to the efforts and contributions of States and NGOs for enabling us to be here today.

Japan has been extending assistance for demining and clearance of unexploded ordnances including cluster munitions. The total assistance in these areas since 1998 amounts to 390 million USD in 40 countries and areas. Japan will continue such contributions, paying special attention to the assistance for victims. In addition to these efforts, Japan has been encouraging countries that have not yet concluded the Convention, especially those in the Asia-Pacific region, to ratify it. Towards the 1st Conference of States Parties to the Convention held in Lao PDR in November, in collaboration with other countries already ratified the Convention and civil society, Japan will continue its efforts to promote the universalization of the Convention to gain the largest number of participation possible.

Today at this reception, Mr. Maythong Thammavongsa from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lao PDR will talk about the impact of cluster munitions on Lao PDR, the heaviest affected country of cluster munitions and host country of the 1st Conference of States Parties later. After his presentation, Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR) will give us a presentation on assistance activities carried out in the affected areas where the voices on the ground needs to be heard. Today's reception aims at promoting universalization. I would like to encourage all delegates from those countries that have not yet concluded the Convention to be more aware of the concerns caused by cluster munitions and to facilitate the ratification process in their home countries.

Thank you very much.

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