Statement by Mr. Ryuji Yamane Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan

Conference on Disarmament
Geneva, 28 February 2012


Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Distinguished representatives,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honor for me to be given this opportunity to address the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in this historic chamber. I welcome the efforts of the President to pull the CD out of its years of deadlock and to revitalize its work.

Just under one year ago, Japan suffered the unprecedented disaster of the Great East Japan Earthquake. On this occasion, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the assistance given by the international community as a symbol of warm solidarity. This disaster led Japan to once again recognize the significance of our global bonds of friendship. In response to the support from all over the world, Japan, based on its historical experience, will continue to contribute to the creation of a peaceful and stable international society through disarmament.

Mr. President,

The Prague speech in 2009 by President Barack Obama of the United States increased momentum for nuclear disarmament. In the same year, the CD adopted a programme of work and agreed to a mandate on each of its core agenda items of nuclear disarmament, a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons purposes (FMCT), negative security assurances (NSAs), and the prevention of an arms race in outer-space (PAROS). Despite this progress, the CD, which has produced important disarmament treaties in the past, has remained in stalemate. This has been a cause for concern for the whole world. I am aware of the various attempts to overcome this situation. In 2010 the Secretary-General of the United Nations convened a high-level meeting to revitalize the CD and in last year’s United Nations General Assembly three draft resolutions on the revitalization of this body were submitted. The subject of how to move the CD forward has generated vigorous debate, but an effective breakthrough solution has yet to be found.

While there is deeply rooted opposition to taking multilateral disarmament negotiations outside the CD, there is the possibility that the primary agenda items handled by the Conference could be discussed or negotiated elsewhere if this year again the Conference fails to adopt and implement a programme of work that enables the commencement of substantive work. If the CD is unable to promptly start negotiations on an FMCT, despite the support and the common recognition by the international community that it is the next step in multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, then the whole raison d’être of the Conference will be called into question. From this perspective, this year is of critical importance. I would like to stress to all the members of the Conference on Disarmament the necessity of sharing broadly at the political level the sense of urgency and of overcoming the current state of affairs as soon as possible.

Mr. President,

Please allow me to touch upon the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime. Japan attaches great importance to maintaining and strengthening the NPT regime as a multilateral effort toward nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. From this year the 2015 NPT review process will begin, and progress that balances the three pillars of the Treaty, namely nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, is imperative for maintaining and strengthening the NPT regime. It was with this in mind that Japan and Australia jointly launched as a contribution to the NPT review process the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), which is a cross regional group of ten countries. The NPDI makes realistic proposals for the realization of a world without nuclear weapons. To date, three ministerial level meetings have taken place and the next one will be in Turkey this April. At the upcoming meeting we intend to express our political will for the steady implementation of the 2010 NPT action plan and also to put forward concrete proposals to that end.

Mr. President,

Japan has devoted itself to disarmament and non-proliferation education in the belief that we must pass on knowledge to future generations about the catastrophic reality of nuclear weapons. In this connection, Japan has decided to hold jointly with the United Nations University “the Global Forum on Disarmament and Non-proliferation Education”, which was postponed due to the Great East Japan Earthquake, in the City of Nagasaki on 10 and 11 August this year. Our aim is to contribute to the development of further efforts and to promote cooperation and a common understanding of the importance of disarmament and non-proliferation education with the participation of governments, international organizations, and civil society. We welcome the participation of distinguished delegates of the CD to this forum as well as to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremonies.

Mr. President,

Finally, in November last year a permanent exhibition on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which is similar to the one in New York, was opened here in the United Nations Office at Geneva. We hope that it promotes understanding of the terrible devastation caused by the use of nuclear weapons and further deepens the recognition of the necessity of strengthened disarmament efforts by the whole international community. I wish to express my gratitude to the staff of the United Nations, including Mr. Tokayev, Secretary-General of the CD and Mr. Chikvaidze, Chief Librarian at the United Nations, for their work to bring the atomic bomb exhibition to fruition.

I thank you, Mr. President.

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