STATEMENT BY H.E. MR. SHIGEO UETAKE, SENIOR VICE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF JAPAN AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT
22 March 2002
It is my pleasure as the representative of the Japanese Government to speak to you today on the issue of development. I should like to express my appreciation for the efforts of the Government of Mexico as the host country, and also of the people of Mexico, for the success of this conference.
I speak here today as the representative of the world's largest donor. But in the years immediately after World War II, Japan was dependent on aid from other countries even for its food. At the time I was a junior high school student. And when I think back to that time, I confess I become rather emotional.
That Japan has been able to recover from such a plight to achieve its current prosperity is due to the heartfelt and continuing commitment to peace of every Japanese citizen, and to their search for a better life. It is the striving of every individual in a society based on a belief in the future that is the most powerful driving force behind nation-building. The foundation of Japan's development was its "ownership" of that development-that is to say, we undertook our own development with our own efforts.
Of course, Japan also amply enjoyed the benefit of "partnership" in the form of support from other countries and international organizations-the whole world joining hands in mutual support and cooperation. The Shinkansen "bullet train" railway system, known throughout the world, began operation at the time of the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 with the help of a loan from the World Bank. Perhaps I might mention here, since possibly it is not well known, that the repayment of Japan's debt to the World Bank continued until as late as 1990.
Japan understands from its own experience how important for development both ownership and partnership are. When Japan subsequently became prosperous, it embarked on a program of development aid founded on this understanding, which I am sure is still correct. Our friends in Asia, to give an example of the successful application of the principle of ownership, have achieved development. Today, Japan feels greatly encouraged when it sees its Southeast Asian friends on the way to changing their status from recipients to donors of aid. Japan has also contributed to strengthening both the ownership of African countries and partnership by the international community for Africa's development, by organizing the first Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD I) in 1993. In the latter half of 2003, we want to encourage further efforts by the international community aimed at African development by holding the TICAD III.
Now that we are in the twenty-first century, we see a widening gap between the rich and the poor as a result of advancing globalization. The climate surrounding development issues has changed significantly, affected by increasingly serious concerns about infectious diseases and environmental problems. It is our perception that in the area of development, the eradication of poverty and the promotion of sustainable growth in developing countries on the basis of good governance are of the greatest importance. At the same time, in addressing these issues, what is needed now is to intensify the efforts not only of governments-both of industrialized and developing countries-but also of all such relevant entities as international organizations, NGOs, and private-sector enterprises. In this connection, I would like to emphasize three points.
First, in order to reduce poverty and achieve successful development, setting clear goals is essential. It is important for the international community to set up firm goals, and make every possible effort to realize them so that optimum outputs can be achieved. The Millennium Development Goals set at the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000 were precisely such goals.
Particularly important, in Japan's view, for achieving these goals are the areas of education, health care, and the environment. For example, in the field of health care, Japan as the host country of the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit in 2000, stressed the importance of measures to deal with infectious diseases and at the same time announced a three-billion- dollar support program over five years which has been implemented steadily. On top of that, in the course of subsequent discussions and debate, it was decided to establish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. In this context, too, Japan has been playing a central role.
Second, nation building cannot be accomplished without sustainable growth. It is therefore necessary to make use of diverse financial resources. It goes without saying that official development assistance plays an important part in development, and Japan has up to now disbursed some 200 billion dollars in ODA to that end. Moreover, whereas the total amount of aid from the international community as a whole has declined over the past 10 years, Japan has increased its official development assistance by 49 percent. The amount disbursed for the year 2000 was 13.5 billion dollars.
On the other hand, we must not forget that private flows, which amount to three times as large as ODA, also have a significant role to play in development. Trade, too, is important, and the value of Japan's imports from developing countries is worth 200 billion dollars per annum. In advancing development, it is necessary to skillfully combine diverse resources: domestic resources, international resources (including foreign direct investments), trade, and aid. I believe that the Monterrey Consensus that we have agreed on represents an appropriate balance as regards the utilization of a variety of development resources.
Third, it is important to adopt an approach that places people at the center. The foundation for nation-building is "human resource development." Human resource development is essential if a developing country is to assert ownership of its own development. Even when the time comes at some point in the future when a developing country no longer needs aid, it will still be true that people are a country's most valuable asset. We have a duty to strengthen and enhance human resources -so important for a country's economic and social development. One example of this is a support for trade-related capacity-building. At the same time, the concept of "human security," which calls for greater importance to be attached to each individual's viewpoint and for intensifying efforts to protect the individual from such threats as poverty, environmental problems, drug abuse, and infectious diseases, all of which are growing increasingly serious -this concept, I believe, has become increasingly important.
Japan finds itself in a difficult economic situation at present. To break out of it, my Government is implementing a program of structural reform. It will resolutely carry out the necessary reforms, and once the country's economy recovers its vitality, Japan is determined to continue to play a leading role in addressing the world's development problems. On that basis, we hope to form even closer partnerships with other countries.
The terrorist attacks of last September brought home once again to all the world's people that we live on one and the same planet and share one and the same fate. Let us all work together and tackle our common task.
Back to Index