Japan and the United Nations
Address by H.E. Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan at the Sixty-Ninth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
Humankind faces serious unprecedented crises.
Now is the time for us to stand united beneath the flag of the United Nations and confront these crises together.
Japan is resolved to continue to take on great responsibility, working hand-in-hand with the international community.
The Government of Japan is putting forth its best possible efforts in the fight against the Ebola virus disease. International community should come together and address this crisis that affects directly peace and security of Africa. In this regard, Japan has strongly supported the adoption of the Security Council resolution 2177 as one of the co-sponsors. Japan has also supported the initiative of His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, and His Excellency Mr. Sam Kahamba Kutesa, President of the General Assembly, for establishing the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response.
At TICAD V, Japan held for African development last year, the Government of Japan announced to set aside 500 million dollars to address health issues in Africa, and to launch training programs for some 120,000 health and medical service providers. As a response to the Ebola outbreak, we have sent Japanese experts highly knowledgeable and experienced as members of WHO missions. We have also extended a total amount of 5 million dollars as financial assistance and will provide 500,000 personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. Furthermore, we pledge to extend an additional assistance of a total of 40 million dollars in the future.
We continue to be prepared to take any other measures, including the possibility of sending more experts to Africa and sharing a promising potential drug, developed by Japan’s Toyama Chemical Company and Fujifilm Holdings Corporation, which can be effective in the post-exposure phase of Ebola.
Mr. President, the Middle East is in a state of unrest. In particular, Japan regards the activities of ISIL, which extends across national borders and has declared unilaterally the establishment of a so-called “state,” to be a serious threat to international order. What is important now is preventing extremism from taking root while also responding swiftly to the region’s humanitarian crises. To assist in this regard, Japan will implement 50 million dollars of emergency assistance right away.
Mr. President, placing great importance on the stability of Ukraine, Japan swiftly announced economic assistance of up to 1.5 billion dollars in March, which is now being implemented. We are also preparing new assistance for the reconstruction of the eastern part of Ukraine.
Mr. President, next year will be a momentous year for the United Nations. We will celebrate its 70th anniversary. At the time the U.N. came into being, Japan was recovering from having been reduced to ashes. Since then, Japan has never for a moment forgotten the horrors of war. We set out along its postwar path abhorring the atrocities of war that brought tragedy to innocent people both at home and in other nations renewing its pledge towards peace. We have made a wholehearted commitment to shoulder U.N. responsibilities at home and abroad.
Japan’s future lies in a straight extension of our history over the past 70 years. Our pledge never to wage war is something that will be handed down and fostered by the Japanese people for generation upon generation to come.
Peace will take root only when conflicts are deprived of places to reside within our hearts and our way of life. That is precisely why Japan is working to continue taking action at the grass-roots level around the world.
Japan has been, is now, and will continue to be a force providing momentum for proactive contributions to peace. Moreover, I wish to state and pledge first of all that Japan is a nation that has worked to eliminate the “war culture” from people’s hearts and will spare no efforts to continue doing so.
As early as the mid-1980’s, Japan launched cooperation in Gaza to foster human resources. A total of more than 400 administrative officials and technical experts have come to Japan to receive intensive training.
One of them is Mr. Najjar Osama, a young man serving as an official with the Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority. He said, “Gaza has no natural resources whatsoever. The only thing we have is people, a situation the same as Japan’s. What I learned in Japan is the spirit of never, ever giving up.”
After being educated in Japan for a month, Najjar Osama brought solar power technology back to his hometown, to be attached to the facility in greatest need of a stand-alone power system.
The equipment that he and his colleagues introduced to the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip has endured the unrest and kept the lights on in the hospital’s emergency room.
It is perhaps more than just a coincidence that the Somalia story I wish to tell you about also relates to lighting.
The most important thing for Hamidah Hassan, a girl of ten living in the camps for internally displaced persons in Mogadishu, was lighting to illuminate the camp’s tents at night. A lit tent acts as a deterrent for sexual violence.
Over the past two years, Japan has distributed to internally displaced persons, including young girls such as Hamidah, some 2,500 small lanterns made by Panasonic that bank electricity generated from sunlight during the day and convert it to lamplight at night. Hamidah is now working hard, dreaming one day that she will become a doctor.
We must continue to clear away anxiety and fear from people’s hearts and cull away any shoots of hatred. Japan and the Japanese people will continue to do our best to offer our own willingness and capacity, knowledge and experience, in order to make that a reality.
First and foremost, we will continue to assist in enhancing education that will form the basis for economic growth for those who need it, from primary education to vocational training. Our aim always is to have the joy of work become internalized into people’s nature. We hope for people to realize keenly that the sweat their labor brings about is an investment in the future.
Expanding roads, as well as ports and increasingly connected power grids, together with effective governance fully in step with these improvements, will help bring about an affluent and peaceful society that values human rights.
When this concept receives broad-based support, people become the owners of their society in the truest sense of the word.
It is to expand this kind of society from a point to a line, and from a line to a plane, Japan has always sought the foundations for peace. We have focused our philosophy on ODA always using this approach.
The banner of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” borne by the Japanese Government is a flag planted atop the natural development of conviction and self-confidence that we have acquired through many years of promoting “human security,” that is, working as hard as we could for the development of society that places people front and center.
We will carry on with our work, hoping to create in time a fair and just society that places human beings front and center and a democracy that values human rights.
Seventy years ago, the United Nations proclaimed its determination, “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and “practice tolerance.”
The UN must not depart from these ideals.
Mr. President, distinguished delegates, it is with exactly this determination that Japan aspires to join the Security Council once more as a non-permanent member at the election next year, marking the 70th year of the start of the UN.
Over the 58 long years since Japan’s accession to the UN in 1956 as its 80th member, Japan has worked tirelessly for the causes of the UN. We believe that our efforts have been second to none.
It is my wish, with the 70th anniversary as a turning point, countries sharing the same aims all work together to finally resolve a long-standing issue to reform the UN in a way that reflects the realities of the 21st century.
In that context, Japan seeks to become a permanent member of the Security Council, and take on an appropriate role that the status requires.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it was on the same occasion last year that I spoke of the significance and importance of enhancing the power of women and appealed for us to create a society in which women shine.
Japan has now begun to work towards resolving the numerous issues we face together with private industries to increase women’s participation in society as soon as possible.
We must foster environments in which it is possible to balance child care and nursing care on the one hand and work on the other. In addition, eliminating biases about the roles of women that still exist in society will be basic, more so than anything else.
We have just held a large-scale international conference with an aim to promoting dynamic participation of women. With an eye set on economic development and the resolution of global issues, about 100 leaders from all sectors of society from around the world sent out a message to the world of their commitment to bringing the power of women to fruition.
In less than a year, the empowerment of women has become a guiding principle that has driven Japan’s policies both domestically and overseas.
Japan has focused on advancing the status of girls and mothers in Africa, a region that receives emphasis within our foreign aid.
The 20th century had a history of profound harm to women’s honor and dignity when conflicts broke out.
Around the globe, we still find abhorrent circumstances in which women are unable to have access to such basic services as medical care and education merely because they were born female, thereby depriving them of opportunities to be self-reliant.
Japan seeks to be a country that walks alongside such women throughout the world. We intend to encourage and support throughout the world the self-reliance of women whose hearts have suffered grievous harm.
We intend to make the 21st century a world with no human rights violations against women. Japan will stand at the fore and lead the international community in eliminating sexual violence during conflicts.
Herein lies the reason for Japan to reinforce its cooperation with Ms. Zainab Bangura’s Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Fundamental rights such as education and health must be ensured everywhere throughout the world. It is necessary for the U.N. and indeed the world to come together as one to take action so that girls and boys can attend school equally, and that expectant mothers can receive medical care with peace of mind.
Moreover, in order for women to lead lives full of pride and hope I consider it essential to grow their ability to be economically self-reliant above all else. I do not have the slightest doubt that the creation of a society in which women shine holds the key to changing the entirety of society.
Last year I pledged in my address here at the General Assembly that Japan would implement assistance in excess of 3 billion dollars over three years aimed chiefly at advancing the status of women. The amount already implemented over this past year is 1.8 billion dollars, more than half the amount pledged.
I also stated that, “Japan respects the activities of U.N. Women that is responsible for women’s issues within the United Nations. We intend to become one of its leading contributors and thus a model country in the area.” Over the past year, Japan increased its contributions to U.N. Women fivefold, and in the future we will further increase the number of projects we support. We are also very pleased that next year, U.N. Women will open its Tokyo office. I expect that Japan will further enhance its coordination with the UN through this new office.
Mr. President, distinguished delegates, as we draw up the post-2015 development agenda, Japan will continue to be as strongly involved as it has been up till now. However, I strongly urge that if we are to truly pursue the attainment of inclusiveness, sustainability, and resilience as put forth in that agenda, then it is the protection and empowerment of the vulnerable, irrespective of race, gender, or age that is important.
This year Japan marks the 60th anniversary of the beginning of our ODA. Learning from the determination of our predecessors, who began working to extend ODA a mere nine years after suffering total devastation in war, the Government of Japan is now in the process of establishing new guiding principles for our ODA. We intend to emphasize once more as a priority, objectives such as high-quality economic growth, ensuring the rule of law, and realizing a peaceful and stable society.
The objectives that Japan has constantly targeted within its ODA over these 60 years will not change in the slightest. There will be no change in our deeply-rooted approach in which the most important thing in the fight against poverty is cultivating a sense of ownership among the people concerned and encouraging self-help efforts. Nor will there be any changes in our efforts to fully ensure human security. Moreover, as we pursue enhancing the power of women as the leverage point, I consider the attainment of our goals to be that much more within reach.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, over the past 20 years, Japan has sent a total of about 9,700 people on 13 U.N. peacekeeping operations. In the ten years since the U.N. Peacebuilding Commission was established, Japan’s contributions to the Peacebuilding Fund have surpassed 40 million dollars. In the future, we intend to cultivate still further our human resources in terms of both quantity and quality, to contribute to the area of peacebuilding.
As the only country to have ever suffered the devastation of atomic bombings during wartime, Japan is prepared to lead discussions at the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to be convened next year, the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings.
With regard to North Korea, Japan will work in coordination with relevant countries towards the comprehensive resolution of outstanding issues, including abduction, nuclear, and missile issues.
Japan has been among the biggest beneficiaries of the United Nations. Going forward, we will work even harder than ever to bring about the realization of the principles that the U.N. has set forth. Japan is a nation that implements its pledges without fail.
With this, I will end my discussion. Thank you very much.