Statement by Mr. MATSUDA Iwao
Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy
at the 50th General Conference of the IAEA

18 September, 2006

1. Opening Address

Mr. President, Mr. Director General, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government of Japan, I would like to congratulate you, Mr. President, on your election as President of the 50th General Conference. I would also like to welcome the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Montenegro, the Republic of Mozambique, and the Republic of Palau, who are expected to become members of the IAEA.

On this occasion, let me offer my heartfelt congratulations to the IAEA and Director General, Dr. ElBaradei, on being awarded the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.

Mr. President,
Japan, as the only country to have suffered atomic bombings, strongly believes in its mission to appeal to the world for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. As the IAEA will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, Japan once again calls upon all countries to demonstrate their firm determination to realize a peaceful and safe world free of nuclear weapons.

Japan highly values the IAEA's activities and will continue to work closely with the Agency in various areas. Since October last year, the Resident Representative of Japan, Ambassador Amano, has been serving as the Chair of the Board of Governors. I believe this is one way, in which we have made a positive contribution to the effective functioning of the Agency.

This 50th General Conference marks the beginning of a series of events commemorating the IAEA's anniversary. I am pleased to announce that, as part of our contribution, Japan will host an IAEA symposium on nuclear energy in April next year. I hope that this symposium will be successful with the participation of a wide range of countries.

2. Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy and the IAEA

Mr. President,
In recent years, the role of nuclear energy has been re-evaluated and the momentum for the promotion of nuclear energy has grown across the globe. The use of nuclear energy needs to be promoted in a manner that fully takes into account various elements of nuclear non-proliferation, safety and security. From this perspective, the role of the IAEA has become even more important.

Japan has utilized nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, fully ensuring international confidence and maintaining high transparency through faithful implementation of its IAEA safeguards agreement for nearly 30 years. As a result, in September 2004, the implementation of integrated safeguards commenced in Japan. Japan is committed to fully cooperating with the IAEA in strict implementation of safeguards in Japan.

In October last year, Japan announced the "Framework for Nuclear Energy Policy", which lays down our basic viewpoints regarding our nuclear energy policy. Identifying nuclear energy as a key source of electricity, Japan seeks to establish the nuclear fuel cycle, while strictly limiting the use to the peaceful purposes. This policy is articulated in the Framework as Japan's basic stance. Furthermore, my country will promote research and development on FBR cycle technology which has the advantage in ensuring stable energy supply and reduction in radioactive waste, and we are prepared to share the results with the international community as a contribution on our part.

3. Strengthening of the Non-Proliferation Regime

Mr. President,
The international community needs to reinforce the NPT regime. Despite our achievements in this regard, such as the progress towards the universalization of the Additional Protocol, the amendment to the NSG Guidelines, and the establishment of the Advisory Committee on Safeguards and Verification, the NPT regime remains under strain with challenges such as the nuclear issues of the DPRK and Iran. Nuclear proliferation is a threat to international peace and security, and it directly affects the security of all nations. From this standpoint, we need to redouble our efforts to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Various proposals were made aiming at reinforcing the existing nuclear non-proliferation regime, such as the Russian initiative, the six-nation initiative, and the GNEP as a framework of international cooperation including research and development, alongside the MNA proposed by the IAEA Director General.

Japan welcomes these proposals, but bringing them forward is a challenging, yet important task. We need to examine how to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy while ensuring consistency with non-proliferation requirements. In so doing, Japan believes that due consideration should be given to questions such as whether the right of peaceful uses will not be unduly restricted, and whether additional burden will not be imposed on those countries that fully comply with relevant international rules. Japan will take part in, and contribute to international discussions at the IAEA and other forums in a constructive manner.

The assurance of nuclear fuel supply is indeed the most pressing issue that needs to be addressed. At the June Board of Governors meeting, the six-nation initiative on reliable access to nuclear fuel was brought to the attention of member states. Japan would like to propose the establishment of an "IAEA Standby Arrangements System for Nuclear Fuel Supply," with a view to complementing the contents of the six-nation initiative.

This Standby Arrangements System covers not only uranium enrichment but all phases of the whole front-end of the nuclear fuel cycle, such as uranium ore supply, conversion and fuel fabrication, uranium stock and reserve, so that many countries will be allowed to participate under certain conditions and to make contributions, while reflecting the diversity of participating countries. This will also help prevent and respond to market failure. I hope that this proposal will be our most valuable contribution.

With the preparatory process of the 2010 NPT Review Conference due to commence next year, Japan will play its part to secure the smooth launching of the process with a view to ensuring the success of the Review Conference.

4. Nuclear Issues of the DPRK and Iran

Mr. President,
While the nuclear issues of the DPRK and Iran remain as matters of immediate and grave concern, the Libyan decision to abandon its weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) provides a good precedent to follow. Last month, I paid a visit to Libya, making the first-ever visit by a Japanese cabinet minister. It is important that the international community makes a positive response to Libya's renunciation of its WMDs. The international community should demonstrate the benefits of a strategic decision to cooperate with the international community and to be a part of the global non-proliferation mainstream. We should do our utmost to extend cooperation to Libya so that Libya can become a role model for others to follow. During my visit to Libya, the Libyan leader and I confirmed our intention to strengthen bilateral relations in the future.

Nearly a year has passed since the Six-Party Talks adopted the Joint Statement last year, in which the DPRK has committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes. As is clearly mentioned in the UN Security Council Resolution 1695, we urge the DPRK to return immediately to the Six-Party Talks without precondition and to work towards the expeditious implementation of the Joint Statement. We also urge the DPRK to respond to other security and humanitarian concerns of the international community, including early resolution of the abduction issue, as is pointed out in the Chair's Summary of the G8 Summit meeting this year.

The multiple launches by the DPRK of ballistic missiles last July are closely related to the nuclear issue, given the potential of such systems to be used as a means of WMDs delivery. This act by the DPRK is a matter of grave concern to the security of Japan and to the peace and security of the international community, as well as from the perspective of non-proliferation of WMDs. Furthermore, it is a deplorable act that impedes the efforts by the countries concerned for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. Japan is determined to make its utmost effort toward steady implementation of the Resolution 1695 in cooperation with the international community.

Turning to the Iranian nuclear issue, it is regrettable that Iran has been continuing uranium enrichment in defiance of the UN Security Council Resolution 1696. The issue is not about whether Iran has the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Rather, what is important is that the right can only be exercised on the premise that Iran restore the confidence of the international community that was lost because of its past activities.

The Resolution 1696 is not meant to deprive Iran of its right as Iran argues, but it stresses that the right has to be exercised in accordance with internationally-established rules and with confidence of the international community. Japan supports the "comprehensive proposals" presented by the EU3, China, Russia and the United States, which also underline this point. Japan strongly urges Iran to accept the Resolution, immediately suspend uranium enrichment-related activities and return to the negotiation table. Japan believes it is the best option that will benefit all parties concerned. Japan will work for a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the issue in concert with the international community.

5. Nuclear Terrorism

Mr. President,
It is imperative that the international community collectively address the issue of nuclear security in order to counter the threat of nuclear terrorism. From this viewpoint, the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism which Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi signed last September at the United Nations, and the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material adopted at the Diplomatic Conference in July last year, are a testament to the international community's firm union against nuclear terrorism.

Japan has been conducting intensive consultations domestically for the early conclusion of these instruments in order to facilitate their early entry into force. In this regard, Japan will host an IAEA seminar on nuclear security, including the issue of smooth implementation of these conventions, in Tokyo this November, with the participation of Asian countries.

Japan welcomes the U.S.-Russian Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism announced by U.S. President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin on 15 July in St. Petersburg, which, we believe, will help strengthen measures against nuclear terrorism.

6. International Cooperation for the Promotion of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy

Mr. President,
Peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including radioactive sources, are extremely beneficial for the socio-economic development of the international society. The role of the IAEA in this area is of great importance.

Japan attaches significance to IAEA technical cooperation activities. Japan has been making a considerable contribution to the RCA (Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training) and also is one of the few Member States that have continuously contributed 100% of its share to the Technical Cooperation Fund amid its tight budgetary situations. We strongly encourage all Member States to pay their share of the Fund in full and without delay. We also urge recipient countries to fulfill their shared responsibilities.

The Forum for Nuclear Cooperation in Asia (FNCA), in which Japan plays a leading role, is a framework that has promoted peaceful uses of nuclear energy in Asia, encouraging voluntary cooperation among participating countries. A similar kind regional forum could be beneficial to achieving the same objective in other regions such as Africa. Japan would like to extend its support through the IAEA framework, and to work toward strengthening such regional forums.

As a country that leads the world in science and technology, Japan believes it important to apply innovative technologies to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Japan also believes that the IAEA should expand its activities to engage more in such fields. I assure you that Japan will spare no efforts in supporting the Agency in this respect.

In recent times, I have had various opportunities to meet with Ministers in charge of nuclear energy policy from countries around the world, such as Bangladesh, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Vietnam, and the United States. We have all confirmed the importance of peaceful uses of nuclear energy with a view to securing stable supply of energy as well as preventing global warming.

Last month, Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi visited Kazakhstan and met with President Nazarbaev, with the two leaders confirming their intention to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the area of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. For my part, during my visit to Libya, I also confirmed the importance of peaceful uses of nuclear energy with the Libyan leader and ministers concerned.

7. Nuclear Safety

Mr. President,
To promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, ensuring safety is the fundamental precondition. In particular, it is useful to conduct policy dialogue and a peer review among high-level officials of regulatory authorities of the countries with advanced nuclear safety regulations. In this connection, Japan is planning to receive the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) next year in cooperation with relevant countries. Taking into consideration the usefulness of the Review Service, Japan would like to encourage Member States to receive the IRRS in order to enhance nuclear safety.

8. Transport of Radioactive Material

Mr. President,
The safe transport of radioactive material is essential for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. On the basis of the right of freedom of navigation under the international law, Japan has conducted such transport, while employing the most stringent safety measures in accordance with the international standards set by the relevant international organizations. At the same time, Japan is willing to maintain dialogue between shipping and coastal states, aimed at improving mutual understanding and building confidence.

Furthermore, a Transport Safety Appraisal Service (TranSAS) mission was conducted in Japan last year. Japan finds the mission profoundly useful in that the objective appraisal by the IAEA verified the effectiveness of Japan's regulatory practices in the safe transport of radioactive materials. Japan is highly appreciative of the smooth conduct of the mission and will commit itself to the further enhancement of safety.

9. IAEA Budget

Mr. President,
There is no doubt that sufficient financial resources are necessary for the IAEA to play its expected role. In preparing the 2008-2009 Programme and Budget Proposals, however, Japan would like to request the Secretariat to pay due consideration to the budgetary situation of Member States and to continue its efforts toward improving efficiency in budget management through prioritization of projects and reduction of costs.

10. Closing Remarks

Mr. President,
With the mounting challenges to peace and security today, the IAEA's vital role can only grow. I assure you of Japan's continued support to the IAEA.

Thank you for your attention.

Back to Index