Opening Remarks by Mr. Kazunori Tanaka,
Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs
at Tokyo Seminar on Landmines

March 4, 2004

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you very much for coming from far away to Japan in order to attend this "Tokyo Seminar on Landmines".

This seminar aims to hold action-oriented discussions mainly on assistance to people and countries that suffer from landmines, by inviting experts who are involved in mine clearance or mine risk education in the field, and those who have deep insights on landmine issues.

Furthermore, from a viewpoint of hearing actual voices from landmine survivors, we invited two survivors from Afghanistan.

I have visited several mine affected countries in the world. During those visits, I had opportunities to observe mine clearance operations and to exchange opinions with people who tackle landmine problems, when I visited Afghanistan in November last year. Having watched with my own eyes the cruel effect of landmines and the difficulty of demining operations, I renew my determination that we should abolish landmines, and Japan intends to do everything it can in order to achieve this.

Japan proposed the "Zero Victim Programme" during the signing ceremony of the Mine Ban Treaty in Ottawa in December 1997, attended by then Foreign Minister Mr. Obuchi, we expressed our view that it is necessary to take comprehensive approach to implementing a universal and effective ban on anti-personnel landmines and to enhance efforts in mine clearance and victim assistance.

Japan also announced in 1997 that it would contribute in the order of 10 billion yen over the next five years to support mine clearance and victim assistance, and achieved its target in October 2002 well within the deadline.

Furthermore, Japan ratified the Mine Ban Treaty on 30 September 1998, and completed the destruction of about a million stockpiled anti-personnel landmines as obliged by the Treaty, on 8 February 2003.

Japan continues its effort to promote the universalisation of the Mine Ban Treaty, and to establish an international environment that prevents further use of landmines.

At the same time, Japan continues its assistance to mine action through international organisations and bilateral bases, and positively works on the visibility of its assistance by dispatching Japanese mine action experts and developing demining equipment and technology utilising Japanese technologies, that will not only be welcomed by mine-affected countries, but also be understood by Japanese people who are taxpayers.

I am confident that discussions in this landmine seminar will not only be extremely beneficial to Japan's further policy-making on landmines issues, but also be useful for the participants in order to tackle landmine problems in future.

I would like to conclude my speech by wishing that all the participants will contribute to open and active discussions that will lead to a fruitful outcome.

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