Statement by H.E. Ms Hisami Kurokochi, Special Assistant to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
The Third Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction
18-21 September, 2001
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I wish to extend, on behalf of the government and the people of Japan, our heartfelt sympathies to the President of the United States of America and to the American people for the tragic incidents of last week in the United States. We are all outraged at such atrocious acts of terrorism which are totally unacceptable and should never be repeated.
It is a great honor for me to participate in the Third Meeting of the States Parties to the Ottawa Convention in Managua, and to be given this opportunity to speak as the representative of the Japanese government. I would like to express my deepest admiration and appreciation to the Nicaraguan government, above all, H.E. President Dr José Arnoldo Aleman Lacayo, as well as Under Secretary-General Jayantha Dhanapala, the rest of the United Nations staff, and all of the many others who have been involved in organizing this meeting.
The number of States Parties to the Ottawa Convention has gradually increased, now reached 120. In order to establish the prohibition of anti-personnel landmines as a principle of the international community, it is essential that many more countries should become States Parties, including those that have signed the Convention but have yet to ratify it. In Japan, there were some hesitations to accede to the Convention on grounds of national security. However, Japan attached importance to the strong desire of the international community to see such weapons banned from a humanitarian perspective by positively concluding the Convention. Add to this, Japan has been urging the governments of countries that have not ratified the Convention to do so. At a meeting of Pacific Island Forum (PIF) countries one month ago, for example, Mr. Toshio Kojima, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, called on the Pacific Island nations to accede to the Ottawa Convention. Japan hopes to continue to work together with the other nations concerned to create an environment that will enable as many countries as possible to accede to the Convention.
As to the substance of the Convention, I understand that there exists the idea of further reinforcing the regulation of anti-personnel landmines by extending the scope of application of the Convention and interpreting it in stricter terms. The Japanese government is concerned that countries, which intend to accede to the Convention, might hesitate to do so if obligations under the Convention become stricter. We are convinced that it is of utmost importance to achieve the universality of the Convention in shared awareness of the international community with the goal of realizing the world free of anti-personnel landmines.
I believe that it is important for all countries to address the abolition of anti-personnel landmines in real terms. Japan, in fact, began the task of destroying the stockpile of anti-personnel landmines in January 2000, and the destruction of around 260 thousand was completed by the end of 2000.
Yesterday, I took part in the ceremony of explosion of stockpiled landmines. I was greatly impressed by the fact that the government of Nicaragua, as a mined country, is earnestly engaged in the removal of anti-personnel landmines. At the venue of the ceremony, Japanese-made anti-personnel landmine-clearing machines were displayed. The Nicaraguan government procured them as a part of the Japanese official development assistance, and it is my sincere hope that they will be put to effective use to bring peace and stability to the lives of the Nicaraguan people.
Allow me now to refer to the efforts Japan is making on this issue in the field of international co-operation. First, in terms of "finance," Japan in 1997 pledged financial assistance, amounting to about 10 billion Yen to achieve the objectives of the Zero Victims Program. I would like to mention some examples. Regarding landmine-clearance activities, last year, we contributed 2,750,000 dollars to Cambodia, 3,100,000 dollars to Bosnia-Herzegovina, and 600,000 dollars to Mozambique. In the field of victim assistance, this year, about 270,000 dollars to assist vocational training in Cambodia and some 310, 000 dollars to provision of prosthesis for rehabilitation in Afghanistan. As for mine awareness education, a contribution of 180,000 dollars to assist Development of Standards for Landmine and UXO Awareness Education of UNMAS in FY2000 and 130,000 dollars for Mine Awareness Education in Angola. In the area of "technology and knowledge," Japan sent a number of experts on stockpile destruction to the APM Stockpile Destruction Management Training Course hosted by the Swiss Confederation, and the Regional Seminar on Stockpile Destruction of Anti-personnel mines and other Munitions hosted jointly by Malaysia and Canada. If I may add one more point, it is a great pleasure for me to serve as co-chair of the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance, Socio-economic Reintegration and Mine Awareness.
Victim assistance involves emergency medical care, the donation of artificial limbs, the provision of opportunities for vocational training and other elements, and is a long process of perseverance and persistence in reintegrating victims into society and helping them to demonstrate their capabilities once more. This task must be assumed by the mined countries on which the primary responsibility rests for providing social welfare services for their own people. As Japan stated at the First Meeting of the States Parties two years ago, we would like to see mined countries take the initiative in tackling these problems based on "the principle of ownership," and hopes to provide assistance in a form that will respond to the efforts of those countries. Landmine clearance is the first step in restoring the agricultural production activities of the citizenry and must be seen to be integrated with reconstruction and development programs of the area as a whole. We believe that, in addition to mine-clearance and victim-assistance measures and the development that underpins them, resolving the problems of anti-personnel landmines will require efforts from a comprehensive perspective embracing support for social reconstruction, including education and poverty reduction from the point of view of "human security."
The Ottawa Convention has come to represent the foundation of the deeply held hopes of the people of the world to save the many innocent people who undergo such enormous suffering. We must not forget the important role of civil society in helping these hopes to be realized. The efforts by NGOs in various countries, including appeals made about the gravity of this problem and calls for a humanitarian approach as well as the provision of assistance, have galvanized the hopes of the people of the world and brought the international community into action. The reality of our progress in the creation of norms for the international community, with the bridge-building efforts by NGOs, makes me feel that there exists a new form of international politics for the 21st century. For instance, Association to Aid Refugees, one of the Japanese NGOs, is setting in motion a campaign entitled "Not Mines But Flowers" calling for the abolition of anti-personnel landmines, and the "Japan Campaign to Ban Landmines" (JCBL) is making great efforts to increase the number of States Parties in Asia. In Japan, in addition to those, which I have mentioned, many other NGOs are making positive efforts to deal with the problems. The Japanese government intends to address the problems of anti-personnel landmines in continued close cooperation with NGOs. We must make concerted efforts towards a resolution of the problem of anti-personnel landmines -- the international community's earnest wish -- in order to ensure our children and grandchildren peaceful lives.
Thank you for your attention.
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