Section 3. Cooperation in United Nations Activities




I. The United Nations Today



The United Nations is the most comprehensive international organization for accelerating international cooperation for the maintenance of international peace and security and the promotion of the welfare of the peoples of the world. The United Nations, which started with 51 founding members more than 30 years ago, has 152 members today. During the intervening years, it has developed into a body considerably different from that of its original design. For example, it now conducts "peace-keeping operations" in place of the compulsory dispute settlement function envisaged in its charter. Also, as the North-South problem is looming larger in the economic and social areas, the role which the United Nations can play in these spheres has become bigger. This shows that it is an organization which directly reflects the realities of the international situation. What the United Nations can do in response to the political, economic and social realities of the world depends largely on the will and cooperation of its members. Recently, member states have become eager to make as much use as possible of the organization while recognizing its limitations.

With the increase in membership and the diversification and increasing complexity of the problems it deals with, the United Nations today, together with its specialized agencies and the numerous related international organizations, provides a framework for international cooperation in a wide range of fields, including the maintenance of peace and security, disarmament, assistance and trade, society, human rights, culture, population, environment, science and technology, and oceans.




II. Japan and the United Nations



1. Japan's Basic Attitude

Since its admission in 1956 to the United Nations, Japan has consistently and positively supported the aims and activities of the United Nations, including the maintenance of international peace and security. At the same time, in order to meet the growing expectations placed on Japan by the international community in keeping with its rising international position, Japan has more actively than ever participated in and cooperated with various activities of the United Nations aimed at promoting international cooperation in various fields. This is one of the basic policies of Japan's diplomacy.


2. Japan in the United Nations in 1979

In line with this basic policy, Japan engaged actively in United Nations diplomacy in 1979. The main events were as follows:

(a) The United Nations General Assembly is a multilateral diplomatic stage suitable for propounding a country's viewpoint to the international community and winning its understanding. With the top diplomatic officials of all nations assembled together, it also provides a valuable opportunity for exchanging views and promoting mutual understanding at a high level. Foreign Minister Sunao Sonoda, who attended the 34th session of the United Nations General Assembly, vigorously exchanged views with top diplomatic officials of many countries including the United States, the People's Republic of China and the Federal Republic of Germany. In his speech in the general debate, he clarified Japan's way of dealing with and its basic lines of thinking about the various problems of the international community, such as the Cambodian situation, the Indochinese refugee problem, the Middle East, South Africa, disarmament, energy, and development assistance. He appealed to member states for cooperation in settling these issues and made concrete proposals for strengthening the peace-keeping function of the United Nations.

(b) Japan continued to take an interest in developments of the Middle Eastern problem and the South African problem, these being major political issues of the United Nations. Though not a member of the Security Council, Japan actively participated in the discussion of the problems which were taken up one after another by the Security Council from 1979 to early 1980 and which seriously affect the peace and security of the world: the Cambodian problem, the Sino-Vietnamese conflict, the hostage incident in the U.S. Embassy in Iran, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Japan argued for the necessity of peaceful settlement of these problems. At the 34th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Japan made special efforts to bring about the adoption of a resolution on the Cambodian problem presented by ASEAN and other countries, as a cosponsor of the resolution. Japan also contributed toward the drafting of an international treaty which provides against the taking of hostages. Furthermore, Japan attended the 6th special emergency session of the General Assembly concerning the Afghan problem.

(c) As interdependent relations among nations have become closer, there are now many problems whose effective settlement cannot be expected without cooperation among the nations. For instance, the North-South problem and other problems such as resources, energy, food and population cannot be solved by the effort of a single country or by cooperation among a small number of countries. The United Nations, as a universal international organization, provides an effective framework for multilateral cooperation toward the settlement of these problems. Japan is actively working in this direction as a member of the Economic and Social Council, the nucleus organization in the field of economic and social development, and also as a member of other international organizations.

(d) In the disarmament field, the nations of the world retained their interest in disarmament which had been engendered by the special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament held in May 1978. At the 34th session of the United Nations General Assembly, almost 40 resolutions on disarmament were adopted, as at the previous session. Japan has emphasized the necessity of taking a succession of measures as practicable in the present international situation to promote disarmament. At the 34th session, Japan became cosponsor of several resolutions including one calling for the early conclusion of a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.

(e) In June 1979, Japan ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They became effective in September 1979. At the 34th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Japan played a positive role in social and human rights issues by, for instance, actively participating in the discussion on the drafting of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

(f) In July and November 1979, international conferences on assistance to Indochinese refugees were held when the world was faced with a large number of Cambodian refugees and boat people fleeing Indochina. At the conferences, Japan expressed its views on the rescue of refugees and pledged itself to make donations.


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