February 5, 2005

I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to His Royal Highness Prince Nayef for taking the initiative in hosting this conference on counter-terrorism. This initiative illustrates strong posture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in her combat against terrorism, and Japan wishes to widen our happily existing cooperative relations with the Kingdom and the Middle Eastern countries to the range of joint efforts to fight against inhuman crimes as well as tendencies to bring in wedges among nations.

Sad to say, the threat posed by international terrorism remains serious in various parts of the world, and on this occasion, I would like to express my deepest sorrow and sincere condolence to victims and their families of heinous attacks by terrorists in Saudi Arabia.

First of all, I would like to touch upon some tendencies to associate terrorist acts with specific religion or race. Counter-terrorism is a fight fought by legitimate governments against terrorists to protect humanity and civilizations. Japan believes that it is the diversity of cultures and civilizations that brings about further advancement of humanity and that it is mutual cooperation among legitimate governments and further exchange of people among nations that promote this advancement. This is a common knowledge but if we forget this common knowledge we start to take deflected course, weaken ourselves and play into the hands of terrorists.

We should join forces in our fight against terrorism and in parallel with this fight we should promote mutual understanding of various cultures and civilizations. By doing so we can isolate and marginalize the extremist ideas and gain more support of the public to our legitimacy.

Japan has been developing our external relations in this context on a global scale, and where the Middle East and Islamic world are concerned, Japan has been regularly holding "The Japan-Arab Dialogue Forum", last meeting was hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia last month, and dispatching "Japan-Middle East Cultural Exchanges and Dialogue Mission" to the Middle East since 2003, as well as holding "Dialogue among civilizations between Japan and the Islamic World" since 2002. Through the process we are witnessing among Japanese people a rise of interest towards the situation in the Middle East and deeper understanding of the Middle Eastern culture.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in parallel with promotion of mutual understanding, we should take practical measures to fight against terrorism. The threats are real, present and common and we need to join our forces together. Here, I would like to mention three points that require closer look in our joint-efforts on the ground.

First, the Middle East is a very important region for the global peace, security and prosperity. The world is closely interconnected on various dimensions and where the world economy is concerned, it is largely relying upon the Middle East for its energy resources. Ensuring the transport security is essential in order to secure the free flow of the goods and people at the global level. Especially, it is crucial for us to cope with threats of maritime terrorism for the mutual benefits. With all respects to the efforts made by the security authorities of the coastal states to counter such threat, I would like to call upon the countries concerned to enhance measures and strengthen mutual cooperation in order to ensure the safe navigation.

Secondly, combating the financing of terrorism is one of the most required areas to strengthen the international cooperation in the fight against terrorism. We highly appreciate the efforts made by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for taking measures to control the monetary flow and in line with this direction I would like to call upon the governments concerned to accelerate their efforts to accede the International Conventions for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, and by doing so we can cooperate more effectively on the international level to run down and weaken the criminals.

Thirdly, we should assist each other in our common efforts for more effective counter-terrorism activities, and I would like to invite mutual assistance among nations, including sharing information and experience in related areas. In this regard, Japan also has some experience of extending assistance for capacity building in such areas as border control and aviation security, and it is prepared to exert such assistance within its capacity.

In concluding my remark, I would like to reiterate that the fight against transnational terrorist network cannot be won by one country's lonely effort. I hope that this conference will be fruitful and constructive, leading to consolidate global efforts against terrorism.

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