Speech by H.E. Mr. Masatoshi Abe,
Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
On the occasion of Asian Senior-level Talks on Non-proliferation

November 13, 2003

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to extend a few words of welcome to you all who traveled a long way to attend the Asian Senior-level Talks on Non-Proliferation, ASTOP. I am also delighted to be informed that there has already been in-depth discussion in the morning session.

This meeting is the first senior-level talks hosted by Japan, inviting representatives from the ASEAN countries and Australia, Republic of Korea and the United States, dedicated to the discussion of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical and biological weapons) and their delivery means. With respect to the current security environment surrounding Asia, the opening of this meeting at the time indeed has great significance.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Weapons of mass destruction, namely, nuclear, chemical and biological weapons will not only cause unimaginable catastrophe when employed but also the possession of these weapons will have great impact on international peace and stability. This is why disarmament should be pursued through the NPT, CWC and BWC.

Today, however, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means as well as terrorism are prevalent globally, posing new threat to all of us. Prevention of the proliferation of these weapons and their related materials is becoming an issue which requires urgent resolution.

In Asia, threat posed by North Korea's nuclear and missiles issues is a real and serious one. We cannot tolerate North Korea's development and possession of nuclear weapons with respect to the peace and security in the north-east Asia as well as internationally established non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Japan, from this viewpoint, has been urging North Korea to dismantle the nuclear development program swiftly in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.

Moreover, despite the international efforts after the September 11 attacks, terrorist cases have increased in Asia. Not only have many precious lives been lost, but also economic as well as social loss has been brought about. Once weapons of mass destruction fell in the hands of terrorist groups, such threat is incalculable. I would like to confirm here that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction cannot be stopped by one country alone and that the cooperation of the countries present here today is of great importance.

We attach great importance to non-proliferation policies as one of the major pillars to provide Japan's security, as well as that of Asia and of the international community as a whole. In the international arena, the G8 Declaration on Non Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction was adopted in the G8 Evian Summit of June 2003, and the Political Declaration on Prevention of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Means of Delivery which was first proposed by Japan was adopted in the ASEM Foreign Minister's Meeting in July this year by consensus. This clearly demonstrates that effort for non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is catching its speed.

Japan is of the view that every country needs to strengthen its enforcement in all the phases of proliferation, namely, export, transport import and transfer, so as to prevent proliferation. Efforts made by the Asian countries will become more effective by taking this comprehensive approach. I expect this to be the path to the stability and prosperity of the region.

I would like to touch upon the Proliferation Security Initiative or PSI, as an example of the comprehensive approach for non-proliferation, which is launched by US President George W Bush in May this year. The initiative is to consider individual or collective measures to be taken in order to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means, joined by 11 members including Japan.

In the third Plenary held in Paris in September, members agreed on Statement of Interdiction Principles, pledging to make individual and collective effort in preventing proliferation. Japan supports this principle and has been making positive contributions. Also, as the only original PSI member from the Asian region, Japan has been seeking for Asian countries' understanding and cooperation.

In the afternoon session, I understand that this new initiative will be discussed in detail in order to stop the clear and present proliferation. I would like to sincerely hope that the PSI will become more effective by receiving Asian countries' understanding and support, and will contribute to the regional and international peace and stability.

In concluding, I would also like to hope that the participants from the 14 nations present here today would share their wisdom by taking part in active discussion on how effectively proliferation policies can be conducted, thereby achieving a concrete result in the meeting.

Thank you very much.

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