Opening Remarks by Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs,
Mr. Katsuyuki Kawai,
at a Reception for NGOs
on the occasion of the NPT Review Conference

May 11th , 2005
United Nations Delegates Dining Room, New York, U.S.A.

Good evening,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great honor to have this opportunity to meet with you, on this very special day at the NPT Review Conference.

First of all, it is a great pleasure to share with you the very good news that the agenda was finally adopted. This is nothing but a first step, but it is without doubt a historical step. I would like to pay high tribute to the Chair and to all the participants of the Conference for this initial achievement.

I am from Hiroshima. Having grown up with Hibakusha, or survivors of the atomic bomb, I had the opportunity to hear their tragic experiences. We, the Japanese and people from Hiroshima, have chosen to build borderless solidarity for the desire to abolish nuclear weapons, rather than engaging countries in a "chain of resentment". These aspirations of the citizens of Hiroshima are deeply reflected in the Japanese nuclear policy. Japan has decided to renounce the nuclear option and has adhered to the "Three Non-Nuclear Policy". We have been at the forefront of international disarmament efforts. Since I was born and elected in Hiroshima, I believe that it is my mission to bridge the span between these voices of Hiroshima and Japanese policy.

The Japanese government has submitted nuclear disarmament resolutions to the UN General Assembly every year since 1994 and obtained overwhelming support. Japan has also proposed "21 Measures for the 21st Century". In this proposal, Japan is advocating deeper reductions in all types of nuclear weapons by all the nuclear-weapon States, the early entry into force of the CTBT, and the immediate commencement of negotiations on the FMCT.

It is also an important mission for Japan, as the only country to have experienced nuclear devastation, to ensure the tragedy of Hiroshima remains in the memory of mankind. Japan is advocating disarmament and non-proliferation education that is one of our priorities in the 21 Measures. Japan has also contributed to the UN Disarmament Fellowship Program, which aims to train young experts on disarmament. For the past 20 years, the Japanese government has invited more than 550 young diplomats from 150 countries covering all five continents to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I am very much impressed to know that many alumni of the Fellowship Program are actively participating in this Review Conference.

In order to turn diplomatic efforts into accomplishments, it is essential to gain broad support from civil society. I consider that today's NGO session was highly meaningful in bringing messages from a broad range of citizens directly to each government.
The Anti-Personnel Landmine Treaty is a good example of how civil society can make important contributions in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation. I, myself, attended the first Review Conference of the Ottawa Treaty held in Nairobi, Kenya, last December and witnessed the various efforts of NGOs to tackle anti-personnel landmine problems. Although different approaches are required in dealing with issues related to nuclear weapons and anti-personnel landmines, NGO coordination can be beneficial in both cases. Supports from civil society provides momentum for our common goal of disarmament and non-proliferation.

I have brought with me this evening these folded cranes from the Hibakusha exhibition in the hall of this building. According to a Japanese legend, if someone folded a thousand cranes, their wish would be granted. Now, folded cranes have become an international symbol for peace. I hope the special symbolism of these cranes will provide inspiration to all gathered here today.

In conclusion, I would like to repeat my sincere wish that a peaceful and safe world free of nuclear weapons be realized as soon as possible, and that we will see the day when children can learn that mankind once possessed terrible weapons, known as nuclear weapons, only through reading history textbooks.

Thank you for your attention.


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