Statement by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto at the 51st Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

New York
September 24, 1996

Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Distinguished Representatives,

   I should like, first of all, to extend my warmest compliments to H.E. Mr. Razali Ismail, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations, on His Excellency's assumption of the presidency of the General Assembly last week. I also pay tribute to the efforts of H.E. Dr. Freitas do Amaral, who demonstrated great skills in presiding over the historic fiftieth anniversary session.

Mr. President,

   Last year commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations. This year marks the fortieth anniversary of Japan's admission to the United Nations. Over the past four decades, Japan has consistently made its commitment to the United Nations one of the main pillars of its foreign policy and has steadfastly supported the United Nations. At the same time, Japan has benefited immensely from the international system, including the United Nations. I should like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude for the support Japan has received from the international community in building the stability and prosperity it enjoys today. In addition, as the role of the United Nations grows in importance in the new post-Cold War environment, I hereby affirm that Japan is resolved to play a more active role by further strengthening the cooperation it extends to the Organization for the sake of world peace and prosperity.

Mr. President,

   My ultimate foreign policy goal is "the creation of a better world for future generations." That is, the creation of a world free from poverty and conflict. I intend to achieve this goal through "change" and "creation," which is the mission of my cabinet. Children who can talk vividly about their dreams of the future are the world's treasure. Is it not our grave responsibility, as leaders of the international community, to build an environment in which the children of the next generation can flourish?

   Efforts toward the "creation of a better world for future generations" must be based on the following three pillars. The first is securing world peace and stability; the second is promoting development so as to bring growth and stability to developing countries; and the third is ensuring the well-being of each and every citizen throughout the global society. These three pillars are interrelated, and we will be unable to achieve a world free of poverty and conflict if any one of the three is missing, or if only one of them is in place.

   Since taking office, I have pursued foreign policies based on the strong belief that Japan should be a nation that works for world peace and stability on its own initiative. In accordance with this position, Japan intends to play a leading role in the building of each of these three pillars, as I shall subsequently explain. These are precisely the areas which the United Nations of the twenty-first century will be expected to address.

Mr. President,

   The first pillar is securing world peace and stability. This is surely of the utmost importance, because unless this is achieved, future generations will be left with nothing but confusion and destruction. At this time of ever greater interdependence, world peace is indivisible; instability in one region can readily lead to the instability of other regions, and, in turn, to the instability of the world as a whole. It is Japan's intention not simply to secure its own peace and stability but, consonant with the philosophy embodied in the Constitution of Japan, it will strive to secure global peace and stability, and make greater efforts, commensurate with its political and economic status, for the prevention and resolution of conflicts in various regions of the world.

   It goes without saying that, as a nation in Asia, Japan will spare no effort in securing peace and stability in the region. The recent incident of infiltration by a North Korean submarine makes us all the more aware of the importance of easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Realization of the four-party meeting, which was proposed by the leaders of the United States and the Republic of Korea last April, is very important and I should like on this occasion to reiterate Japan's support for that proposal. In an effort to further strengthen the achievements of the Cambodian peace process, which has proved to be a successful example of the international community's peace-building efforts, and looking ahead to the elections that Cambodia will hold on its own for the first time beginning next year, Japan intends to continue to extend assistance to that country. Japan welcomes the fact that Russia, also located in the Asian region, is continuing its reform process in light of the results of the recent presidential election. Moreover, by actively participating in political and security dialogues, for example in the context of the ASEAN Regional Forum, Japan is endeavoring to further promote confidence-building in the region.

   At the same time, Japan is actively engaged in addressing issues in other regions, for example by cooperating with UN activities, in order to foster global peace.

   During the latter part of August this year, I visited five countries in Latin America where I witnessed at first hand the success of the democratization process and steady progress in economic reform. Japan intends to strengthen its assistance for the stable development of this region.

   In the former Yugoslavia, Japan has contributed both personnel and financing to the local and national elections recently held in Bosnia in view of their importance in the formation of a democratic political system. As a member of the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council, Japan will continue to participate actively in the civilian aspects of international efforts toward the implementation of the peace process.

   On the occasion of Foreign Minister Ikeda's visit to the Middle East in August, and Chairman Arafat's visit to Tokyo in mid-September, Japan called for continued negotiations among the parties to the peace process. Japan is determined to continue to contribute to the creation of an environment conducive to the advancement of the peace process by extending assistance to the parties concerned, including assistance to the Palestinian people, and by participating in multilateral talks.

   Japan is gravely concerned about the current situation in Iraq.

   It strongly hopes that Iraq will listen to the opinion of the international community and comply in good faith with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions so that the situation will be settled as soon as possible.

   In order to resolve the Afghanistan issue, it is important that foreign interference cease and that the success of the peace and reconciliation efforts of the United Nations is ensured. Toward that end, Japan is providing an expert on that region to serve as a political counsellor at the UN Special Mission to Afghanistan.

   The ongoing regional conflicts in Africa, including the situations in Burundi, Liberia and Angola, are of grave concern. The international community must actively support the conflict prevention and conflict resolution efforts of African countries as well as the strengthening of their capabilities in this regard. In addition to extending financial contributions to the Organization of African Unity and the Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, Japan is extending assistance to PKOs, refugee assistance, rehabilitation assistance, and assistance for democratization in the form of personnel and intellectual input.

Mr. President,

   Peace-keeping operations are an effective complement to the collective security function as originally envisaged in the UN Charter and they supplement the conflict resolution efforts of the parties themselves. It is important that the international community continue to support PKOs but also that it seek their further reform. Experiences in recent years have reaffirmed the effectiveness of traditional peace-keeping operations. Their role in preventing conflicts, as exemplified by the success of the UN Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP), is likely to become increasingly important. Japan will continue to participate in the discussions that are now under way among interested Member States on measures to improve the rapid reaction capabilities of the peace-keeping operations. It is participating in the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights and intends hereafter to cooperate actively and as much as possible in peace-keeping operations.

   I believe that, as it responds to regional conflicts, the United Nations has the potential to fulfill, in a practical manner, an extremely effective function through preventive diplomacy. I should like to propose that a meeting of eminent persons be convened to explore means of enhancing its preventive diplomacy capability.

Mr. President,

   In order to maintain international peace and stability, it is essential to further promote disarmament efforts and to strengthen the regime for the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In particular, Japan would vigorously emphasize the importance for the international community of promoting realistic and steady efforts for nuclear disarmament with the aim of realizing a world free of nuclear weapons. As the only country to have suffered nuclear devastation, Japan has been making precisely this appeal to the international community as a top priority in accordance with its own philosophy.

   Thus, I am deeply gratified by the adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty by the UN General Assembly with the support of many Member States; this indeed marks a historic step toward a world free of nuclear weapons, and having just this morning had the opportunity of signing the Treaty gave me great personal satisfaction. In order to realize the early entry into force of the Treaty, Japan would like to call upon those countries which have expressed opposition to the Treaty to accede to it at the earliest possible date from the broader perspective of promoting nuclear disarmament. For its part, Japan will continue to make contributions in the field of verification of nuclear testing, by such means as expanding the technical cooperation on seismic technologies it extends to concerned developing countries.

   As a next step toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, I should like to call for the early commencement of negotiations on a Cut Off Treaty which would prohibit the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.

   Japan takes the problems posed by land-mines very seriously. Japan supports international efforts toward a total, world-wide ban on anti-personnel land-mines. Furthermore, in order to reinforce international support for measures to deal with anti-personnel land-mines, Japan is preparing to host a meeting at the senior official level in Tokyo early next year.

Mr. President,

   The promotion of development to bring about the growth and stability of developing countries is the second pillar required for the creation of a better world for future generations. Development is a prerequisite for peace; at the same time, the maintenance of peace is a precondition for development. As a leading donor, Japan will work to further enhance its official development assistance (ODA); at the same time, it is keenly aware of its responsibility to lead the discussion on issues relating to the proper form and provision of ODA.

   Based on this recognition, Japan has been calling for a "new development strategy." The central ideas in this strategy are an emphasis on the ownership by developing countries of the development process and on the establishment of a "new global partnership" in which developed and developing countries, released from the North-South confrontational mind-set, cooperate with each other. Moreover, it is important to address development, not simply with ODA but also by organically combining various elements including trade, investment, economic policy, debt relief, technology transfer, and the development of social infrastructure. It is also important to extend assistance that is most appropriate to the circumstances of the particular country while paying adequate attention to the efforts made by developing countries in the promotion of democratization and the introduction of market-oriented economies. Furthermore, Japan attaches importance to the setting of development targets and the "reinvestment" in development activities of savings resulting from reforms, as well as to promoting coordination between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions.

   We have witnessed the development of various forms of regional cooperation, such as the Southern African Development Community, MERCOSUR, and the South Pacific Forum; such regional cooperation is an important element for development. Emphasizing the significance of South-South cooperation, Japan is utilizing the Japanese Human Resources Development Fund in UNDP in order to support South-South cooperation.

   In the development of developing countries, Japan attaches particular importance to the development of Africa. This is because poverty and conflict are particularly acute in Africa. Japan will actively promote its initiatives on assistance to African countries, which Foreign Minister Ikeda presented at the General Debate of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)IX convened in South Africa this past spring. In order to give new momentum to African development, Japan is hoping to convene the second meeting of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD II) in 1998, which would follow a preparatory meeting that will take place, also in Tokyo, in 1997.

Mr. President,

   The third pillar to which I should like to refer is the guarantee of the well-being of every citizen of the global community. It is important to embrace the global community as a whole, and to give heed to the importance of each and every one of its members. Indeed the peace of mind of individuals contributes to the peace and stability of the world.

   Japan intends to address more actively various social problems such as the environment, population, AIDS, drugs, terrorism, organized crime, refugees, and the status of women, as well as problems relating to food and energy which could become more acute in the years to come. Concerned about environmental issues, Japan will host the "Third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change" in Kyoto in December next year. Japan will make every effort toward the adoption at that conference of an effective and practical document prescribing an international framework to prevent global warming after the year 2000. I should like to call for the valuable cooperation of every Member State and international organization concerned for the success of this conference.

   In the recognition that it is important that each and every human being be cared for, throughout more than thirty years of political activity I have focused my attention on the protection of the most vulnerable among us and to the elimination of poverty. The "Initiative for a Caring World" which I proposed on the occasion of the G-7 Lyon Summit is an extension of this course of endeavor. Under this initiative, Japan intends, first of all, to share with developing countries its experiences in the field of social security, including health care, hygiene and social welfare services, so that they can develop more effective services in these areas, and secondly, to exchange experiences and knowledge with developed countries with respect to issues that they commonly confront.

   As I stated at the outset, I should like to urge world leaders to join hands and strengthen their efforts particularly in behalf of the well-being of children. Ever since the Japan Committee for UNICEF was established in 1955, my mother has been dedicating herself to promoting its activities. This has had a profound influence on me, and I, too, have been actively engaged in its activities. Japan has been contributing approximately $30 million to UNICEF annually, and it intends hereafter to strengthen its cooperation. As part of its initiatives on assistance to Africa which I mentioned earlier, Japan announced that it would provide its assistance for the expansion of education and the eradication of polio on that continent. It also intends to enhance its assistance for the protection of the health of very young children in developing countries.

   The protection and promotion of human rights is the foundation of world peace and prosperity. Japan is determined to support the democratic development of developing countries and at the same time hopes that the United Nations will further enhance its activities in the field of human rights.

Mr. President,

   As we approach the twenty-first century, it is essential that the United Nations itself play a role that responds adequately to the growing expectations of the international community based on the three pillars to which I have been referring. Toward that end, reforms that strengthen the functions of the Organization are necessary.

   There is a consensus among the UN membership regarding the importance of the new role envisaged for the Organization as well as the urgent need for comprehensive UN reform. However, when it comes to concrete measures for reform, a convergence of views among Member States is yet to emerge.

   With the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations, we witnessed an increase in the momentum for reform. It should be the aim of this fifty-first session of the General Assembly to maintain this momentum so that a general agreement on the major elements of reform can be reached before the session ends. The entire UN membership should then make every effort to reach an agreement on concrete measures in order to realize UN reform in the near future. If the United Nations simply engages in repetitious debate and proves incapable of reforming itself to adapt to the changing times, its very credibility could be severely undermined. It is thus incumbent upon the membership as a whole to be tenacious in its efforts to achieve reform.

Mr. President,

   Security Council reform and reforms in administrative and financial areas, as well as in economic and social areas comprise the threefold centerpiece of UN reform. I should like to point out the importance above all of carrying out these reforms as a whole in a balanced manner. For example, even though there may be a financial crisis, if we were to carry out reforms in that area alone, separately from reforms in the other two areas, it would not correspond to the original basic concept of UN reform, which was to seek to strengthen the functions of the Organization as a whole.

   Permit me to present the views of Japan regarding reforms in these three areas.

   I should like, first of all, to discuss the reform of the Security Council. Inasmuch as the Security Council bears the primary responsibility for carrying out the major purpose of the United Nations, namely, the achievement and maintenance of world peace and stability, its importance is obvious.

   As it has indicated on previous occasions, Japan, with the endorsement of many countries, is prepared to discharge its responsibilities as a permanent member of the Security Council in accordance with its basic philosophy of the non-resort to the use of force prohibited by its Constitution.

   Until the reform of the Security Council is realized, Japan is determined to contribute to the work of the Security Council for the sake of international peace and security and has presented its candidature for non-permanent membership on the Council in this session of the General Assembly. Responding to the strong support and confidence that have been already expressed with respect to its candidature, Japan will continue to make every effort so that it can play an active role on the Security Council.

   As I stated earlier, Japan attaches great importance to development. More than two-thirds of United Nations Member States are developing countries. If the United Nations is to aim at achieving "a world free of poverty and conflicts", it is crucial that discussions on development be further promoted within the Organization. In so doing, the functions and role of the Economic and Social Council should be strengthened and the integration of the various development issues with which the United Nations is engaged should be ensured.

   Japan is the second largest financial contributor to the United Nations; its assessment for the regular budget has increased to 15.65 percent for next year, and is likely to increase further. Japan will not shirk the tremendous responsibility it bears in financially supporting the United Nations. However, with respect to the scale of assessment, I wish to reiterate that Japan attaches importance not only to the concept of "capacity to pay," but also to the "responsibility to pay." Japan also welcomes the endeavours of the Secretariat toward administrative streamlining and rationalizing.

Mr. President,

   Throughout the four decades since joining the United Nations, Japan has faithfully upheld the purposes and principles enshrined in the UN Charter. It has consistently attached importance to the United Nations and it is proud to be among the countries that have made the greatest contributions to its overall activities. Disarmament, initiatives in the area of nuclear non-proliferation, the appeal for a new strategy on development issues, actively addressing global issues as well as its considerable financial contributions to the UN -- these are all the issues to which Japan has attached profound importance in recent years.

   I wish to conclude my statement at this General Debate by reemphasizing Japan's readiness to participate in the Security Council, which is at the center of UN activity, as well as to engage itself more actively and more constructively in the aforementioned areas of endeavor, in order to discharge its responsibility for world peace and prosperity.

Thank you very much.

Back to Index