Congratulatory Address by Mr. Shintaro Ito, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs
Commencement Ceremony for the FY 2008 Pilot Program for Human Resource Development in Asia for Peacebuilding
(Elizabeth Rose Hall, United Nations University)
August 25, 2008
Distinguished members of the Class of 2009, the second class of the Hiroshima Peacebuilders Center,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to congratulate you as you embark on this training program and set out from Japan and the rest of Asia for every corner of the world as professional peacebuilders.
Peacebuilding does not mean a temporary halt of conflict.
Peacebuilding means the creation of long-lasting peace that will never regress into strife.
For this purpose, we must provide support in various situations such as mediation for peace, humanitarian assistance, restoration of security, reconstruction of economy and society, and nation-building.
Not to mention the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, there are countries marred by conflict which would never be capable of steadfastly pursuing peacebuilding on their own.
These countries require hearty and unwavering support from the international community.
In January this year, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda declared that Japan will promote peace around the world, work tirelessly on the ground, and generate ideas, as a “Peace Fostering Nation."
For the past year, Japan has been leading discussions on peacebuilding in the international community.
Japan has been leading peacebuilding discussions at the U.N. as Chair of the U.N. Peacebuilding Commission since last year.
Japan has shaped the future direction of efforts in such countries as Burundi and Sierra Leone.
As the host of the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD IV, in Yokohama this May, Japan advocated the consolidation of peace in Africa, which is the most critical field of peacebuilding.
As the host of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit this July, Japan, as G8 Presidency, positioned peacebuilding as one of the main areas for cooperation, and launched an initiative to enhance peacebuilding capability in military, police and civilian areas worldwide.
Japan has also bolstered peace in various parts of the world such as Afghanistan.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan has dispatched civilian personnel to the International Monitoring Team to support the peace process in Mindanao, the Philippines.
Moreover, Japan provided assistance through the United Nations Development Programme, or UNDP, this year to strengthen peacekeeping training centers in Africa, and made a decision to dispatch lecturers from the Japanese Self-Defense Forces to these centers.
In addition, Japan decided to provide assistance to the peacekeeping training center in Malaysia through UNDP.
The training program you are about to embark on today constitutes efforts to enhance peacebuilding capability in the civilian area in Japan and the rest of Asia, and is in line with the G8 Leaders' resolution in Toyako.
This program can only be realized with support from ASEAN and other Asian countries.
The inaugural graduates of this program acquired wisdom and experiences to build peace through the completion of coursework and overseas on-the-job training last March.
These first graduates are already tirelessly engaged in peacebuilding efforts in the field in areas such as Sudan, Timor-Leste and Kosovo so that peace will never regress into conflict.
I strongly hope that you will devote yourself wholeheartedly to this training so that you will be able to help build peace around the world as peacebuilding pioneers from Asia.
Here I would like to make a commitment to you.
I promise that we will expand this program in the next fiscal year.
We will expand this program significantly so that the seeds of peacebuilding sowed in the peace city of Hiroshima will take root and flourish steadily into the future.
We will extend the training course.
We will establish new short-term courses, and vastly increase the number of trainees.
We will establish a database of peacebuilding experts who can immediately work on the ground, thereby expanding the presence of professional peacebuilders.
In order to do so, we aim to build long-lasting cooperative relations with the members of the second class of the HPC and to continue these relations long after the conclusion of this year's program.
In this way, Hiroshima's wish for world peace will steadily spread across the globe through the efforts of the trainees.
In closing, please allow me to express my heartfelt welcome and support to all of you, who are gathered here to become peacebuilding experts from Japan and the rest of Asia.
Thank you for your kind attention.
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