Opening Remarks by Mr. Koichi Takemasa,
State Secretary for Foreign Affairs
Opening Ceremony for the Primary Course of the Program for Human Resources Development in Asia for Peacebuilding


November 6, 2009

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to express my sincere gratitude for your attendance at today's opening ceremony for the Primary Course of the Program for Human Resources Development in Asia for Peacebuilding.

This course comprises program associates who have compassion for people suffering in conflict-torn regions and high aspirations to contribute to peacebuilding efforts in these regions. I am truly delighted to welcome such motivated program associates, of whom 15 are from Japan and 14 are from other Asian countries.

As we speak, in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, the international community, including the United Nations, is supporting efforts by countries that keenly hope and struggle to restore peace lost in conflicts. Peacebuilding is the issue that confronts the entire world. Thus, Japan has made various efforts to support activities on the ground, take intellectual initiatives and develop human resources so that Japan can play its responsible role in the international community.

If I give one example, in conflict areas including Afghanistan, Japan has provided a broad range of assistance such as the strengthening of security capabilities, the agricultural and rural development, the improvement of infrastructure, and human resources development including vocational training. Furthermore, Japan is now considering ways to expand such assistance.

Japan has also led discussions on peacebuilding and peacekeeping at the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission and the Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations through serving as the chair. Additionally, Japan has actively supported peacekeeping training centers in Africa and Malaysia to reinforce the peacekeeping capabilities of the entire international community. Japan also conducted a senior mission leaders course jointly with the United States from 19 to 30 October in Tokyo, and contributed to increase in Asia-Pacific the pool of potential senior leaders for United Nations peacekeeping operations.

This Program for Human Resources Development aims to produce personnel from Japan and other Asian countries who can engage in and contribute to peacebuilding on the ground. The program constitutes one of the important pillars of Japan's efforts toward peacebuilding.

Japan started the program in 2007, and this year marks its third year. Graduates of this course in the past two years have already begun their work on the front lines of peacebuilding, serving in United Nations peacekeeping missions and country offices of UN organizations in such countries as Afghanistan, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste, and Sri Lanka. This course has been highly appraised as a model that would be useful for study in the development of civilians who could be deployed into complex peace operations. Building upon these achievements, Japan has expanded this program by launching the Senior Specialist Course this year.

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my heartfelt gratitude for those who have extended their generous support for this program, especially those with the Hiroshima Peacebuilding Center (HPC) and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.

I assure you that the Government of Japan is committed to continuing its efforts to create conditions where you can make active contributions and to take steps to unite your efforts and make them work more effectively.

This program includes six-week domestic coursework taught by Japanese and foreign lecturers with rich experience on the ground of peacebuilding and in training civilian professionals as well as one-year on-the-job training in foreign countries where program associates will serve as UNV volunteers. I am convinced that such a curriculum will provide the participants with opportunities to acquire skills necessary for taking part in complex and challenging activities of peacebuilding.

The network to be created with lecturers and fellow associates with common aspirations, especially with those who already have working experience in responsible posts, will become an important asset in building up your career.

I hope that all of you will complete this course and set a new step forward in the field of peacebuilding.

Thank you very much.

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