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


January 6, 2010

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank you all for attending today's opening ceremony of the Senior Specialist Course of the Program for Human Resources Development in Asia for Peacebuilding.

This program was launched in 2007, and the pilot phase in the first two years was successfully completed. Building on this achievement, we have introduced this Senior Specialist Course from this year, as part of our effort to expand the program. I am truly delighted to welcome a group of highly motivated program associates, ten from Japan and nine from other Asian countries, to kick off this new course. They all aspire to make a difference in the field of peacebuilding, and bring diverse professional backgrounds and knowledge, in private business, government, international institutions, NGOs, and journalism.

Civilians play core roles in peacebuilding. Their activities range from providing humanitarian assistance, strengthening the rule of law and respect for human rights, and offering election assistance, to promoting social and economic recovery and development. They also take care of administrative work, public relations, and procurement to support those activities. The importance of developing civilian capacity globally has been stressed on many occasions, including the G8 L'Aquila Summit Declaration adopted in July last year. And the Japanese government considers this program as a major pillar of our peacebuilding efforts; for it is through this program that we send people from Japan and other parts of Asia to engage in peacebuilding activities on the ground.

A total of fifty-eight people have already graduated from this Program over the past two years. Twenty-nine who are enrolled in this year's Primary Course of the Program have completed their coursework in Japan, and are preparing for their assignments overseas. A number of our graduates are now in the forefront of peacebuilding activities, earning brilliant reputation in UN peacekeeping missions and field offices of UN agencies in places like Afghanistan, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste, and Sri Lanka.

Getting senior specialists on board will hopefully add a great deal to this Program. I am confident that the experiences and expertise that each member brings to this course, along with their life experiences, will be an asset as they work through a new challenge that is peacebuilding. Also, at the time when inward-looking attitudes are said to be spreading throughout Japan, senior specialists working in the field can teach and encourage the younger generation by example, and foster deeper public understanding of peacebuilding.

Finally, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all those involved in making this Program work, including especially those at HPC and UNV who have supported us from the very beginning. I promise you, ladies and gentlemen, that the government of Japan will do everything possible, in cooperation with HPC and UNV, to support hard work of each and every one of our program associates.

Thank you very much.

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