Visit to Japan by H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations

May 18, 2006

  • Secretary-General (SG) Kofi Annan visited Japan from May 16 to 19 as Guests of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Note: This year is the 50th anniversary of Japan's accession to the United Nations (UN)) and exchanged views with Prime Minister Koizumi, Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe, and Foreign Minister Aso, respectively.
  • In the series of meetings, the Japanese side expressed to the SG its wish for progress on UN reform including Security Council reform. Japan also conveyed serious sense of problem on current burden-sharing in the United Nations. Japan was also able to emphasize its cooperation with the UN in the areas of peace-building and responses to humanitarian crises. Furthermore, SG requested airlift support to assist UN activities in Iraq, and Japan agreed that it would positively consider this request and respond in a forthcoming manner.
  • During his stay in Japan, SG gave a lecture at the University of Tokyo, met with representatives of "Global Compact", and attended a tea ceremony hosted by Japan-UN Goodwill Ambassador Sen Genshitsu. Mrs. Nane Annan also gave a lecture at the Gakushuin Women's College.

I. Overview of Major Meetings

1. Meeting with Prime Minister Koizumi (May 17, from 16:40 for 40 minutes)

(1) The Prime Minister explained about the establishment of the "Hideyo Noguchi Prize" which he had announced during his recent visit to Africa. This prize, which will be comparable to the Nobel Prize, will honor those who have made distinguished contribution for Africa in the study or practice of medicine, in such areas as measures against infectious diseases.

(2) On UN reform, SG said that reform is underway in wide-ranging areas and that he would like to thank Japan and Prime Minister Koizumi for his cooperation. SG said that Security Council reform is still on the table, that most Member States agree on the need for reform, and that the question is how to form a consensus. In response, the Prime Minister stated that Japan would continue to strive for reform in consultations with US, bearing in mind Japan's cooperation with the G4 nations last year.

(3) Regarding UN activities in Iraq, SG requested airlift support for transportation of personnel and equipment. The Prime Minister responded that cooperation with the UN is important, and that Japan would positively consider this request and respond in a forthcoming manner.

(4) Regarding the situation in Northeast Asia, SG said that he recognized again after meeting South Korea Leaders the importance of the abduction issue, the issue of nuclear development program of DPRK, and the Japan-ROK (Republic of Korea) relations. Prime Minister Koizumi responded that exchanges between Japan and the ROK and between Japan and China have reached at an unprecedented level, that he has no concerns over Japan-ROK and Japan-China relations, and that he always stands ready to meet with the leaders of both nations.

2. Meeting with Foreign Minister Aso (May 17, from 18:50 for 20 minutes, followed by a dinner hosted by the Foreign Minister)

In addition to the contents included in the aforementioned exchanges with Prime Minister Koizumi, SG also exchanged opinions regarding the following points.

(1) Foreign Minister Aso expressed that Japan strongly wishes the progress on UN reform and that UN reform cannot be completed without Security Council reform in particular. Minister Aso also stated that Japan is exploring concrete proposals to make progress on the Security Council reform in this session of the General Assembly. In addition, in the context of reform, Foreign Minister Aso, referring to UN's effort in the field of addressing such challenges as peace-building and humanitarian crisis, conveyed that Japan has decided to make financial contributions to strengthen the capacity of the UN in these fields. In response, SG expressed his deep gratitude.

(2) Regarding assessed contributions to the UN, Minister Aso conveyed the necessity of making them equitable and fair, as well as the fact that our people are voicing frustration and dissatisfaction with regard to the current burden-sharing in the United Nations. Minister Aso also said that regarding assessed contributions for the next term, Japan would adhere to the Japanese plan, which had already been submitted.

3. Meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe (May 17, from 17:45 for 40 minutes)

Aside from the aforementioned exchanges with Prime Minister Koizumi and Foreign Minister Aso, SG also had the following exchange.

(1) In the context of UN reform, responding to the reference by SG to the Human Rights Council, Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe said that as a newly elected member state of the Council Japan will bring the issue of abduction by North Korea to the attention of the international community at such venues as this Council.

(2) Furthermore, Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe explained that he expects that DPRK will return to the Six-Party Talks, and that Japan's basic policy toward DPRK is "dialogue" and "pressure." Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe also expressed that he would like to carry this forward to the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and DPRK through comprehensive resolutions of the issues of Japan's concern, such as the abduction and nuclear problems.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe further added that the number of people-to-people exchange between Japan and China and between Japan and ROK respectively reaches more than 10,000 per day, and that relations with both countries are extremely close, primarily centering around economic and cultural aspects. In response to this, SG expressed his appreciation for the explanation, as well as his expectation that Japan, China, and the ROK would together come to play an even greater role in the world through the maintenance of friendly relations among the three countries.

II. Overview of Major Events

1. Meeting with the Global Compact Japan Network (May 18, from 9:45 for 50 minutes)

UN Information Centre, Tokyo and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs co-hosted a meeting of Global Compact Japan Network (GCJN). With the 24 organization of the GCJN, one NGO, an academic network representative, and a representative of the Global Compact Office in New York participated the meeting which commenced after taking commemorative photographs.

(1) At the meeting, an overview of GCJN activities was presented and SG stated that he wanted the members of the GCJN to 1) have pride as leaders and implement the GC principles in their business activities, 2) promote GC to a diverse range of stakeholders, including business partners, small and medium-sized enterprises, and civil society organizations, etc., and encourage their participation in the GC, and 3) to recognize their contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals through their core activities and other activities as a company.

(2) Afterwards, five organizations (Mitsui & Co., Ltd., Ricoh Co., Ltd., Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd., Kawasaki City, and Toshiba Corporation) gave presentations about their respective GC activities. In response to these, SG commented that 1) because cooperation with a wide range of partners was necessary to resolve the issues faced by the international community, he welcomed the fact that the GCJN is composed of representatives from a wide range of sectors and industries, and 2) in the final year of his term as SG, he had realized the progress of the GC by learning GC activities in Japan.

2. Tea Ceremony Hosted by Japan-UN Goodwill Ambassador Sen Genshitsu (May 18, from 11:30 for 30 minutes)

SG and his wife Nane were invited to a tea ceremony in the Urasenke Tokyo Branch hosted by Japan-UN Goodwill Ambassador Sen Genshitsu. (Senior Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Yasuhisa Shiozaki and his wife were also in attendance. SG had attended a tea ceremony in 2004, therefore this was his second time.) In the tea ceremony room, after Ambassador Sen had given an explanation about the culture of tea, etc., the participants chatted in English. During the gathering, they took photographs of each other, and Ambassador Sen and SG exchanged presents at the end of the ceremony.

3. Conferment Ceremony for Honorary Doctorate from the University of Tokyo and Commemorative Lecture (other site) (May 18, from 15:00 for 2 hours)

In the Yasuda Auditorium of the University of Tokyo, SG was conferred an honorary doctorate in recognition of his distinguished achievements as SG. Then SG gave a commemorative lecture at the university before an audience of about 1000 people and held a question-and-answer session with the students.

(1) During his lecture, SG mentioned the fact that last year marked the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and then expressed his expectations of the role that Japan would play toward achieving nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. In particular, he made a statement praising Japan, saying that this country's great success as a nation, while adhering to the self-imposed standard of not manufacturing or possessing nuclear weapons, has sent a powerful message around the world. He also mentioned the abduction issue and made a statement that he was hopeful that Japan and DPRK would fully resolve the question of abductees. And with respect to Iran's nuclear development issue, he expressed his strong hope that the current discussions on the Security Council would give a new momentum to the quest for a negotiated solution. On UN Security Council reform, he gave his view that reform of the UN would not be complete, without reform of the Security Council.

(2) After the lecture, a question-and-answer session with the students was held. In the session, SG gave the students a message that, in order to change things, they had to, first of all, participate in their surrounding environment and take action without giving up what they hoped for.

4. Press Conference (May 18, from 17:45 for 45 minutes)

After completing his schedule in Japan, SG held a press conference in the Japan National Press Club. At the beginning of the press conference, SG stated that he had had a full and productive visit to Japan. Then he held a question-and-answer session which covered topics including UN Security Council reform, the election for the next SG, relations with Japan's neighboring countries including China and the ROK, etc., North Korean nuclear and human rights issues in DPRK, humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in Iraq and his evaluation on the war on Iraq, peacekeeping operations, nuclear nonproliferation, etc.

(Note) Itinerary of Secretary-General Annan's Visit to Japan

May 16

  • Arrival at Haneda Airport

May 17

  • Meeting with the Parliamentarians' Association for UN Reform
  • Meeting with the members of the New Komeito Party
  • Courtesy call to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
  • Talks with Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe
  • Talks and working dinner with Foreign Minister Taro Aso

May 18

  • Meeting with the Global Compact
  • Tea ceremony hosted by Japan-UN Goodwill Ambassador Sen Genshitsu
  • Audience with Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress of Japan
  • Lecture at the University of Tokyo
  • Press conference

May 19

  • Departure from Narita International Airport

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