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Address by Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi at
the Luncheon for Foreign Ministers of African Countries

(24 September, 2004)

Your Excellency, (Mr. Jean Ping, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations)
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you, my African Colleagues, to this luncheon today.

As you are already aware, Japan today is directing greater energy than ever before into forging a stronger relationship with Africa. Japan organized the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in 1993, just after the end of the Cold War, and in the nearly ten years since then has dramatically expanded its cooperative relationship with Africa through the TICAD process. TICAD III, held last year, was an outstanding success, thanks to the cooperation of our African partners. We welcome the high degree of ownership exercised by Africa in recent years, as witnessed in the impressive performance of the African Union (AU) and the development of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and we are determined to continue reinforcing our vigorous cooperation with Africa.

In November of this year, Japan will be holding the TICAD Asia-Africa Trade and Investment Conference in Tokyo. We believe that cooperation between Asia and Africa aimed at increasing trade and investment between our two continents will play a vital role in furthering African development and economic growth.

There is also a growing need in Africa to ensure human security for individuals, the people who are to lead the development. In this field, Japan has contributed a total of US$29 million over the past five years through the Trust Fund for Human Security established in the United Nations, and, in the last two years, has also provided US$246 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

It need hardly be said that the realization of peace is a crucial prerequisite for development. In recent years we have witnessed a dynamic trend in the field of consolidation of peace, as exemplified by the dispatch of the African Mission in Burundi (AMIB) by the AU and the activities of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire. Japan applauds these African initiatives and intends to lend its support. Japan contributes some 20% of the UN budget, including US$530 million for a single year (2004/05) for seven peacekeeping operations currently operating in Africa. Japan also supports disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), provides assistance for refugees and promotes landmine clearance through UN organizations and bilateral assistance. In response to the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Darfur region in Sudan, Japan has decided to extend additional humanitarian assistance amounting to US$15 million, thereby making its total contribution for this crisis US$21 million. In addition, Japan intends to provide in-kind assistance to the Sudanese refugees in Chad. If Japan is elected a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council this year for a two-year term starting next year, we intend to further elevate our role in these areas.

I believe that the 59th Session of the UN General Assembly this year is going to be a pivotal turning point. This is because we are now approaching a crucial stage for UN reform. The international community must apply its combined wisdom to transform the UN into an organization capable of addressing the realities of the 21st century. It is an urgent task to reform the UN structurally especially through the enhancement of the effectiveness and credibility of the Security Council with a view to creating "A New United Nations for the New Era." To that end, it is essential that the countries that have the capacity and the will to contribute to the peace and security of the international community always participate in the decision-making process of the Security Council. The number of Member States is growing, with a marked rise in membership from Africa, and the Security Council, in turn, must become more representative. It is thus important that the Security Council be expanded in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, including developing and developed countries as new members. Japan is prepared to assume even greater responsibility as a new permanent member of the Security Council. Japan also believes that Africa should be represented in the Security Council on a permanent basis.

With the momentum gathering for UN reform, we are presented with a now-or-never opportunity which we cannot afford to let pass. This is precisely why I wish to enhance our cooperation on this matter with my esteemed African colleagues.

When I visited Africa, I was deeply impressed by the way African nations and individuals were coming together to realize the infinite potential of Africa and to achieve stability and development through their own efforts. Today, let me reiterate the pledge I made during that visit. Please be assured of Japan's unflagging determination to advance hand in hand with the nations of Africa.

With that, allow me to offer a toast to the greater prosperity of the African nations, to your good health and to the further development of the friendly relations between Japan and Africa.

Thank you very much.

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