Policy Statement by H. E. Dr. Tatsuo Arima,
the Representative of the Government of Japan,
at the 56th Commission Session of the United Nations Economic
and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

(Bangkok, June 5, 2000)

1. Introduction

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

   On behalf of the Government of Japan, I wish to extend my congratulations on the unanimous election of His Excellency Dr. Kamal Kharrazzi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Islamic Republic of Iran, as chairman of this Session. I also wish to express my gratitude to the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand for hosting this Conference.

2. The Integration of Developing Countries into the Multilateral Trading System

Mr. Chairman,

   Throughout this century, the barriers and obstacles to economic activities in the world have gradually been removed, and the world economy is moving towards a unitary system. It is important for us now to discuss how to make use of the benefits of what we have come to call economic globalization, as well as to address the problems arising from it. To do so is important for achieving a stable development of the world economic system, for the future prosperity for all of humankind.

Mr. Chairman,

   One of the most important issues facing the international economy today is the maintenance and strengthening of the multilateral trading system, centered on the WTO. Confidence building with developing countries is vital to achieving this. It is essential for us to appropriately address the matters that are of wide concern among developing countries, including those in the Asia-Pacific region, and to expeditiously launch a new Round of trade negotiations with inclusive agenda with no a priori exclusion, responding to various interests and concerns of each country.
   Japan is willing to work on a global level to help developing countries enjoy the benefits of multilateral trading system. With respect to developing countries that would find it difficult to implement WTO agreements, Japan is prepared to work actively to carry out a range of measures that would include the training of human resources required for the implementation of those agreements. Moreover, as regards imports from the least developed countries we would also like, in conjunction with other major countries, to promote an initiative to accord and implement duty-free and quota-free preferential treatment to essentially all goods originating in those countries.
We see it appropriate that the modalities and substance of the multilateral trade negotiations be decided in the future discussions at the WTO.

3. The Asian Economy

Mr. Chairman,

   When the Asian currency and economic crisis broke out in July 1997, countries affected by the crisis worked hard to bring about their own self-reform while they received assistance from international community. To assist the reform efforts of Asian countries, Japan announced a variety of assistance measures, such as the New Miyazawa Initiative, and has been implementing them steadily.
   Fortunately, we are now seeing trends towards recovery in many countries. Economic growth rates of the Asian economies have recently been turning substantially positive, and we must make sure that these moves towards recovery become increasingly robust.

Mr. Chairman,

   To ensure that these moves towards recovery do not prove temporary, and that they lead to growth in the mid- to long-term, the most important step to take, in my view, is the development of human resources, a critical factor for economic development. The importance of human resources development is articulated in the report submitted by a mission sent by the Government of Japan last year to several Asian countries to study how best to achieve revitalization of Asian economies. Based upon this report, Japan announced at the ASEAN + 3 (Japan, China and Korea) summit in November last year the "Plan for Enhancing Human Resources Development and Human Resources Exchanges in East Asia", which came to be known as the "Obuchi Plan". Japan intends to continue to steadily implement the "Obuchi Plan", through such measures as the dispatch of government mission for the follow-up of the plan.
   The Asian economic crisis has also had a far-reaching impact on the social areas such as health, hygiene, education and employment. In order to help the socially vulnerable, who have suffered most from the crisis, Japan has decided to create "Japan Social Development Fund" in the World Bank and "Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction" in the ADB, to which it will contribute a sum of 10 billion yen each for the fiscal 2000 - a total of 20 billion yen. We hope to work on the implementation of appropriate measures in close collaboration with the World Bank and the ADB. Japan has recently begun making contributions to projects involving local communities from the Human Security Fund it established at the United Nations, in order to assist the efforts of ESCAP.

4. ESCAP Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific

Mr. Chairman,

   The Government of Japan will be hosting the 4th ESCAP Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific in the city of Kita-kyushu at the end of August this year. Kita-kyushu is renowned for the range of initiatives it has taken to overcome excessive environmental pollution. It has furthermore resolved environmental problems through pollution-control initiatives by relevant institutions in the city. Japan hopes to submit the approaches Kita-kyushu has been taking to the Ministerial Conference and have them endorsed as the "Kita-kyushu Initiative". The Initiative places emphasis on guidelines for environmental protection, for example with regard to issues such as atmospheric and water pollution, garbage, development of greenery in urban areas, and environmental management in both large and medium-sized cities. I hope that, by learning from Kita-kyushu's experience of addressing environmental issues, the Conference will be able to adopt the Initiative as guidelines for action in addressing environmental issues that affect the entire Asian region.
   In addition to the Kita-kyushu Initiative, the Environment Congress for Asia and the Pacific (ECO ASIA), to be held back to back with the ESCAP Environment Ministers' Meeting, is due to issue a policy paper on a long-range plan for key environmental issues.
   The Government of Japan is of the view that the ten-year comprehensive review of agenda 21, so called Rio + 10 in 2002, should have a future oriented agenda enabling the participants to discuss new technological progress and globalization that have emerged after the " Earth Summit " in 1992. I strongly hope that, by making use, inter alia, of above-mentioned material, the 4th ESCAP Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development will make a valuable contribution to the preparation for Rio + 10.

5. Strengthening the functioning of ESCAP

Mr. Chairman,

   Last year, based on a proposal by Japan, the Conference adopted a recommendation to strengthen the activities and functioning of ESCAP, and to improve its visibility. Subsequently, after lively debate at the meeting of the ACPR, composed of member countries with permanent representatives here in Bangkok, a number of proposals were drawn up, requesting specific actions considered necessary to put the recommendation into practice. These proposals have now been submitted to this Conference as ACPR report.
   ESCAP emerged as the first U. N. organization established in this region shortly after the end of World War II to pursue economic rehabilitation of the Asia-Pacific region. Amid the subsequent emergence of numerous international organizations and U. N. programmes, it should now aim at greater value-added activities that are not done by other international organizations. To that end, it is essential for every member country and the secretariat itself to sharpen their awareness of what the ESCAP does and to review regularly the effectiveness of activities so far implemented.
   The proposals include the following:
1. Attaching more importance to the evaluation by the member developing countries of ESCAP activities which are addressed to them,
2. Giving greater enhancement of publicity at both national and regional levels to the examples of successful activities,
3. More actively feeding back the relevant information through the ESCAP Web site, and
4. Improving the visibility of ESCAP activities.

   I wish to pay my high tribute and gratitude to H.E. Dr. Mooy, the incumbent ESCAP Executive Secretary for having done a wonderful job for this organization. I now wish to congratulate H.E. Dr. Kim Hak-Su on his appointment as the next ESCAP Executive Secretary. It is our strong hope that through Mr. Kim's leadership, maximum use is made of ESCAP's existing human and financial resources. I look forward to the ESCAP Secretariat undergoing a full review of the organization in the near future.
   Japan will continue to extend human resources and financial assistance so that ESCAP may continue to go ahead with its distinctive technical-cooperation activities in the fields of economic and social development. In the fiscal 2000, Japan is providing some 3.5 million U.S. dollars as contributions to the Japan-ESCAP Cooperation Fund (JECF), the Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP), and the CGPRT Centre for ESCAP to undertake projects related to economic and social development within the region. Japan will also continue to dispatch experts through agencies such as the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

6. Conclusion

Mr. Chairman,

   It is essential for us all that we pass on to the next generation a prosperous and stable world where people can live in comfort and peace. To this end, we have to mobilize our collective wisdom and exert our full energies to ensure that the Asia-Pacific region, and in turn the whole world, can go into the 21st century, full of hope and joy.
   In July this year, Japan will be hosting the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit. We intend to discuss, as the main topic, what the international community should do in order to achieve greater prosperity, deeper peace of mind and greater world stability. We wish to send out a strong, positive message that will give hope to all the peoples in the world, that the coming century will be a wonderful one for all of humankind.
   Finally, let me emphasize that Japan is resolved to make every effort, by means of international cooperation through bodies such as ESCAP, to bring about the stability and prosperity of the entire region.

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