Policy Statement by H.E. Mr. Seiken SUGIURA, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan at the 58th Commission Session of the United Nations, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
Bangkok, 21 May 2002
Dr. Kim, Executive Secretary of ESCAP,
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government and people of Japan, I would like to offer my highest regards to H.E. Mr. Shah Md. Abul Hussain, State Minister for Finance and Planning, Ministry of Finance and Planning, People's Republic of Bangladesh for the key role as chairman of this plenary session.
I would also like to express my deepest appreciation to the Government and people of the Kingdom of Thailand for providing this beautiful venue for this Commission Session.
?? I would like to inform all the participants that I had the opportunity to participate in the independence ceremony for East Timor held in Dili yesterday. I am of the view that it is necessary for the international society to support the efforts of the East Timor people to build their nation. To this end, Japan, as a member of the Asia-Pacific region, will cooperate in various ways in harmony with the international society.
2. Economic situation in the Asia-Pacific Region and Japan
(1) In 2001, the economies in the ESCAP region suffered sharp downturns. This was particularly evident in the information technology (IT) sector. There are, however, favorable signs for this region's economies, such as China's accession to the WTO.
(2) Although the Japanese economy is continuing to face severe conditions, we are observing some favorable aspects towards recovery.
The Japanese Government believes that sustained economic growth led by private demand is attainable by continuing various structural reforms such as removing bad loan problems completely.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro KOIZUMI proposed during his visit to ASEAN countries in January, five initiatives concerning Japan-ASEAN cooperation for the future, including the Initiative for Japan-ASEAN Comprehensive Economic Partnership. I hope that such new development will re-vitalize the economies in the region as well as in Japan.
3. Sustainable social development in a period of globalization
For sustainable social development in a period of rapid globalization, poverty reduction, employment expansion, social integration and information and communications technology are indispensable for achieving sustainable social development as emphasized in the meeting documents. Today I would like to touch upon Japan's efforts in these four areas, while considering the impact of globalization.
(1) Poverty reduction
- Global efforts to combine ownership by developing countries and assistance from developed countries are essential for poverty reduction. Japan stresses its cooperation particularly in the fields of education, health and the environment. For example, in the field of health care, while announcing its contribution of 200 million US dollars, Japan has been playing a central role in establishing and operating the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
- Japan also set up the UN Trust Fund for Human Security in March 1999 and has contributed about 155 million US dollars (about 18.9 billion yen) to the fund. The very first project financed by the fund was ESCAP's Human Dignity Initiative Project, which aims at reducing poverty through measures actively taken by local communities.
- Moreover, Japan believes that sustained economic growth is also essential for poverty eradication. ESCAP's CGPRT Center (Regional Co-ordination Center for Research and Development of Coarse Grains, Pulses, Roots and Tuber Crops in the Humid Tropics of Asia and the Pacific), in the field of agriculture, and SIAP (Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific), through its training courses, are effectively functioning to support the effort of developing countries towards their economic growth.
(2) Employment expansion
- As for employment expansion, tourism is one of the effective measures to create job opportunities for the people in the ESCAP region. While appreciating ESCAP's activities in this field, Japan hopes that ESCAP will continue to assist its member countries for their sustainable tourism development, taking into account their infrastructure-development.
- Moreover, the expansion of trade and investment through participation in the WTO framework should also lead to employment expansion. In this regard, Japan has supported ESCAP's project which aims at training government officials from developing countries to facilitate their accession to the WTO.
(3) Social integration
- Promoting social participation by the people with disabilities is an important aspect of social integration, which, in turn, leads to a sustainable social development.
- Even before and since the initiation of the "Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons," the Government of Japan has been promoting the welfare of disabled persons in Japan and abroad. As part of its efforts, the Japanese Government will host ESCAP's "High-level Intergovernmental Meeting to Conclude the Decade of Disabled Persons" this October in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture in western Japan. Prior to that meeting, the "6th World Assembly of Disabled People's International (DPI)," "Campaign 2002 for the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons," and the "12th Rehabilitation International-Asia and the Pacific Regional Conference" will also be held in Japan.
I sincerely hope that many representatives of the member countries will participate in these meetings, and the interaction among these series of conferences will obtain excellent results.
- Japan has submitted a draft resolution which aims at extending the "Decade of Disabled Persons" in order to continue its effort in areas that have not made expected progress. I hope that, with your understanding and cooperation, this resolution will be adopted by consensus at this Commission session.
- As an outcome of the Decade and to benefit disabled persons in the region, Japan has been extending its support for the expected establishment of the "Asian and Pacific Development Center on Disability" in Bangkok by 2004.
(4) Information and Communications Technology
- Rapid development in information technology has promoted today's globalization. At the same time, however, the international community is facing the problem of widening economic gaps among countries because of the digital divide.
- Taking the initiative in this area, Japan contributed 5 million US dollars to the ICT Trust Fund of UNDP last October. Moreover, the United Nations World Summit on Information Society will be convened in December 2003, and in 2005, to consider a declaration and an action program for making an ideal information society which is free from digital divide. While recognizing the importance of the meeting, Japan intends to play an active role in its preparatory process.
4. Preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)
Environmental issue is one of the most important tasks for making today's global economy sustainable.
Japan highly commends ESCAP's role in the regional preparatory process for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in the Republic of South Africa this summer, and will continue to actively participate in the preparatory process for the WSSD.
Japan would also like to share with and transfer to countries and cities in this region, experiences and technology which we have undergone and developed for overcoming our environmental pollution through the activities of the Kitakyushu Initiative Network and the North-East Asian Sub-regional Program of Environmental Cooperation. Japan hopes that ESCAP will offer these activities as useful and insightful inputs into the WSSD from the region.
5. Globalization and revitalization of ESCAP
I support Dr. Kim's vision that, in order to revitalize ESCAP, we should focus the scope of its programs and heighten their impact. Moreover, I would like to express my high regard for the truly timely judgment made by Dr. Kim to propose "managing globalization" as one of the three priority areas for ESCAP taking into consideration the comparative advantages of its secretariat and the needs of the countries in the region.
Japan believes that this Commission Session should adopt the draft resolution on the new conference structure based on ESCAP's three priority areas.
Japan will continue to extend its utmost support to ESCAP. In this context, we hope that the ESCAP secretariat will make concerted effort to more effectively utilize and to more transparently apply the limited resources available to it.
Lastly, Mr. Chairman,
Please allow me to talk about my personal experience.
Over forty years ago, when I was a student of the University of Tokyo, I began looking after the foreign students, especially Asian students. It was because I was greatly interested in finding out why the youth from Southeast Asian nations had decided to come to study in devastated postwar Japan. Through my long association with these Asian friends, I have come to realize that Japan is truly a part of Asia and that living and thinking together based on truly equal partnership is extremely important.
Our Prime Minister Koizumi stressed in his policy speech in Singapore this January, the creation of a "community that acts together and advances together" in East Asia. He also called for a widened sphere of cooperation in Asia, including Central and West Asia at the Boao Forum, China, last month.
I would like to conclude my address by reaffirming here that the Japanese Government will continue to have exactly the same sentiments as I do. In this regard, I also strongly hope that the ESCAP will contribute to play a very important role, as it has been.
Thank you very much.
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