Policy Speech by H. E. Mr. Itsunori Onodera,
Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the Head of the Delegation of Japan
at the 61st Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
May 16, 2005
Mr. Executive Secretary,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It was even before joining the United Nations that Japan became a member of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE), the predecessor of ESCAP, in 1954. Japan has benefited from regional cooperation in the Asia-Pacific ever since. Today, cooperative relations with the Asia-Pacific region are becoming increasingly important for Japan. Looking back on the past and into the future as well, Japan would like to continue cooperating in regional socio-economic development through ESCAP and other avenues, and promote friendly relations with countries in the region.
The events that had the gravest impact on socioeconomic development in the Asia-Pacific region this past year were the major earthquake that occurred off the coast of Sumatra and the tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean. These unprecedented disasters took the lives away from some 280,000 people and resulted in US$8.4 billion worth of physical damage. As a partner in Asia, Japan offered as much assistance as it could in three areas, namely grant aid totaling US$500 million, the dispatch of the Japan Disaster Relief Team including the Self-Defense Forces, and providing expertise for establishing a tsunami early warning mechanism in cooperation with international agencies, primarily the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In line with the Initiative for Disaster Reduction announced at the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction held in Kobe in January this year, Japan intends to vigorously assist developing countries including those in the Asia-Pacific region, by way of institution building, human resource development and social infrastructure development. At the Asian-African Summit held recently, Japan expressed its intention to provide at least US$2.5 billion in assistance in the next five years, mainly to the Asian and African region, for disaster prevention and disaster countermeasures. This assistance covers reconstruction and rehabilitation for the earthquake and tsunami disaster that occurred in the recent past, as well as the establishment of a tsunami early warning mechanism.
This year, 2005, is an exceedingly critical one in terms of implementing the Millennium Declaration which was adopted in 2000 and attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In his report released in March, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that development, security and human rights are closely inter-linked and must be promoted together. This notion coincides perfectly with "human security," the very concept which Japan has advanced. Promoting "human security" is also spelled out in the Shanghai Declaration, which was adopted at the 60th session of ESCAP last year. Japan has submitted a draft resolution with the aim of further promoting the concept of "human security" to this session of ESCAP. Japan hopes that other countries will understand the merits of "human security," a concept it has promoted, and offer their support for this draft resolution.
Japan is strongly committed to realizing the MDGs. It is in this spirit that Japan has tackled the development agenda in cooperation with its partners that include developing countries, developed countries and international development agencies based on the concept of the new global partnership forged in Monterrey. Ownership by the developing countries themselves is essential in achieving the MDGs. With the experience in East Asia in mind, Japan places emphasis on fostering ownership by promoting human resource development through capacity building that includes education and investing in human resource development.
"East Asia's miracle" was the fruit of interactive linkage between official development assistance (ODA), economic infrastructure development, public- and private-sector human resource development, and foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, to name a few elements. Japan will ensure that an appropriate, sufficient level of ODA is maintained by continuing to make an effort to reach the 0.7% target for the ODA/GNI ratio with a view to contributing to the MDGs. As the Monterrey Consensus points out, trade and investment are the engines of economic growth. In addition to assistance for infrastructure and human resource development, Japan has actively promoted multilateral trading system including the Doha Development Agenda of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and expanded duty-free, quota-free access for imports from LDCs. Japan is striving to achieve the Monterrey Consensus, a set of internationally agreed development goals to be implemented by mobilizing all possible financial resources. Moreover, Japan is a proactive supporter of South-South cooperation, whose promotion is also advocated in the Monterrey Consensus.
At the recent Asian-African Summit held in Bandung, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi proposed further expanding market access for LDC goods and a new initiative for promoting trade and investment among the countries in the two regions. Prime Minister Koizumi also proposed the creation of Asia-Africa Young Volunteers Program, aimed at enabling the youth of Asia and Africa to work together to advance human resource development with an eye to the future.
Under the concept of global partnership, UN organs and agencies including ESCAP and international development agencies play a key role in attaining the MDGs. Japan hopes that ESCAP will build a development model that is appropriate for the Asia-Pacific region, and further contribute to socio-economic development in the region. Japan has provided assistance through channels including the Japan-ESCAP Cooperation Fund (JECF) for projects such as the Asian Highway Project, Kitakyushu Initiative for a Clean Environment, and the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action which relates to the rights of persons with disabilities. Japan intends to continue to support ESCAP. In particular, Japan has submitted a draft resolution to this session of ESCAP with the aim of encouraging further follow-up to the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action which relates to the rights of persons with disabilities. Japan hopes that other countries will support this draft resolution.
This year is crucial for the UN. It goes without saying that reforming the UN Security Council is vital, but not only that, the report of the UN High-Level Panel and the Secretary-General's report also emphasize the importance of strengthening the UN in a wide range of areas including peace and security, development and human rights. Japan believes that ESCAP, a subordinate body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), should take leadership in the Asia-Pacific region. Considering the direction of ESCAP's future activities to fulfill such expectations, Japan believes that it is vital to avoid duplication with other international and regional agencies and instead specialize in areas in which it gains comparative advantage, and to streamline the organization. Through these activities, Japan strongly hopes that ESCAP, as a regional economic commission of the UN, will be able to obtain clear-cut raison d'être in a way that befits this new era of globalization.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
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