Policy Speech by H. E. Mr. Tetsuo ITO
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Kazakhstan and Head of the Delegation of Japan
at the 63rd Session of the United Nations
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

May 21, 2007

Mr. (Ms.) Chairperson,
Mr. Executive Secretary,
Honourable delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Government and the people of Japan, I would first like to express my sincere appreciation to the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan for hosting this session and to the citizens of Almaty for the very warm welcome they have extended to us.

Mr. (Ms.) Chairperson,

It was in 1954 when Japan became a member of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE), the predecessor of ESCAP. It was even before we joined the United Nations. 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 to promote friendly relations with all countries in the region.

Mr. (Ms.) Chairperson,

The Asia-Pacific region has developed greatly; meanwhile, we are faced with new challenges arising from globalization. To meet these challenges, we expect ESCAP will be able to fulfill its vital role as the most inclusive intergovernmental forum in the Asia-Pacific region. As such, ESCAP can act as the vehicle for member-driven economic and social development, providing critical expertise in key areas, while harnessing the strengths of all regional development stakeholders, in providing comprehensive and integrated development services to its member States.

Mr. (Ms.) Chairperson,

In November last year, Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso delivered a policy speech entitled "Arc of Freedom and Prosperity: Japan's Expanding Diplomatic Horizons." In his address, Minister Aso announced a new initiative to place emphasis on such universal values as freedom, democracy, fundamental human rights, the rule of law, and the market economy and to thus create an Arc of Freedom and Prosperity around the outer rim of the Eurasian continent.

Japan will be acting in partnership with other nations that share our fundamental values to jointly bring about a society characterized by both freedom and prosperity by cooperating in the areas of trade and investment as well as by making use of official development assistance to provide support for basic human needs such as health care and education, support to enable democracy to take root, and support to enhance infrastructure and legal frameworks. This will be one of the critical building blocks of the Arc of Freedom and Prosperity.

This concept will furthermore contribute to the realization of "human security" that Japan has been advocating. Faced with serious and diversifying threats, people cannot be protected appropriately by the traditional idea of national security. Development, security and human rights are closely inter-linked and must be promoted together. In order to supplement the idea of national security, Japan places great importance on the concept of "human security". The concept focuses on protecting and enhancing the capabilities of each and every human being and in turn advancing nation building through community building and human development. Japan is, therefore, strongly promoting "human security" in the international community. In order to put the concept into practice Japan has contributed a cumulative total of approximately 297 million U.S. dollars to the U.N. Trust Fund for Human Security. Promoting "human security" is also spelled out in the Shanghai Declaration, which was adopted at the 60th session of ESCAP. In the future as well, Japan will do its utmost to promote "human security" in the Asia-Pacific region by such means as support through ESCAP.

Japan is also strongly committed to realizing the MDGs. It is in this spirit that Japan has tackled the development agenda in cooperation with 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 of East Asia in mind, Japan places emphasis on fostering ownership by promoting human resource development.

Mr. (Ms.) Chairperson,

Japan has supported the Asian Highway Project, the Kitakyushu Initiative for Clean Environment, and the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action which relates to the rights of Persons with Disabilities through its contributions to the Japan-ESCAP Cooperation Fund (JECF). In the future as well, Japan intends to continue to support the various projects undertaken by ESCAP.

Mr. (Ms.) Chairperson,

Now let me make a few comments on UN Reform which is having a major impact on the activities of ESCAP. The United Nations is going through a critical period of management and Secretariat reforms. Japan is actively involved in discussions on UN Reform and Mr. Keizo Takemi participated in the High-Level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence. In the report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on System-wide Coherence: "Delivering As One", it was recommended that the role of regional commissions such as ESCAP should be reviewed. Against this background, we reiterate the importance for ESCAP of avoiding duplication of the functions of other international organizations, to find new raisons d'être, and to concentrate on areas in which it has comparative advantages. In this context, Japan strongly hopes that the Executive Secretary will exercise strong leadership in guiding ESCAP reform based on the report on the external evaluation of ESCAP.

Mr. (Ms.) Chairperson,

Lastly, I would like to express our gratitude to Mr. Kim Hak-Su, Executive Secretary of the Commission for his leadership in raising the visibility of the secretariat in its support of the Commission as a unique intergovernmental forum with universal membership in the Asian and Pacific region.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

Back to Index