(As delivered)

Country Statement by H.E. Mr. Nobuhide MINORIKAWA
Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs
and the Head of the Delegation of Japan
at the 65th Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

27 April 2009

Mr/Mme. Chairperson,
Ms. Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of ESCAP,
Honorable Ministers,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It was in 1954 that Japan joined the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) -- the predecessor of ESCAP. This was even before Japan gained membership to the UN, so it was a momentous occasion for us which opened up new possibilities of international cooperation in the post-war era. Since then, Japan has always been committed to the development of Asia and the Pacific, and has worked in close collaboration with ESCAP for this purpose.

Mr/Mme. Chairperson,

The current global financial and economic crisis is hitting the Asian real economy very hard. This is precisely the moment when all the countries in Asia and the Pacific must gather their strength to overcome the crisis and realize this region's growth potential. Let me assure you, Japan will be right beside our Asian and Pacific friends as we meet this challenge together through various efforts to boost growth and domestic demand, so that Asia can contribute to the global economy as a "center of growth open to the world."

Prime Minister Taro Aso has already put forward a series of robust programs to do just that. Of course, first and foremost, Japan needs to get its own economy back on track, so we are now doing that through a stimulus package of 750 billion US dollars including fiscal measures worth 120 billion - and we are considering more. At the same time, we are rapidly stepping up our support to the Asian region. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Aso announced that Japan was ready to make available up to 20 billion dollars of ODA for Asia, aiming at providing budget support, assisting infrastructure improvement, building a low-carbon society and assuring social safety-nets, etc. Japan is also ready to provide a total amount of 22 billion US dollars for two years to facilitate trade finance especially in Asian developing countries, which would be additional contributions to the 90 billion dollars we usually provide every year. A new line of trade insurance for Asia will be established as well, amounting to 20 billion dollars.

Mr/Mme. Chairperson,

Even in the face of the economic downturn, we must not waver in our collective efforts to achieve the MDGs. A wide spectrum of stakeholders, from governments, international organizations and civil society organizations to private corporations, must come together and stay engaged from the perspective of improving human security. Here, I believe that ESCAP has an important role to play in promoting the concept of human security and regional partnership among stakeholders. For its part, Japan is promoting a number of initiatives in cooperation with ESCAP in the related fields. Let me cite a few examples:

The first thing that I should mention is the 5th Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM5) to be held in Hokkaido, Japan, from 22 to 23 May. PALM5 will be a good opportunity for us to look at the Pacific islands' vulnerabilities and challenges to human security, as well as measures to tackle them. We also intend to focus on the environment, with the launch of the Pacific Environment Community to deal with environmental issues including climate change. I am confident that the outcome of this Meeting will also be useful for ESCAP in considering its own priorities and strengths with regard to the Pacific region.

Secondly, Japan has always been active in its support in following up the "Kitakyushu Initiative" and the "Biwako Millennium Framework" on disabled persons, particularly through the Japan and ESCAP Cooperation Fund (JECF) established in 1977. We will be happy to continue our support for such activities, especially in view of upcoming "High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on the Final Review of the Implementation of the Asian and the Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 2002-2012."

Thirdly, disaster risk reduction has always been one of Japan's strong suits, and we have recently announced cooperation package to help ASEAN enhance the regional resilience against large-scale natural disasters. In this context, I welcome the collaboration between ESCAP and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in the utilization of space technology. Hopefully, the Sentinel Asia project and the use of "Kizuna" (WINDS: Wideband InterNetworking engineering test and Demonstration Satellite) will be promoted even further, by taking advantage of the ESCAP network.

Last but not least, we all recognize that evidence-based policies are indispensable to achieve the MDGs, and I would like to stress that the Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP) has been, as the sole statistical training institute of the UN in this region, has been playing a very important role in developing the statistical capacity as well as human resources in developing countries. In acknowledgement of this, Japan has proposed a draft resolution on "Regional technical cooperation and capacity-building in statistics development in Asia and the Pacific," and I appreciate the support of Member States and Associate Members of ESCAP for this resolution.

Mr/Mme. Chairperson,

Japan highly appreciates the efforts for ESCAP reform being made under the leadership of Executive Secretary Heyzer. That said, in spite of the ongoing efforts to act as "One UN," the UN still suffers from duplication of work among different agencies. We strongly request that ESCAP avoid duplicating the work of UN funds and programmes in the field, and concentrate on upstream activities such as policy-making and advocacy based on ESCAP's comparative advantages.

Mr/Mme. Chairperson,

The Asia and the Pacific region possesses vast potential to be tapped by the international community in the 21st century, and the concerted efforts of countries in the region are indispensable to overcome the current crisis and develop the region further. By pursuing further the efficiency of the organization and its activities under the ongoing reform, Japan is confident that ESCAP will be able to make a vital contribution as a platform for regional cooperation to realize that potential. In closing, I reiterate Japan's continued commitment to supporting the ESCAP's efforts towards reform.

Japan shares serious concern over the possible outbreak of swine flu which could be as much a hindrance as other challenges that we are trying to solve here, to the economic recovery of not only Asia-Pacific but also other parts of the world.

Thank you.

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