Statement by Dr. Kiyohiko Toyama
Vice-Minister (Parliamentary) for Foreign Affairs of Japan
at "Asia 2015"
Sharing Lessons on Asian success and views on future challenges

Lancaster House, London
Monday 6th March 2006

Honourable Chairs, Distinguished colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen,

May I first commend the Government of the United Kingdom, the Asia Development Bank and the World Bank, for convening this conference. Japan fully shares the intent of Asia 2015 and has contributed to its preparation.

While Africa may be the region that has seen least progress on the Millennium Development Goals, Asia has the largest number of those in severe poverty, confronted with complex challenges. Today, I would like to highlight three major challenges facing us in Asia.

The first challenge is reducing poverty through economic growth. On the whole, Asia has made much progress in reducing poverty. This demonstrates that economic growth is essential for poverty reduction and generating resources for development. In the coming years, annual GDP growth rate of Asia is expected to be the highest among all the regions at about 6%.

Despite this overall picture, it is also true that poverty remains to be a deep-rooted problem in Asia. GDP per capita is still well below US$1,000 in many countries. The proportion of population living on less than $1 a day is still 56.7% in Asia. Needless to say, overcoming such disparities will require more enhanced efforts at the national, regional and international levels.

In this context, I would like to emphasize that successful conclusion of the WTO Doha Development Agenda will open up new opportunities for development of Asia. In order to help the developing countries reap the benefits of the multilateral trading system, Japan launched the Development Initiative at the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Conference last year. In addition to providing duty-free and quota-free market access for essentially all products originating in the LDCs, this Initiative will enhance the export capacity of developing countries by supporting production, transportation, distribution and marketing. Japan will provide US$ 10 billion over the next three years for infrastructure related to trade, and training programs for more than ten thousand specialists.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The second challenge is ensuring long term sustainability. Economic development in Asia has resulted in rapid urbanization, increased production and consumption. This has had a negative impact upon environment, as, for example, some countries are seeing their forests diminish at an annual rate of 3% to the detriment of ecosystems.

Within a generation, the majority of the developing world's population is expected to live in urban areas. This will make it more difficult for governments to meet the basic needs of the urban population such as water and sanitation. The challenges of environmental degradation, efficient use of resources and climate change must also be addressed in order to ensure sustainable development beyond 2015. With Asia accounting for about 60% of the world population, overcoming these problems is absolutely crucial not only for the region but also for the entire global community.

In the post-war high growth period, Japan has experienced and overcome many environmental problems. Making use of such experiences, Japan's ODA attaches special importance to sustainable development. Japan's assistance in this area will be implemented under the 3R Initiative to promote "reduction" of wastes, "reuse" and "recycling" of resources, and the Environmental Conservation Initiative for Sustainable Development (EcoISD) to promote actions on climate change, pollution, water management and environmental protection. In an effort to combat illegal logging, Japan has been promoting the Asia Forest Partnership (AFP) in cooperation with Asian countries and other partners. I am happy to announce that Japan and the U.K. will closely collaborate in this endeavor.

The third challenge for Asia is promoting human security. In order to effectively address various threats such as avian flu, environmental destruction, natural disasters and economic crises, actions based on national or regional perspectives alone, are not sufficient. There is a need to place focus on the individual human beings. The human security approach seeks primarily to protect individuals and communities from various threats, and empower them to deal with such threats. Based on its recently revised ODA Charter, Japan will strive to reflect human security concepts in its ODA activities.

Ladies and gentlemen,

To address all these challenges, there is a need to broaden and strengthen our partnerships at various levels. I would particularly like to highlight the importance of South-South cooperation. There is enormous benefit in learning from knowledge and experiences of countries at similar stages of development. Japan will continue to support South-South cooperation, including through international organizations such as the Asia Productivity Organization (APO) and UNDP.

With respect to partnership between donors and partner countries, making aid effective is an important issue for both sides. I am pleased to announce that Japan, along with the U.K. and the Asia Development Bank, will be organizing, in the near future, the Asia Workshop on Aid Effectiveness to promote implementation of the Paris Declaration.

Ladies and gentlemen,

My last word will be on the importance of ownership and political leadership of the Asian partners. For its part, Japan will remain firmly committed to bolstering the self-help efforts of the Asian countries for sustainable development toward and beyond 2015.

Thank you very much for your attention.


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