(As delivered)

Statement by Mrs. Sadako Ogata
Special Representative of the Prime Minister of Japan
at the International Conference on Afghanistan

31 March 2004

Your Excellency Chancellor Shröder,
Your Excellency President Karzai,
Your Excellency Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Lakhdar Brahimi.
Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

As co-chair of the Tokyo International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan and Special Representative of Prime Minister Koizumi, I take great pleasure in witnessing the progress achieved by the Afghan administration and the Afghan people in the last two years, and the continuing commitment of the international community. I would like to recognize in particular, the significant contribution of UNAMA in supporting the Afghan administration and I am happy to see Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi today. I would like also to express my personal appreciation to Chancellor Schroder for his initiative in convening this conference and significant contributions made by Germany. It is indeed appropriate for Afghanistan and the international community to jointly take stock of the Afghan situation at this juncture, and to reconfirm the partnership on the part of all of us present here today.

At the start of this conference, I believe it is important that we recall and reaffirm the guiding principles that set the objectives of the international efforts. The first was to reinforce the political process from the very beginning as established in Bonn. The second was to achieve a seamless transition from humanitarian assistance to recovery and reconstruction, and the third was to establish and expand nationwide security. These principles are interlinked, and as relevant today as ever in guiding the course of Afghan nation-building.

The Afghan administration under the able leadership of President Karzai has made significant progress in line with these objectives. It has adopted the new Afghan Constitution through a democratic process. It has formed the Afghan national army and police. It has set up the national development framework and the national budget. It has introduced a new currency and strengthened its revenue base. Millions of children have come back to school, and millions of refugees and displaced persons have returned home. Japan applauds the Afghan administration for its achievements and appreciates all members of the international community for putting their pledges and commitments to action.

Let me now turn to a few relevant points that would further advance the impressive foundation that has already been put in place. First, the elections. We must support the efforts led by the United Nations to ensure the upcoming elections to be free and fair. We believe that establishing a truly representative government through successful elections would free the lingering hostilities and divisions from which Afghanistan suffered for so long. In fact the Afghan political process could serve as a model for post-conflict nation building for many countries that are facing similar challenges today.

Second, security sector reform and consolidation require greater efforts. The recent clash between armed factions in Herat is a cause of greet concern. The disarmament of factionalized armed units is an urgent task that would require more concentrated efforts to provide confidence both to the people and to the international community. The extended deployment of ISAF throughout the country would give much needed security coverage. The presence of security forces in the provinces would augment the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts throughout the country.

Third is the promotion of agriculture end rural development. The importance of agriculture as the foundation of Afghan economy cannot be overemphasized. In this connection, all efforts must be made to promote alternatives to poppy cultivation. Poppy economy not only threatens reconstruction but also undermines security.

Japan is committed to join in all national and international efforts to overcome the existing difficulties and advance the overall reconstruction of Afghanistan. I would like to comment on a few areas that Japan has taken particular strides.

Japan, together with UNAMA, has been leading the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration process. Progress in DDR frees people from fear and insecurity as well as livelihood concerns. It also leads to building a firm government that has strong security function under control. As of mid-February this year, in four areas including Kabul, more then 5,500 ex-combatants have been disarmed and demobilized, and 4,300 of them are now in the process of being integrated into the Afghan community. We recognize that the progress so far has not been enough. We intend to strengthen our efforts, but we do need better cooperation from key Afghan players, especially the factional leaders if we were to achieve the DDR objective.

Another area in which Japan has been making a major effort is the acceleration of comprehensive community development projects in the provinces. We started a program in Mazar-i-Sharif, Kandahar and Jalalabad with a view to attain a seamless transition from humanitarian assistance to recovery and reconstruction. The program reflects our attempt to put the concept of "human security" into practice by focusing on reconstruction at the provincial community levels. In close coordination with the Afghan government and UN operational agencies, the program started from assisting the reintegration of returnees as well as extending strong support to the receiving Afghan communities, Shelter, potable water, crop production, educational and health services are being provided by the agencies and the program is now expanding to include job creation projects.

Japan is also contributing to the major international efforts to restore the ring road in Afghanistan. President Karzai himself told me two years ago, that the reconstruction of roads is extremely important for the development of Afghanistan. Indeed, restoration of main highways to allow safe passage throughout the country contributes not only to security, but facilitates the movement of people, goods and therefore vitalizes the economy. The roadwork has started last year and Japan has helped reconstruct 180 km of the ring road that runs through Kandahar.

As recently appointed President of Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA, I am pleased to inform you that JICA's assistance program in Afghanistan is an important attempt to focus more on community development and to fill the transition gap between humanitarian relief and development.

Mr. Chairman,

At the Tokyo Conference, Japan pledged 500 million dollars of grant assistance over two and a half years for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Japan has now disbursed all the amount it pledged. Japan's total contributions to Afghanistan's development and humanitarian assistance amount to 630 million dollars.

At this currant conference, I am pleased to announce that Japan is prepared to make further grant assistance amounting to 400 million dollars over the coming two years, which brings Japan's contributions since September 2001 to over one billion dollars.

In closing, I wish to express my earnest hope that Afghanistan and the international community will join hands in overcoming difficulties that still lie ahead and continue the course toward consolidating peace and prosperity for Afghanistan and its people.

Thank you very much.

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