The London Conference on Afghanistan

Statement by H.E. Katsutoshi Kaneda, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan

January 31, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, on behalf of the government of Japan, please allow me to express my profound gratitude to the Government of the United Kingdom for its efforts to bring us together, with a view to broadening and strengthening the partnership between the international community and Afghanistan.

We have just listened to the future vision of the Afghan government envisaged in the ANDS, and renewed our commitment through the Afghanistan Compact. The ANDS is a manifestation of the Afghan people's strong desire for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan. Japan is determined to support that desire. Japan will also do its utmost to help implement the Compact.

Four years ago, Afghanistan started almost from zero to rebuild the nation. Japan joined the international community in its fight against terrorism and took a leading role in Afghanistan's nation-building by hosting the Tokyo Reconstruction Conference in January 2002.

Since then, Japan has extended wide-ranging support in fields such as humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and security. Japan has assisted in security sector reforms, especially the DDR process, and joined the project to construct a highway connecting Kabul, Kandahar and Herat. More than 100 Japanese aid workers, from the government and NGOs, are now working in Afghanistan. Japan is also participating in activities in support of the Operation Enduring Freedom Maritime Interdiction Operation.

Japan pledged at the Berlin Conference that it would implement assistance amounting to one billion dollars between September 2001 and March 2006, and achieved this goal ahead of schedule in November of last year.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, President Karzai has presented in his speech the steady progress and remarkable achievements of Afghanistan over the last four and a half years. It gives me a great pleasure to congratulate the people of Afghanistan on their success in these efforts. The challenges that still remain for Afghanistan, however, are considerable. Security, better infrastructure and public services, rural development, income generation, sound public expenditure management, counter-narcotics efforts and rule of law are some prominent examples.

Japan, with the understanding that the Afghan government will fully exercise its ownership for nation-building and that security situation will be improved, intends to contribute four hundred fifty million dollars to assist the successful completion of the ANDS, in addition to Japan's assistance to date of one billion dollars. Out of this amount, Japan will make efforts for the expeditious implementation of a first installment of one hundred fifty million dollars. To coordinate concrete assistance projects, Japan will hold an annual "ODA policy consultation dialogue" with the Afghan government. By authorizing this additional assistance, Japan is demonstrating that it will continue to extend all possible support for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Japan will also encourage the Afghan government effective and fair use of their resources.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Japan believes that ODA is not merely a channel for delivering financial and material support from donors to recipients. ODA can also be a pathway for the exchange of cultures, traditions and values. Through ODA, the international community can come closer together and foster strong partnerships.

The relationship between Japan and Afghanistan is one such partnership, formed between the people of our two countries. In October 2004, an earthquake occurred in Niigata prefecture in Japan. When school children in Kabul learned of this tragedy, they sent letters conveying warm messages of sympathy to the earthquake victims. This story is a clear indication of the solid partnership that exists between Afghanistan and Japan. The Government of Japan is determined to continue its efforts to further strengthen this partnership.

Thank you.

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