JCMB Political Directors level meeting
(February 5, 2008)
Opening statement by Foreign Minister Masahiko KOUMURA
I am pleased to welcome all of you here in Tokyo and to hold the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board meeting with the honorable Afghan Ministers and Political-Director level participants of the JCMB members.
Two years have passed since the adoption of the Afghanistan Compact and the nation-building based on the Compact begun. The follow-up mechanism of JCMB led by Kabul-based meetings has got on track, and strenuous efforts for the reconstruction have been continuing all over Afghanistan. As a result, I am delighted to see signs of improvement in the situation and highly appreciate the initiatives taken by the United Nations and the Government of Afghanistan.
However, Afghanistan is still faced with serious challenges, while it has come half way though the five-year process of the Afghanistan Compact. The security of Kabul has deteriorated with suicide bombings and kidnapping of foreigners, and the insurgent activities in the southern part of the country could intensify at any time. These are crucial challenges to the democratization process that has been built for the last six years as well as to various values the new Afghanistan embraces. So as to overcome these challenges, further strengthening of the institutions of the Government of Afghanistan and corresponding support from the international community are indispensable.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Japan has been emphasizing the importance of taking a holistic approach for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, by comprehensively covering political process, governance, security and the reconstruction aspects, as part of our initiative named the Consolidation of Peace.
The political process will not be completed merely by establishing government institutions. It entails continuous efforts to counter incessant challenges to democracy, the value of choosing power by democratic means.
The year 2008 sees the Presidential election and the National Assembly elections coming closer. It is a critical period for fortifying democracy in Afghanistan and reaching out to a wider part of the Afghan people. Accordingly, efforts for political reconciliation are also important.
In advancing the Consolidation of peace, security is the prerequisite for the reconstruction while reconstruction is the means for improving the security situation: Security and reconstruction are interdependent. I thus have high regard for the efforts of the Multi National Forces that undertakes the maintenance of security in Afghanistan, and I am glad to report to you that our Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels OUMI and MURASAME departed Japan on January 24th and 25th to support the Maritime Interdiction Operation in the Indian Ocean which deters terrorists' activities that affect security and stability of Afghanistan. Moreover, for the Security Sector Reform, Japan continues to provide maximum support to the Government of Afghanistan so as to advance DIAG, as Japan has lead it following the successful completion of the DDR process.
As for the reconstruction assistance, we believe that securing Afghan people's means of livelihood directly supports the stability in Afghanistan. With a smooth transition from the current stage of "reconstruction" into the stage of "development" in line with the completion of the full-version of Afghanistan National Development Strategy, we expect that the fruits of the revival of Afghanistan will spread in a tangible way to the Afghan people.
As such, the year 2008 will be a critical year in all aspects: political process, security, and the shift from "reconstruction" to "development." To realize a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, we must succeed in each of those correlated aspects and thus discuss further efficient and effective use of limited resources and prioritization, while taking into consideration deteriorating security situations.
JCMB is not only a mechanism to monitor the progress of the Afghanistan Compact, but also is a venue to elaborate an overarching strategy for reconstruction, proposing a plan to improve the situation, and to coordinate various efforts.
In this context, I expect that today's discussion will be fruitful by focusing on an holistic approach.
Lastly, I would like to point out that the international community is increasing its intention to contribute to the stability of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border following the holding of the Peace Jirga and the launch of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Initiative at the G8 Summit last year. The stability of the Afghanistan-Iranian border is also important.
Let me conclude my remarks by announcing that the Government of Japan is poised to extend support to Afghanistan of about 110 million US dollars in total, in addition to the 1.25 billion US dollars assistance which have been executed for Afghanistan since 2001. Among this 110 million US dollars, about 90 million US dollars will be implemented for projects around the Afghan borders with Pakistan and Iran. We also intend to implement assistance of about 13 million US dollars for enhancement of literacy through UNESCO and of about 9 million US dollars for enhancement of border management through Afghanistan Government.
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