STATEMENT BY H.E. MR. SHINTARO ITO
STATE SECRETARY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF JAPAN
AT THE SECURITY COUNCIL MINISTERIAL MEETING
ON THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST,
INCLUDING THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION
11 May 2009
On behalf of the Government of Japan, I extend our deepest appreciation to the Government of the Russian Federation for organizing this important meeting. I would also like to express our gratitude for the work of the Secretary-General and the Quartet to date.
The Middle East peace process is at a critical juncture, with new political developments on many fronts. Japan believes that the Security Council should continue to play a constructive role in the Middle East peace process.
We sincerely hope that the new Israeli Government will strive for the realization of a Middle East peace based on the two-state solution. We strongly call on the Israeli Government to fulfill its obligations under the Roadmap and Security Council resolution 1850. Japan expects that the Government of Israel will strive to achieve a peace in the Middle East by overcoming the current obstacles in cooperation with the international community.
Improving the humanitarian conditions in Gaza is a top priority for all of us. From that perspective, it is necessary to keep the crossings open continuously. At the same time, we condemn the sporadic rocket attacks on Israel, which undermine not only the security of Israeli citizens but also the efforts for the reconstruction of Gaza and the peace process. Here, again, I call on the parties to fulfill their obligations under Security Council resolution 1860.
To realize a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, it is also indispensable for the Arab States to play a more active role. The Arab Peace Initiative can serve as a solid foundation for a comprehensive Middle East peace.
At the International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza, in which I participated, Japan pledged 200 million US dollars in assistance to the Palestinians. Japan is supporting the efforts of the Palestinians under the Palestinian Authority led by President Abbas to build a viable national economy through the "Corridor for Peace and Prosperity" initiative and other projects, in order to realize the establishment of a Palestinian State comprising the West Bank and Gaza.
Japan also has been actively engaged in the Middle East peace process through its diplomatic efforts. Foreign Minister Nakasone visited the region last week. In Egypt he reiterated our unchanged support for Egyptian efforts for the realization of peace based on the two-state solution. Dr. Tatsuo Arima, our Special Envoy for the Middle East, also visited Israel and the Palestinian territories last week to assist in reinvigorating the peace process.
Last November, a historic high-level meeting was held here in New York, with the attendance of leaders from around the world, including those of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as well as our Special Envoy Mr. Koumura. At the meeting, the leaders stressed that peace could only be cultivated through dialogue and tolerance.
In this regard, I wish to stress the importance of a balanced approach in pursuing peace. There are many factors underlying conflicts, such as poverty and despair. Resorting to force will not be the ultimate solution to these problems. We need to help ensure a decent standard of living for those in dire situations and work to achieve economic prosperity and improve the quality of education. Values such as pluralism, multiculturalism, tolerance and moderation are required in order to realize peace. They can be developed through dialogue among civilizations, and I believe that our efforts to this end will benefit generations to come.
Japan has always aspired to accommodate differences and learn to co-exist with others over the course of our history. Differences should not lead to mutual estrangement, but rather should serve as a catalyst for enriching a society. We believe with conviction that the ultimate goal of diplomacy is to create a global society in which people of different cultures, religions and ideologies can live together in peace.
We hope to be a reliable partner of the parties to the Middle East peace process. Japan believes it has a constructive role to play in the realization of peace and prosperity in the region. We will do whatever we can in the form of financial as well as intellectual contributions. We will maintain our commitment to the two-state solution, which will make it possible for the Israelis and the Palestinians to live side by side in peace.
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