Statement by Minister Naoto Hisajima
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
Item 62: Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions
67th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
7 November 2012
At the outset, the Government of Japan appreciates UNHCR for its continuous efforts to reform the organization under the strong leadership of the High Commissioner. We commend that the reform process has made concrete results such as the reduction of headquarters costs and staff costs. My delegation sincerely hopes that organizational reform will continue.
We understand that last year we saw a slight reduction in the numbers of refugees, IDPs and asylum seekers, which UNHCR is tasked to address. We are also delighted to note that the number of IDPs returning voluntarily was 3.2 million, the highest number in the past ten years. On the other hand, the number of voluntary repatriations of refugees was at its third lowest level in the past ten years. My delegation is respectful to all the UNHCR staff who have been actively working to address the multiplication of new crises despite an insecure and unpredictable operating environment. My delegation also expresses our sincere condolences for the loss of six precious lives of the staff from January 2011 through June 2012.
Japan has been advocating human security as an important pillar of its foreign policy. On 10 September 2012 the General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution on human security (A/RES/66/290). We believe that the resolution will give us the momentum for further dissemination and implementation of human security. The Government of Japan would like to further promote human security through our continuous cooperation for the activities of UNHCR.
In July of this year, Japan hosted Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan; and on its sidelines, UNHCR held a parallel event on the issue of Afghan refugees. This parallel event reaffirmed the importance of the linkage between humanitarian assistance and development assistance, as recognized at the international conference on the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees held in Geneva last May. Japan supported this parallel event in Tokyo and expressed its intention to be earnestly and steadily engaged in the Afghan refugee issue.
In 2010, Japan started a three-year resettlement pilot program in cooperation with UNHCR to host Myanmar refugees from the Mae La Camp in Thailand. In March of this year, we decided that the pilot program be extended for another two years, and that the number of the refugee camps involved be increased from one to three camp sites. In spite of many challenges, we will make strenuous efforts to receive Myanmar refugees under this program in cooperation with UNHCR, so that it will continue until March 2015.
Please allow me to touch upon the Tokyo International Conference of African Development, TICAD. Japan started the TICAD process in 1993 and has been raising awareness and leading the discussion for African development in the international community. Japan will host TICAD V in June next year, which marks the 20th anniversary of the TICAD process.
Throughout the twenty years of the TICAD process, Japan has been emphasizing the importance of the consolidation of peace as a basis for development. We are pleased that many of the past armed conflicts and political turmoil in Africa have been resolved. However, it is still a matter of concern that there remain many refugees and IDPs in Africa. From this viewpoint, Japan would like to take up the issue of the consolidation of peace and stability as an important agenda at TICAD V, as the basis of sustainable development and resilient and inclusive society.
Japan is willing to continue its cooperation with UNHCR so that seamless assistance to bridge peace and development be successfully implemented in the countries in the aftermath of conflicts.
(Partnership: Transformative Agenda)
Japan strongly supports the Transformative Agenda (TA). We understand that UNHCR, as a responsible member of the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC), has been addressing the issue of reform with the aim of strengthening leadership, effective coordination, and enhanced accountability; and my delegation strongly hopes UNHCR will continue those efforts.
This year, UNHCR has been tasked with responding to many large-scale humanitarian emergencies. Strenuous efforts are needed, however, to realize durable solutions to protracted crises. I would like to conclude my statement by reiterating our hope that UNHCR will further strengthen its cooperation and partnership with other UN agencies such as UNDP and UNICEF to this end.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.