H.E. MR. SHINICHI KITAOKA
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan
At the Fifty-ninth session of the General Assembly on Agenda Item 27 " The Situation in Afghanistan and its Implications for International Peace and Security" and Item 39(d) "Emergency International Assistance for Peace, Normalcy and Reconstruction of War-Stricken Afghanistan"
8 December 2004
Let me begin by congratulating President Karzai on his election and the successful inauguration of his government yesterday. The registration of more than ten million voters for the presidential election held last October was an impressive achievement, and fully 80% of those registered actually voted. These results provide a clear demonstration of the strong determination of each and every Afghan citizen to build a truly democratic state. Japan has made contribution to the successful presidential elections by extending financial assistance in the amount of 17 million US dollars and sending Japanese election monitoring teams to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.
That said, Mr. President, the challenges remaining are still enormous in the lead-up to the parliamentary elections to be held next spring, the final goal of the Bonn Process. I would like to discuss four points in this connection.
First, the preparations for the parliamentary elections are still at a preliminary stage. The process must be accelerated. In order to maintain and enhance the momentum created by the successful presidential election, it is important that the parliamentary elections be held on schedule during April and May of next year, and for that goal more assistance from the international community will be required.
Second, with regard to the issue of security, I must note that it is remarkable that there was no major disturbance during the presidential election. We highly appreciate the contribution of ISAF and especially the role played by Afghanistan's own security forces. We are also proud to say that Japan Self-Defense Forces vessels are still engaged in activities in the Indian Ocean in support of the Operation Enduring Freedom Maritime Interdiction Operation of the coalition countries fighting against terrorism in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the repeated attacks occurring throughout the country remind us that security is still extremely precarious and needs to be substantially improved. We believe that the progress made to date in DDR, for which Japan has taken the lead in providing assistance, together with the United Nations, has also contributed significantly to the creation of an environment conducive to the organization of a fair election. However, successful DDR alone will not be sufficient to improve the security situation. Overall progress in security sector reform, including continued work on formation of the national army and police force, is necessary. We will therefore make further efforts in coordination with our Afghan and international partners.
Third, we are seriously concerned about the drug production and trafficking problem. While the international and national effort continues, a tremendous harvest in opium and trafficking of the drug overshadow the peace process. Illicit drug trafficking generates the illegal earnings which hinder the efforts to reconstruct the country. Effective counter-narcotics measures are of critical importance in order to promote effective unification and nation-building in Afghanistan.
For my fourth and final point, let me say that, while we welcome the achievement in various sectors in Afghanistan, in order to consolidate peace and make it sustainable, it is imperative that further, community-based development assistance be made available, particularly in the provinces. An example of such efforts is the Ogata Initiative, a comprehensive regional development plan, which is currently under way. Moreover, we recognize that the rehabilitation of infrastructure is essential to support Afghanistan's efforts to reconstruct the country. This October, we completed the Kabul-Kandahar road rehabilitation project and we have just launched the Kandahar-Herat road rehabilitation project. Our assistance to Afghanistan has amounted to more than 800 million dollars in total since September 2001. We remain strongly committed to continuing to extend our support to Afghanistan.
The experience in Afghanistan is a test case for the United Nations and the international community to determine how to go about providing support and encouraging the initiative of the people to rebuild a failed state. The Bonn Process is approaching its final stage, but the cooperation between Afghanistan and the international community must not end with the completion of the Bonn Process. We appeal to all Member States to renew and enhance their solidarity and cooperation with the Afghan people, who need our support now more than ever.
Thank you very much.