Remarks at the Consul’s Ball Gala
By Ambassador Kazuo Kodama
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
27 April 2012
Mr. Richard Golob, President of the UN Association of Greater Boston,
Ms. Lena Granberg, Executive Director of the UN Association of Greater Boston,
Mr. Leonard Kopelman, Dean of the Consular Corps and Honorary Consul General of Finland,
Members of the Consular Corps of Boston,
Members of the UN Association of Greater Boston,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honor and privilege for me to attend this premier international gala representing Japan together with Consul-General Mr. Hikihara.
Let me start with a short anecdote about how super-sensitive our world has become toward national identity these days. The other day in New York, I went to a store and asked a shop attendant. “In what aisle could I find the Japanese Sushi and Sashimi?” The attendant responded, “Are you Japanese?” I said, “Yes, I am. But let me ask you something. If I had asked for bratwurst, would you have asked me if I was German? Or if I had asked for whiskey, would you have asked if I was Irish?” The attendant said, “No, I probably wouldn’t have.” So I asked, “Well then, why do you ask me if I’m Japanese?” The attendant replied, “Because you are in Home Depot.”
(11 March, 2011 Disasters)
Consul General Hikihara mentioned how grateful we Japanese are for the warm and generous assistance extended by the international community, including the people and the government of the US, in the wake of the disasters of 11 March, 2011. I would like to assure you and the international community that, to repay this kindness and generosity, Japan will continue to make active contributions toward international security and sustainable global economic growth as a responsible and trustworthy member of the United Nations.
(Japan and the UN)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Japan joined the UN in 1956 and since then has 10 times been elected as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. This means that Japan is the most frequently elected member of that body. Why have the UN Member States supported Japan for this position so many times? It is because they trust Japan and expect Japan to make substantive contributions to address major challenges confronting UN of the day.
Furthermore, to date, Japan is the second largest contributor to the UN, bearing 12.5% of the total budget. Japan has dispatched contingents and support personnel to 13 PKO missions. In July last year, South Sudan became independent and because the new country needs assistance to consolidate peace with Sudan and to build its nation and achieve economic development, the UN has launched a new PKO mission in South Sudan. Japan has decided to dispatch up to 330 corps engineers from the Japan Self-Defense Force.
(Climate Change and Japan’s Contribution)
On the Climate Change front, Japan took a lead in producing the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, which was a milestone achievement in introducing a legally binding framework to tackle the hard issue of global warming. However the participants to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol only accounted for about 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions (because it did not include the US and China, the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters, or developing countries). The time has now come in which it is incumbent upon all 193 UN Member States to agree on a new legally binding framework which is fair, effective and committed to by all the Member States.
Let me tell you one more story which I hope will put you in a good mood. We are now developing a solar panel electrical system which splits hydrogen from water during the day, stores the hydrogen, and then allows you to fill up your fuel cell car at home for free. In other words, a car that runs on water and sunshine. This is being developed and tested in Torrance, California by Honda Motors as we speak; it is not just a fantasy any more. With dynamic technological breakthroughs like this and the determination to confront the challenge, I am confident that humanity can overcome climate change.
(The Arab Spring)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Twenty years after the end of the Cold War, the world was jolted by a series of events collectively referred to as the “Arab Spring”. These were essentially a series of home-grown democratic revolutions by the ordinary citizens of various countries in the Middle East and North Africa. How has the UN been responding to the ongoing situations in the Middle East and North Africa? The Security Council’s Presidential Statement on August 31, 2011 stated that the “only solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process, […] which will allow the full exercise of fundamental freedoms for its entire population, including that of expression and peaceful assembly.” On 16 February the General Assembly adopted a resolution supporting “the Arab League decision to facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system, in which citizens are equal regardless of their affiliations or ethnicities or belief.”
What is clear from the Security Council statement and General Assembly resolution is that the UN of today is qualitatively different from the UN of 1945. The UN is no longer silent on the issue of democratic transition among its member States. It has stepped out of the confines of the self-imposed principle of non-interference in matters within States’ domestic jurisdiction and declared its support for a peaceful and democratic transition of power. Last Saturday, the Security Council unanimously adopted yet another resolution on Syria which authorizes a UN Supervision Mission in that country for an initial period of 90 days. This is a small but significant step forward. The challenges on the ground are serious. Too many lives have been lost. Dag Hammarskjöld was right when he remarked that the U.N was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell.
In a similar vein, on 16 April, 2012 the Security Council strongly condemned the missile launch by North Korea on 13 April. North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs pose a threat to the entire international community. Furthermore there is a credible press report that North Korea is preparing another nuclear test. The Security Council warned North Korea that it is determined to take action in the event of a further missile launch or nuclear test. One must ask, ‘How can the leadership of North Korea justify spending billions of dollars’ worth of resources to develop missile and nuclear weapons technology while the country’s people are suffering from malnutrition and famine?’
Resolving the North Korea abduction issue is also essential. North Korea, after years of denial, admitted in 2002 that it has been abducting Japanese citizens since the 1970’s. The UN General Assembly has adopted resolutions on the situation of human rights in North Korea, including the issue of abductees. Japan calls on North Korea to provide a full account of the
missing abductees, whose safety remains unknown, and to return the survivors to Japan without delay.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, so-called ‘democratic space’ has expanded to all corners of the world; a development never witnessed before in the history of mankind. Yet, one of the most difficult challenges confronting the UN at this juncture is how to assist countries in transition in rooting democracy and the rule of law in their home soil. In this undertaking as well, I can provide full assurances that Japan is committed to extending our continued support in cooperation with the efforts of the international community at large.
I thank you for your attention.