MR. MASAHARU KONO
African Personal Representative of the Prime Minister of Japan
At the International Reconstruction Conference on Liberia on "The International Response"
6 February 2004
Today, I am most delighted to be able to attend the International Reconstruction Conference on Liberia, together with other donor countries and organizations.
On behalf of the Government of Japan and as APR, I would like to express our appreciation to all those concerned in the initiative to convene this meeting, including the United States government, international organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the National Transitional Government of Liberia and the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Japan welcomes the convening of this meeting, at a time when significant progress is being made in the Liberian peace process, such as the inauguration of the National Transitional Government based on the comprehensive peace agreement. The process and promotion of peace in Liberia up to the inauguration of the transitional government was due among others to the mediation efforts by African nations, in particular the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and their efforts and those of the United Nations and United States are highly appreciated.
Of course, it is a source of great concern today that agreement has not yet been reached over a number of Cabinet posts in the transitional government. Japan hopes that a solution to this issue will be reached without delay for the smooth operation of the transitional government toward the consolidation of peace in Liberia.
Japan is convinced that the "consolidation of peace" in Liberia should be of the utmost importance to the peace and stability of the West African region as a whole. As my Prime Minister announced at the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III) in the autumn of last year, the "consolidation of peace' is one of the pillars comprising Japan's initiative for cooperation with Africa. To that end, Japan recognizes the extreme importance of the role of the United Nations, in particular, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). As a responsible member of the United Nations, Japan's contribution will be up to 20% of total purse, which is almost US$90 million for the activities of UNMIL, and is committed to continue to provide such support.
It is expected that the process leading to the consolidation of peace will entail difficulties and deprivation for the people of Liberia. Japan, together with PKOs, intends to focus upon our cooperation to Liberia in the areas of revitalization of communities scarred by conflict and domestic reconciliation. In addition, through realizing the protection of each and every person and enhancing their capacities, Japan will endeavour to realize "human security" in Liberia, and an environment in which community- and nation-building can continue apace. From this perspective, based on the Needs Assessment announced prior to this meeting, my government is in a process of seriously examining the following assistances to be extended in a prompt manner.
(Repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs))
To date Japan has actively provided assistance for the activities of international organizations in Liberia such as UNHCR and the World Food Programme (WFP). Over the past five years, Japan has provided assistance totalling approximately US$13 million through UNHCR to assist refugees suffered from the years-long conflict in Liberia. Japan is currently examining the possibility of expanding the amount of assistance towards the consolidation of peace.
(Human Security Fraud)
In this regard, for example, a proposed Human Security Fund Project for the Liberian refugees in Ghana is currently being formulated with a budget of US$1 million, in collaboration with the UNHCR, UNDP and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
(Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR))
With regard to disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration (DDRR), which has already started to be developed, expecting that DD activities will further be developed, Japan will be engaged in support in area of RR making use of such schemes as the Human Security Fund.
(Collecting of small arms)
In this context, the collection of small arms, so closely related to the issue of disarmament, is an area in which Japan has experience, given our activities in the Project in Cambodia. Based on such experiences, Japan is currently examining the possibility of assistance to Liberia and the possible forms it could take.
(Assistance through regional organizations)
The issue on Liberia is also the issue of stability in the region. From this viewpoint, Japan highly values the efforts made by African countries themselves towards conflict resolution under the spirit of NEPAD. In support of African ownership, Japan has provided sizable financial contributions to the regional and sub-regional organizations, such as ECOWAS, AU and SADC in recent years. In this connection, Japan will continue to assist conflict resolution efforts in Liberia through ECOWAS.
(Assistance to non-governmental organizations (NGOs))
The role played by civil society in post-conflict countries is of ever increasing importance. Japan would seek to engage in further consultations with Japanese non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to elucidate the possibilities for assistance to Liberia by those NGOs. However for NGO activities to develop further in Liberia, it will be of vital importance that through the smooth progression of DDRR and enhanced governance by the transitional government, public security is restored to Liberia. Japan expects that public security will steadily be stabilized.
The impression may persist that in issues of peace pertaining to Africa, Japan has to date not made a highly visible contribution. However, I would like to emphasize in closing that Japan, as a hosting country of TICAD III last year, has strongly committed to deal with issues of conflict and peace in Africa. 2004 will be an important year for the future peace, stability and prosperity of Africa. Towards the consolidation of peace in Liberia, which will be the litmus test for such peace and prosperity, Japan, as a responsible partner of the African continent, stands fully prepared to cooperate with the international community and provide the greatest assistance possible.