H. E. MR. KENZO OSHIMA
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
On the Report of the UN Millennium Project
10 February 2005
We are grateful to you for convening this informal meeting on an issue of great interest to all of us - the Report of the UN Millennium Project. Japan welcomes the Report and wishes to extend its appreciation to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UNDP Administrator Mr. Malloch Brown, project director Dr. Jeffrey Sachs and all those who contributed to this unprecedented effort.
As stated in the Report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, the Report of the Millennium Project correctly points out that development is vital for international security, and it also emphasizes that the realization of the MDGs is essential.
First and foremost, as the country shouldering one fifth of whole volume of ODA in the world for the last ten years, Japan is strongly committed to the realization of the MDGs. This commitment is clearly indicated in Japan’s new Mid-Term Policy on ODA, which was just publicly announced alongside the Report. This policy places emphasis on the importance of poverty reduction and sustainable growth and the perspective of “human security.” It also stresses the need for measures to achieve the MDGs and the necessity of addressing global issues, by ensuring the efficient and effective implementation of ODA. Japan’s development aid policy encompasses many of the views articulated in the Report and embraces the key aims and objectives of the MDGs.
Japan’s approach to development aid is defined by its tradition to stress on the investment in individuals to implement development, namely education, and its unique experience of having achieved economic development from an underdeveloped nation to a modern, industrialized country over the past century and a half. In recent history, Japan has progressed from an aid recipient to a donor country still receiving aid, and finally, to a leading contributor of ODA. For instance, through loans provided by the World Bank over a decade starting in the 1950s, Japan was able to upgrade its basic economic and social infrastructure in such areas as irrigation, electricity, ports, and public transportation based on its own ownership. The “bullet train” was one project financed in part by World Bank loans
We believe that, coupled with our decades of successful development cooperation with many developing Asian countries, this unique history provides us with a useful vantage point from which to review the progress that has been made towards the MDGs and the challenges that lie beyond 2015.
There are, in our view, two fundamentally important pillars to achieving the MDGs: poverty reduction through economic growth and human-centered development.
First, there can be no sustainable poverty reduction without economic growth. With this understanding in mind, the Report discusses the need for scaling up public investment in basic infrastructure and capacity building, and looks at domestic financial resources in developing countries, private money available through trade and investment, and development funding such as ODA. We support this approach as one that is balanced and is based on the Monterrey Consensus.
Examples of successful poverty reduction through economic growth can be found in the East Asian experience. DAC’s statistics show that the total amount of ODA received by East Asian countries during the last 25 years was much smaller than that received by Sub-Saharan African countries. Yet East Asia has made greater progress towards sustainable poverty reduction than Africa, as illustrated by the fact that some 200 million people were lifted out of poverty between 1990 and 2001 in East Asia.
A number of factors, acting both individually and in combination, played a part in this ‘East Asia’s miracle.’ In the region, ODA has greatly contributed to the improvement of economic infrastructure and human resources development in both the public and the private sectors. This development, in connection with the active flow of Foreign Direct Investment, has encouraged dynamic economic activity. An interactive linkage between ODA, trade, and investment has therefore resulted in impressive economic growth.
Since trade and investment can mobilize far greater financial resources than can be provided by ODA, they should be properly incorporated into each developing country’s development strategy. In this regard, Japan has made significant contributions to the expansion of opportunities for economic growth in developing countries through its trade promotion measures, such as a non-export-subsidy policy for agricultural products and duty-free and quota-free access for approximately 93% of all imports from LDCs. Japan is also contributing to the early conclusion of the Doha Development Round.
Trade and investment can also be enhanced by development assistance. International aid, whether provided through multilateral or bilateral ODA, can play a pivotal role in creating an enabling environment for improved trade and investment in the private sector by laying down key infrastructure components and improving the human resources base in the recipient countries.
One objective Japan has been promoting over the years through the TICAD (Tokyo International Conference for African Development) process is the replication of Asia’s experience of development and poverty reduction through economic growth in other developing regions of the world, particularly Africa. This is also in line with our policy of encouraging South-South cooperation. One recent initiative under this project was the Asia-Africa Trade and Investment Promotion Conference held last November, which was aimed at enhancing policy dialogue and cooperation between the public and private sectors for expanding trade and investment between the two continents. The Asia-Africa Summit is to be held this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of the historic Bandon Conference, an important milestone for Asia-Africa cooperation. Japan will renew its commitment to strengthen the relationship between these two regions, and we hope that this will contribute to poverty reduction through economic growth
We further note with interest the Report’s reference to the expansion of assistance by middle-income countries in regions such as Asia, Middle East and Latin America. This trend will open up new vistas in the world of international development aid and make a unique contribution to the realization of the MDGs.
We welcome that the Report has focused mainly on human-centered development strategies. It is a source of particular satisfaction that the Report highlights issues that directly impact the lives of ordinary people as well as community-based assistance. Japan feels that the MDGs can only be achieved by protecting people against threats to their well-being while empowering them to deal with such threats by themselves. This approach is exactly in line with the concept of “human security” that Japan has been promoting.
Japan is in the firm belief that nation-building begins with human capacity-building and stresses on the assistance in the area such as education and training. By promoting capacity building, sound ownership will be fostered. Ownership is indispensable to the realization of the MDGs and sustainable development. Development cooperation must encourage and promote ownership. The Report correctly points out that the primary responsibility for achieving the MDGs lies with each developing country. From this viewpoint, we consider that the most important aspect of NEPAD can be said to lie in its status as an embodiment of African ownership, which we respect and support through the TICAD process.
Based on the achievements made through the TICAD process, Japan is currently developing a comprehensive aid package for Africa. On this occasion, I would like to announce that Japan is launching the “African Village Initiative” as a part of the package. This initiative, based on the notion of human security, aims at empowering local communities to meet their own needs in close collaboration with other partners. It will take the form of a combination of a core project and a series of multi-sectoral projects. For example, a school construction project is implemented in close collaboration with some supporting program such as school meal programs, well excavation and health care services so that it empowers the entire community with the school as its core. Experimental project of this kind has already been implemented. In Thaiba Ndiaya village in Senegal, for example, people there initially organized the water association to maintain and manage a water tower extended by Japan’s ODA. Through the activities under the association, they have voluntarily started engaging in commerce and investing in the improvement of the village’s basic infrastructure with a view to development of the entire community. With such a success story in mind, we will be promoting and expanding this initiative in other parts of Africa.
As for “Quick Wins” actions, which provide interesting approach for development, Japan has been implementing same types of programs, particularly in an effort for the provision of anti-malaria bed-net illustrated as an example in health sector. Today, I am pleased to announce that Japan has decided to provide 10 million bed net by 2007 in light of the threat of malaria that Africa is now facing. This initiative will help to protect approximately 40 million people against malaria.
As the Report indicates, good governance is central to sustainable development and the effective use of aid, and we agree on this point. On the other hand, it should be noted that it is in poorly governed countries, in particular failed states and states in post-conflict transition, that people are often in most desperate need of assistance.
The recent Indian Ocean Tsunami disaster has tragically illustrated that humankind is never totally safe from threats posed by natural disasters, which can have a major adverse impact on progress achieved in development and efforts towards realizing the MDGs. According to the Secretary-General’s report in 2004, economic losses resulting from natural disasters totaled US$65 billion in 2003 alone. It is vital for the realization of the MDGs that disaster prevention and mitigation be properly incorporated into national development planning. Japan brought forth the “Initiative for Disaster Reduction” at the UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction held in Kobe in January, which stresses the importance of community-based disaster reduction efforts, and is providing its ODA with more emphasis on disaster reduction in the context of sustainable development. These examples of efforts in the areas of disaster reduction and governance clearly indicate that development issues that are not highlighted in the MDGs should be also actively addressed for the realization of the MDGs.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate Japan’s commitment to the Monterrey Consensus and the Johannesburg Plan of Implemention, as well as the MDGs. Japan remains the second largest donor overall and is also among the largest donors in the priority sectors outlined in the MDGs, which include education, water, public health and environment.
As demonstrated by its reconstruction assistance in Iraq and its rapid response to the earthquake off Sumatra and the ensuing tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean, Japan has been addressing such crucial issues in an expeditious and determined way. Japan will also continue to make such resolved effort to achieve the MDGs. To that end, we will strive for increasing the level of ODA. As the Report indicates, peace and development are two sides of the same coin, and Japan is fully committed to ensuring the peace, security and prosperity of the international community by devoting itself to development cooperation.
As the MDGs are indeed a great challenge that need to be won in the global scale, more comprehensive approach should be explored to address financial needs. Japan will engage itself with every interested stakeholder to that end.