H.E. Mr. Kenzo Oshima
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
At the Informal Consultation on Cluster I (Development)
26 April 2005
Issues dealt with under “Freedom from want” are central to the concern and interests of every member state, particularly developing countries, and the success of the September summit hinges to a large extent on the progress we can make in advancing the goals of the Millennium Development Goals and wider international development challenges. The Secretary-General’s report provides a clear guidance, practical strategy and targets in achieving this important objective. Leaders should embrace them and member states should spare no effort, developed and developing countries alike, to accelerate and scale up their action, and to renew their commitment to the global development agenda.
Important events and initiatives outside the UN process will similarly contribute to enhancing the potential of the September summit, such as the Group of 8 countries summit in July, under the UK chairmanship, and the just-concluded Asia-Africa summit held in Indonesia.
Japan will continue to be a trusted partner and committed participant in this common endeavor. Japan will strengthen its effort in carrying out its fair share of burden in promoting the MDGs, guided by the Monterrey Consensus and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, as well as the Secretary-General’s report and the Sach’s report before it. Japan’s significant contribution to the global development assistance effort will continue to be guided by several defining factors, including:
- First, the unique experience and insight of a nation that has itself grown from being a foreign aid recipient, to being both a recipient and an emerging donor in a few decades, and to being eventually one of the largest donors;
- Second, the unique experience derived from years of working in partnership for development with countries, first in our region of Asia-Pacific, gradually expanding globally and reaching out to Africa and Latin America;
- Third, the unique record of sustained and concentrated development aid effort maintained through the 1990s, at the time when so-called “aid fatigue” caught the world donor community. The three meetings of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), held every five years since 1993, are an example of such initiatives;
- Fourth and finally, the emphasis on poverty reduction through economic growth and human-centered development and human security, and another emphasis on an approach that encourages the twin concept of ownership and partnership in development cooperation. Developing countries should always be in the driver’s seat.
On the issue of financing for development, the historic compact based on the global partnership achieved at Monterrey reaffirmed the mutual responsibility. Namely, developing countries are expected to establish practical national strategies to meet the MDGs and measures to ensure that resources will be utilized effectively for realizing the MDGs, as well as improvements in governance and capacity-building, as the Secretary-General’s report point out. And the international donor community is expected to respond to ensure that developing countries that put such strategies in place really get the support they need.
Achieving the MDGs meaningfully on a global scale requires a comprehensive approach for development financing. Part of such a comprehensive approach is public financing such as through ODA, which is certainly needed to fill financing gaps in developing countries. Equally, and at times even more substantially important, are financial resources in developing countries, particularly those resources available through trade and investment. These resources are often far larger in volume than ODA and play a crucial role in bringing about self-propelled and sustainable development. Effective mobilization of these domestic resources is therefore important.
Trade rather than aid has long been called for, and rightly for a number of good reasons. The international community should redouble its effort to help developing countries integrate themselves better in the world trade system on favorable terms. Increased assistance should be provided to help developing countries improve key infrastructure and investment climate. In this regard, I wish to note that Japan has eliminated export subsidies, and now it provides LDCs with duty-free and quota-free access for approximately 93 percent of its total imports from developing countries. As a result, the proportion of imports from developing countries in the total imports is among the highest of any country in the OECD. We will continue to strive for the success of the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong in December and for the early conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda.
On ODA, Japan remains strongly committed to development cooperation through ODA, as demonstrated by the fact that the country has shouldered one fifth of the total volume of world ODA for the last decade. This strong commitment remains, and in order to share its burden of contribution to the MDGs, Japan will continue its effort towards the goal of achieving the ODA target of 0.7 percent of its GNI. From this point of view, my government will ensure a credible and sufficient level of ODA.
It needs to be pointed out, that in terms of the total volume or gross amount of ODA, which is perhaps a better indicator to reflect meaningful financing flows for the realization of the MDGs, Japan’s ODA disbursement totaled US$16.1 billion in 2004, which represents a 24.5 percent increase over previous year, most of which increases went towards achieving the MDGs.
Debt relief is another important issue. There are several aspects to it worth noting from our part. First, Japan is one of the largest contributors in the area of debt relief, extending about US$5 billion of debt relief to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) in the last two years, and we will continue to provide further debt relief within the HIPCs regime. Second, further consideration is needed to address the problem of debt relief at the International Financial Institutions (IFI), while maintaining the Enhanced HIPC Initiatives as the central mechanism. Third, cancellation of debt owed to IFIs is debated and our
view is that this issue should be carefully examined so as not to undermine the self-help efforts of borrowers in developing countries. Fourth, the debt should be lowered to a sustainable level for Post-Completion Point HIPCs and further debt reduction should be also permitted for countries with sound polices and environment.
Year 2005 is said to be the Year of Africa. Unless problems faced by many African states are resolved, there can be no stability and prosperity of the world in the 21st century. Africa is critically important for the achievement of the MDGs. African development is a central theme in major international conferences this year, such as the G8 Summit. Last week, the historic Asia-Africa Summit was held in Indonesia, in which the countries of the two regions gathered for the first time in this half a century.
At the AA Summit, Prime Minister Koizumi announced several development initiatives, which include the following:
- Japan will double its ODA to Africa over the next three years. We will host TICAD IV in 2008, a process for cooperation between Africa and Japan and Africa and Asia initiated in 1993.
- A multi-donor special trust fund will be established in the African Development Bank for technical assistance totaling US$200 million available over the next five years.
- A concessional ODA loans window of up to US$1 billion will be made available through the AfDB over the next five years.
- Trade and private sector investment promotion activities will be strengthened, including establishing an IT-based network between Asia and Africa to facilitate the exchange of business information and interaction in the public and private sectors in the two continents, and finally.
- Japan will implement some of “quick win projects”, such as providing anti-malaria mosquito nets. Ten million mosquito nets will be provided over the next three years as already been announced.
In preparing for the September summit, we need to ensure that the special interests of countries, such as landlocked developing countries and small-island developing states are sufficiently reflected. The Secretary-General’s report puts an emphasis on climate change and natural disasters, which are of strong concern to many of us, but particularly to some of these developing countries in special categories, and they deserve highlighting in the outcome of the September summit.
Climate change poses one of the most serious challenges facing the 21st century and should be tackled on a global scale. Leaders will be discussing what efforts will need to be made beyond the Kyoto Protocol and toward search for a possible new framework.
Another major threat is natural disasters, and this also should be highlighted in the September summit outcome. The Secretary-General proposes a worldwide early warning system, and Japan is already working on an early warning system for the Indian Ocean in accordance with the decision of the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction held in Kobe in January. Additionally, Japan has announced that it will provide more than US$2.5 billion over the next five years for disaster prevention and mitigation, and reconstruction measures.
Development is a multifaceted challenge with political, economic, social, technological, scientific and cultural dimensions; there is no “one-size-fits-all” development policy. Japan hopes that the Secretary-General’s report will serve as a basis for balanced discussions as we move towards the September summit.
Thank you very much.