H.E. Mr. Toshiro Ozawa
On Item 22, "Assistance in Mine Action"
5 November 2003
Japan attaches great importance to assistance for mine action and continues to play an active role in this field. We believe that in many post-conflict situations, addressing the landmine problem is a precondition for consolidating peace and commencing with reconstruction. Our recently revised Official Development Assistance Charter gives priority to mine-related assistance, as this enhances the necessary stability and security of local communities in post-conflict situations. With regard to the conceptual framework of "human security," it goes without saying that mine action promotes human security. Furthermore, the Government of Japan is working actively together with civil society and the international community to achieve the objectives of the "Zero Victims Initiative."
As a dedicated actor and contributor in the field of mine action assistance, the Government of Japan is encouraged by the recent report of the Secretary-General, which focused on the progress achieved in implementing the strategic goals and related objectives enumerated in the United Nations mine action strategy. Progress in information technology and resource mobilization is particularly appreciated, as the Government of Japan has emphasized on several occasions that a more systematic approach is desirable in order for mine action activities to be conducted as effectively and efficiently as possible. Of course, much remains to be done, and we need to strive further to achieve our goal of "Zero Victims," but the progress achieved to date gives us hope and confidence. We are assured that the revised strategy will again serve as valuable guidance for the United Nations entities involved in this field and will further foster coordination and accountability throughout the mine-action community.
Japan has provided assistance to more than 25 affected countries and areas to enable them to carry out mine action activities, including mine clearance, victim assistance, and mine awareness training and education. My Government fulfilled its pledge for financial assistance totaling 10 billion yen (roughly 90 million dollars) in the five years following 1998, reaching the target figure by the end of last October. I am also pleased to note that as of October of this year, Japan's total contribution to the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action managed by the UN Mine Action Service stood at almost 23.7 million dollars, which is one of the largest sums contributed by any donor.
In addition to financial contributions and traditional types of assistance for mine clearance activities, the Government of Japan recently took the initiative of applying Japan's technological expertise to the development of more advanced and efficient equipment for the detection and clearance of mines, in cooperation with private companies and researchers, taking into account the advice and opinions of deminers in the field. We expect that new technologies will enhance the good work being done in the field.
Victim assistance and mine awareness are also important. We are making efforts both to prevent any increase in the number of landmine victims and to provide assistance to those already victimized. It is also noteworthy that NGOs have been making a substantial contribution to a range of mine action activities. The Government of Japan will strive to increase the effectiveness of its assistance for mine action by strengthening dialogue and coordination with NGOs as well as supporting their work through grants and subsidies.
Let me share with you information on some of our concrete efforts and also ideas regarding assistance for mine action.
With regard to assistance to South-East Asia, which accounts for 38 percent of the total of our mine action aid, the Government of Japan is currently consulting with the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) on the establishment of a regional support center for the Information Management System for Mine Action (INSMA). We hope this initiative will facilitate development and improvement in information management regarding mine action in South-East Asia.
We are also strongly committed to mine-related assistance in Afghanistan. Japan has contributed over 50 million dollars to aid mine action activities in that country, a sum that includes grants to a mine clearance program carried out as part of the Afghan New Beginnings Program (ANBP) and employment of demobilized ex-combatants. Japan will continue to support the efforts of Afghanistan to consolidate peace and enhance nation-building in cooperation with the UN missions and other donors.
Japan's contribution to mine action extends to African countries including Angola, Mozambique, Sudan, Zambia, Rwanda, Chad, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. We sincerely hope that our assistance will contribute to realizing peace and security, which are prerequisites for development.
Regarding the situation in Iraq, we are concerned about the threat of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in that country, especially since UN-assisted operations were largely suspended due to security constraints. The Government of Japan is exploring the possibility of supporting programs related to mine risk education, mine awareness campaigns, and a mine and UXO survey through the Voluntary Trust Fund of the Mine Action Service.
I would like to conclude my statement by reaffirming the determination of the Government of Japan to continue its endeavors, in collaboration with other stakeholders in this field, towards overcoming landmine problems on a global scale, and thus making our world a safer place for us all.
Thank you very much.