H.E. Mr. Toshiro Ozawa
Ambassador of Japan to the United Nations
Meeting of the Second Committee At the Fifty-ninth Session of the General Assembly
5 OCTOBER 2004
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, and the other members of the Bureau on assuming your important roles leading our deliberations here in the Second Committee. I assure you of my delegation’s full support.
In September next year, we, the Member States, have decided to hold a high-level plenary meeting at the level of heads of state and government to review the progress achieved in realizing the Millennium Declaration, including MDGs. Preparatory work is already under way in many fora, but here in the Second Committee, we must bear in mind that a significant part of this preparatory work will be addressed by us, the member states of the Second Committee. Indeed, the MDGs for poverty reduction and sustainable development are priority items on the agenda of the Second Committee. As a nation committed to the realization of the MDGs, Japan wishes to participate constructively in the deliberations of the Second Committee under your able guidance.
In our deliberations on MDGs, we must not forget that peace, good governance and “human security” are the prerequisites for economic and social development. It would be very unrealistic to discuss MDGs for countries where conflicts continue to unfold, because conflicts doom people to poverty and despair. This is why “peace building” is so important, and also why Japan has made “consolidation of peace” one of the major pillars of its foreign policy.
Let me give some examples of Japan’s commitment to “consolidation of peace.” In Iraq, in order to support the Iraqi people’s efforts to rebuild their country, Japan is implementing its pledge to provide financial assistance totaling up to US$5 billion, and Japan’s Self Defense Forces are engaging in humanitarian and reconstruction activities. Later this month in Tokyo, Japan will host a meeting of the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq, where the theme of the meeting will be “Vision for Sovereign Iraq.” In Afghanistan, Japan is playing a leading role in reconstruction efforts, particularly in the fields of infrastructure development, comprehensive rural development-the Ogata Initiative-and DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration). In Africa, Japan is strengthening its partnership with the African Union (AU) so that the AU is better equipped to play a constructive role in peace-building activities in Africa.
Japan believes that for “consolidation of peace” to succeed, the international community needs to extend “seamless support” from the time of the peace process bringing about the end of the conflict to the phase of post-conflict reconstruction. Unless the livelihood of ordinary people is steadily improved, peace-building can become meaningless. This is why Japan has adopted the promotion of “human security” as another major pillar of its foreign policy. This concept of “human security” particularly focuses on the protection and empowerment of individuals who suffer from the threats of poverty, infectious disease and conflict. To achieve this end, we must grasp and respond to the actual needs of these people, and Japan is committed to utilizing its ODA as well as the Trust Fund for Human Security established within the United Nations, effectively and strategically.
As most member states are aware, Japan has been a major contributor to the development objectives that the MDGs embody. Certainly, ODA has been a major element in this effort, and Japan is ready to continue its role as a major donor. But today, with respect to ODA, we wish to put matters into perspective.
According to DAC statistics, the total amount of ODA received by sub-Sahara African countries from all foreign donors in the last 25 years is about US$210 billion. The figure for East and South-East Asian countries for the same period is about US$140 billion. That is to say, whereas the population figures for East and South-East Asia countries are much larger, they received only two thirds of the amount of ODA received by sub-Sahara African countries. Yet we are all aware of the stark difference in the level of economic and social development of the two regions in the last 25 years.
We must ask ourselves “why?” One answer, Japan believes, is economic growth, which is the key to successful poverty reduction. Efforts at poverty reduction must be underpinned by measures for economic growth that enhance economic and social infrastructure, and promote trade and investment. Such measures also contribute to human security, which leads to the realization of MDGs from the bottom-up by raising ordinary people’s living standards. We in the Second Committee should pay more attention to the dynamic relationship between the targets of MDGs and the role of economic growth.
Here in the Second Committee, the Japanese delegation again intends to take initiatives to promote the realization of MDGs. We will introduce the follow-up draft resolution on the “Decade of Education for Sustainable Development” and another draft resolution regarding research at the United Nations University. In the important fields of water and sanitation, former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto is actively engaged in promoting international cooperation as the Chairman of the Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, an advisory board established by Secretary-General Annan.
In accordance with resolution 58/214 adopted last year, the World Conference on Disaster Reduction will be held in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, from 18 to 22 January. The recent hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne have widely demonstrated to us all how natural disasters can devastate ongoing development efforts to achieve the MDGs in the Caribbean islands. As a nation that has experienced all types of natural calamities throughout its history, Japan, as the host country, will endeavor to make the conference a success, so that we can all learn from each other and be better prepared for the next natural disaster.
With regard to the new innovative initiatives promoted by other delegations in order to accelerate our global efforts to achieve MDGs, the Japanese delegation recognizes that they provide us with valuable opportunities to explore feasible measures. We would like to present our perspectives and hope to see balanced and feasible ideas.
Before concluding, we wish to touch on Africa and the need to achieve MDGs there. In 1993, Japan launched what is now called the TICAD process. TICAD, Tokyo International Conference on African Development, has been a platform for new approaches in addressing the issues of African development. The concepts of “ownership” and “partnership” discussed in TICAD are now firmly embodied in NEPAD.
As part of the TICAD process, Japan has been providing broad-based assistance to Africa with the objectives of promoting these goals, namely, consolidation of peace, human-centered development and poverty reduction through economic growth. Last year, at the TICADIII, where 23 African heads of state and government assembled in Tokyo, Japan pledged US$1billion in grants for Africa to assist in the areas of health and medical care, education, water and food assistance. All of these areas are relevant for the achievement of the MDGs. Out of the pledge, Japan has disbursed approximately US$300 million so far. This year, the TICAD process will highlight the TICAD Asia-Africa Trade and Investment Conference on 1-2 November in Tokyo. Together with the UN, UNDP, World Bank and GCA (Global Coalition for Africa), Japan will make efforts to promote South-South cooperation, especially Asia-Africa cooperation. Together with business leaders, the participants are expected to discuss policies and concrete measures in order to stimulate trade and investment between the two continents.
In concluding, we would like to express our sincere hope that under your guidance, this session will be a fruitful one, because this session is important for us all as we try to lay the basis for the review of the Millennium Declaration next year. Please rest assured that the Japanese delegation will spare no effort to this end.
I thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.