H.E. Mr. Toshiro Ozawa
Ambassador of Japan to the United Nations
On Agenda Items 49 (a): Oceans And The Law Of The Sea And 49 (b): Sustainable Fisheries
16 NOVEMBER 2004
At the outset, my delegation wishes to thank the coordinators of the two draft resolutions before us today, Mr. Almeida, Delegate of Brazil, and Ms. Koehler, Delegate of the United States. Our thanks go also to all the countries that contributed to the consultations in a spirit of cooperation, and to all the staff of DOALOS, who provided invaluable support. The Japanese Government is pleased to co-sponsor the draft omnibus resolution A/59/L.22.
Today is the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).. We Japan joins others to commemorate this anniversary, and, on this occasion, pays tribute again to everyone who worked so diligently to finalize, adopt and implement UNCLOS.
Today, the number of States Parties to UNCLOS is 145, and the number of States Parties to the Agreement on the Implementation of Part XI is 117. We are pleased to see that these numbers are growing and that UNCLOS is becoming a more universal legal framework for ocean affairs. We must note, however, that the international community is facing a wide range of new issues, including transnational crimes such as terrorism and illegal trafficking in drugs, and also issues relating to the growing pressures on the marine environment. Each of these new issues needs to be addressed in a manner that respects the spirit and provisions of UNCLOS, while maintaining its framework in principle.
Japan is committed to UNCLOS and to the organs established under UNCLOS, namely, the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). We have actively participated in the work of these organs, and are determined to contribute further to their activities.
With regard to ITLOS, Japan attaches great importance to the role that this Tribunal plays in the maintenance of order and stability of the ocean. My delegation wishes to take this opportunity to announce that Japan will nominate Ambassador Shunji Yanai, the former Ambassador of Japan to the United States of America and an experienced diplomat with profound knowledge of international law, as a candidate for election as a judge of ITLOS at the elections to be held during the Fifteenth Meeting of States Parties to UNCLOS, scheduled for June 2005. As the largest contributor to UNCLOS organs by providing 22% of their budgets, Japan expresses its determination to continue to contribute to the activities of these UNCLOS organs.
As for CLCS, my delegation is pleased to note that Professor Kensaku Tamaki, who was elected as a member of the Commission in 2001, is contributing significantly to the work of CLCS. We recognize that the importance of exchanging views among states in order to facilitate preparation of submissions by States to the Commission is mentioned in paragraph 33 of the omnibus resolution. For this purpose, Japan wishes to demonstrate its determination to contribute further to the Commission’s work by hosting a symposium of experts in Tokyo.
The world continues to be plagued by the threats of piracy and armed robbery at sea. Of the more than 400 incidents occurring annually worldwide, almost half of the incidents are concentrated in Asia.
As mentioned in the omnibus resolution, Japan proposed to formulate the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia. After active negotiations over the last three years, the final agreement was adopted on 11 November of this year at the intergovernmental meeting held in Tokyo. This agreement will strengthen regional cooperation among maritime security organizations through the establishment of an information sharing system and a cooperative network dedicated to combating piracy and armed robbery at sea. Japan hopes that this agreement will not only contribute to enhanced cooperation among States Parties in Asia, but will also serve as a very good example of regional cooperation. Japan is determined to continue its efforts to ensure safety for international navigation in Asia.
Allow me next to touch upon the marine environment. Surrounded by the sea on all sides, Japan considers the preservation of the marine environment to be extremely important, and thus, is committed to the prevention of marine pollution both at the international, ly and regionally.regional and national levels. As a State Party not only to UNCLOS but also to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, Japan is committed to the effective implementation of these Conventions, and strongly urges every country that has not done so to ratify these Conventions.
To follow up on the results of the WSSD meeting in 2002, the Japanese Government has been making efforts to contribute significantly to the enhancement of the ocean policies of the coastal States at the national, regional and global levels. On the regional level, we are making steady progress in strengthening the functioning of the Secretariat of the Northwest Pacific Action Plan. Concerning the 1996 Protocol to the International Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matters, Japan amended the relevant sections of its domestic law in May of this year, and is preparing to become a State Party.
Japan, as a responsible fishing State and as a State Party to UNCLOS, has been earnestly addressing the conservation and management issues as well as the sustainable use issues relating to living marine resources, including straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks. These efforts have been implemented individually, bilaterally and multilaterally.
We are seriously concerned about illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fisheries activities and the over-capacity issues in global fisheries in spite of the efforts being made toward sustainable use of living marine resources. My government has shown a commitment to eliminating IUU fisheries in order to conserve the marine ecosystem. Japan welcomes initiative of FAO to deal with these problems, including the holding of intergovernmental technical consultation, in June and July of this year.
In this regard, we would like to stress the point that, in discussing the issues of conservation and management as well as sustainable use of living marine resources, we should make certain that these discussions are based on scientific evidence provided by competent organizations such as FAO and the regional fisheries management organizations. Those organizations have the required specialized expertise to provide accurate assessments, and thus offer a better forum for such discussions as compared to the United Nations.
In concluding, I wish to reiterate that Japan will continue to contribute to the stability of the legal framework on ocean affairs, and thereby, to the promotion of prudent and equitable use of the sea by the international community, in accordance with UNCLOS.
Thank you, Mr. President.