Mr. Toshiharu Tarui
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
On Item 86, "Questions Relating to Information"
28 October 2003
At the outset, my delegation would like to express its appreciation to Mr. Shashi Tharoor, Head of the Department of Public Information, for his comprehensive statement. At the same time, my delegation would like to thank the Secretariat for the document on agenda item 86, "Questions relating to information."
My delegation would like to encourage the Secretary-General to expeditiously implement those elements of reform that are under his sole authority, in accordance with the relevant resolutions and decisions already adopted concerning public information. In this regard, Japan appreciates the concrete initiatives taken since last year with respect to the restructuring of the Department of Public Information (DPI) and measures implemented for the enhanced effectiveness of the Department's information products and activities.
Today we would like to offer some comments on the Secretary-General's reform and reinforcement proposal regarding UN public information activities.
First, my Government highly appreciates the notion of "Strategic Communication Services" described by the SG report (A/58/175) and hopes that the DPI will continue to conduct its communication services with most appropriate priority-setting. With regard to the UN information centres, we believe that the concept of regional hubs for the consolidation of the UN information centres is a valid one from the point of view of improving efficiency and cutting expenses. Japan appreciates the concrete efforts undertaken in recent months by the Department in line with the report of the Secretary-General on strengthening of the United Nations: an agenda for further change (A/57/387).
As we have indicated previously, the importance Japan attaches to UNIC Tokyo is reflected in the assistance it extends to the DPI for the public information activities of the Centre. In recent years Japan has made annual contributions of approximately 200,000 dollars for the Centre activities, and the assistance extended to the DPI over the past five years amounts to well over 2 million dollars.
We understand that the Secretary General is proposing to proceed with further regionalization of the United Nations information centres by using the "Guidelines and criteria for the regionalization of United Nations information centres" annexed to the Secretary General's report (A/AC.198/2003/2). In this connection, I would like to note that it is not only the element of rent-free premises but also the overall support of a host government that should be reflected in the "Guidelines and criteria." My delegation thus proposes amending the draft "Guidelines and criteria" accordingly.
Second, I wish to touch upon the issue of language. As stated in General Assembly resolution 57/130, "information in the local languages has the strongest impact on the local population." In fact, I have found that UNIC Tokyo is playing a very important role in giving the Japanese people a better understanding of UN activities through their information products in Japanese. Therefore, I believe that the DPI should continue its public information activities in a variety of local languages.
Regarding the improvement of the United Nations web site in the UN official languages, the DPI should continue to make efforts to attain its goals within the limits of existing resources by reallocating according to actual needs.
Lastly, the third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICADIII) was successfully concluded on October 1. The TICAD process, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, demonstrates Japan's firm commitment to African development. It is our hope that the results of the TICAD III would serve as another important momentum for further development in Africa. From this perspective, Japan fully supports the Secretary-General's idea that the UN plays an essential advocacy role and is expected to strengthen its public information activities in support of Africa's development.
As a concrete example of support for the DPI's activity in that direction, Japan invited a journalist from the quarterly magazine "Africa Recovery" to TICAD III. We plan to continue to cooperate with the United Nations to promote greater interest in and awareness of issues relating to Africa's development.
In conclusion, I wish to express the hope that the implementation of the reform measures proposed by the Secretary-General will help to bring the UN closer to the people of the world.
Thank you very much.