2011 Statement


Statement by H.E. Ambassador Jun Yamazaki
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations

At the Joint Debate of the General Assembly, Sixty-six Session

On Agenda Item 70 : Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations,
including special economic assistance

14 December 2011



Madam President,


At the outset, I would like to commend the Under-Secretary-General, Ms. Valerie Amos, for her leadership in strengthening the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance.  I also praise the efforts made by humanitarian agencies, including the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, towards this end.


This year is the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the General Assembly resolution 46/182.  We fully support the continuous improvement in the system of humanitarian assistance of the United Nations.


This has been a year of extraordinary challenges for Japan. An unprecedented earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in March.  Nearly 20,000 people were killed or remain missing, and numerous evacuees still cannot return home to this day and continue to endure inconveniences in their daily lives.  On behalf of my Government and the people of Japan, I express my heartfelt gratitude for the friendship and solidarity shown by people from all over the world and the helping hands extended since the aftermath of the disaster.  I also thank the assistance given by the UN, including OCHA, international organizations and many Member States.  We intend to accelerate our efforts for recovery and reconstruction.


This year witnessed many humanitarian crises caused by conflicts and natural disasters.  Japan immediately extended emergency relief to the serious crises such as those in Libya, Pakistan, Horn of Africa, Thailand, and Turkey.  I welcome the adoption of a series of resolutions for the strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance.  On the basis of these resolutions, Japan will continue to make efforts so that our relief provided is delivered in an effective way.


Madam President,


Japan would like to reiterate the importance of respect for international humanitarian laws and humanitarian principles such as humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.  Japan has been actively making efforts to spread the understanding and application of international humanitarian laws.  An example is the international conference in Kyoto in November, which was jointly held by the Government of Japan and the International Committee of the Red Cross.  At that conference, we held meaningful discussions with participants from Asian countries on the current challenges in ensuring the implementation of the Additional Protocols of 1977 of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949.  We intend to participate actively in the discussion on strengthening legal protection for victims of armed conflict.


Japan recognizes the importance of the role of a senior and well-experienced humanitarian leadership to further strengthen coordination.  It is important to ensure that we have personnel who are able to demonstrate leadership and to respond to the situation on the ground.  In this light, we applaud the efforts made by the UN organizations to ensure leadership, as demonstrated when UNHCR established a roster system for senior staff.  Also, in responding to natural disasters, we would like to point out that the primary responsibility for response lies in the affected states and their ownership should be respected.  We also note that cooperation with the national government of the affected states, as well as with local actors, must be strengthened.


My government would like to emphasize the importance of a smooth transition from humanitarian assistance to development assistance in accordance with the idea of Human Security.  It is important to swiftly establish policies and projects towards future reconstruction and development while still implementing emergency relief response, so that the affected people can stand on their own feet as quickly as possible.  It is also essential to engage local people and strengthen their capacity.


Madam President,


Japan welcomes the widespread acknowledgement of the importance of preparedness in the context of natural disasters.  We also welcome the recent efforts made by UN organizations in enhancing preparedness.  I would like to recall that many lives were saved at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake as a result of the handing down of lessons from the past and disaster training and disaster education.  It was proved that improving our own behavior is a very effective way to mitigate damage without making financial investments in a major way.


Japan intends to organize a high-level international conference in the disaster-stricken region in Japan in 2012 in order to share lessons learned by participating countries from recent large-scale natural disasters.  We hope that such an occasion will boost international cooperation.  Drawing on the outcome of that conference, Japan would like to invite the Third World Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2015 to be held in Japan.  Such a conference would contribute to establishing a society with strong resilience to natural disasters.


Japan welcomes the fact that not only traditional donors but also emerging donors and NGOs are getting more involved in humanitarian response.  On the other hand, this means that the coordination of humanitarian assistance becomes more important.  We would like to refer to the important role OCHA can play in maintaining a certain level of quality and transparency of assistance, including through the promotion of the understanding of humanitarian principles.


Japan would like to reiterate the importance of cooperation with regional organizations, including the African Union and ASEAN.  Japan commends the initiative taken by the relevant regional organizations in response to the crises in the Horn of Africa.  We expect further cooperation between OCHA and regional and sub-regional organizations.  In addition, we praise the efforts made by OCHA to broaden the involvement of the private sector in humanitarian response.  We believe that we could further cooperate with the private sector, whose expertise could be utilized in such areas as logistics, transportation and telecommunication.  It is important to accumulate and share good practices in this area.


Madam President,


The world is witnessing large-scale natural disasters, including in the Horn of Africa.  We are also facing various challenges in the provision of relief assistance in volatile regions.  Under these circumstances, Japan would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation for the efforts made by the humanitarian organizations and their personnel who are working tirelessly under difficult conditions for the effective provision of relief assistance.


I thank you, Madam President.