(Check Against Delivery)
Statement by H.E. Mr. Motohide Yoshikawa
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
At the Open Debate of the Security Council
On the Situation in the Middle East
20 January 2014
As I take the floor in the Security Council for the first time this year, I would like to say how glad I am to see your Royal Highness presiding over the Council during the month of January, only one month after your country’s election. I wish every success to Jordan and the other newly elected Security Council members from Chad, Chile, Nigeria and Lithuania.
I am also grateful to the Secretary-General for his briefing.
Today, I will touch upon two issues. First, on the Middle East peace process, and second, on the situation in Syria.
First, I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the Government and people of Israel over the sad passing of Mr. Ariel Sharon, former Prime Minister of Israel.
The direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine are now entering a crucial phase. We have fewer than four months left for a deal to be made. This nine month time frame had been agreed upon by both parties last year. We would like to call upon both parties once again not to take unilateral action that might negatively affect the peace process but to continue negotiations. In this context, we deeply deplore the decision made by the Israeli Ministry of Housing and Construction on 10 January to publish tenders to build new housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
We believe that helping Palestinians create viable economic foundations will contribute to advancing the political process. Given the current phase of negotiations, it becomes all the more important for the international community to work towards the co-existence and prosperity of Palestinians and its neighbors.
From this standpoint, Japan will continue with our own initiatives aimed at mobilizing private sector investment in Palestine. As I said in this chamber last October, Japan is promoting the projects called “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity”, as well as the “Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development” or CEAPAD.
Today, let me focus on the CEAPAD. The CEAPAD was launched in February last year in Tokyo. Japan and Palestine co-hosted the conference. In addition to the two co-hosts, seven countries from Asia (Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Viet Nam, Brunei Darussalam, and the Republic of Korea) as well as five international organizations (League of Arab States, Islamic Development Bank, U.N., UNRWA, and the World Bank) participated. It is a process aimed at mobilizing and sharing East Asian economic development experiences and resources for the sake of Palestinian development.
As a follow-up, Japan hosted a private sector promotion meeting in Tokyo last December. The participants explored ways to strengthen the Palestinian private sector and to enhance their business relations with Palestine.
The outcome of the meeting will be submitted to the second ministerial meeting of CEAPAD, scheduled to be held in Indonesia in March. We are grateful to Indonesia for hosting the conference. We hope that the conference will result in tangible outcomes. Japan, for its part, is planning to announce additional and substantial assistance for Palestine on this occasion.
Turning to the situation in Syria, the successful conduct of the upcoming Geneva 2 Conference is of utmost importance in moving forward the political process. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will represent Japan at this conference. Japan strongly urges both the Syrian Government and the opposition parties to engage seriously and constructively in direct negotiations with a view to putting an end to all forms of violence and establishing a transitional governing body in accordance with the Geneva Communiqué.
The political process needs to be sustained by international efforts to step up humanitarian assistance on the ground. We would like to express our appreciation to the Government of Kuwait for hosting the Conference for Syria on 15 January and for making a very generous pledge on that occasion. Japan’s representative announced our additional humanitarian assistance in the amount of 120 million dollars at the Conference. Our humanitarian assistance, including support for neighboring countries, since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, now totals 275 million dollars.
Humanitarian aid remains meaningless if it is not delivered to those in need. Japan thus demands all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, take the necessary steps to ensure immediate, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to all areas affected by the conflict.
In addition, I would like to reiterate Japan’s commitment to provide the greatest possible cooperation towards the disposal of Syria's chemical weapons. In this context, my Government has decided to contribute a total of 18 million dollars to the trust funds established under the UN and the OPCW.
Thank you, Mr. President.