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
22 October 2013
As I take the floor in the Security Council for the first time as the new Permanent Representative of Japan, I would like to say how pleased I am to participate in the deliberations of the Security Council and to express my readiness to work with you, Mr.President, and the members of the Council in the coming years.
Today, I wish to touch upon two issues. First, on the Middle East peace process, and second, on the situation in Syria.
First, let me start with the Middle East peace process.
Japan welcomes the resumption of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians realized through the mediation efforts by the United States.
We remain committed to assisting Palestinian state-building efforts in order to create a proper environment for achieving peace through a two state solution. To establish a viable Palestinian State, its sustainable economic development is indispensable.
Allow me to introduce two concrete initiatives of Japan in this regard.
The first is a project called the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity.” In our view, agriculture and agro-industry are a driving force for the Palestinian economy. This corridor project is thus designed to transform an area of the Jordan Valley into productive and fertile land, thereby allowing Palestinians to export agricultural products. The project is also expected to create employment in the West Bank. Regional cooperation is a key to that end, as this project involves not only Palestine but also Israel and Jordan.
Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan launched this initiative in July 2006 when he visited Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. I myself was given the task to design the project as Director-General for the Middle East and Africa at our Foreign Ministry.
Although there was some skepticism in the beginning, steady progress has been made since 2006. Already one Palestinian company has decided to participate in its flagship project called, “Jericho Agro-Industrial Park” and several companies have expressed interest in joining. The park’s beneficial economic effects are estimated at more than 40 million US dollars per year. About 7,000 jobs can also be created.
A Ministerial-Level Meeting was held in Jericho in July this year under the chairmanship of Foreign Minister Kishida of Japan. Ministers from Israel, Palestine, and Jordan participated. The meeting served as an important opportunity of confidence-building among the participants and reaffirmed the importance of moving forward the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” project.
We look forward to welcoming private companies in the Middle East and other regions of the world in joining the project.
The plan on business expansion in the West Bank and Gaza announced by U.S. Secretary of State, Mr. Kerry, in May, also aims at promoting local entrepreneurs, which we strongly support.
The second Japanese initiative is the “Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development” or CEAPAD. This CEAPAD, launched in February this year in Tokyo, is a process aimed at mobilizing and sharing East Asian experiences and resources in their economic development for the sake of Palestinian development. A second meeting of CEAPAD will take place under the Indonesian chairmanship early next year.
I would very much hope that the Security Council will take into account not only the political aspects but also the economic incentives to the peace process, when the Council discusses this very important subject.
Turning to the situation in Syria, Japan welcomes as others the adoption of Security Council resolution 2118, as well as the establishment of an OPCW-United Nations Joint Mission.
I also join others in extending wholehearted congratulations to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Since the inception of OPCW in 1997, Japan has been making significant contributions to the activities of the organization as the second largest financial contributor, and as a member of the Executive Council. The very first Director of the Inspectorate at OPCW was Major General Ichiro Akiyama of Japan.
As my Prime Minister, Mr. Abe, expressed at the general debate in September, Japan will provide the greatest possible cooperation towards the disposal of Syria's chemical weapons. My government will consider concrete cooperation based on relevant information with respect to global needs and implementation scheme for destroying Syrian chemical weapons.
Despite progress in the field of chemical weapons, we must not turn our eyes away from the appalling humanitarian situation in Syria and the lack of progress in the peace process.
Faced with this deplorable situation, Japan will continue to proactively provide humanitarian assistance to refugees and neighboring countries, which now totals $155 million US dollars.
With the $60 million US dollars pledged by my Prime Minister last month, Japan will support various international organizations in caring for internally displaced persons and refugees in and around Syria. Japan will also provide bilateral assistance to Jordan and Lebanon. Furthermore, we will extend a helping hand to areas under the control of opposition groups where it is difficult for assistance from international organizations to reach.
Let me recall, however, that humanitarian assistance cannot be an end in itself. Now is the time for the international community to seize the window of opportunity with a view to stopping violence and bringing about a political solution. The successful convening of the so-called Geneva 2 conference is of utmost importance in this regard. Japan is always ready to participate in the Geneva 2 conference and to make further contributions to settle the Syrian crisis.
Thank you, Mr. President.