I thank you for convening this debate on Afghanistan. I also wish to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Mr. Tadamichi Yamamoto for his informative briefing and tireless efforts of UNAMA. Let me further express my appreciation to Professor Ghizaal Haress, Mr. Yury Fedotov, Ambassador Kairat Umarov for their briefings, and Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal of Afghanistan for his valuable input.
Japan welcomes the successful convening of the Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan held in November, co-hosted by the UN and the Government of Afghanistan. Japan attaches importance to the fact that, in addition to “reform” and “development”, “reconciliation” was formally put on the agenda for the first time. Japan welcomes the formulation of the Geneva Mutual Accountability Framework (GMAF), and will support the efforts by the Afghan Government to move forward with its reforms.
Japan would like to pay its deepest respects to the citizens of Afghanistan for their determination and courage in casting their votes in the parliamentary elections in October, in spite of the difficult security situation they faced. We also stress and express sincere condolences to the victims of terrorist attacks and their bereaved families. Free and fair elections are the backbone of democracy, and Japan expects that the Afghan Government will review the results and challenges that surfaced at the parliamentary elections and take every possible measure for the upcoming presidential election scheduled for next April.
Security improvement is fundamental for the peace and reconciliation process to move forward. While we have recently seen efforts in the international arena regarding peace in Afghanistan, Japan continues to support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
Japan is highly concerned about the severe drought affecting Afghanistan, where millions of people are facing serious food insecurity and a humanitarian crisis. The Government of Japan has recently decided to extend new assistance of 13 million US dollars in response to this devastating natural disaster.
Moreover, understanding the agricultural sector and rural development as key sectors for Afghanistan’s development and essential for enhancing resilience to droughts, Japan provided approximately 15 million US dollars this year to improve irrigation infrastructure and water management.
I welcome the fact that briefers as well as previous speakers stress the important role of women and youth in Afghanistan. In this connection, Japan has decided to provide approximately 17 million US dollars to promote the Maternal and Child Health Handbook and to provide immunization against infectious diseases, including polio. I believe that these projects will contribute to saving lives of many Afghan children, who will in turn lead Afghanistan’s progress in the future.
We are at an important and decisive juncture as we near the halfway point of the Transformation Decade. We should build on what has already been achieved, and Japan stands ready to participate and discuss with the international community, and of course the Afghan Government on the way forward for Afghanistan to become truly self-reliant.
I thank you, Mr. President.