Statement by H.E. Ambassador Yasuhisa Kawamura, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, at the Debate on Agenda Item 37: “the Situation in the Middle East” and Agenda Item 38: “the Question of Palestine”, 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
November 29, 2017
I thank you for convening this important meeting. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the people of Palestine on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
Today, Middle East and North Africa region faces multitude of challenges, from the question of Palestine, an issue that existed from the time of the creation of the United Nations, to more recent regional challenges such as Syria and Yemen. We continue to see mutual distrust prevail, and the outlook for the region remains opaque.
Japan, as a member of the Security Council for the past two years, has strived to deal with the issues of the region on a day-to-day basis.
Japan has consistently called for the importance of the peaceful resolution of conflicts, the need to implement international commitments including Security Council resolutions, the need to promote confidence building, and the importance of focusing on humanitarian assistance and enhancing social resilience.
With regard to the Question of Palestine, the future drawn in resolution 181(ii), the future of two states, has not yet been realized. Obstacles to peace persist.
The settlement activities continue in violation of international law, and Japan calls upon Israel to immediately freeze such activities. Settlement activities create facts on the ground, and physically erode a two-state solution.
Violence remains a major risk to peace. Escalation of tension at the holy sites this summer is a stark reminder of how a case of violence can snowball into larger crisis. Japan condemns all acts, incitement and glorification of violence, as it is fundamentally incompatible with peaceful resolution of conflicts.
Japan calls upon both sides to take concrete steps to reverse these negative trends. On the ground, we continue to see reconciliation efforts among the Palestinians. To achieve Palestine under single, democratic and legitimate Palestinian national authority, it is important to continue to encourage the implementation of the agreement signed in Cairo on the 12th of October this year.
A number of resolutions have been adopted at this session of the General Assembly. However, we should not be satisfied. The situation calls for actions that have impact on the ground, both by the parties and by the international community. Japan supports any initiative which will have positive impact on achieving a two-state solution. In this regard, we appreciate efforts by various parties to bring both sides closer to the negotiation table.
Japan continues its own efforts to create an environment more conducive to peace negotiations, on the basis of the three pillars of political dialogue, confidence building and economic assistance. Foreign Minister Taro Kono, in his speech at Japan-Arab political dialogue this September, said that eudurance with long-term foresight is Japan’s strength, and we will move ahead step by step until harvesting fruit. Our efforts in this region may seem like a roundabout way to promote peace, but we believe it is important nonetheless.
One such example is Jericho Agro-Industrial Park, or JAIP, the flagship project of our “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative. This is Japan’s unique initiative to encourage and support the independence of Palestinian economy through regional cooperation with Israel, Jordan and Palestine. We envisage the products produced at JAIP to be exported through this “corridor” to the region and beyond.
We are happy to report that the past year was a year of progress for JAIP, with the number of companies in operation increasing from 3 to 8. We believe that a more sustainable Palestinian economy will make a two-state solution more viable. We would like to continue our cooperation with the partners of the project and demonstrate what cooperation in the region can achieve.
Japan is currently working on upgrading our “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative. We will expand into IT sector, making it a new pillar of the initiative. There are plenty of talents in Palestine. Japan will offer its assistance so that they can fully utilize their potential.
This is not to say that economic development is an alternative to a future Palestinian state. Our goal is to generate trust which compliments other initiatives and leads to meaningful dialogue. Our hope is for the dialogue to lead to two states living side by side in peace and prosperity.
Voice yearning for peace can be heard from both Israelis and Palestinians. For twenty consecutive years, we have invited young future leaders of Israel and Palestine to Japan. This year again, the participants engaged in various activities together and exchanged their views. One participant said that “it is not impossible for both sides to understand each other and live in peace”. Japan will continue its efforts in order to live up to such voices.
I thank you, Mr. President.