Statement by Hajime Kishimori Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, on Agenda Item 57: Questions relating to Information Fourth Committee, Seventy First Session of the United Nations General Assembly

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Mr. Chair,
          I would like to begin by congratulating you on your assumption of the Chair of the Fourth Committee, as well as the distinguished Bureau members . I would also like to express my delegation’s appreciation for the outstanding direction of newly appointed Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Public Information (DPI), Ms. Alison Smale,  as well as the excellent work being carried out by the Department. DPI’s efforts to fulfill its mandate in covering the United Nations’ fundamental activities, including international peace and security, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, climate change, human rights, UN Reform Initiative by the Secretary General including Security Council reform, and the rule of law, are highly appreciated.
Mr. Chair,
          There is no doubt that DPI is vitally important to the United Nations as the principal department  tasked with communicating the work and achievements of the Organization to the world’s diverse audiences. Without such important work, done effectively and efficiently, the United Nations would not be able to garner the support of the international community necessary to carry out its numerous activities and efforts. To this end, I would like to express Japan’s gratitude to DPI for identifying the priorities of the UN and strategically communicating them at the global level in a prompt and timely manner.
          At the same time, DPI’s primary objective, which is to increase awareness of the work and activities of the United Nations, should be achieved by improving efficiency and transparency through the rationalization of its current resources as well as ensuring that its activities are carried out in a cost-neutral manner.
Mr. Chair,
          The crucial work of DPI could not reach the widest possible audience without its vast global network of UN Information Centres, each of which provides information on the activities of the UN to local populations in their own languages. I would like to commend the Strategic Communication Division for their management of field offices and the network of UN Information Centres, including UNIC Tokyo.
          Acting as the face of the United Nations in Japan, UNIC Tokyo continues its important task of disseminating information about the indispensable work of the United Nations to the Japanese public. In her capacity as director, Ms. Kaoru Nemoto continues to actively and expertly guide the activities of UNIC Tokyo, which promotes greater support for the United Nations throughout Japan in a compelling and creative manner.
          Allow me to share two examples.. Featuring award-winning photos from its 2016 Student Photo Competition, UNIC Tokyo organized the exhibition “Spotlight on SDGs” last year at the UN HQ Visitor’s Centre from 10 July to 29 August. The first prize was awarded to Mr. Nicolás Monteverde Bustamante of Perú for his work “EL OJO DEL CONSUMO” (The Eye of the Consumer), which touches on the SDGs related to environmental protection and responsible consumption by depicting a volunteer removing a tire from a polluted beach in Perú,  ultimately questioning the interplay between consumption habits and conservation goals. 2017’s competition has received more than 1,000 entries from over 70 countries. The winner will be announced at the award ceremony on 24 October and the highest prize is, once again, the “Foreign Minister’s Award”. Furthermore, UNIC Tokyo recently partnered with the Government of Japan and Yoshimoto Kogyo, one of the largest entertainment agencies in Japan, to promote the SDGs with the help of Japanese comedians. This collaboration has been expanding to highlight SDGs through comedy shows and at its international film festival in Kyoto last week, where Mr. Jeff Brez of DPI kindly attended.
          UNIC Tokyo also functions as UN Resident Coordinator in Japan, strengthening partnership with business and financial sector as well as Tokyo2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee, which led to DSG Ms. Amina Mohammed’s   productive meetings with these stakeholders during her Japan visit in October.
          In this connection, the Government of Japan reiterates its full support for all UN Information Centres and calls on DPI to continue to ensure the success of these centers and support their efforts on a global scale.
Mr. Chair,
          We strongly believe that UN operations and public information should go hand in hand, with words supporting deeds or vice versa.
          The Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, has placed peace at the top of his agenda, promoting courageous reform in peace & security, development and management. Japan, as a peace-loving nation and current member of the UN Security Council, strongly supports his initiatives. However, peace is not realized solely by the UN Security Council, nor even solely by the UN community. Peace can only be achieved through the efforts of all peace-loving individuals around the world, in which art and culture can play a meaningful role.
          Art and culture may not solve all the world’s conflicts, but they do inspire us to both envision and strive for peace. Some of you may recall last December’s Plaster Wall Event, commemorating Japan’s 60th anniversary in the UN.  UN officials, diplomats, and New York based supporters for the UN carved on the wall their messages of peace in their mother languages. The memories and prayers for peace on the wall left a lasting impression. From this collective experience, our initiative, “Peace is…” was born.
          The “Peace is…” initiative focuses on art and culture as a medium through which everyone can better connect with the UN and its objectives. The Permanent Mission of Japan has collaborated with Japanese artists residing in New York, who believe in the power of art to bridge divisions and bring people together. For instance, with the assistance of a Japanese master of flower arrangement, the ambassadors and their spouses of 10 member states of ASEAN and Japan performed IKEBANA together, making one large floral art arrangement on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of ASEAN’s  founding.
          At the Plaster Wall event commemorating Japan’s 60th anniversary, Ambassador Bessho stressed that “we are hopefully reminded that humans, regardless of religion, belief or ethnicity, can and must co-exist and prosper on the soils that we share.”  At the Peace is… with ASEAN colleagues in August, he re-phrased it saying, “We can and must co-exist and prosper with the flowers that we share.”
Mr. Chair,
          Before closing, I feel obliged to briefly touch upon the topic of multilingualism. The second Peace is... event featured a Japanese guitarist who has been performing songs in Spanish, many of which were dedicated to Argentinian Folk icon Atahualpa Yupanqui, over the last thirty years here in New York. To be sure, our positions may vary when it comes to financing multilingualism, but that concert, co-hosted by the Ambassadors of both Argentina and Japan, eloquently illustrated the enduring importance of multilingualism.
Mr. Chair,
          There is no doubt that the United Nations will continue to stand as a key organ to tackle unprecedented global challenges. DPI’s mandate to promote the activities of the UN is thus more important than ever before. I will conclude my statement by reaffirming the strong support of my delegation for the Department of Public Information.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.