Statement by H.E. NAMAZU Hiroyuki, Ambassador for Political Affairs, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, at the Joint General Debate of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee), 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
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At the outset, I would like to begin by expressing our gratitude to you for convening this important committee. I also wish to thank the Secretariat for coordinating these meetings amidst unprecedented restrictions necessitated by the pandemic.
It goes without saying that COVID-19 has impacted each issue we discuss in the Fourth Committee.
2. Middle East (agenda item 52 and 53)
Japan hopes that the recent agreements to normalize relations between Israel and the UAE as well as between Israel and Bahrain, including the positive development of the suspension of the “application of sovereignty” over the West Bank by Israel, will ease tensions and stabilize the regional situation.
Meanwhile, Japan deeply deplores the continued settlement activities by the Government of Israel, which are in violation of international law. Japan once again urges the Government of Israel to fully freeze such activities.
Given the lack of momentum for the Middle East Peace Process, Japan is concerned about the current situation where a sense of isolation has been growing surrounding Palestine. In keeping with the view that the conflict should be resolved only through direct negotiations between the parties concerned, Japan continues to support a two-state solution based on the relevant Security Council resolutions and known parameters, and will continue its confidence-building measures among the parties concerned through its unique efforts such as the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative.
It is obvious that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) plays an important role for peace and stability in the Middle East. We need to make sure UNRWA can fulfill its mandate for the well-being of Palestine refugees, in order to ensure “no Palestine refugee is left behind”. Japan is firmly committed to support UNRWA as it carries out its vital functions, not only for humanitarian purposes but also for its impact on regional stability.
Japan highly appreciates UNRWA’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are concerned about the sharp increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases among Palestinian refugees in the densely populated camps, and I would like to express our respect for UNRWA’s frontline workers in health centers, education facilities and those engaged in other activities for their daily operations in a difficult environment.
In 2020, Japan has so far pledged and distributed approximately 25.8 million USD to UNRWA, of which 1.81 million USD was for the Programme Budget to support core services, and 1.54 million USD was for the COVID-19 flash appeal. Japan will continue to support UNRWA and give consideration to the provision of necessary assistance.
3. Peacekeeping operations (agenda item 54)
Due to the impact of COVID-19, the environment in which UN peacekeepers carry out their missions has become more severe than ever.
Japan welcomes the efforts of the Secretariat to make steady progress in the initiatives on Action for Peacekeeping, and particularly we emphasize the importance of the capacity-building of peacekeepers. Since its inauguration in 2015, 40% of TCCs have participated in the UN Triangular Partnership Project (TPP), which brings together three critical actors in peacekeeping training and capacity-building: namely, the TCCs, Member States with particular expertise, and the UN Secretariat. Through this framework, Japan will continue to help enhance the capabilities of African and Asian peacekeepers in such fields as engineering and medical care.
TPP and the Light Coordination Mechanism (LCM) are both open to all Member States who have the will to contribute to the capacity-building of others. More Member States are participating in TPP and LCM, and we hope these partnerships on UN peacekeeping will broaden further.
4. Information (agenda item 56)
The crucial work of the Department of Global Communications could not reach as many people as it does without the vast global network of UN Information Centers, each of which provides information on UN activities to local populations in their languages. Particularly now, the UNIC continues to play a vital role in keeping the public informed of the ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19. We commend the efforts of UNIC Tokyo which is the only UNIC in Northeast Asia, in its continued service as a communication arm of the UN.
Let me express our gratitude for the organization of this year’s Peace Bell Ceremony held on 17 September, conducted by the Department of Global Communications in spite of the challenges of COVID-19.
As the Secretary-General stated on the occasion of the Ceremony, the COVID-19 pandemic is expanding risks to peace everywhere, highlighting and exploiting inequalities of all kinds. The Peace Bell, donated by Japan in 1954, was cast from coins and medals collected and donated from over 60 countries, working together to create a beautiful symbol. Now more than ever, we must focus on cooperation and the sharing of information to promote peace and fight against COVID-19.
5. Effects of atomic radiation (agenda item 50)
We commend the continued work by The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) to broaden the knowledge and deepen the understanding of the levels, effects and risks of exposure to ionizing radiation, based on its independence and scientific evidence.
Though some programs were postponed by COVID-19, the Scientific Committee plays a vital role in providing scientific assessments and reports on the effects of exposure to ionizing radiation. The work of the Committee helps us evaluate radiation risks and establish radiation protections and safety standards from which we all benefit.
Japan has long been deeply committed to nuclear safety, even more so following the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in 2011.
In light of the importance of disseminating the findings of UNSCEAR to the wider public, we look forward to the update of the UNSCEAR 2013 Report on the levels and effects of radiation exposure due to the nuclear accident after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. We believe the publication of the report on the year marking the tenth anniversary of the accident will contribute to the recovery of Fukushima and Japan.
6. Peaceful uses of outer space (agenda item 51)
Japan reiterates its strong commitment to international cooperation on the peaceful uses of outer space in accordance with international law. Japan welcomes the achievements of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and reaffirms the importance of the rule of law in ensuring the safety, security, sustainability, and stability of outer space. Over the past decades, we have witnessed tremendous scientific, economic and societal benefits from space activities, which would not have been possible without international cooperation. Japan acknowledges the remarkable work of the Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) in addressing a variety of important issues in this field and will continue to support its activities.
In recent years, there has been an increasing number of players in the space sector including space agencies, academia and industry. Later this year, a Japanese astronaut will be aboard a US commercial spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). Japan welcomes such participation of commercial partners in exploring the great frontiers of humankind. The changing space environment also presents challenges such as the increase in space debris and the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculations of activities in outer space. The expanding scope of space activities requires us to further develop a set of principles and best practices. In this context, Japan is pleased to announce that on 13 October, we have signed the Artemis Accords together with our international partners to enhance the governance of the civil exploration and use of outer space.
As one of the leading space-faring nations, Japan is actively engaged in space cooperation for the benefit of all. The areas of cooperation include human spaceflight activities, space science and space exploration. We are also promoting regional space cooperation and capacity-building, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, to provide solutions to regional problems such as disaster management by utilizing satellite data, to enhance space capabilities and to promote information sharing and mutual understanding on national space legislation and policies.
While we are all experiencing an exceptional situation, I assure you that Japan will continue its contributions to the discussions in this committee.