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Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the Japan to the United Nations

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa

At the Open Debate of the United Nations Security Council

On the Situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian Question

26 January 2016


Su Excelencia, Ministro Rodolfo Nin Novoa,

Le damos nuestra cordial bienvenida al Consejo de Seguridad.

Nos complace mucho servir en el Consejo junto con Uruguay.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, thank you for your briefing.


In order to save time, I will state the salient points and distribute my full text.


1. The situation in the Middle East

Mr. President,


       One year ago, this Council strongly condemned the heinous murder of two Japanese citizens in Syria by terrorists. A year later, terrorism and acts of violence continue to prey on the political vacuums and economic difficulties in the region, with civilians bearing the brunt of the cost. Terrorist attacks in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and North America serve as a cruel reminder of the far reaching repercussions of the growing instability in the Middle East.


       From Syria to Yemen, the numerous crises in the Middle East urgently require political solutions. An inclusive political process and cross-sectarian dialogue are essential for stability. We welcome the resumption of the Yemen peace talks and look forward to the initiation of an intra-Syrian dialogue on the 29th of this month.


       We, however, note with concern the rise in regional tensions. Provocative rhetoric and the drawing of fault lines do not contribute to political solutions.


       Dialogue must be maintained at all times. It is the essence and power of diplomacy. The Security Council must continue to urge dialogue and take measures to reduce tensions in this volatile region. Japan stands ready to join efforts toward this end and commend those who are working toward this purpose.



Mr. President,


       The rise of extremist ideology and mass refugees are occurring where economic prospects are truncated, civilians indiscriminately attacked and families uprooted. Let us not forgo these underlying factors of instability in Syria and in other countries of the region.


       Under the concept of human security, Japan seeks to help empower individuals and strengthen communities. Japan is currently disbursing 2.5 billion US dollars in non-military assistance to the region, announced by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his visit to the region last year: from assisting Gaza reconstruction, providing education opportunities for Syrian children, to offering vocational training in refugee camps. Furthermore, last week, the Japanese Diet approved an additional 350 million US dollars to Syrians and in neighbouring countries of Syria.


2. The Middle East Peace Process

Mr. President,


      Nowhere is a resumption of political dialogue and improvements on the ground more overdue than in Palestine.  


       We offer our condolences to every Israeli and Palestinian killed in the on-going acts of violence. We remain concerned that grim economic prospects, social marginalization, and the lack of progress on the peace process continue to fuel discontent. Such a situation is not sustainable.


       Positive steps on the ground are sorely lacking. In this regard, we are strongly concerned about recent reports of the Israeli Government’s unilateral authorization of land in the West Bank as “state land”. We reiterate our call to freeze settlement activities, which are violations of international law and severely undermine the viability of a two-state solution. 


       While welcoming Israel’s increasing efforts to address settler violence, we call on Israel to refrain from collective punishment measures including the demolition of homes. We also call on Palestine to maintain its security cooperation with Israel, which is vital for stability, and strengthen efforts towards national reconciliation.



Mr. President,


       It is the parties themselves that need to reach agreement. However, we must recognize that this Council, have scarcely provided tangible support. The current impasse must not prevent us from moving ahead where progress is possible.


       Since chairing the Environment Working Group of the Madrid Conference two decades ago to our recent participation in the expanded Middle East Peace Quartet, Japan’s commitment towards a two-state solution has never wavered.


       Regardless of the political impasse, Japan has contributed a total of 1.6 billion US dollars to the Palestinian people since 1993. Japan firmly believes that a sustainable Palestinian economy is indispensable for the viability of a two-state solution.


       With this in mind The Japanese Diet has recently approved an additional 78 million US dollars in assistance for Palestine development on top of the 1.6 billion US dollars already disbursed.


       One salient example is the Jericho Agro-Industrial Park, which had its first investment began operations last autumn. In what was formerly a desert, now stands a modern industrial park that can create 700 jobs for Palestinians. This is the result of cooperation between Japan, Israel, Jordan and Palestine; and attests to the dividends that can be gained through peaceful cooperation. We hope that the success of this project will attract further investment.


       Furthermore, through initiatives such as the “Conference on the Cooperation among East Asian countries for Palestinian Development (CEAPAD)”, we are mobilizing regional actors for Palestinian development.



Mr. President,


      These measures on the ground must have a goal in sight; that is, two-states living side-by-side in peace and security. Postponement is not an option. As both the number of refugees and Israeli settlements rise, so does the cost for its eventual resolution. A recent study by the RAND Corporation indicated that a two-state solution would entail a 5.2% GDP growth in Israel and 48.8% growth in Palestine by 2024. Conversely, the same study indicated that a violent uprising would lead to a 10.3% GDP decrease in Israel and a 45.7% decrease in Palestine over the same period.


       Middle East Peace cannot be achieved without an agreement between the two parties. Nonetheless, we believe that the Council can play a role as appropriate and when necessary. Japan stands ready to play a constructive role, both within and outside the Council, towards the long-overdue attainment of a two-state solution.



I thank you, Mr. President.



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