Statement by Ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa

Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations

At the Open Debate of the United Nations Security Council

On the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question

22 Oct 2015




Mr. President,

              I would like to thank H.E. Mr. José Manuel García-Margallo, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Spain for convening this timely meeting.  I also extend my sincere appreciation to the Deputy Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, for his sobering briefing concerning the situation on the ground.  Furthermore, I express my appreciation to the Secretary General, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, for his timely visit to the region this week, as an embodiment of the international community’s concern and commitment to the region.


Mr. President, 

            From the resurgence of violence in Palestine to the protracted crisis in Syria, the challenges we face in the Middle-East are numerous and complex.  As many speakers have emphasized in previous open debates, crisis management will not suffice.  Japan, as a member-elect of the Security Council, stands ready not only to confront the imminent challenges at hand, but to help address the underlying factors that fuel instability in the region, by empowering individuals and strengthening communities in line with the concept of human security.


2.The Middle East Peace Process

Mr. President,

            Nowhere is a political solution more overdue than in Palestine.  Japan is concerned by the latest surge of violence, in particular the conflicts at holy sites for its potentially inflammatory implications.  We welcome that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to maintain the status quo at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has swiftly condemned the arson attacks against Joseph’s Tomb.  We call for the cessation of violence and condemn all forms of incitement including those from Hamas.


             In light of the daily onslaught of violence, we reiterate the importance of maintaining the security cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian authorities. Furthermore, while we recognize the necessity to maintain order, we call on Israel to exercise its law enforcement with proportionate measures and refrain from collective punishment including the demolition of homes, which may exacerbate an already volatile situation. 


Mr. President,

            The current situation did not arise in a vacuum. Grim economic prospects, social marginalization, illegal settlements and the stagnation of the Peace Process have all served as fodder for discontent.  Too often, the international community, including this Council, has remained silent.  We have offered neither tangible advances toward peace nor concrete visions of a viable economy in a future state of Palestine.


            The stagnation and difficulty of the peace process must not stop us from moving ahead where progress can be achieved.  Therefore, Japan has contributed 1.6 billion dollars in support since 1993, firm in our belief that a viable economy underpins the feasibility of a two-state solution.  Through projects such as the Jericho Agro-Industrial Park, which can provide up to 7,000 jobs with annual economic benefits totaling 40 million dollars, Japan looks to present real prospects for a viable Palestinian economy.


            The engagement of countries with the will and capacity to provide concrete contributions, both on the ground and in the political process, strengthens rather than dilutes the traditional frameworks of the Peace Process.  We therefore value the initiative taken by the Middle East Quartet in convening a High-level Outreach Session at the margins of the 70th General Assembly.  At the meeting, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan offered additional aid totaling 12 million dollars and reaffirmed our commitment to play a more proactive role in the Peace Process.  Japan looks to continue our engagement with the Quartet and other relevant parties to advance the Peace Process. 



3.The Situation in Syria

Mr. President,   

            In five years, the Syrian crisis has taken more than 250,000 lives and uprooted approximately 12 million citizens.  Against one of the worst humanitarian crises of our generation, Japan spares no effort in addressing both the immediate challenges, as well as the underlying factors of instability.   


            This year, Japan is carrying out assistance of approximately 810 million dollars to refugees and IDPs (internally displaced persons) from Iraq and Syria.  With particular regards to the Syrian crisis, Japan has already extended more than 1.1 billion dollars in assistance such as relief and vocational training, with the view to empower individuals and build communities resilient to the allures of extremism.


Mr. President,

            Japan condemns the rampant acts of terrorism that have taken countless lives and destroyed cultural heritages throughout the region.  Such heinous acts of terror have also taken Japanese victims.  We therefore stand ready to fulfill our responsibility as a member of the international community in combatting terrorism.


            We note that the situation in Syria has taken on a new dimension with the military involvement of Russia.  In this regard, Japan looks to Russia to strictly limit its airstrikes to those against ISIL in Syria.  Any action against non-ISIL forces could worsen an already volatile situation in Syria and would be cause for concern. Japan will closely follow the situation in Syria.              


            We reiterate that there can be no military solutions to the Syrian crisis. We thus underline our support to U.N. Special Envoy, Mr. Staffan de Mistura in his efforts towards a political solution based on the implementation of the Geneva Communiqué. 


Japan, as a leading contributor in confronting the Syrian crisis, stands ready to help address the humanitarian crisis and contribute to the political process.



4.The Situation in Libya and Yemen

Mr. President,

            The crisis in Libya has been one of the most protracted in the region.  We thus extend our sincere gratitude to Special Representative Bernardino Leon for surmounting considerable challenges in facilitating a historic political agreement.  The successful completion of an inclusive Libyan political process will serve as another testament to the value of diplomacy in a region that surely needs it.  We look to the incoming Special Representative to build on these efforts towards the formulation of a Government of National Accord.  


Mr. President,

            Japan remains deeply concerned with the situation in Yemen.  Against a dire humanitarian situation, where 80% of the population requires aid, Japan has hitherto distributed more than 40 million dollars in humanitarian assistance including food and medical supplies.  We call on all parties involved to ensure its unhindered access.  


            Furthermore, Japan, as a member of the Group of 18, underscores that there cannot be a military solution and reiterates our support to the U.N. Special Envoy, Mr.  Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.  We look forward to the talks being facilitated under his auspices leading to durable peace in Yemen.




Mr. President,

            The increasing volatility of the Middle East calls for a concerted effort by the international community, including the Security Council, to facilitate the return of peace and stability to the region.  I would like to conclude my statement by assuring you that Japan will continue to play a proactive role, both on the ground and in the Council, in contributing to peace and stability of the region.     


I thank you, Mr. President.



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