2002 Statement



Permanent Representative of Japan

At the Public Meeting of the Security Council on the Situation in the Middle East

3 April 2002

Mr. President,

The Government of Japan is gravely concerned over the escalating violence and terror in Israel and the Palestinian autonomous territories, which include the series of terrorist attacks by Palestinian extremists and the military campaign into Palestinian cities by the Israeli Defense Force.

We are particularly concerned over the killing of innocent civilians, which can never be justified. In the past six days alone, more than 80 Israelis and Palestinians have reportedly been killed and hundreds more injured. We extend our deep condolences and sympathies to all the victims and their families.

It is all the more deplorable that these events are occurring at a time when there are constructive developments for peace in the region: these include, first, the adoption by the Security Council of resolution 1397 which affirmed, for the first time, ga vision of a region where two States, Israel and Palestine, would live side by side and within secure and recognized bordersh; and second, the Arab Peace Initiative adopted at the Arab Summit Meeting, based on the proposal of Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Mr. President,

The Japanese Government condemns in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism aimed at innocent civilians. We have urged the Palestinian Authority at various levels to do its utmost to suppress extremists. Last Friday in Tokyo, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi urged the Palestinian Authority through the visiting Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mr. Abu Ala, to act immediately against those responsible for terrorist actions.

At the same time, the Government of Japan has urged the Israeli Government to exert maximum restraint. In a telephone conversation last Saturday, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi told the Israeli Foreign Minister, Mr. Shimon Peres, that the incursions into Palestinian cities by Israeli forces and putting the headquarters of Chairman Arafat under siege were not conducive to restoring calm to the situation. She also called for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian cities.

It should be reminded that Mr. Arafat is the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people elected through a democratic process.

The Security Council, with its recent resolution 1402, has once again sent a strong message to both parties to put an end to the escalation of violence and return to the negotiating table. The Government of Japan fully supports that resolution and requests the parties concerned to implement it without delay.

We also regard American engagement indispensable in order to break the impasse and bring the peace process back on track. In this context, the mission of General Zinni of the United States, who remains in the region to continue his mediation efforts, is of utmost importance.

The Government of Japan appeals to both parties to respond positively to his efforts and achieve a ceasefire agreement as soon as possible. To that end, it dispatched to the region its special envoy, Ambassador Hiroshi Shigeta, in order to support General Zinnifs efforts. The Government of Japan is determined to extend all possible assistance to the efforts to improve the situation.