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Speech by Ambassador Orita on the occasion of the Japan Society/Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Lunch

20 Apr 04

Sir John, Ladies & Gentlemen,

Thank you, Sir John, for your kind introduction. I regularly attend this lunch, but it is for the first time for me to speak to this forum. Usually, I enjoy asking questions after excellent speeches, but the unfortunate part of being a speaker is you cannot ask questions after your own boring speech.

Today's topic is ��׫apan's role in the international community�ߡ� As you are all very familiar with the overall direction of the Japanese foreign policy, l'd like to talk today about some of Japan's lesser-known endeavours and explain to you how far the Japanese diplomatic activities have been extended in the world.

Before that, let me talk a little bit about the situation in Iraq. We were all relieved to see the safe release of the five Japanese civilian hostages last week. In a way, the hostage incident has offered an opportunity for the Japanese people to ponder on Japan's role in the international community. What is the cost that we may have to take in our contribution toward Iraq, what should be the attitude toward hostage-taking, terrorism, and so on? Our government made every effort to secure the release of the hostages and, at the same time, the government stood very firm against the hostage takers. Our position is never to yield to the demands made by hostage takers. This policy of the government has been basically well understood and supported by the Japanese public.

At this moment, the situation in Iraq is very difficult. The most essential point is to give the Iraqi people visible signs of hope for their future. The picture should not be ����he occupation forces against the Iraqi people�ߡ� The picture should be ����he international community offering helping hands to the Iraqi people in their efforts to rebuild stable, prosperous and democratic Iraq.�ߡ�In this context, the role of the United Nations is very important, and Japan welcomes the shift in the US policy towards more active UN role, the important shift which we noticed after the meeting over the last weekend between President Bush and British Prime Minister Blair. This is along the line that Japan has been saying all the way. And I believe that it has become increasingly important that the UK and Japan, as the leading European and Asian allies to the United States cooperate with each other.

At the beginning of this month, the Japanese government hosted in Tokyo an international ministerial meeting to discuss consolidation of peace and economic development in the Western Balkans. Western Balkans means Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro. The meeting was co-hosted by Japan and EU. Foreign and Economic Ministers of each Western Balkan country met with Ministers of Western nations and members of international organizations to discuss on measures to promote sustained economic development to ensure lasting peace in these countries. There may well be some here who wonder why meetings such as this are held in Japan, so far away from the Western Balkans. Certainly geographically speaking, Japan and the Balkans are far apart. However, how to maintain the stability in the Balkans is one of the important challenges of the international community and Japan recognises that it cannot simply stand by and watch problems in the world from a distance.

Last year in Tokyo, leaders from Asia-Pacific island nations gathered for an island summit, while leaders from the 24 African countries gathered for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development. This was the third meeting and we call it ��׵ICAD III�ߡ�meeting. Last year, there was also a summit meeting in Japan held between the Japanese Prime Minister and the leaders of the 10 ASEAN countries. This is all as a result of Japan strengthening ties with wide-ranging countries of the world and actively trying to contribute to the development and the solution of problems in each area of the world. Through these meetings, I believe that it is highly significant to draw up concrete measures based on the notions of ����onsolidation of peace�ߡ�and ����uman security�ߡ�which the Japanese government is now promoting in the world.

The concepts of ����onsolidation of peace�ߡ�or ����uman security�ߡ�may sound unfamiliar to some of you. The starting points of these concepts is that in the post-cold war era, it is becoming more and more apparent that one can not solve many serious international problems that directly threaten the lives, livelihoods and dignity of individuals with the simple application of the traditional concept of the security of state. Many conflicts affecting the international community have been caused by various factors, including conflicts arising out of differences of religion and ethnicity, poverty of people within one country. Therefore, we have to take much more account of the security of the individual human beings to address the international issues. And in order to consolidate still fragile peace, we need a comprehensive approach.

��פonsolidation of peace�ߡ�starts from the promotion of the peace process and realization of ceasefire, securing of domestic stability and security, and the rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance.

I would like to explain some examples, which may not have reported much in this country:

Afghanistan was an example of a failed state, has through 20 years of civil war destroyed its economic and social infrastructure and has lost the fundamentals of governing rule. And it has been a breeding ground of terrorists. Now, the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) and US troops in Kabul are trying to maintain law and order but there are still so many armed groups throughout the country with sporadic incidences occurring particularly in the regional areas. Japan is promoting reform in Afghanistan through the peace process, security and humanitarian assistance. In 2002 a meeting for Afghanistan reconstruction assistance was held in Tokyo, and Japan itself had already contributed $5 hundred million. An example of the type of activities in which we are involved is overall regional development assistance on refugee situation. To help domestic refugees, we need to provide their homeland with secure means of livelihood, and this is particularly true in the regional areas. In order to do this, we are currently providing comprehensive assistance by focusing on the 3 selected regions in Afghanistan.

Mine countermeasures is another issue that needs to be dealt with. Afghanistan is a country known for having more mines than any other. There are said to be more than 300 new victims of mines every month. Japan plays a large part in mine countermeasures in Afghanistan and undertakes over 30% of UN activities in this field. This makes Japan the largest contributing nation in this field.

A similar situation to Afghanistan is that of Angola. In 2002, 27 years after independence, the civil war between the government-led (MPLA) and those opposed to the government's power (UNITA) finally came to an end. Previous peace accords in 1991 and 1994 have crumbled and led to repeated outbreaks of civil war . It is especially important that a peace settlement finally has taken hold . But without aid and assistance, it is not possible to achieve a stability after the long drawn out civil war. It is also said that the number of land mines buried in the ground far exceeds the population of Angola. Japan has taken the principal role in promoting peace, whilst removing land mines and preparing the necessary environment for the repatriation of Angolan refugees.

Japan has made our strong efforts towards Africa. During the 1990s when Africa was largely neglected by the rest of the world, it was Japan who provided the lion's share of aid and assistance. Last autumn the major international conference TICAD III which I mentioned earlier was hosted by Japan. With the participation of 89 countries and 47 organisations, including 24 African sovereigns and heads of state, Prime Minister Koizumi made his effort to meet with each of the African heads of state individually. It may come as something of a surprise that the world's largest forum on African development, gathering together African leaders to tackle development policy, was initiated by Japan. In 1993, a time when, with the Cold War over, there was a tendency for African development to fall behind the rest of the world, the first TICAD was held in Tokyo. This established a major discussion forum on African development to be held every 5 years. The achievements of this forum cannot be underestimated, as they have given rise to a situation where the African nations are able to forge plans for development with their own hands.

I would also like to cite the example of Sri Lanka. Japan sent observers to monitor the recent elections and, although there were some violations, for the most part the elections ran freely and fairly. Sri Lanka can be held up as one more example of progress for ����he consolidation of peace�ߡ� For more than 20 years Sri Lanka has been ravaged by internal violence, particularly in the North and East, where racial conflict between the distinct ethnic groups of the majority Buddhist Sinhalese and the mainly Hindu Tamil have persisted. Against this backdrop, Japan offered to hold peace negotiations and pledged aid from the international community. In order to create a framework in which the contribution of aid could be tied in with the peace process, the Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka was held in June last year. Through the various applications of our aid policies, Japan has been able to aid Sri Lankan development.

What can be seen from Western Balkans Afghanistan, Angola and Sri Lanka is that peace and development are interdependent and must be approached in a coordinated manner. In countries where civil war persists, those involved cannot simply be forced into peace through overbearing outside forces. Situation is different from country to country, but there are some elements which we can learn from our experiences and may apply to the rebuilding of Iraq.

Now I would like to finish by looking at United Nations reform.

To deal with the broad spectrum of issues within the international community more effectively, it is necessary for the United Nations to be strengthened. Because of the disagreements over military action, the UN's role in Iraq has been ineffective. However, legally and politically it is only the UN who can give legitimacy to international activities.

The Organisation of the UN and its decision-making framework should be adjusted to the present situation of the world. The concept of the UN Charter was born out of the Second World War and it still retains the articles branding Japan and Germany as ����nemy nations'. And there is still plenty of room for debate on the structure of the UN Security Council.

Reform of the Security Council should be considered as a crucial step by all member states of the UN for enhancing the UN's legitimacy and effectiveness. When reform of the Security Council is realised, Japan would like to assume greater responsibility as a permanent member of the Security Council, mobilising its experiences in various fields. Japan has served as a non-permanent member of the Security Council a total of eight times, more than any other member state.

UN reform should go beyond the reform of the Security Council. Reform of the administrative and financial parts of the UN is also essential for its efficacy. Greater transparency and effectiveness in UN public finance as well as balancing each country's contribution is one of the most pressing issues of reform. It is Japan who is paying almost 20% of the UN budget, but Japan is still unable to participate directly in the Security Council discourse, and this is seen as a great imbalance.

It is vitally important that countries like Japan and the UK perform a role appropriate to their responsibility on the world stage. Whether it is in the fight against terror or the situation in Iraq, the combined efforts of Japan and the UK have become key elements in global stability. At the same time, it is fundamentally essential that the US plays an appropriate leading role in relation to the range of issues in the world today.

The American agenda is not necessarily without fault though. As the US' most influential allies in Europe and Asia, it is the very great responsibility of the UK and Japan to work to ensure that the US does not fall into unilateralism on the one hand and isolationism on the other hand. This means that Anglo-Japanese collaboration is becoming more and more important. This is something that I would like to stress once more before coming to an end.

Thank you very much.


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