Statement by H.E. Seiichiro NOBORU
Ambassador, Delegation of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament
at the Second Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention
on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer
of Anti-Personnel Mines and their Destruction
12 September, 2000
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honour to speak on behalf of the Government of Japan at the Second Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines. At the outset, I wish to express my highest appreciation to President Adolf Ogi of Switzerland and to the Swiss government for hosting this meeting and for their kind hospitality.
I also wish to express my sincere gratitude to the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining and its staff members for their contribution to this Conference.
The Convention has been ratified by as many as 105 states since it was opened for signature in December 1997. This fact clearly demonstrates the strong determination of the international community to overcome the threats that anti-personnel landmines pose to all of humanity. In fostering and universalising such recognition and further advancing international cooperation to tackle the problem, we recognise that the government of Canada and other interested states and NGOs have played significant roles. The partnership effectuated between the governments and civil society has been extremely effective in promoting and accelerating the prohibition of landmines, demining, as well as enhancing victim assistance during the past three years.
Japan is of the belief that the expansion of the community of the States Parties to this Convention is essentially important to the universal and effective ban on landmines. While enon-ratifiersf are hesitating to join this Convention due to such reasons as national security, protection of their sensitive facilities, or tensions with neighbouring countries, Japan has willingly made a difficult decision to ratify the Convention ? giving its highest priority to humanitarian considerations. I would like to take this opportunity to call on all states which have not adhered to the Convention to do so as soon as possible.
Yet, we still face the sad reality that innocent citizens continue to be killed, maimed or wounded by landmines which permeate in various battlefields all over the world, particularly in Africa. Japan is particularly concerned with the suspected use of landmines by certain signatories to the Convention, and calls upon all the parties currently engaged in conflicts, including those signatories to the Convention, to stop using landmines.
The first Meeting of States Parties held in Maputo last May adopted the gMaputo Declaration,h which called for the universalisation of the Convention and strengthening of assistance for demining activities in mine affected countries and victims assistance. This Declaration also stipulated the commencement of the intersessional activities toward the second Meeting of the States Parties. Continuous and focused efforts are paramount in order to achieve "zero victims"; thus, the work of the Standing Committees of Experts is of absolute importance.
Sustained commitment to assist field activities is clearly significant, and the international community needs to address and understand such problems. Japan announced in 1998 its intention to contribute ten billion yen which is nearly $US 100 million during the next five years, and has implemented concrete projects since then. Among other projects, Japan has offered its assistance to several mine affected countries, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Croatia and Mozambique, for their institution building and development of mine action centres. It is also sending experts to the Cambodian Mine Action Center. In all, Japanfs contribution amounts to nearly $US 20 million since the first Meeting of the States Parties. In addition, Japan will extend significant assistance to those NGOs who are dealing with demining and victim assistance. I strongly hope that our efforts will further encourage the affected countries to eradicate mines from their soil and to prevent their citizens from suffering much longer as a result of landmines.
Regarding the method of assistance, Japan has stressed the importance of linking demining with reconstruction and economic development in post-conflict areas in order to ensure human security. It is necessary to carry out a range of activities in a coherent manner: from demining to victim assistance and enhancement of mine awareness and education. Victim assistance should not be limited to medical assistance and the provision of artificial limbs, but should be linked to the creation of job opportunities which would enable victims to be re-integrated back into their societies. Japan will serve as the next co-chair with Nicaragua in the Victim Assistance Standing Committee of Experts after this meeting.
In order to enhance the efficiency of mine actions, donor countries, mine affected countries, related international organisations and NGOs, must share knowledge, expertise and experiences. Japan highly appreciates the improvement of the Information Management System of Mine Action and the development of a data base by the United Nations Mine Action Service.
Japan began its own landmine destruction in January of this year by subcontracting a private company to complete the destruction of as many as one million landmines by February 2003 in accordance with the Convention. At the initial commencement of the work, the Government of Japan organised a public ceremony to observe the destruction of the landmines along with a public briefing session. This ceremony was attended by the Prime Minister and other government officials, local residents, media, and NGOs. On this occasion, the government explained the international significance of such destruction and the measures to fully ensure the safety and environmental security of the public.
The late Prime Minister Obuchi, who passed away last May, resolutely led Japan to the signature and the ratification of the Convention and advocated "zero victims". He upheld that a universal and effective ban on landmines could be achieved in combination with demining assistance and victim assistance. Japan has truly pushed for such efforts to be achieved.
I would like to conclude by commenting that I recently attended a United Nations Conference on Disarmament in a local city in Japan and had a chance to exchange views with the local public in one of the events. They made an impressive presentation of their own mine-eliminating campaigns. The Japanese public is quite aware, just like the Swiss public which we observed in the opening ceremony yesterday, of the problems that are caused by landmines. With such public support, Japan will continue to pursue its policy objectives to enhance progress in the work of mine awareness and demining.