Statement by H. E. Dr Kuniko Inoguchi,

Head of the Delegation of

JAPAN

At the 4th Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction

16-20 September, 2002

Geneva

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Thank you Mr President,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me at the outset, Mr. President, to congratulate you on your assumption of the presidency of this important meeting. I am confident that, under your leadership, this meeting will realize the goals it has set forth to achieve.

It is a great honour for me to participate in this Forth Meeting of the States Parties to the Ottawa Convention, and to be given this opportunity to speak on behalf of the government of Japan. I would like to express my appreciation to the Swiss government for hosting this meeting and for their kind hospitality. I also wish to express my sincere gratitude to the United Nations staff, NGOs and the many others who have been involved in organizing this meeting.

Mr President,

Three and half years have passed since the Ottawa Convention came into force, and we can say with confidence that mine-eliminating activities have taken a firm hold in international society. It is nonetheless true that many problems have not yet been solved, and today I would like to point out three of the major tasks which lie ahead of us.

Firstly, universalization of the Convention is our priority. We are pleased to note that the number of States Parties has been increasing. However, efforts to universalize the Convention must still be continued, and I am convinced of the importance of concrete actions in each region. Japan has been calling upon non-ratifiers, especially Asian countries, to accede to the Ottawa Convention and, this May, Japan was co-sponsor to the regional seminar on universalization of the Convention in Bangkok. I would like to express my gratitude to the governments of Thailand and Australia, among others, for their co-operation. Japan hopes to continue to work together with neighbouring countries to create a regional environment enabling as many countries as possible to accede to the Convention. Japan intends to continue to call particularly upon those countries who still have a large amount of landmines to do so.

I would also like to express my appreciation to the government of Angola and Afghanistan for their decision to join the Convention, despite difficulties following the internal war. Following Angola's lead, Afghanistan is currently taking steps to become a State Party to the Convention. Japan extends a warm welcome to both countries.

Mr President,

Our second task involves the enhancement of mine-eliminating activities and resource mobilization, in order to keep the momentum.

Next year is the deadline for the first group of States Parties to destroy all stockpiled anti-personal mines. In order to realize a universal and effective ban on anti-personal landmimes, we need to concentrate our efforts more on the anti-humanitarian aspect of landmimes and try to keep the momentum for our activities.

Also, in order to solve landmine problems, human, technological and economic resources should be reinforced, and used to gather such momentum. In other words, resource mobilization ought to be prioritized to keep and strengthen the momentum. It is equally important to reinforce not only governmental activities, but also those of civil society. The Japanese government is working together with civil society to achieve the objectives of what we call the gZero Victimsh initiative. Japan pledged financial assistance in the five years following 1998, amounting to a total of around 10 billion Yen. In four and half years, from 1998 to 2002, Japan has provided financial assistance amounting to around 9.6 billion Yen, roughly equivalent to US$ 85 million, to 25 affected countries, areas and international organizations for mine clearance, victim assistance, mine awareness and other mine action activities. This includes a 19 million, 220 thousand US dollar contribution through United Nations organizations and other bodies for mine action activities in Afghanistan this January, as well as a 798 million Yen, about 6 million US dollars, grant aid to Cambodia for mine clearance activities this June. Regarding safe and speedy landmine-clearance activities in Afghanistan, the Japanese Government took the initiative of developing technology for the detection and clearance of landmines. I look forward to Japan applying its high technology to new development initiatives in order to make an even greater contribution in this area for safe, speedy and ecologically sound landmine clearance.

Mr President,

Thirdly, I would like to emphasise the importance of political will and efforts to implement the Convention in order to eliminate the tragedy of landmine accidents. I would especially like to emphasise the need for a firm and engaged partnership of donor countries, affected countries, international organizations and NGOs to provide effective assistance.

Japan intends to provide assistance to those in need in order to resolve their landmine problems. Such assistance, however, should primarily flow to those who have shown strong political will and commitment to eradicate anti-personnel landmines. Each State Party shall implement obligations of the Convention on its own initiative and political will, and Japan is willing to provide assistance to such countries wherever possible.

Japan will complete the destruction of its own stockpile of anti-personal landmines in February 2003. Japan intends to implement all obligations of the Convention, including co-operation and assistance to States Parties, and I can assure you, as head of the delegation of Japan, that we will make greater efforts, together with our partners, to pursue a world free of mines, and to offer a safer environment for the generations to come.

Mr President,

Lastly, I highly appreciate the initiative of the government of Thailand in hosting the Fifth Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention. Because of the long border line and prolonged regional conflicts, Thailand and its people must have suffered greatly from mine problems. Given the regional circumstances, it was an especially courageous decision of the government of Thailand to become a State Party to the Convention. Japan intends to give its full support to Thailand over the following year, and looks forward to the Meeting of the States Parties to be held in the Asia Pacific Region. In Latin America, following the Third Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention in Managua, the movement to overcome landmine problems in the region seems to have become much more active. It is my hope that the Fifth Meeting of the States Parties in Bangkok will have a similar impact in the Asia Pacific Region, and provide a major opportunity to work towards overcoming landmine problems on a global scale.

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Thank you Mr President.