Address by Mr. Keizo Obuchi
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
Ottawa Signing Conference
December 3 1997
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to be here today to address all of you at this Treaty Signing Conference. I wish to extend my highest regards to the Canadian and the other governments and NGOs who have played a key role in the making of the Treaty.
It is said that every day nearly seventy people are killed or wounded due to the landmines and one out of five of those victims is under 15 years of age. Two weeks ago in Vancouver I received from Foreign Minister Axworthy a badge with a motif of children freed from the horrors of landmines. Bearing the strong spirit shown in the badge, I have been seriously tackling the problem of landmines with a highest priority since I became Foreign Minister in September.
I wish that in the 21st century, our children and their children could live in a world free from the threats of landmines. Towards this end, I would like to appeal strongly to all of you for a need for a comprehensive approach. This approach is to pursue the creation of a universal and effective treaty on one hand and to make further efforts in demining and helping victims on the other.
Japan has been active in the regulation of landmines. In June this year Japan took the lead in concluding the amended protocol on landmines of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. The decision to sign the Ottawa Treaty was not an easy one. because the signing of this milestone treaty is very closely related to our national defense. But as a country making vigorous demining efforts, Japan has made the decision to sign it for the high cause of humanitarianism.
In the post-Ottawa-Process Japan hopes that as many nations as possible will sign this treaty. In the meantime, if we are to aim at a universal and effective banning of landmines, treaty negotiation should be started as early as possible at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. Serious consideration should be given to an approach to begin such a negotiation taking up banning of export of landmines as a first step.
Further, Japan believes that the problem of small arms such as automatic rifles requires similar attention as landmines. Japan will actively pursue solutions to this problem. It plans to host a workshop on this issue in Tokyo next year.
(Efforts in the field of mine clearance and assistance to victims)
Japan held the Tokyo Conference on Anti-Personnel Landmines last March. The Conference agreed on guidelines covering three areas : mine clearance, development of technologies, and assistance to surviving victims.
Japan has decided to extend \10 billion in assistance over five years for its implementation of these guidelines. Through this, Japan will provide equipment and technology for mine clearance, technical cooperation for the making of artificial limbs and vocational training, facilities and materials for medical treatment and rehabilitation, and so on.
Yesterday, a Japanese volunteer showed me in Tokyo a new equipment that can identify plastic mines. This is being developed with civilian technology. While Japan maintains a strict control on arms exports, the government recently decided to make possible the provision of equipments or technologies necessary for humanitarian mine clearance.
A conference will be held in Cambodia for experience sharing among mine-infected countries next May. Japan believes that the experiences of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre can provide valuable know-how for other countries suffering from mines, and it intends to support the conference. In addition, in a follow-up to last year's meeting, the 2nd NGO Tokyo Conference will be held on January 31 and February 1 next year. Japan looks forward to further growth of international cooperation at grass root level.
A few weeks ago, I met Mr. Tun Channareth of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. I also heard that one of the last bearers of the Olympic torch relay at Nagano Winter Olympics next February will be Mr. Chris Moon. Every time I think of the many victims of landmines who like these people have overcome their hardship to live with such vigor, I renew my determination to tackle the landmine problems.
The opening for signature of the Ottawa Treaty is a vital step forward for the international community toward the goal of zero victim of landmines. The Treaty's signing should be a new starting point toward that end. With this in mind, I name the way how the Government of Japan will tackle this problem the "Zero Victim Program". Japan is determined to work positively on this matter in cooperation with other countries so that this goal of "zero victim" can be achieved as early as possible in the 21st century.
This poster is painted by former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. Perhaps he is the only former leader who expressed his desire for "zero victim" with his own paint brush. Although Mr. Nakasone has been the biggest rival in my electoral district for a long time, I have introduced his work here today considering the universality of its theme and its excellent artistic level.
Thank you very much.