STATEMENT BY MR. KEIZO TAKEMI,
SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF JAPAN
before the Meeting of the States Parties to the Ottawa Convention against
3 MAY, 1999 at Maputo, Mozambique
It gives me a great pleasure to make a statement on behalf of the Government of Japan at such a historic event. I wish to express my highest respect to the governments of Mozambique and Canada, the UN Secretariat, the NGOs and all others concerned who have been devoted to organizing this Meeting of the States Parties.
It is a tragedy that so many people on this planet are still suffering from the appalling effects of anti-personnel landmines (APLs) involved in many armed conflicts. Still it gives me a bright glimpse of hope that we live today in an era in which members of the global community, not only governments but international organizations, NGOs, and citizens of all walks, can cooperate with each other on their common problems, looking for solutions and acting together. As one of the Parliamentarians who were involved in the Japanese policy making on the problems of landmines, I was deeply impressed with the fact that the worldwide momentum which finally realized the milestone convention against landmines had entered into force last March, having been initiated by NGOs and gradually built up, gaining support from concerned governments.
I thank the government of Mozambique for giving my delegation a chance to visit one of the demining areas near Maputo yesterday. It refreshed our understanding about the difficulties we must overcome in order to achieve the goal of "Zero Victims." I strongly feel that the international community should tackle the problems in a united and sustainable manner.
Having observed the latest development in Kosovo, I am obliged to take this opportunity to express my deep concern about the use of APLs in Kosovo where innocent citizens may be falling victim to landmines even during the proceedings of this meeting. I call upon all parties involved in Kosovo question to refrain from the use of anti-personnel landmines which would inflict torment on their own people and enormously handicap any reconstruction effort.
(Universal and Effective Ban of APLs)
Japan proposed at the Signing Ceremony in December 1997 the "Zero Victims Program", which has two elements : a universal and effective ban of APLs; and assistance for demining activities and victim support.
For the universal and effective ban, it is of utmost importance that the number of States Parties to the Convention will continue to grow. It is an extraordinary success that the Convention entered into effect only one year and a few months after its opening for signature, and that it already can boast more than 130 signatories and more than 70 ratifiers. The States Parties should utilize each and every opportunity to urge other states to become party to the Convention.
On the other hand it is a reality that not a few countries will, for certain security reasons, neither commit themselves to refrain from use or production of APLs nor join the Convention in the near future. Even so, I am much encouraged by the fact that an increasing number of those countries have concluded the amended Protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and adopted unilateral moratoria on export of APLs. Further, I hope that the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva will actively pursue a convention to ban transfer of APLs.
(Demining and Victim Support)
As we witness here in Mozambique, APLs are a major obstacle to reconstruction and development of mine-affected countries. Considering the inhumane nature of APLs which cause indiscriminate human sufferings, the problems of APLs have to be addressed as a threat to human life, survival and dignity; This is the concept of “Human Security” that Prime Minister Obuchi of Japan is profoundly concerned about.
Japan has extended mine-related assistance for more than ten years. The Tokyo Conference on APLs in March 1997 was first of an attempt to deal comprehensively with demining activities and victim assistance. Japan's financial assistance through international organizations, NGOs and bilateral cooperation, amounts to approximately 40 million US dollars to date. In order to expand and strengthen our efforts in these fields, then Foreign Minister Obuchi proposed the “Zero Victims Program," and announced that Japan would contribute 10 billion yen or about 80 million US dollars, over five years from 1998 at the Ottawa Signing Conference in 1997. We are making steady efforts to implement this Program. This includes the decision in March to contribute some 4 million US dollars for upgrading mine clearance activities in Cambodia. With regard to Mozambique, Japan not only decided last October to provide 1 million US dollars to assist the UNDP demining project in Massingir, but also intends to send a mission to formulate projects for bilateral assistance.
Japan's assistance toward the goal of "Zero Victims" is based on the following three principles.
The first is "Ownership". This refers to the principle that mine-affected countries should play a primary role in mine action activities. For this purpose, it is important for the donors to assist those mine-affected countries in setting up domestic structures for mine action, with an emphasis on capacity building. Japan has already supported the establishment of mine action centers in Cambodia, Bosnia Herzegovina, and Croatia. I would like to take this opportunity to announce that Japan has decided to extend assistance to UNDP projects : the establishment of mine action centers in Chad and Thailand, as well as the mine clearance activities in Nicaragua. Japan will also expand cooperation with other mine-affected countries.
The second is "Partnership". It is essential for donor countries, international organizations and NGOs to coordinate their activities, using UNMAS as a focal point. In this regard it is also important to promote cooperation among mine-affected countries, and trilateral cooperation including donor countries (recipient-recipient-donor). From this point of view, Japan supported "the Phnom Penh International Forum on Demining and Victim Assistance" held in Cambodia last October which was aimed at experience-sharing among the mine-affected countries.
The third is “Human Security", a theme I touched on earlier. The concept tries to ensure human survival, well-being and freedom. Thus, this concept stresses the need to tackle the issue of APLs from the viewpoint of overall poverty alleviation. APLs suppress people's means for living, and, therefore, mine clearance actors and development institutions need to cooperate closely from the project planning stage, including planning of how to utilize demined pieces of land so that the mine clearance will literally clear the way for real economic and social reconstruction and development. In this context Japan is supporting, in cooperation with the international organizations, the Afghan refugee repatriation project in Azra and Tizin districts. We believe that this project, which includes both mine clearance and refugee assistance, would be a model.
From the viewpoint of protecting the weak and vulnerable in society, the global community should extend assistance to mine victims with an emphasis on their social reintegration - for example, by providing vocational training and creating job opportunities. Japan has been extending assistance for this purpose in cooperation with international organizations and NGOs. And today I wish to announce that Japan has decided to support mine action projects for victim assistance to be implemented by UNICEF and NGOs in Cambodia, Laos, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
Based on the aforementioned three principles, Japan intends to extend mine-related assistance of 20 million US dollars in the fiscal year 1999 in response to the requests from mine-affected countries, international organizations and NGOs. Japan is particularly interested in expanding its assistance to those mine-affected countries, which are undertaking demining activities in accordance with the principle of ownership and in the spirit of partnership.
The concept of "Human Security" is a perspective for the global community to look at the world which is to come in the 21st Century. The global community should address the problem of APLs with all its available mental and physical strengths, to achieve the goal of "Zero Victims". Japan is committed to making an active contribution to overcome this global challenge.