STATEMENT BY MRS. HISAMI KUROKOCHI
REPRESENTATIVE OF JAPAN
AT THE FIRST COMMITTEE OF
THE 50TH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK
17 OCTOBER 1995
May I begin by congratulating you, on behalf of the Japanese delegation, on your assumption of the chairmanship of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly during its fiftieth session. The tasks before us have a particular significance in this year of commemorations, and I wish to assure you of my delegation's full support and cooperation as you lead the work of this committee to a successful conclusion.
Nineteen ninety-five is truly a pivotal year. It commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of both the end of the Second World War and the founding of the United Nations. But it also marks the fiftieth anniversary of the use of atomic weapons for the first and -- it is hoped -- the last time. In this landmark year, we are encouraged by the significant progress achieved in international disarmament efforts. I am referring in particular, of course, to the decisions made at the NPT Review and Extension Conference last May to indefinitely extend the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, to strengthen and improve the process for reviewing the NPT, and to adopt the "Principles and Objectives" for nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. Moreover, as a result of intensive effort at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, we can look forward to completing the negotiations on a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1996.
In view of the progress that has been made this past year, it is all the more regrettable that nuclear testing is still continuing. While we recognize that every country has its own national security to consider, the conducting of nuclear tests -- by any country and for any reason -- runs counter to the overwhelming desire throughout the international community for an end to such tests. In the belief that the great majority of countries share its view, Japan strongly calls for the immediate cessation of nuclear testing.
In the "Principles and Objectives" adopted last May, it was decided that the CTBT negotiations should be concluded no later than 1996. Nuclear weapon States were called upon to exercise utmost restraint pending the Treaty's entry into force. This suggests that there is a consensus in the international community that, with the indefinite extension of the NPT, the highest priority should now be placed on a CTBT. Japan is encouraged that serious efforts are under way to achieve this goal.
In response to this international desire for a test ban, and based on its own strongly held views, Japan and other like-minded States will introduce in this Committee a resolution calling for the immediate cessation of all nuclear testing. In so doing it is not our intention to set nuclear weapon States against non-nuclear weapon States. Rather, the resolution is meant as a forceful expression of the international will to bring an end to nuclear testing.
We believe the adoption of this resolution will strengthen the environment favorable to the conclusion of a CTBT.
As I suggested, the most important issue in the area of nuclear disarmament is the conclusion of a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. At the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva this year we saw significant progress in streamlining a rolling text and in the practical examination of a verification mechanism. In addition, France, the United States and the United Kingdom announced important political decisions regarding the scope of the treaty, making it truly comprehensive. Japan heartily welcomes these decisions, and requests, in the strongest terms, other nuclear weapon States to agree to the ban on all nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosion, for whatever purpose.
During the Cold War, a world free of nuclear testing was beyond our imagination; now, however, it seems to be within our reach. Japan will work tirelessly for the conclusion of negotiations by the spring of 1996 so that a treaty will enter into force as soon as possible and with a maximum number of State parties. As Foreign Minister Kono indicated in his statement at the General Assembly last month, Japan is ready to host a ceremony for the signing of the treaty.
In that speech, Foreign Minister Kono also expressed the hope that nuclear weapon States would strive to make further progress in nuclear disarmament. They must not interpret the indefinite extension of the NPT as an authorization for them to possess nuclear weapons forever. Nuclear weapon States are accorded a special status under the NPT; as the "Principles and Objectives" make clear, they have an obligation to pursue with determination the reduction and, ultimately, the elimination of those weapons. I would like to take this opportunity to stress once again that nuclear weapon States have a responsibility to respond positively to the trust placed in them by States not having such weapons. In fact, by supporting the indefinite extension of the NPT, non-nuclear States committed themselves to the permanent non-possession of nuclear weapons with the expectation that those States with such weapons will make progress in nuclear disarmament.
Japan believes that it is important for each nuclear weapon State to do its utmost for the actual reduction of nuclear weapons. In particular, it strongly hopes that the United States and Russia will ratify START II and work for further reductions. For its part, Japan is engaged in various joint measures, including cooperation with the United States on the construction of a facility for storing nuclear materials derived from the dismantling of nuclear weapons in countries of the former Soviet Union. In this context, we certainly welcome the current efforts made by the European Union.
Japan's position on nuclear disarmament is clear : we must strive for the ultimate goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons. While we fully recognize that military force, including nuclear weapons, still plays an important role in maintaining international peace, we nevertheless believe our goal must be a nuclear-free world. This should be achieved through concrete measures to ensure nuclear non-proliferation, to reduce existing nuclear stockpiles, and to prevent qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons.
Resolutions calling for nuclear disarmament should not be empty rhetoric; they must be put into action through realistic measures that will lead to actual nuclear disarmament. It was in accordance with this view that last year Japan introduced at the First Committee a draft resolution aimed at achieving the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons. It was adopted with overwhelming support. This year we will propose a follow up resolution, taking into account the developments that have been made since last year. I expect that it will gain the support of all States, including nuclear weapon States.
In his speech at the UN Conference on Disarmament held in Nagasaki this past June, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama stated that we have entered the "era of action in disarmament." It is incumbent upon each country to consider how it can contribute to this "era of action in disarmament" so as to foster a peaceful and secure international environment. Acknowledging this new era, and looking ahead to the preparations for the next NPT Review Conference that will start in 1997, Japan is now engaged in devising an effective formula for convening a seminar some time next year on nuclear disarmament in light of the NPT extension. We hope that this seminar will make a genuine contribution to the future NPT review process. I wish to emphasize, on this occasion, the importance of strengthening the United Nations role to ensure that it functions more effectively and that the various efforts of the United Nations result in practical achievements.
Having commented on the progress made this past year, I would be remiss if I did not also note that the Conference on Disarmament failed to commence negotiations on a convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. This is a great disappointment, particularly since an agreement was reached to establish an ad hoc committee on this issue last March. I strongly hope that negotiations on a cut-off treaty will begin without further delay, so that we can advance one more step along the path to nuclear disarmament.
Now let me touch upon issues relating to other weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical weapons. Japan is deeply gratified that, following the agreement reached at the so-called BWC Special Conference in September 1994, the ad hoc committee in Geneva was able to begin substantive negotiations this past July. I look forward to achieving our goal of formulating a legal framework to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention prior to the review conference scheduled for late 1996.
As for chemical weapons, the CWC, which was opened for signature in January 1993, is a monumental disarmament treaty aiming at the complete elimination of all chemical weapons. However, because many countries have yet to ratify it, the treaty has not yet entered into force. Japan deposited its instrument of ratification on September 15 of this year, becoming the treaty's thirty-eighth State Party. It will continue to participate actively in the preparatory work undertaken at the Hague, and would like once again to urge those States which have not yet done so to sign and ratify the treaty at the earliest possible date.
While the importance of addressing issues relating to weapons of mass destruction cannot be overemphasized, we must not overlook the problem of conventional weapons, particularly when we consider that these weapons are actually being used in regional conflicts. As Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali has pointed out, the control of anti-personnel land mines and small arms, such as automatic rifles, is a matter of great urgency, as they are causing thousands of casualties, including civilians, in various conflicts around the world.
In this context, we warmly welcome the adoption of the "Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons (Protocol IV)" at the Review Conference on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which recessed on October 13. While we are deeply disappointed that the negotiations on the amendment of the "Protocol on the Prohibition or Restrictions on the Use of Land Mines, Booby-traps and Other Devices (Protocol II)" were not concluded in this past session, we strongly hope that a consensus will emerge on strengthening the Protocol in the resumed session in April/May 1996. In the meantime, I would like to call upon all states, which have not done so already, to accede to the convention.
Another problem in the area of conventional weapons is the excessive accumulation of small arms. Although it is an aggravating factor in regional conflicts, no particular measures have yet been taken to combat this problem. Japan therefore intends to propose a draft resolution requesting the Secretary-General to establish a group of experts for the primary purpose of examining ways and means of preventing and reducing the accumulation and circulation of small arms. I hope that as many States as possible will support the draft resolution so that we can begin to seriously address this vexing problem.
The promotion of transparency in armaments (TIA) is also an important task in the area of conventional weapons. In an effort to enhance transparency in conventional arms transfers, Japan will continue to work to gain the participation of additional States in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and to expand and develop the system. We welcome regional efforts in this area and note, in particular, those made at the ASEAN Regional Forum this year.
United Nations regional centers for peace and disarmament are playing a valuable role in efforts to increase transparency in conventional weapons and promote regional arms control. We therefore regret that the Secretary-General's report on the centers recommends the closing of all three centers due to the financial difficulties of the United Nations. I should like, however, to call attention to the Kathmandu Center in Nepal which is making significant contributions to regional peace and disarmament. Japan has been extending considerable assistance to its activities, which constitute the so-called Kathmandu Process, and strongly hopes that it will be possible to allow at least this center to continue.
In this important year, when international awareness of disarmament issues is perhaps greater than ever before, I cannot but feel confident that this First Committee will make significant progress in arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation. Japan pledges to do its part to ensure that the efforts of this Committee will be successful.