15 OCTOBER 1996
Mr. Chairman,
  May I begin by extending, on behalf of the Japanese delegation, my warm congratulations on your assumption of the chairmanship of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly during its fifty-first session. I assure you of my delegation's full support and cooperation as you lead the important work of this committee.
Mr. Chairman,
  I would like at the outset to express the deep satisfaction of my government, that after two and a half years of negotiations in Geneva, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty was adopted at the fiftieth session of the UN General Assembly with the support of the overwhelming majority of Member States. Japan, together with other like-minded countries, made strenuous efforts for the conclusion and adoption of the CTBT. Underscoring the significance of the Treaty, Prime Minister Hashimoto himself signed it on September 24, the same day it was opened for signature. The CTBT is indeed a historic milestone in the effort to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.
  So far, as many as 124 countries have already signed the Treaty, which is clear testimony to the strength of international support for the prohibition of nuclear testing. Japan is confident that, in light of the adoption of the Treaty, as well as the widespread support it enjoys, nuclear testing will never again be conducted anywhere in the world. My Government strongly hopes that as many countries as possible will sign and ratify the Treaty. In particular, we would like to call upon those countries which have expressed opposition to the Treaty to reconsider their position so that it will enter into force at the earliest possible date.
  Japan, for its part, will make every effort to contribute to the early and smooth establishment of an international system under the CTBT for the prohibition of nuclear testing. I would like here today to mention a few examples of the efforts the Government of Japan will make toward that end. First, Japan is ready to provide a knowledgeable and experienced person to fill a senior-level post in the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the CTBT Preparatory Commission, and, second, Japan is ready to make a prompt financial contribution to the Preparatory Commission to ensure its smooth establishment and operation. In addition, as Prime Minister Hashimoto mentioned in his statement before the General Assembly last month, Japan will expand the technical cooperation to concerned developing countries on seismic technologies which comprise an essential part of the International Monitoring System for the detection of nuclear explosions. Japan makes these efforts in pursuance of its consistent approach to make realistic, step by step progress in nuclear disarmament, with the aim of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.
Mr. Chairman,
  Permit me now to comment on other nuclear disarmament issues. First, I would like to stress the importance of the review process following the indefinite extension of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Based on last year's decision on "Strengthening the Review Process for the Treaty", together with the decision for extension, we should explore ways to move forward the issues listed in the "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament" at the Preparatory Committee meetings to commence next year for the year 2000 Review Conference. In an effort to contribute to making the review process as productive as possible, Japan will hold an international seminar on the theme of "Nuclear Disarmament After the Indefinite Extension of the NPT" in Kyoto in early December this year. It is hoped that this seminar will facilitate the smooth start of the preparatory process for the next NPT Review Conference by providing an arena for a frank and in-depth exchange of views between nuclear weapons States and non-nuclear weapons States in order to identify the future direction of nuclear disarmament efforts.
  Second, I would like to comment on the issue of fissile cut-off. As Prime Minister Hashimoto, as well as Foreign Minister Ikeda, has stressed, now that the CTBT has been adopted and opened for signature, Japan believes that negotiations on a Cut-Off Treaty should commence as soon as possible at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. Japan, for its part, continues to work toward this end. In this connection, I would point out that the Conference on Disarmament, in fact, decided by consensus in 1995 to establish an Ad-Hoc Committee for negotiations on the Treaty.
  Third, nuclear disarmament is an issue of common concern for the international community as a whole; as such, it demands the attention of all States, not just those which possess nuclear weapons. Thus, it is important to foster a spirit of mutual trust and constructive cooperation between nuclear weapons States and non-nuclear weapons States. For this purpose, we should strengthen the function and credibility of international bodies
for disarmament such as the Conference on Disarmament and this First Committee.
  Japan will endeavor to promote realistic and feasible measures in order to facilitate further progress toward nuclear disarmament at the Conference on Disarmament. A Cut-Off Treaty is certainly an important objective, but it is not the only one. Japan believes that the Conference on Disarmament should provide a forum to explore possible avenues for further "nuclear disarmament" which is, in fact, one of the items on the agenda of the Conference on Disarmament.
  Fourth, let me express our satisfaction for the withdrawal of au nuclear warheads from Ukraine, and shortly, from Belarus. These accomplishments are clear examples that arms control and disarmament efforts are in progress as promised.
Mr. Chairman,
  Problems relating to other weapons of mass destruction also demand our attention. In this regard, we hope that the upcoming Fourth Review Conference of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention will prove fruitful so that the Ad-Hoc Group may make further progress in its current work, including the drafting of a rolling text.
  Japan welcomes the fact that the Chemical Weapons Convention will soon go into effect; however, it notes that many countries, including the United States and Russia, have not yet ratified it. Japan strongly hopes that these countries will ratify it as soon as possible, and certainly before it enters into force.
Mr. Chairman,
  While the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction cannot be overemphasized, we must also address the problems posed by conventional weapons, particularly in light of the fact that they are actually being used in conflicts that are raging in various parts of the world today.
  Since the end of the Cold War, world attention has been focused particularly on landmines, which have been called "weapons of mass destruction in slow motion." It has been estimated that there are more than a hundred million landmines remaining in the ground in various parts of the world; each month, they claim the lives of more than eight hundred people and injure thousands of others. Most of their victims are innocent civilians. This is, above all, a humanitarian problem, but the presence of landmines also creates obstacles to economic and social reconstruction in regions that have been torn apart by military conflict. In Japan's view, it is important to take measures in the following four areas : first, the strengthening of international restrictions on landmines; second, mine clearance activities by the United Nations and other organizations; third, the development of technologies for mine detection and clearance; and fourth, assistance for the rehabilitation of victims.
  With regard to the first point, restrictions, Japan intends to ratify the new Protocol II of the CCW at an early date, and is supporting international efforts toward a total ban on anti-personnel landmines.
  In order to strengthen international efforts in the other three areas, Japan is preparing to convene an international conference at the senior official level in Tokyo, tentatively set for May 1997. I would like in this connection to refer to the International Strategy Conference that was organized by Canada this month. Initiatives such as these are important in strengthening and promoting international cooperation on this vital issue.
  The excessive accumulation of small arms is another problem demanding our attention. Japan appreciates the progress made in the United Nations on the basis of resolution 50/70B, on which Japan took an initiative last year. We are gratified that the panel of governmental experts established by the Secretary-General is making progress on this grave problem, and we look forward to the panel's report, which the Secretary-General will submit to the General Assembly at its fifty-second session.
  In the effort to enhance transparency in armaments (TIA), Japan attaches importance to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, among whose goals is the prevention of the excessive and destabilizing accumulation of conventional weapons. Again, Japan calls upon States which have not yet done so to participate in the Register. Next year, in accordance with resolutions that have been adopted in the past, the Secretary-General will convene a group of governmental experts to consider ways of further developing the Register. We hope that the group will come up with realistic and effective proposals.
  Finally, I would like to comment briefly on the significant contributions which the United Nations Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament are making to enhancing regional dialogue and promoting confidence. Japan particularly appreciates the contributions of the Kathmandu Centre, one of such facilities in Asia and the South Pacific, and will continue to extend assistance in support of its activities.  
Mr. Chairman,
  Nineteen-ninety-six will surely be remembered as a landmark year in terms of progress in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. I trust that in the closing months of this memorable year, this First Committee will continue to build upon this progress toward the realization of a safer world. I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, that it is an endeavor to which Japan pledges its full support.
  Thank you.