14 OCTOBER 1997
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-second session. I assure you of my delegation's full support and cooperations as you lead the important work of this committee.
Mr. Chairman, 
  Since the cold war era, the international community has made remarkable progress in the field of disarmament with, for example, the adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention. On the other hand, however, we are witnessing numerous regional armed conflicts and the dangers of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It should also be noted that the Conference on Disarmament was unable this year to overcome the divergence of views of the Member States in its efforts to define the future direction of disarmament.
  Japan, as a peace-loving country which upholds its three non-nuclear principles -- that is, not to produce nuclear weapons, not to possess them, and not to permit their introduction into its territory -- and which maintains its military forces for strictly self-defense purposes, regards its contributions to world disarmament efforts as one of the most important pillars of its foreign policy. As Japan has expressed on various occasions, we must not waste precious time engaging in sterile arguments. Indeed, the time has come when it is incumbent upon each country to render the international community its wisest counsel and to take action for the steady advancement of disarmament. With the development of the mass media and the growing influence of civil society, including the growth of non-governmental organizations, international public opinion now has the power to spur progress in disarmament. Idealism that pays little attention to reality cannot advance disarmament, but neither can realism which is not grounded on ideals. Japan, while upholding the lofty ideal of complete disarmament, will continue to appeal to the international community to aim at steady progress in disarmament through concrete measures, taken one by one.
  Based on this view, Japan continues to make utmost efforts toward a world free of nuclear weapons. As part of these efforts, Japan intends to reintroduce at the First Committee this year a draft resolution aimed at achieving the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons, a resolution on which it has taken initiative since 1994. My delegation is grateful for and encouraged by the overwhelming support which this resolution has gained among Member States, and believes this resolution has contributed to the consolidation throughout the international community of the view that nuclear weapons should eventually be abolished, once and for all.
  At the same time, Japan intends to buckle down in its efforts to address the issue of conventional arms, particularly anti-personnel landmines and small arms, which every day pose very real threats to human life and regional stability.
Mr. Chairman,
  Japan attaches great importance to the Conference on Disarmament, the sole multilateral negotiating body in the disarmament field. As I noted earlier, because of the divergence of views, the CD unfortunately could not embark upon concrete work this year. It was particularly regrettable that the CD was unable to reach an agreement on the reestablishment of an ad hoc committee on a cut-off treaty which would ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. This failure is especially disappointing in view of the fact that the "'Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament," which was adopted at the NPT Review and Extension Conference in 1995, stipulated that, after the CTBT, the immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on such a treaty would be the most important measure to be taken to advance nuclear disarmament, and also since the majority of Member States in the CD this year did not object to the commencement of negotiations.
  This year the CD demonstrated, quite unwittingly, that disarmament cannot be promoted through confrontation. My delegation strongly hopes that next year the CD will be able to forge a realistic compromise so that it can make substantial progress in nuclear disarmament.
  Japan, which is one of the strongest advocates for the elimination of nuclear weapons, has repeatedly insisted that if we are to make progress toward this goal, it is imperative that we make steady and cumulative efforts through realistic and concrete measures. As Foreign Minister Obuchi stated at the General Assembly last month, Japan, together with other like-minded countries, will continue to emphasize the importance of this approach.
  While remaining committed to the immediate commencement of negotiations on a cut-off treaty, Japan believes it would be worthwhile to commence immediately discussions on at-least the technical aspects of such a treaty. This could serve as a means of paving the way for negotiations on the treaty per se. My delegation wishes to recall that in the case of the CTBT as well, the Ad Hoc Group of Scientific Experts on Seismic Events (GSE) proceeded with technical work over an extended period of time prior to the commencement of CTBT negotiations. In the case of the cut-off treaty, it is expected that the negotiations win involve exceedingly complex technical issues which will also be deeply related to political decisions. Thus the pigeonholing of technical issues in advance will be all the more useful in our work for this treaty.
Mr. Chairman,
  In addition to the issue of nuclear disarmament, it is important that the CD grapple with issues in conventional weapons disarmament, particularly the question of anti-personnel landmines. My delegation believes the CD can make a significant contribution in this area because it has both the participation of key countries as well as the expertise and negotiating experience to forge a treaty which takes into account each country's security concerns as well as humanitarian concerns.
  Permit me to take this opportunity to present the comprehensive approach which Japan has taken on the issue of anti-personnel landmines.
  In the context of international efforts to address this issue, Japan has identified four important tasks :
  First, contribution to international efforts to achieve a total ban on APLs while promoting legally binding controls over their use and transfer;
  Second, assistance for demining efforts by the United Nations and other international organizations;
  Third, development of technology for mine detection and clearance;
  Fourth, assistance for victims of landmines.
  Concerning the first task, Japan shares the objective of the international community of banning and eliminating APLs. In June of this year Japan ratified the CCW amended Protocol II, becoming the fifth country to do so, in the belief that the early entry into force of the protocol is an important part of international efforts to address the APL issue.
  Japan appreciates the Ottawa Process, and regards it as all important step by the international community toward the banning of APLs. The Government of Japan is now in the process of deciding whether to sign the Ottawa Treaty which will be opened for signature at the Ottawa Conference; but whether it does so or not, it is convinced that the international community must continue to strive to realize the universal and effective elimination of APLs. In this connection, Japan is of the view that we need to strengthen the efforts in the CD toward an early start of negotiations on a treaty.
  In addition to working toward the legal ban on APLs, Japan has been making vigorous efforts to address the problems such weapons cause. In addition to making financial contributions to demining efforts and assistance to victims, Japan held the Tokyo Conference on APLs last March, where many participating countries explored ways and means of mine-clearing and extending assistance to victims. In so doing Japan sought to strengthen international cooperation in this important area; it intends to continue its efforts in this regard.
Mr. Chairman,
  Small arms are another issue in the field of conventional weapons that demands the attention of the international community. Unlike weapons of mass destruction, there are no agreed global norms or standards regarding the control of small arms. It is these weapons that are used most often in the regional conflicts that have been erupting with increasing frequency since the end of the cold war, taking a tremendous toll in human life and causing massive flows of refugees in many parts of the world. The accumulation of small arms is not in itself a cause of conflict, but it can intensify and prolong conflicts, leading to a violent rather than peaceful resolution of the conflict and generating a vicious circle of greater insecurity, which in turn leads to increased demands for and use of such weapons.
  The UN General Assembly has adopted several resolutions relating to the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons. In l995, it adopted resolution 50/70 B entitled "Small Arms," on which Japan took the initiative, with a view to conducting a full-scale study of the issue. Based on this resolution, the Panel of Governmental Experts on Small Arms was established last year; this summer it adopted by consensus its report, which the Secretary-General has submitted to the 52nd General Assembly. Japan welcomes these developments and intends to table a draft resolution on this issue in this First Committee later this year. It is our earnest hope that the international community will maintain the momentum that has been generated and continue to examine measures to solve this problem.
  Let me mention one more issue in the domain of conventional weapons, namely, transparency in armaments. We welcome in this regard the adoption of the report by the Group of Governmental Experts on the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms on the operation and further development of the Register. Japan highly values the role which the Register is playing in preventing the excessive accumulation of conventional arms which can cause regional instability, and we will continue our efforts to further enhance the Register so that it can respond effectively to the challenges that are confronting it.
Mr. Chairman,
  Now I would like to turn our attention to the tasks that lie ahead in view of the recent developments that have been made in the field of nuclear weapons disarmament.
  The first relates to the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which was adopted at the UNGA last year by an overwhelming majority. I would like to note that as of today, as many as 148 Member States have signed the Treaty. In our view, this is proof of the strong desire throughout the international community to put an end to nuclear testing and to promote nuclear disarmament.
  Japan, for its part, deposited its instrument of ratification on July 8th of this year, thus becoming the fourth State party to the treaty. I might add that among the forty-four countries which must ratify the treaty in order for it to enter into force, Japan is the first to have done so. My Government hopes that there will be a strong show of support by the international community for the entry into force of the treaty, and that every country will ratify it without delay. In particular, however, we would like to call upon those countries which have expressed opposition to the treaty to reconsider their positions so that the treaty will enter into force at the earliest possible date. In the meantime, Japan is confident that in light of the treaty's adoption as well as the widespread support it enjoys, nuclear testing will never again be conducted anywhere in the world.
  In addition to efforts for its early entry into force, it is important to prepare a smooth implementation mechanism. We therefore note with satisfaction that the provisional technical secretariat commenced its work in Vienna last March, based on the agreement reached by the Preparatory Commission for the CTBT Organization.
  Second, subsequent to the indefinite extension of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1995, the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the year 2000 review conference was held in April this year at United Nations Headquarters. In that meeting, not only procedural but also substantial matters were considered, and a report containing recommendations for the next Preparatory Committee was adopted. My delegation believes this constitutes a good start of the newly strengthened NPT review process, which is qualitatively different from the review process prior to 1995.
  Indeed, my Government regards the NPT review process as providing a valuable forum for the promotion of nuclear disarmament. It thus took the initiative at the UN General Assembly last year to introduce a draft resolution entitled "Nuclear disarmament with a view to the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons," adopted as 51/45G, which called upon all States parties to the Treaty to make their best efforts to ensure the success of the first Preparatory Committee. To follow up the resolution, the Government of Japan hosted a nuclear disarmament seminar in Kyoto in December 1996, providing a venue for prior consultations in anticipation of the meetings of the Preparatory Committee.
  At the first Preparatory Committee meeting, nuclear weapon states provided information on the measures they had taken for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. This effort on the part of nuclear weapon states was of great interest to Japan because we believe that increased transparency in the nuclear disarmament process among nuclear weapon states will enhance mutual confidence between those states and non-nuclear weapon states. We expect that, building upon the achievements of the first meeting this year, further progress will be made at the second Preparatory Committee meeting to be held in Geneva next spring.
  Concerning the NPT, I would be remiss if I did not refer to the decision announced in June by President Cardoso that Brazil would join the NPT. We commend Brazil for this extremely important decision which will further enhance the universality of the NPT, and we hope that the Congress of Brazil will ratify the Treaty as soon as possible. I wish on this occasion to reiterate Japan's strong hope that, in view of the importance of the Treaty for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, the very few countries remaining outside the Treaty will also make a courageous decision to join the regime, so that the treaty enjoys universal adherence.
  Third, as for the arrangements between the United States and the Russian Federation for the reduction of their nuclear arsenals -- an issue which has a direct impact on nuclear disarmament -- we welcome the shared commitment shown at the summit meeting in Helsinki in March to engage in further talks on the reduction of strategic forces in the context of the START process. We look forward to the commencement of negotiations of a treaty, in concrete terms, of START III as the fruit of this commitment. In this connection, Japan strongly hopes that Russia will ratify START II as soon as possible and that it will lead to further reductions of nuclear weapons in the context of START III.
Mr. Chairman,
  Let me now touch upon non-nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Japan welcomed the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention on April 29 of this year, and also the fact that the United States and China became original States parties when they ratified the Convention on April 25. We would like to call upon those countries which have not yet done so to likewise join the Convention at the earliest possible date.
  As regards implementation, Japan observes in good faith its obligations under the Convention. It has submitted various declarations and received inspections, including those of its Schedule One Facility. We are also making sincere efforts to resolve the issue of so-called abandoned chemical weapons in China, including the establishment of a joint working group with China.
 As for the task of formulating a verification protocol in order to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention, it is encouraging that a rolling text was submitted to the ad hoc group by the Chairman this summer. Japan actively participates in the negotiations in the hope that an effective and efficient verification mechanism will be established.
  Last but not least, the United Nations Regional Centers for Peace and Disarmament are making significant contributions to regional confidence-building. Japan appreciates in particular the contributions of the Kathmandu Center, one of the facilities in Asia and the South Pacific. Referred to as the Kathmandu Process, its activities enhance dialogue and promote confidence in the region. Japan will continue to extend assistance in support of its activities.
Mr. Chairman,
  Let me conclude my statement by returning to the message that I tried to convey at the outset. Japan attaches great importance to moving the disarmament process forward in a concrete manner, even on a gradual, step-by-step basis. It is Japan's firm belief that the only way we can promote action toward disarmament is to pursue a middle ground, taking into account the actual circumstances surrounding the issue. We hope that the deliberations by this UN First Committee will contribute to moving the international community a step forward along the path toward disarmament. I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, that it is an endeavor to which Japan pledges its full support.
  I thank you, Mr. Chairman.