13 OCTOBER 1998
Mr. Chairman,
  At the outset, on behalf of the Japanese delegation, I would like to extend to you my warmest congratulations on your assumption of the chairmanship of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly during its fifty-third session. Your diplomatic experience and skill, as well as your knowledge of disarmament issues -- qualities that were amply demonstrated at the Conference on Disarmament in Genera, will greatly help us conduct fruitful discussions in this Committee. The tasks before us have particular significance this year, 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.
Mr. Chairman,
  Since the end of the Cold War, the international community has been facing the difficult task of establishing a new world order for international peace and security. Although we have not been entirely successful, it should also be noted that our earnest and strenuous efforts have borne some fruit, such as the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, and the Ottawa Convention on anti-personnel landmines. While it is true that treaty negotiations and their conclusion are important, it is equally important that they gain universal adherence and are effectively and fully implemented. We should not be complacent and settle for anything less.
  It is also noteworthy that the CD reactivated and set up the Ad hoc Committee on Effective International Arrangements to Assure Non-Nuclear Weapon States against the Use or Threat of Use of Nuclear Weapons (NSA) and the Ad hoc Committee on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices. It also nominated six Special Coordinators this year. We appreciate the substantive and constructive discussions which the CD conducted under each Special Coordinator.
Mr. Chairman,
  While there have been genuine achievements in the disarmament field, India and Pakistan shocked the world by conducting nuclear tests that directly counter international endeavors for disarmament and non-proliferation.
  In his recent statement to the UNGA, Japanese Prime Minister Obuchi described these events as an enormous challenge to the non-proliferation regime. In stressing the crucial importance of strengthening that regime, he noted that the following five objectives demanded urgent attention:
* First of all, universal adherence to the NPT;
* Second, strict export controls on equipment, material and technologies relating to nuclear weapons and missiles in order to ensure non-proliferation;
* Third, the prevention of further nuclear testing through universal support for the CTBT;
* Fourth, further progress in nuclear disarmament by the nuclear weapon states;
* Fifth, an early conclusion of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.
Mr. Chairman,
  Japan considers the recent nuclear testing extremely serious, because it has posed a challenge to the NPT and would undermine its very foundation. We consider the NPT to be the basic framework for global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Against this background, the recent nuclear testing by India and Pakistan--neither of which is a party to the treaty--is a bold challenge to the international community. The States parties to the NPT are committed to the elimination of nuclear weapons through, on the one hand, a renunciation by the non-nuclear weapon states of any intention to develop nuclear weapons and, on the other hand, the reduction and eventual elimination by nuclear weapon states of their nuclear weapons. In other words, the NPT is not a framework under which the nuclear weapon states are permitted to perpetually possess such weapons, whose possession is prohibited to other countries. As many as 187 countries subscribe to this idea, with the result that the NPT has gained the largest membership of any treaty in the world.
  Having said that, Japan does not in any way support the view that we must accept the testing as a fait accompli and act accordingly. Rather, it attaches great importance to Security Council resolution 1172, which was adopted following the tests. The Government of Japan also welcomes the strong and definitive message that the international community sent through the P5 and G8 Communiques.
Mr. Chairman,
  Now let me explain the initiatives my Government has taken to strengthen non-proliferation and promote nuclear disarmament.
 First, immediately following the nuclear testing, then Foreign Minister and currently Prime Minister Obuchi proposed that an international forum be established on an urgent basis to consider possible measures to bring India and Pakistan to renounce their nuclear weapons programmes and to study appropriate ways and means of strengthening the global non-proliferation regime and promote nuclear disarmament. Subsequently, the forum was named the Tokyo Forum on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, and the first session was held in August with the participation of a number of prominent experts, both governmental and academic, from around the world. The Forum is expected to submit a report containing concrete and constructive recommendations, which will serve as guidelines for future nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament efforts.
  Second, the Japanese Government will introduce a resolution on nuclear disarmament at this session of the First Committee. The Japanese Government submitted a draft resolution on the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons for the first time in 1994 to demonstrate a clear commitment on the part of the majority of the Member States to the elimination of nuclear weapons, and to prepare a favorable ground for the Review and Extension Conference the following year. The "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament" adopted at the aforementioned Conference in 1995 reflected this idea and referred explicitly to "the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons" as a common goal of the international community. Since then, the successive resolutions introduced each year have been adopted with the support of the overwhelming majority of the UN Member States including, last year, all the nuclear weapon states. Based on these achievements, the Government of Japan intends to table a new resolution this year, with a view to gaining a global commitment to the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.
Mr. Chairman,
  Although that goal is widely shared, there is a divergence of opinion on the ways and means of achieving it. The Japanese Government has been advocating the step-by-step approach of taking concrete and realistic measures for achieving nuclear disarmament. From this point of view, the next step following the CTBT should be a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices, as envisaged in the "Principles and Objectives" of 1995.
  Japan welcomes the CD's decision to establish the Ad hoc Committee on this issue. Although the Ad hoc Committee could not commence negotiations this year, the CD should reestablish it early in the next year's session so that the substantive negotiations can begin as soon as possible.
  While the scope and structure of the fissile material treaty are still to be negotiated, Japan is confident that the ban on the production of fissile material will serve as a significant measure for both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
  Among the various issues which should be addressed during the negotiations on a fissile material production ban treaty, the question of how to deal with stockpiles will be one of the most contentious. Japan believes the problem of fissile material stockpiles is too important to set aside, and will require intensive deliberations on the most appropriate way of dealing with it.
  In addition to the questions of stockpiles, there may be some technical issues that have yet to be solved. In this connection, the Japanese Government organized a seminar on the "Technical Aspects of the Cut-Off Treaty" that was held last May in Genera. We would welcome initiatives made by other countries for the same purpose. The Government of Japan, having a wide range of knowledge and experience in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, will continue to contribute constructively to negotiations on this issue.
Mr. Chairman,
  A fissile material treaty is undoubtedly the next multilateral step, but it is certainly not the final one. Considering the fact that it has taken several decades for the idea of a ban on the production of fissile material to develop to the point at which actual negotiations have begun, we believe it is not at all premature to start deliberations on a possible step or steps to follow the FMCT. In this light, it should be noted that the CD conducted serious discussions on how to deal with issues related to nuclear disarmament through the Presidential Consultations. The Government of Japan highly appreciates the efforts made by the successive Presidents of the CD in this regard and hopes that these consultations will soon produce an appropriate and effective mechanism for the discussion of additional multilateral measures to promote nuclear disarmament.
Mr. Chairman,
  Nuclear disarmament is a responsibility that must be shared by the international community as a whole. On the other hand, it is undeniable that the nuclear weapon states must assume the major responsibility. In this context, nuclear reduction measures by the two largest nuclear weapon states, the United States and the Russian Federation, are the most important. Japan appreciates the achievements made by those two states to date and calls for the entry into force of START II and the commencement of negotiations on START III as early as possible.
  It is noted that a number of nuclear disarmament measures have recently been carried out by some nuclear weapon states. The Strategic Defense Review initiative of the United Kingdom is one such example. Any unilateral action by the nuclear weapon states for the reduction of their nuclear arsenals is welcome and it provides an environment conducive to further nuclear disarmament measures by others.
  Another measure worth mentioning is the agreement that was reached between the United States and the Russian Federation on the management and disposal of excessive supplies of plutonium. This decision is surely in the right direction.
  Nevertheless, progress on nuclear disarmament in the past few years has been slow and has fallen short of the expectations of the international community. It is earnestly hoped that nuclear disarmament efforts will be accelerated and intensified.
  As nuclear disarmament is an issue affecting the entire world, non-nuclear weapon states have the legitimate right to be informed of progress and efforts being made in this area. Japan welcomes the efforts made by the nuclear weapon states to that end at the second session of the Preparatory Committee for the NPT Review Conference and continues to emphasize the importance of such efforts.
Mr. Chairman,
  Let me now turn to the NPT review process.
  It is our long-standing and firm belief that the NPT has been and will continue to be the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament. Both universality and full implementation of the treaty are essential in order to consolidate the NPT regime. A significant step toward universality was made with the accession of Brazil, increasing the number of States parties to 187.
  As for ensuring full implementation, it is appropriate to make use of the strengthened NPT review process, which was agreed as a part of the decision for the indefinite extension of the treaty. It was disappointing that the second session of the Preparatory Committee could not adopt a report on substantive issues. The status of implementation at present falls far short of the expectations expressed in 1995.
  The Review Conference in the year 2000 is of vital importance, because it will provide the first opportunity to assess the implementation of the treaty since the decision on its indefinite extension was taken. In order to attain the goal of the NPT, we should have a sense of history as well as a vision for the future. As the next Review Conference will take place when the new millennium is about to unfold, I would like to propose that it would be particularly opportune for the year 2000 conference to herald a clear vision of our aspirations for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in the twenty-first century.
Mr. Chairman,
  Now, let me briefly touch upon the CTBT.
  I take note of the statements recently made by the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of India to the UNGA on this issue. We consider those statements to be a positive step forward, although they contain some ambiguities. Hoping that their words will be reflected in concrete action, the Government of Japan strongly calls upon India, Pakistan, and the DPRK to sign and ratify, and upon other states which have not yet done so to ratify the CTBT, so that it can enter into force as soon as possible.
  In the regrettable event that the treaty cannot be brought into force in the three years after its opening for signature, a conference will need to be convened in 1999 to promote earliest possible achievement of that goal.
Mr. Chairman,
  Next I would like to turn my attention to conventional weapons. In a number of regional conflicts, it is conventional arms that are actually being used, maiming and killing thousands of people each year.
  Japan believes that a ban on APLs is a matter of priority for the international community, and wholeheartedly welcomes the entry into force of both the Ottawa Convention and the CCW amended Protocol II. Japan has already concluded the Protocol and deposited the instrument of acceptance of the Ottawa Convention on 30 September this year. The Government of Japan calls upon all countries which have not yet done so to conclude these two international instruments on antipersonnel landmines as soon as possible.
  The complete ban on APLs in accordance with the Ottawa Convention must be our goal. It is also true, however, that not a small number of countries find it difficult at present to accept a complete ban. Against this background, the Government of Japan is of the view that the conclusion of a treaty which prohibits the transfer of APLs will be a realistic and significant measure, and thus supports the draft mandate by the Special Coordinator on APLs in the Conference on Disarmament for an Ad hoc Committee to negotiate such a treaty. The Government of Japan hopes to see a consensus to be reached on this draft mandate next year and looks forward to the early commencement of negotiations.
Mr. Chairman,
  The international community is becoming increasingly aware of the tragic loss of life caused by small arms and light weapons in numerous domestic and regional conflicts around the world. Having recognized the magnitude of this problem years ago, the Government of Japan proposed setting up the UN Panel of Governmental Experts on Small Arms and is gratified by the growing interest in addressing this issue. This year, the Government of Japan hosted the Tokyo Workshop on Small Arms from 7 to 9 September, to which it invited the members of the follow-up group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms with a view to assisting them in their important work. Japan also welcomes the proposal by Switzerland to host an international conference on the illicit arms trade in all its aspects in the year 2000.
  Although international rules on weapons of mass destruction have been agreed, there is no such legal framework for reducing or preventing excessive and destabilizing accumulations and transfers of small arms and light weapons. It is high time for the whole world to come together and tackle the problem of small arms and move toward establishing a possible international norm. The Government of Japan is of the view that it should include both reduction and prevention aspects based upon the 1997 report of the Small Arms Panel.
Mr. Chairman,
  Increasing the transparency in armaments in order to reduce tensions is another important task. The UN Register of Conventional Arms has greatly contributed to confidence building among nations by enhancing transparency. While about ninety countries including major exporting countries participate in this system each year, about half the Member States of the UN continue to stand aside from this international effort. The Government of Japan calls upon all Member States to participate in the system. At the same time, it believes that this system, including the categorization of armaments, can be reviewed and improved, for example, by introducing information on military holdings.
Mr. Chairman,
  Allow me to touch upon another weapon of mass destruction, biological weapons. The Government of Japan welcomes the steady progress being made in the negotiations on the protocol of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. We also appreciate the added political impetus that these negotiations were given by the Informal Ministerial Meeting held on 23 September in New York. Japan believes that the central pillar of the verification regime should be the "challenge investigation." It should also be stressed that the understanding of and cooperation with related national industries will be essential to ensuring smooth implementation of the BTWC verification regime. Against this background, and as emphasized in the statement by our representative in the aforementioned Ministerial Meeting, Japan is willing to participate constructively in the negotiations with a view to concluding them at an early date.
Mr. Chairman,
  While the international community strives to maintain and ensure peace and security, it is regrettable that action which contrary to these international efforts was taken in Asia.
  The recent missile launch by the DPRK, whether or not it was an attempt to launch a satellite into orbit, not only caused serious concern for the security of Northeast Asia but also renewed our concern over the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles.
Mr. Chairman,
  Before concluding my statement, I would like to express my appreciation for the role of the UN Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific. The Center has been actively engaged in a number of programmes, known as the Kathmandu Process for disarmament and regional stability. It plans to organize a UN disarmament conference in Nagasaki next month to conduct discussions focused on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. I trust that these activities will be continued and further promoted. 
Mr. Chairman,
  I would like to reiterate the Government of Japan's firm belief that disarmament can only be achieved by taking steady and concrete measures.
  While we must bear in mind the noble aim of disarmament, it is no less important that we be realistic. This should be our guide as we tackle the issues of disarmament, keeping in sight where we are now, what our final goal is, and what the next, best step should be. It is my sincerest hope that constructive and fruitful discussions will be conducted along this line in the First Committee this year. The Government of Japan for its part will make every effort to contribute to achieving our common goal.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.