12 OCTOBER 1999
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-fourth session. I am confident that, with the benefit of your diplomatic experience and skill, the discussions in this Committee will be most fruitful. Our tasks this year have a particular significance, 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
On the eve of a new millennium, the Government of Japan considers that this year's meeting of the First Committee provides a valuable opportunity to reach a common understanding on long-term future goals in the field of disarmament, as well as to renew the political will of the international community to address current and pertinent issues in an effort to achieve those goals.
Even apart from its significance as the final session before the advent of a new millennium, this year's First Committee is entitled to be considered especially important in view of the need to reverse the discouraging trends of the past several years.
It is undeniable, though, that considerable progress has been made on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation since the end of the Cold War. A wide range of concrete nuclear disarmament measures have been implemented, such as the reduction of nuclear weapons by the United States and the Russian Federation, the dismantlement and disposal of excess nuclear weapons, a moratorium on the production of fissile materials for weapons purposes, and the placement of excess fissile material under international control. In addition, the new Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zones were created in Africa and South East Asia, and the IAEA Model Additional Protocol was concluded. These efforts deserve genuine appreciation.
However, it is also an irrefutable fact that efforts in the pursuit of nuclear disarmament have been stalled during the past several years. The START II has not yet been ratified, six years after signing, and the START III negotiations have had a rough take-off. Multilateral efforts have stagnated. Since the conclusion of the CTBT negotiations, the Conference on Disarmament(CD) has not been able to embark on substantive work, such as the FMCT negotiations and the discussions on nuclear disarmament in general.
Having said that, we are encouraged that some steps, modest though they may be, have been taken in some areas of concern, which are expected to produce positive results. The recent commencement of the discussions on the START III between the U.S. and Russia which are expected to facilitate the future START III negotiations is an example.
On the multilateral front, the CD member States demonstrated strong common will to preserve this year's achievement and impetus to move forward through the intersessional consultations. Japan strongly hopes that these consultations will bear fruit and that the CD will be able to make substantive and early progress next year.
Mr. Chairman,
The nuclear tests conducted in South Asia last year were a challenge to the nuclear non-proliferation regime and to the disarmament efforts made by the international community. Following the tests, Japan took measures in cooperation with other countries to preserve and enhance the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Although one and a half years have passed since then, it is not yet appropriate to close the book on this issue. While international efforts have been made to minimize the consequences and improve the situation, events such as the recent armed conflict over Kashmir and the announcement of the draft Indian nuclear doctrine are sources of concern. The nuclear and security situation in the region is in fact deteriorating. It is essential for the international community to continue to address the problem from the global and regional points of view. All the measures that need to be taken are spelled out in UN Security Council resolution 1172, and Japan continues to call upon the two countries concerned to make every effort to implement those measures, especially signing and ratifying the CTBT.
Directly after the nuclear tests, the Government of Japan took the initiative of organizing the Tokyo Forum to discuss the ways and means of stopping the trends in nuclear proliferation and of revitalizing nuclear disarmament efforts. The Forum conducted an in-depth analysis of the current international security environment and issued its report containing a number of concrete recommendations for pursuing nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. While Japan recognizes that all of these recommendations might not be readily accepted by some countries, we nevertheless believe they outline concrete and realistic steps for advancing toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. Japan thus considers that they may form a basis for deliberations on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in various international settings. Japan is willing to consider the possibility of following up the recommendations.
Mr. Chairman,
Let me present Japan's basic thinking on ways the international community should promote nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. First of all, I must acknowledge that considerable differences of views and positions exist on this issue. These differences are rooted in such factors as the possession or non-possession of nuclear weapons, alliance relationships, respective regional situations, the accession or non-accession to the NPT and/or Nuclear -Weapon-Free-Zone Treaties. Despite these differences, the international community succeeded in creating a common ground by the agreement on the goal of the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons and the achievement of the near universality of the NPT. Not only is the NPT the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, it also serves as the essential foundation for the promotion of nuclear disarmament.
Having reached agreement on the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons as our common goal, we must now focus our efforts on narrowing the divergence of positions on the speed and approach to be taken toward achieving that goal. As difficult as this task may be, I am confident that we have the wisdom to meet the challenge. Toward that end, I propose that, if we are not yet in a position to agree on the entire roadmap to our final destination, we opt to agree on certain medium-term measures. Indeed, it is not essential to agree on every measure at this stage as long as we have the same goal in mind. It would be more sensible and realistic to negotiate the successive steps while proceeding first with those within our reach.
Let me list measures which I believe are feasible in the near-term: the early entry into force of the CTBT, the early conclusion of the negotiations on an FMCT and its early entry into force, discussions on multilateral steps following an FMCT, progress in the START process, the further reduction of nuclear arsenals by the five nuclear weapon States unilaterally or through their negotiations, and the reduction of non-strategic or tactical nuclear weapons. In addition to these, the ongoing reduction and dismantlement of nuclear weapons have made such issues as the safe and effective management of resultant fissile materials and the prevention of an illegal trafficking of these materials more important. In this context, the Government of Japan pledged its financial contribution of 200 million dollars at the G8 Summit in Cologne this year to the related projects in Russia.
In order to reach agreement on future long-term steps, we will need to have substantive discussions in multilateral fora. These discussions can benefit from the wisdom of civil society as the representative of broadly based international opinion.
Mr. Chairman,
At the 2000 NPT Review Conference which will be convened next year, the NPT States Parties will review the Treaty's implementation, discuss its future, and assess the strengthened review process itself. As this will be the first Review Conference since the indefinite extension of the Treaty, its success will be crucial to the future operation of the NPT.
A popular proverb says: “A fox knows many things. A hedgehog knows one big thing." This "one big thing" that the hedgehog and my delegation know is that the international community stands at a crossroads and does not have the luxury to allow the Review Conference in 2000 to fail. All of us must summon the political will to ensure that the Conference will not be convened in vain.
This session of the First Committee provides a valuable opportunity to pave the way for the success of that Conference. I sincerely hope that all the UN Member States will seize the opportunity and engage in a forward-looking and constructive debate.
Mr. Chairman,
It is worth noting that an international conference was convened by the UN Secretary-General last week in Vienna to promote the entry into force of the CTBT. As a chair-country, Japan, in cooperation with other participating States, made every effort to ensure the success of that conference. We once again call upon all States that have not yet signed and/or ratified the Treaty, in particular those whose ratification is needed for its entry into force, to do so at the earliest possible date as stipulated in the final declaration of that conference.
Mr. Chairman,
I shall now move on to other disarmament issues and touch upon some of the salient points.
Let me begin with biological weapons. My government's basic position is that the verification mechanism for biological weapons requires the support of the industry concerned. The mechanism must be efficient as well as cost effective. Although serious negotiations have been conducted for several years on a Protocol to the BWC, we note that a divergence of views still exists on some key elements. In order to ensure that the negotiations are concluded before the next BWC Review Conference in 2001, further efforts to bridge the differences are urgently required. Japan will fully cooperate with other countries to achieve this goal.
Second, I would like to offer some thoughts on small arms, an issue which is now central to the agenda on conventional disarmament. It is also an issue to which Japan attaches great importance, since it is these weapons that are actually killing people in various conflicts around the world. We welcome and highly appreciate the Secretary General's report (A/54/258) prepared with the assistance of the Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms. We are now at the stage where concrete measures recommended in that report should be carried out.
The international conference on small arms, which will be held no later than 2001, is expected to set new international guidelines with a view to reducing and preventing excessive and destabilizing accumulations as well as transfers of small arms and light weapons. Bearing in mind the significance of this conference and the need for it to succeed, Japan will table a resolution on small arms again this year. I will speak on this resolution at a later time during this session of the Committee.
Third is the issue of antipersonnel landmines. This is one of the most pressing global issues from the disarmament as well as humanitarian perspectives. The two important legal instruments on APLs, namely, the Ottawa Convention and the Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons(CCW), entered into force recently. It is truly a welcome achievement and undoubtedly a significant step toward the goal of the complete ban of APLs. However, we must not be complacent. Inasmuch as many important countries in this field have not yet acceded to these instruments, Japan believes it is essential to create a legal framework that can involve these countries while maintaining the global and total ban on APLs as our goal. In this context, the most realistic and intermediate measure is the negotiation of a treaty banning the transfer of APLs which will be fully consistent with the two existing instruments. Japan strongly hopes that such negotiations will commence at the CD as soon as possible.
Mr. Chairman,
History has taught us that regional strife can sometimes erupt into a conflict with global implications. Thus the importance of regional efforts for peace and security cannot be overstated. Japan therefore pays particular attention to the activities of the three UN regional centers for peace and disarmament. It has pledged 50,000 dollars each to the African and Latin American Centers to help revitalize their activities. The Asia-Pacific Center in Kathmandu, although not physically situated in that city, has been very active and is also currently playing a key role in drafting a treaty for the Nuclear-Free Zone in Central Asia. My government is ready to make a financial contribution of 420,000 dollars to boost the activities related to the treaty. Japan expects that each of these regional centers will continue their valuable activities for the benefit of the entire world.
Mr. Chairman,
 The Government of Japan welcomes the recent announcement by the DPRK on its restraint regarding a missile launch as a result of the bilateral consultations held in Berlin between the United States and the DPRK. This development will improve the security environment of the region. The Government of Japan highly appreciates the efforts of the governments concerned.
Mr. Chairman,
In concluding my statement, I would like to reiterate Japan's firm belief that disarmament can only be meaningful when it is achieved by concrete measures. While we are aware of the enormous challenge which the disarmament efforts pose to governments, we believe that with the necessary political will we can successfully meet them. I would like on this occasion to reiterate the importance of resolutions that outline concrete and achievable measures that can be implemented.
Having this basic policy in mind, Japan is determined to continue promoting further progress in arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation. In this pivotal year, I cannot but feel confident that this First Committee will make significant progress and aim for the success of the landmark meetings in the coming years.
Thank you for your kind attention.