"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] JAPAN AS A UNIQUE FACILITATOR FOR PEACE AND NATION-BUILDING IN THE MIDDLE EAST, Statement by Dr. Tatsuo Arima, Japan's Special Envoy for Peace in the Middle East, On the occasion of the Arab League Summit

[Place] Khartoum, Sudan
[Date] March 28, 2006
[Source] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

The Most Honorable Heads of State and Government and Excellencies:

On behalf of the Government of Japan, I should like to express my profound gratitude to the Government of Sudan and the League of Arab States for giving us again the honor to send its representative as an observer to the Summit here in Khartoum. This Summit takes place, as in the past, as the Middle East faces both opportunities for peace and prosperity as well as formidable challenges. And the international community continues to place great expectations in the results of this time honored and powerful gathering because of its past performances. We only have to recall, for recent examples, the Arab Peace Initiative of the Beirut Summit in 2002, the Tunis Summit Declaration on the Middle East Development and Modernization in 2004 or the Algiers Summit Declaration last year activating the Arab Peace Initiative.

The Government of Japan is fully confident that this Summit will continue this legacy of making valuable contributions not only for the Arab world but also for the world at large.


Japan is a mature democracy with the second largest economy in the world without any natural resources. In size, Japan is 4% of the United States, though our population is half that of the United States. Only 20% of our land is fit for agriculture. So, Japan is the only country among the G-8 not self-sufficient in food supply. We import 50% of what we eat. All energy we consume comes from abroad. So our national wellbeing is deeply woven into the maintenance of global peace. Our commitment to peace is total and non-equivocal. Our far-reaching voluminous international cooperation is its expression. So far we have given 221 billion US dollars to 185 countries, having provided annually 20% of the world's official development assistance during the last decade. There is a coincidence of Japan's idealistic pursuit of global peace and prosperity, and the realistic assessment of our own national interest. That is, our economic cooperation, though of course motivated by our humanitarian concern, is not a charity but based on our recognition that our wellbeing depends on securing global development and peace.

As regards the peace in the Middle East, without any imperialist involvement in the past and with our deep respect for diverse religious faiths, we have been accepted as a trusted friend by the parties to the conflict. This trust we have nurtured with the Arabs has been of value when it comes to making contributions to the peace process.

For example, in 2003 and 2004, my government hosted non-official conferences entitled "Conference for Confidence-building between the Palestinians and the Israelis", inviting several distinguished people from each side to help promote the peace process. The conference in 2003 helped pave the way to the so-called Geneva Initiative.

In the spring of 2005, Japan invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to visit Tokyo to appeal to each to expedite the peace process.

Also, in the Asia-African Summit of 2005 in Jakarta, Japan proposed to place a paragraph in the Joint Ministerial Declaration of the Summit endorsing the Roadmap to which both the Palestinians and the Israelis are committed.

To deepen our mutual understanding, we have formed with Egypt and Saudi Arabia the "Japan-Arab Dialogue Forum" headed by former Prime Minister Honorable Ryutaro Hashimoto on our side. We have other similar fora for mutual dialogue. Also, Prime Minister Koizumi hosted "Iftar" during the last Holly Ramadan month, inviting 44 representatives from the Islamic countries, mostly ambassadors in Tokyo, to his own office.

Within the G8-BMENA (Broader Middle East and North Africa) Partnership, Japan is taking an initiative to help the regional parties develop human resources along with the empowerment of women under the banner "People Oriented". This belief comes from our own unique and successful experience of modernization, which started with the Meiji Restoration in the mid-19th century, where education played a critical role.

Today we consider the peace and the prosperity of the Middle East inseparable from our own. As a facilitator for peace and nation-building efforts, we value our close and constant dialogue with all the Arabs, and are firmly determined to make further contributions to peace and prosperity in the region.


The resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a pre-requisite for the peace and prosperity of the entire region. To this end, it is essential to realize two states, Palestine and Israel existing in peace and security as visualized in the Roadmap. It is with this recognition that Japan has provided, since the Oslo process started in 1993, 840 million dollar cooperation to the Palestinians in the form of humanitarian assistance and that of building political, social and economic infrastructure. We have placed a specific emphasis on creation of the good governance, assuming that the Palestinians would eventually form a state.

This approach was embodied when Prime Minister Koizumi pledged a new package of assistance for the Palestinians in the amount of approximately $100 million for the near term during the President Abbas's visit to Japan.

On September 6, prior to the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, Japan announced as an emergency assistance the release of $50 million out of the package for the projects such as rehabilitation of the Salah Addin Road in Gaza, house reconstruction, construction of a waste water treatment plant in Khan Yunis and a courthouse in Jenin as well as an expansion of water distribution networks in towns of the northern West Bank. Further, Japan committed itself to rebuilding the Presidential Office in Ramallah.

The Palestinians' commitment to democracy was demonstrated by the Palestinian Legislative Council election last January 2006, which was universally considered fair and transparent. Japan extended financial support to the election in addition to having dispatched a monitoring team to the region.

As a result of the election, a new political reality is unfolding before us with the Hamas entering the national platform of the Palestinian politics for the first time. We are as yet to see how the Hamas will respond to the expectations of the international community. Japan hopes that the new Palestinian Authority will continue to strive for peaceful co-existence and co-prosperity with Israel. Japan remains committed to helping both parties follow the path leading to the two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

It is our belief that this Summit will again demonstrate the commitment of the Arab states to continue their vigorous efforts in the area of assistance to the Palestinians.


The Iraqi people are making earnest effort to build a peaceful and democratic nation on their own without yielding to terrorism. As a responsible member of the international community, Japan has been proactively extending its support for the Iraqi people to build such a nation.

Out of Japan's assistance package totaling up to $5 billion we have pledged, we have already obligated and disbursed more than 1.5 billion dollars of grant aid to various projects including those for capacity building, and most of them have come to fruition in such areas as power generation, education, water and sanitation, health and employment as well as those related to the improvement of security. Now, we have just moved to the next stage of assistance through mainly yen loans (soft loans) utilizing the remaining 3.5 billion dollars.

In addition to these contributions through official development assistance, we have dispatched our Self-Defense Forces strictly for the purpose of carrying out humanitarian and reconstruction assistance activities. The Self-Defense Forces are rebuilding many schools and roads, supplying medical services to the local people. The creation of stability of Iraq is of paramount importance not only for the Middle East but also for the international community as a whole.

We were encouraged that the National Assembly election was implemented successfully without major disruptions last December after the draft constitution had been approved in the national referendum in October. The Iraqis have demonstrated their commitment to building a new nation. It is our hope that a new government will be formed promptly in harmonious coordination among religious and ethnic groups. In this regard, Japan welcomes the initiative of the League of Arab States to have convened the Preparatory Meeting for the Iraqi National Accord Conference in Cairo last November in order to help promote the Iraqi national reconciliation. We hope this Summit will issue a strong message supporting the political process currently underway in Iraq.

The Iraqi people have the sole ownership of their reconstruction. Violence yields nothing but more violence. The unity among the Iraqis transcending their diversity is indispensable for their reconstruction, and it is here also that the Arab countries could help.


The Sudan, the host of this Summit, is a country with rich natural resources and a high potential for development. I strongly hope that the Sudanese will realize their potentials for further development now that the National Unity Government has been formed based on a comprehensive peace agreement for national reconciliation and reconstruction.

In April 2005, at the Oslo Donors' Conference on the Sudan, Japan pledged an assistance package totaling $100 million for the near term, aiming at "consolidation of peace" and reconstruction in the Sudan. We have disbursed approximately 80% of the assistance pledged so far. For example, we embarked on the projects for the consolidation of peace, mainly based on the "UN 2005 Work Plan for the Sudan," such as mine clearance and return and reintegration of the refugees and the displaced. Moreover, Japan is supporting the recovery and reconstruction process in the Sudan by offering technical cooperation for human resource development, in addition to helping to finance the UN project for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants (DDR).

Further, Japan has provided emergency assistance for de-mining activities in the South Sudan through the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), in order to solve the serious landmine problem that poses a threat to the return of refugees and internally displaced persons as well as to donors' humanitarian and reconstruction assistance activities.

In addition to these projects, Japan is continuously intensifying its humanitarian assistance based on the concept of "Human Security" by empowering the individuals to cope with their difficult security, political and economic predicaments, specifically in such areas as water and sanitation, basic health and medical services, and food supply through UN agencies and other international organizations including the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Japan shares grave concern over Darfur with the international community. To improve the living condition there, Japan has provided approximately $30 million of emergency assistance in the field of water, sanitation and food provision through international organizations. In addition, last year, Japan extended a financial assistance of approximately $5 million to support the African Union's effort in resolving the Darfur crisis.


We welcome the various reform initiatives undertaken by the Arab states, as indicated in the Summit Declarations in the past. We are ready to be of assistance in any way. In so saying, let me emphasize our empirical belief that reform succeeds only when it is carried out by the reformers' own initiative under their sole ownership.

One of the challenges the states in the region commonly face is the rapid population growth. Unless job opportunities are generated enough to meet the growing number of young people, ensuing unemployment may trigger social instability. With this situation in mind, Japan places priority on assisting the education and vocational training for the youth with a view to enhancing their employment opportunities. Japan's assistance in the last three years in the field of education benefited over 100,000 and in that of vocational training over 10,000 people in the region.

One of Japan's latest initiatives in vocational training was to co-host the "Workshop on Vocational Training" with Jordan in September 2005. More than 100 representatives participated from countries, international and regional organizations, 30 in all. At the "Workshop", the participants agreed that TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) alone would not create employment, and that TVET could be more efficient if it was better coordinated with the private sector. We will continue to hold the "Workshop" annually in 2006 and 2007.


The United Nations shares the birth year of 1945 with the League of Arab States. In sixty one years, the United Nations has grown in membership from 51 to 191 nations. But the United Nations does not reflect the new political realities of the 21st century.

Efforts are now underway to renew and revitalize the United Nations organs including the General Assembly, the Secretariat and the Security Council based on the World Summit Outcome Document adopted last September. In particular, Japan believes that early reform of the Security Council is an essential element of such an overall reform. It must be realized during the 60th session of the UN General Assembly.

Japan has tried its utmost to follow faithfully the spirit, the principles and the purposes of the United Nations as laid down in its Charter. We have for long consistently contributed about 20% of the entire cost of the UN activities, an amount greater than combined contributions of China, France Russia and UK - all permanent members of the Security Council. We have also globally and actively participated in the UN peace keeping operations. Japan accordingly continues to seek a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. We honestly hope the member states of the Arab League will consider Japan worthy of your support for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.