"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] Statement by Foreign Minister Michio Watanabe at the 47th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

[Place] New York
[Date] September 22, 1992
[Source] DIPLOMATIC BLUEBOOK 1992, Japan's Diplomatic Activities, pp. 435-445
[Full text]

Mr. President,

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I should like, first of all, to extend my sincere congratulations to H.E. Mr. Stoyan Ganev on his election to the presidency of the 47th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. At the same time, T wish to express to H.E. Mr. Samir Shihabi my appreciation for the achievements made under his presidency during the last session. His visit to Japan in April 1992 further strengthened my country's close ties to the United Nations.

Last year, seven nations were admitted to membership in the United Nations, and this year, another 13 became members. On behalf of the Government and people of Japan, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the representatives of the nations attending this General Assembly for the first time. Now counting 179 members, the United Nations is indeed a global organization. At the same time, its role in maintaining world peace and security is increasing dramatically, thus presenting the international community with unparalleled opportunities for realizing the ideals of the U.N. Charter.

Member States have extremely high expectations of Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali, who bears the awesome burdens of his office at a particularly crucial juncture. I take this opportunity to pledge Japan's full support for and cooperation with President Ganev and Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali as we pursue our common goals.

(The United Nations in the Present World Context)

Now, nearly half a century after the United Nations was founded, the international community has been freed from the constraints of East-West confrontation based on ideology and force. Nevertheless, this post-Cold War world is faced with such problems as those arising from the changing power relationship between the nations that dominated the old international order, the resurgence of regionalism, and the destabilization of regions by ethnic, religious and other strife.

The Gulf Crisis showed the high political and economic costs of restoring peace once it has been destroyed. Every day, countless refugees in what used to be Yugoslavia are being forced to flee their homes; every day brings numerous reports of atrocities there. In Somalia, the civil war, compounded by severe drought, is resulting in untold human suffering. Urgent efforts continue to be required to overcome poverty in many developing nations, home to the majority of the world's population. The preservation of the global environment for our children and grandchildren is another issue that demands our serious attention.

These challenges only underscore the need to seek solutions to problems in a spirit of conciliation and cooperation among nations. This conciliatory and cooperative spirit should be a key element in advancing us toward the creation of an international order for the new era while the United Nations assumes even greater importance as the center of our endeavors. Thus the time has come to review the roles and functions of the United Nations and seriously consider how they may be strengthened, and to reflect upon how each of its members might best contribute to that end.

(A Strategy for Peace)

The January 1992 Security Council Summit Meeting provided an unprecedented opportunity to examine, at the level of Heads of State and Government, the problems confronting the international community. In the light of the present world situation, the Secretary-General's report, "An Agenda for Peace," which was drafted on the basis of the deliberations at the Summit, is indeed a timely contribution. I hold Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali's initiative, which was realized with the diligent assistance of the Secretariat, in the highest regard.

In Japan's view, building a peaceful world will require the following five-pronged approach.

First, efforts must be made to ease international tensions.

The agreement reached at the U.S.-Russian summit meeting this past June to substantially reduce nuclear armaments is most welcome. It is hoped that this will lead to progress in nuclear disarmament by all nuclear-weapon states. The problem of proliferation demands that the regime of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) be strengthened and made more universal. The NPT signatories should harmonize their positions so that when they meet in 1995 the smooth extension of the treaty will be ensured.

An important facet of non-proliferation is the provision of employment assistance to weapons scientists of the former Soviet Union. Toward this end, Japan is striving to make it possible for an International Science and Technology Center to begin operation promptly.

The conclusion of negotiations on the Chemical Weapons Convention at the Conference on Disarmament and the anticipated submission to this General Assembly session of the draft treaty convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons are an epochal step forward. Japan earnestly hopes that as many nations as possible will become original signatories to this convention.

Conventional weapons are another area where the vigilance of concerned nations is called for to prevent regional destabilization, especially in light of the major arms transfers that have already taken place in some regions. To increase the transparency of arms transfers and thereby strengthen trust among nations, it is important that the U.N. Register of Armaments, the establishment of which Japan proposed jointly with the EC and other countries last year, be implemented effectively. Japan and its partners in this effort plan to submit a resolution to this session of the General Assembly to call for the wide participation of Member States in this Register.

Second, stepped up efforts are needed to forestall the outbreak of conflicts.

Thus far, Japan has played an active role in the adoption of such General Assembly resolutions as the Declaration on Conflict Prevention and the Declaration on U.N. Fact-Finding. To strengthen the conflict prevention function of the U.N., the Secretary-General must have the capacity, among others, to conduct fact-finding missions, to issue early warnings, and to monitor constantly the situation in potential conflict zones. For this purpose, it is important that information about conflicts be made immediately available to the Secretary-General. In addition, I propose that there be set up within the U.N. Secretariat a "conflict information clearing house." This organ would collate information on conflicts collected through the fact-finding activities of the Secretariat or provided by Governments, and would present it in an objective manner to the Security Council as well as to Member States so as to help them formulate their judgments on the situation. I should also note here that Japan is in basic agreement with the concept of preventive diplomacy described in the Secretary-General's report, but that the idea of "preventive deployment" of, for example, U.N. Peace-keeping Operations with the consent of only one party to a conflict involves problems which require further study.

Third, stronger diplomatic efforts should be made by members of the United Nations to resolve conflicts peacefully.

Considering the recent spate of regional conflicts, efforts to resolve them by regional organizations and U.N. Member States are increasingly essential. The efforts led by the EC to restore peace in the former Yugoslavia and the efforts by the countries in the Asian region and the five permanent members of the Security Council to restore peace in Cambodia are examples of the kind of action to which I refer. The steps now being taken by the countries concerned toward peace in the Middle East also deserve to be hailed. Japan, for its part, also intends to play an active role in the multilateral consultations.

I intend to see that Japan continues to step up its diplomatic efforts to build peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. As far as peace in Cambodia is concerned, Japan has been playing an active role by, for example, hosting the Ministerial Meeting on the Reconstruction and Rehabilitation of Cambodia in Tokyo this past June. In cooperation with other countries, Japan will continue its intensive and unremitting efforts to urge the Khmer Rouge to work with the other parties in Cambodia and with UNTAC to advance the peace process quickly. Japan also intends to take an active part in the Security Council deliberations on this issue. Easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula is of vital importance for peace and stability in East Asia, and Japan intends to contribute in every way it can to creating an environment conducive to dialogue between South and North Korea. In this connection, Japan welcomes the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Republic of Korea and hopes that this will lead to ever broader exchanges between the two countries in the future.

I welcome the idea mentioned by President Roh Tae Woo of the Republic of Korea in his address earlier today of enhancing opportunities for dialogue among interested countries in Northeast Asia, an idea that is consistent with Japan's own thinking. I consider it vitally important for Japan's relationship with its neighbor, the Russian Federation, to expand in all its aspects on a balanced basis. In this connection, I believe that the building of a relationship of trust between Japan and Russia through the conclusion of a peace treaty will greatly contribute to the peace and stability of the region.

Fourth, Peace-keeping Operations, which are at the very center of the primary role of the United Nations, should be strengthened.

Extending to new areas of responsibility, and with an ever greater range of activity, U.N. Peace-keeping Operations have evolved both qualitatively and quantitatively in recent years. As mentioned in the Secretary-General's report, however, they are confronted with many problems, including increased demands for funding and a shortage of logistical personnel. More active cooperation by U.N. Member States is therefore essential. Last June, the Japanese Diet passed the International Peace Cooperation Law, which put in place domestic arrangements that finally enable Japan to participate in U.N. Peace-keeping Operations and international humanitarian relief operations. In addition to the financial contributions it has thus far extended, Japan intends to cooperate by sending personnel to the maximum degree allowed within the framework of this new law. In fact, a decision has already been made to send election monitors to UNAVEM II in Angola to oversee the elections there and to send military observers, a construction unit and civilian police to UNTAC in Cambodia. The first teams have already been dispatched. Japan also plans to send election monitors to Cambodia for the elections scheduled there next year.

Japan believes that the principles and practices of Peace-keeping Operations upheld by the United Nations for more than 40 years are still both appropriate and valid today and will continue to be so in the future. The idea of "peace-enforcement units," proposed in the Secretary-General's report, offers an interesting approach to future peace-making efforts of the United Nations, but requires further study because it is rooted in a mode of thinking completely different from past peace-keeping forces.

Fifth, in order to build peace throughout the world, dialogue and cooperation should be strengthened and developed as appropriate to the situation in each region.

Europe's regional cooperation mechanisms, typified by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, have grown out of efforts for confidence-building against a backdrop of past conflicts. They have evolved into frameworks for working together to achieve regional stability and prosperity, and have begun to work to prevent conflicts and augment their peace-keeping capability in specific ways.

Regional cooperation for peace and prosperity in other parts of the world has not yet matured to the same degree as in Europe. Ways should be explored to achieve forms of dialogue and cooperation that are well grounded in the political and geopolitical characteristics of each region and tailored to its needs. With respect to security in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan considers it important to maintain and strengthen the frameworks for dealing with issues either bilaterally or among several countries concerned, and, simultaneously, to seek to promote region-wide dialogue. I believe that, at the present time, one of the forums that has the greatest potential for such region-wide dialogue is the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference. Japan suggested last year that this forum be used for political dialogue of the type to which I am referring. In an effort to promote greater cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region which at the same time is open to the outside world, Japan has been contributing actively to the development of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

(Responding to New Threats)

The threats facing humankind today are not all military: problems relating to the deterioration of the global environment, refugees, poverty, overpopulation, drugs, AIDS and other threats of a non-military nature are becoming increasingly serious. It is not enough simply to treat the symptoms; the United Nations and the international community must join hands to remove the causes of these ills. It is no exaggeration to say that the solution to these problems will demand the utmost of humanity's collective knowledge and the application of its highest ethical and moral standards.

In this connection, I wish to reemphasize the importance of respect for human rights. Fundamental human rights are not only a universally cherished value, but also are fundamental to ensuring a better life for each individual and the development of a democratic society. The lack of respect for humanitarian law and for the rights of minorities in recent conflict areas is deeply disturbing.

With the end of the Cold War, it is incumbent upon the international community to grapple more seriously with the problem of poverty in the developing world, since the maintenance of world order hinges largely upon whether and to what degree the North and South cooperate. The United Nations must redouble its efforts to combat poverty and to eliminate the causes of social instability - which is rooted in poverty - in the recognition that economic development raises standards of living and thereby enhances political stability. In addressing the poverty issue, we must bear in mind that conditions differ from country to country. The economies of some countries are about to take off, others are on the verge of solving their spiraling debt problems, and others - like the sub-Saharan countries - are still experiencing crushing economic difficulties. We must therefore search for an approach which is finely tuned to these differing circumstances. Japan intends to assist United Nations efforts to deal more effectively with these problems that affect all of humanity. For example, cognizant of its role as a responsible member of the international community, Japan plans to host an African Development Conference in autumn next year in Tokyo with the cooperation and participation of sub-Saharan nations, major aid donors, the United Nations and other international agencies to discuss the theme of economic development in Africa. Another timely event that addresses these problems is the United Nations Social Development Summit scheduled for 1995. Japan intends to cooperate actively in both these meetings to ensure that they will be genuinely fruitful.

Turning now to the subject of environment and development, it is very important to maintain the follow-up to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development recently held in Rio de Janeiro. Japan intends to make active contributions to the Sustainable Development Committee (the establishment of which is on the agenda of this General Assembly Session) and to such international environmental agencies as the U.N. Environmental Programme and the U.N. Development Programme. The process of making necessary domestic arrangements is now underway; Japan will soon finalize the draft of its national action program and is prepared to assist developing countries in the formulation of theirs. Under its stated goal of expanding its environment-related ODA to between ¥900 billion and ¥1 trillion (or, between US$7 and US$7.7 billion) over the next five years, Japan will strive to identify, formulate and implement the best projects through policy dialogue with developing countries. At this time, I wish to confirm Japan's proposal to hold a special session of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to environmental issues before 1997 as a follow-up to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.

Whereas refugees are returning to their homes in Cambodia and other parts of the world, the refugee problem remains extremely serious in the former Yugoslavia and in Somalia. The international community must unite to address such complex problems as shelter, emergency aid, and assistance in reintegrating refugees following their voluntary return home. Japan will continue to be active in extending humanitarian aid through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other international agencies.

Population is another problem facing all humankind, a problem that demands the cooperation of both developed and the developing countries. In preparation for the 1994 World Population and Development Conference, Japan wishes to hold, with the cooperation of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities and the United Nations University, a meeting in 1994 of eminent authorities of the world on demographic issues.

(Steps toward the Revitalization of the United Nations)

The United Nations is currently faced with a number of structural problems. These relate to its organization - which has not adapted fully to the changing times - to the serious budget crisis, and to insufficient communication among the United Nations agencies.

First, what is most seriously required of the United Nations as a global organization today is legitimacy, trustworthiness, and efficacy.

If the United Nations is to realize the ideals and purposes of the Charter, including the maintenance of international peace and security, it must have the complete confidence of its members. In this respect, the United Nations is required to reshape itself in response to the epochal changes we have recently witnessed, changes that could not have been foreseen when the United Nations was founded. These include the rapid transformations in the international situation, the dramatic increase in U.N. membership and shifts in global power relations. However, the U.N. Charter itself still contains historical relics, such as the "former-enemies clauses." And the way the Organization is structured makes one question whether the United Nations can effectively meet expectations. With the aim, in part, of enhancing trust in and the efficacy of the Security Council, which bas a particularly important role in the maintenance of international peace and security, Japan believes it is necessary to consider seriously just how the United Nations Organization as a whole should be structured; this effort should include consideration of the functions, composition and other aspects of the Security Council. In my view, it is necessary for the United Nations itself to begin to deal with this issue in order to strengthen its functions. Nineteen ninety-five, which is the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, may prove to be an important juncture in the process of addressing this issue. The reexamination of the structure of the U.N. should also be accompanied by reform of the Economic and Social Council, which plays a role as important as that of the Security Council. The discussions on ECOSOC that are currently being carried out in this direction are a welcome development.

The second crisis facing the United Nations is that of the budget deficit.

The United Nations is on the verge of bankruptcy. If the Organization is to emerge from its chronic shortage of funds, Member States must honor their obligations and immediately pay their assessed contributions. It is imperative that those who are in arrears pay what they owe. The rapidly increasing demand for funds to conduct Peace-keeping Operations must be met. In particular, the availability of funding at the start-up stage of an operation is of crucial importance and could determine the outcome of the operation as a whole. Japan therefore plans to put before this session of the General Assembly a resolution to ensure that financial requirements for major Peace-keeping Operations at the start-up stage will be met without imposing new financial burdens on Member States. I sincerely hope this resolution will receive wide support from Member States.

The third problem concerns insufficient communication among United Nations agencies.

Better communication among the component agencies of the United Nations is necessary to ensure that the limited resources of the U.N. are used effectively and that the Organization's full potential is realized. Specifically, it is important to improve liaison between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, and communication between the Security Council and the General Assembly. The establishment, for example, of a mechanism for periodic exchanges of views and close contacts between and among the presidents of the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, and the General Assembly - either two or three at a time - should be considered. Furthermore, it is important for the Economic and Social Council to have access to and provide the Security Council with information as provided in Article 65 of the U.N. Charter. Finally, whenever a major Peace-keeping Operation is undertaken that will entail a major financial commitment, it is essential that there be established a mechanism for consultations among the permanent members of the Security Council, the major sources of financial support, the countries providing large contingents of operations personnel and the countries of the regions concerned.

Mr. President,

The United Nations is entering an era of greater potential than it has ever experienced in its nearly half-century history. This is also a time, however, that will test whether the United Nations can evolve into a global organization with the capability to achieve peace and prosperity for all humankind. The very magnitude of the challenges and tasks that lie ahead demand that now, more than ever before, each Member State be keenly aware of its responsibilities and carry its share of the burden.

Attaching central importance to the United Nations and committed to its own ideals as a peace-loving state, Japan is determined to contribute to the international community in a manner that is commensurate with its position and responsibilities - in terms not only of financial resources, but also of personnel - and by enhancing its political role in the effort to build a new order of peace. And as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Japan is striving to bring about a more peaceful world.

I would like to conclude with the pledge that I shall do my utmost to see that Japan, in a spirit of conciliation and cooperation, continues to enhance its active contributions to the international community.

Thank you.