"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] Foreign Minister Yohei Kono's Speech at the 49th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

[Place] United Nations, New York
[Date] September 27, 1994
[Source] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary-General, and

Distinguished Delegates,

Allow me to begin my address by offering my congratulations to you, Mr. President, on the assumption of your new office. I would also like to express my respect for the excellent diplomatic skills demonstrated by your predecessor, Ambassador Insanally, during a period of momentous change. I am also pleased to convey my sincere congratulations to the Republic of South Africa, which, having renounced apartheid, was reinstated as a full member of the United Nations at the previous General Assembly session.

Japan's Basic Philosophy on International Contributions

Mr. President,

The United Nations is now expected to play a greater role than ever before. Recalling the blessings bestowed upon Japan by the international community at the time of its admission into this Organization, I intend to conduct a proactive foreign policy that will enable Japan to contribute, on a level commensurate with its political and economic status, to the future well-being of humankind.

At the outset, I would like to discuss Japan's basic philosophy regarding its international contributions.

Japan is engaged in economic assistance and various other efforts in order to eradicate poverty and achieve economic development, as well as to prevent conflicts and remove destabilizing factors.

Reflecting with remorse upon the Second World War, Japan has never wavered from its commitment to contribute to world peace and prosperity. Japan does not, nor will it, resort to the use of force prohibited by its Constitution. Japan will remain resolutely a nation of peace. Neither possessing nuclear arms nor exporting weapons, Japan continues to be actively engaged in disarmament and non-proliferation efforts. In accordance with what I have just stated, Japan has dispatched members of its Self-Defense Forces as well as civilian personnel to several countries, including Cambodia and Mozambique, in response to requests by the United Nations. Japan intends to continue to cooperate actively in such UN peace-keeping operations.

At the same time, Japan is determined to enhance its contributions to efforts on global issues in economic and social areas. These issues, whose importance is now widely recognized, include development, the environment, human rights, refugees, population, AIDS, and narcotics.

Today, the first area on which the United Nations should focus its efforts is the maintenance of international peace and security; the second is the resolution of economic and social problems. And if it is to effectively carry out these two very important tasks it must undertake a third, and that is the promotion of United Nations reform. I would like on this occasion to outline my views as to the kind of contributions Japan wishes to make in these areas.

Maintenance of International Peace and Security

Mr. President,

In the maintenance of international peace and security, which is the first area of concern to the United Nations, Japan places great emphasis on disarmament and non-proliferation, diplomatic efforts for the resolution of conflicts, and peace-keeping operations.

(Disarmament and non-proliferation)

As the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack, and adhering firmly to its three non-nuclear principles, Japan strives to achieve the ultimate goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons. Toward this end, it urges all nuclear-weapon states to redouble their efforts to reduce their nuclear arsenals. Further, Japan supports the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, and calls on all States that have not yet acceded to the treaty to do so at the earliest opportunity. At the same time, I would urge, in particular, all nuclear-weapon states to engage more actively in the negotiations on a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and to strive to bring them to an early and successful conclusion. Once the negotiations on the treaty are concluded, I wish to propose that a ceremony for its signing by heads of state or government be held in Japan, for example, in the city of Hiroshima, and that it be made a new starting point for the elimination of nuclear weapons once and for all.

In this connection, Japan strongly calls upon North Korea to engage seriously in efforts to resolve the issue of its development of nuclear weapons through international dialogue, including its talks with the United States.

The unfettered transfer and excessive accumulation of conventional weapons is another destabilizing factor in many regions of the world today. In the civil wars we have witnessed in certain regions of Africa and elsewhere, for example, it has resulted in the escalation of combat and enormous loss of life. It is my belief that the international community must seriously consider concrete measures to solve this problem.

In this regard, the UN Register of Conventional Arms, designed to improve the transparency of arms transfers, has grown increasingly important as an effective measure for building confidence at the global level. More than eighty countries participate in the register at present, and we strongly hope that many more will join. Japan will work together with other Member States to amplify and strengthen the register, for example, by also registering arms stockpiles.

(Prevention and settlement of regional conflicts)

The prevention and settlement of regional conflicts requires a comprehensive approach which combines diplomatic efforts, UN peace-keeping operations, humanitarian aid, assistance for building social institutions, and aid for peace-building, such as rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance.

Convinced of the importance of taking measures before conflicts become intractable, I am a strong advocate of the vigorous promotion of preventive diplomacy. From this viewpoint, I believe we should, in cooperation with the countries concerned, actively consider extending assistance for the stabilization of social and political conditions in regions or countries where there are elements of instability.

UN peace-keeping operations have proven successful in Cambodia and many other regions, and they are expected to play an increasingly important role. Further improvement of the effectiveness of peace-keeping operations will require closer examination of, inter alia, their mandates, duration, scale of activities and cost, as well as a full consideration to the safety of personnel. Strengthening the financial base of UN peace-keeping operations is an urgent task; it is necessary, in particular, the Member States pay their assessed contributions which are in arrears. It is also imperative that ways be sought to put peace-keeping operations on a sounder financial basis.

Japan, for its part, will enhance its support for democratization with a view to helping peace take root after the fighting has ceased. It places particular importance on assisting efforts to hold free and fair elections.

Responding to the unspeakably tragic situation of the Rwandan refugees, Japan has provided both financial assistance and material support through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda. The Government of Japan has decided to dispatch more than 400 members of its Self-Defense Forces to the region to provide assistance in such areas as medical treatment, water supply and air transport. Some of these activities have already commenced. Working together with the international community--particularly with the countries of Africa--Japan is determined to continue its efforts toward a solution of the Rwandan issue.

With regard to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, Japan continues to support the efforts of the international community to restore peace. It calls upon all the disputing parties concerned to accept the peace plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina devised by the Contact Group and to cooperate with the activities of the United Nations there.

Solution of Economic and Social Problems

Mr. President,

The second task of the United Nations is the solution of problems in economic and social areas, including those regarding development, the environment, and human rights.


With the changing international circumstances, the issue of development is now reemerging as a global concern; a new strategy for development is thus called for. It is from this viewpoint that Japan has been advocating a development strategy that entails a "comprehensive approach," combining assistance, trade, investment, and the transfer of technology, as well as a "differentiated approach," tailored to the needs of developing countries according to their respective stages of development.

The International Conference on African Development held in Tokyo last year proved to be a worthwhile forum for the discussion of how such a development strategy might be realized. In an effort to build upon the results of that conference, the Asia-Africa Seminar will be convened in Indonesia this December.

In today's world, South-South cooperation, where more advanced developing countries share their experience and technology with other developing countries, is of increasing significance. Japan intends to suggest concrete plans for the promotion of South-South cooperation around the globe.

Moreover, as the world's largest donor country, Japan continues its efforts to expand its official development assistance. In extending such assistance, it gives full consideration to such factors as trends in the recipient country's military expenditures and in its development and production of weapons of mass destruction, as well as its efforts to promote democracy and to introduce a market-oriented economy.

It is my hope that meaningful discussions of "An Agenda for Development" will take place at the current session of the General Assembly and that the points I have just mentioned will be take into account.

(Problems common to all humankind)

At this time of increasing global interdependence, all humankind is confronted with new challenges, such as environmental and population problems, which can only be overcome through close cooperative efforts between industrialized and developing countries.

Japan, for its part, is actively engaged in environmental protection efforts. For example, it is working to strengthen the international framework for such efforts, to transfer relevant technologies to developing countries, and to expand and strengthen its official development assistance in environmental areas. With regard to population and AIDS, in February of this year Japan launched its Global Issues Initiative under which it is greatly expanding assistance to developing countries to address these problems. At the International Conference on Population and Development recently convened in Cairo, I stressed the importance of finding a solution to issues relating to population.

Japan is profoundly aware that human resources development and the further advancement of the status of women, achieved through international cooperation, have important implications for social stability. We therefore eagerly anticipate the successful outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and the World Conference on Women, which will be convened next year. By the same token, Japan actively participates in the Women in Development programs and other social development activities administered by the various UN agencies.

Economic development and human rights may be likened to the front and rear wheels of a vehicle: they must work in tandem to advance the development of democratic societies. In order to encourage respect for human rights an universal values and to effectively improve the human rights situation in every country, it is important to make continuous efforts to establish legal systems and to raise awareness of human rights, in addition to promoting political, economic and social stability. Toward this end, Japan will cooperate in every way possible to assist the work of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Reforming the UN to Adapt to the New Era

Mr. President,

If it is to effectively carry out its two major tasks of maintaining international peace and security and resolving economic and social problems, the United Nations must make a serious effort to adapt to the new era by undertaking structural reform as well as administrative and budgetary reform.

As the UN seeks to strengthen its activities through reform, the restructuring of the Security Council is of particular importance. Today the activities of the Security Council span a wide range of issues relating to world peace and stability. While UN membership has grown from 51 countries in 1945 to 184 countries at the present time, the composition of the council, which was intended to reflect the world situation as it stood when the United Nations was established, has remained virtually unchanged. In the interim, we have witnessed the emergence of countries which are capable of shouldering greater international responsibilities. It is therefore necessary to restructure and strengthen the Security Council, while ensuring its efficiency, so that it reflects world realities.

In keeping with Japan's basic philosophy regarding international contributions which I outlined earlier, I wish to state that Japan is prepared, with the endorsement of many countries, to discharge its responsibilities as a permanent member of the Security Council. It is my hope that UN Member States will accelerate the deliberations on this subject during the current session, and that an agreement will be reached on a reform plan in time for the commemorative fiftieth session of the General Assembly next year.

The Security Council is not the only organ requiring reform. The General Assembly, in which 184 states participate, also needs to be reinvigorated, and it must coordinate its activities more closely with those of other UN agencies. Recently, efforts have begun to fine-tune UN activities in economic and social fields--such as development, the environment and human rights--and to establish clear priorities among them. In addressing these issues, which have profound implications for the future of humankind, it is necessary to continue to work toward the functional and organizational strengthening of the Economic and Social Council. The Trusteeship Council, by contrast, has completed its historic mission, and it is my view that it would be appropriate in the context of the reform of the United Nations as a whole to consider its abolishment. Building on the creation of the Office of Internal Oversight Services at the last General Assembly session, we must redouble our efforts to promote administrative and budgetary reform.

The passage of a half-century since the signing of the UN Charter has rendered the so-called former enemy clauses meaningless. Japan continues to seek their deletion from the text of the UN Charter.

Concluding Remarks

I have focused my remarks today on the three challenges facing the United Nations--the maintenance of international peace and security, the resolution of economic and social issues, and the need for the reform of the Organization. If the United Nations pursues reform to meet the changing needs of the times, and supports and expands cooperation among its Member States, I have every confidence that it will enhance its legitimacy as a universal organization and develop a capacity to respond to new challenges even more effectively. In closing, I would like to call upon all Member States to cooperate to ensure that this will be remembered as the historic General Assembly session that ushered in a new era for the United Nations.

Thank you.