"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 Yukihiko Ikeda at the General Debate of the UNCTAD IX

[Place] New York
[Date] April 30, 1996
[Source] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary General,

Distinguished Delegates,

On behalf of the Government of Japan, let me begin by expressing my congratulations to the Republic of South Africa for hosting this UNCTAD IX. It is quite opportune for us to have this conference here in South Africa, now reborn with a bright future, for the purpose of discussing development issues in the context of the new international situation. I also wish to express our deepest appreciation to President Nelson Mandela and all concerned in the South African government for the tremendous efforts they have made to host this conference, as well as to offer my heartfelt congratulations to Your Excellency, Minister Erwin, on your assumption of the presidency.

Japan also heartily welcomes the offer of the Government of Thailand to host the next UNCTAD X, which was extended by H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Amnuay in his speech earlier, and was endorsed immediately at this meeting.

(Changes in the international economic situation and a new development strategy)

Mr. President,

The expansion of market economies and tremendous technological innovation have generated an unprecedented dynamism in the international movement of goods, capital and information. In response to these changes in the international economic situation, individual countries have been tackling the liberalization of their domestic economies with various policy measures, including deregulation and privatization, while working to strengthen the multilateral free-trading system through such means as establishing the World Trade Organization.

In this current context, it is essential that developing countries integrate themselves smoothly into the new framework of the international economy in order to ensure the stability of the international order and the development of the global economy as a whole. However, it is a fact that many developing countries are still beset by serious problems that prevent them from being fully integrated in the global market, including internal conflicts, poverty, inadequate social and economic infrastructure, unstable macroeconomic conditions and under-developed private sectors.

Therefore, in order to more effectively address development issues, I wish to stress the need to formulate a new development strategy based on the idea of the "New Partnership" between developing and developed countries, the concept put forward at the last UNCTAD conference in Cartagena. We are of the view that the international community as a whole should work together seriously while the developing countries are making their self-help efforts. I think we should keep several factors under consideration when formulating this new development strategy.

First, it is important for both developing and developed countries to have a common vision with respect to the results to be achieved by development. To this end, I believe it is appropriate to establish a set of objective goals that focus on achievable results. It will be effective for developing and developed countries to take a cooperative approach based upon the "New Partnership" to achieve development targets. With respect to economic development, these targets could include, for example, the reduction of the number of people living in extreme poverty, which is currently estimated at some 1.3 billion. With respect to social development, these targets could include, among others, the provision of universal primary education and the reduction of infant mortality and mortality among expectant and nursing mothers.

Second, within the context of the rapid globalization of the economy, the role played by the private sector in achieving development has grown in importance. Because of this, it has become particularly important to establish an economic environment that will permit private companies to freely and actively engage in economic activities. It is, therefore, necessary to adopt a comprehensive approach encompassing a wide variety of measures such as establishing appropriate legal frameworks and administrative systems, stabilizing macroeconomic conditions, promoting trade and investment and facilitating technology transfer in developing countries. Third, I would like to point out the fact that some countries have been able to prosper by taking full advantage of the opportunities derived from changes in the global economy, while others have not. Also, there are differences in the particular social and cultural conditions, environment and natural resources in each country. It is thus crucial to adopt an individual approach that combines the most appropriate policy mix for each country in question.

(UNCTAD's new role and Japan's cooperation)

Mr. President,

What role should UNCTAD play in international efforts to promote development? We believe that UNCTAD should be an international organization that can help developing countries to integrate themselves into the world economy and take advantage of the opportunities brought about by changes in global economic conditions. In more concrete terms, UNCTAD should engage in action-oriented dialogue based on high-level research and analysis conducted by the Secretariat, identify appropriate measures to be taken and provide technical assistance tailored to meet specific needs. To facilitate these efforts, it is necessary for us to shift from the politically motivated confrontational style between North and South that has characterized UNCTAD in the past to the promotion of cooperation founded on a "New Partnership" between developing and developed countries.

In order for UNCTAD to fulfill this role effectively with the limited resources at its disposal, it is crucial to focus its activities on the issues of greatest concern to developing countries, namely, adaptation to economic globalization and liberalization. It seems fair to say that UNCTAD's activities in recent years have not achieved their full potential because of the lack of such clear focus. The aim of reforming UNCTAD lies in the strengthening of its activities to facilitate the integration of developing countries into the global economy. In this sense, reforms must not end with simply the saving of resources; rather, part of the resources saved should be reinvested in activities such as technical cooperation that will truly benefit developing countries. Japan strongly hopes that other countries will support this concept of reinvestment of resources saved.

UNCTAD reforms are viewed as a test case for UN reforms in the economic and social fields. For the sake of revitalizing the UN system as a whole, Japan believes it is extremely important for this UNCTAD IX to agree on concrete reform plans and to take necessary actions. Furthermore, Japan strongly supports the Secretary General's efforts to reform the Secretariat.

Mr. President,

Japan is prepared to intensify its cooperation with UNCTAD so that it can prioritize its activities and make more concrete contributions in line with the ongoing globalization of the international economy. In particular, I believe UNCTAD should give priority to promoting South-South cooperation in trade and investment. I am also convinced that much can be learned from the experiences of newly industrialized countries, which have successfully adapted to changes in the global economy and have achieved rapid economic growth. Japan endorses UNCTAD's positive efforts to contribute to the sharing of these experiences with developing countries. Japan is prepared to make contributions to UNCTAD for its efforts to analyze the diverse factors that have contributed to economic growth in East Asia, to study adopting the approaches to growth in other regions, to help establish appropriate systems within developing countries that are striving to join the WTO and to promote the commercialization of primary commodities. Japan wishes to ensure that the least-developed countries will greatly benefit from the implementation of these specific cooperation measures.

(Addressing the issue of development in Africa)

Mr. President,

Currently, 33 out of the 48 least-developed countries in the world are located in Africa. The promotion of development in this region is thus an issue of the highest priority for the international community. While per capita GNP increased by an average of 4 percent among developing countries as a whole between 1980 and 1992, it decreased by an average of 1.8 percent among the African nations. This fact indicates that poverty continues to be a serious problem for this part of the world. Furthermore, some African countries have not yet achieved political stability indispensable to make progress in nation-building.

On the other hand, as is represented by Southern African countries in recent years, "a new trend" is looming in Africa: an increasing number of countries have achieved national reconciliation as well as democratization, and have been making efforts for steady nation building, including implementation of structural adjustment policies. The international community should support this trend to the fullest extent possible.

If African nations are to achieve self-sustained growth, the international community must provide them with the support they need to formulate and implement their own appropriate development policies. It is also necessary to assist their democratization efforts and to strengthen the support of the international community in the basic social sectors that are most likely to be affected when economic reforms are undertaken.

From this viewpoint, Japan hosted the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in 1993. The conference concluded with an agreement on the importance of self-help efforts and good governance on the part of the African countries, as well as on the need for a "New Partnership" within the international community for the undertaking of development efforts. As announced at TICAD, Japan has organized follow-up meetings to make use of the Asian experience for African development and has provided active support to Africa in the five priority fields of democratization, economic reform, human resource development, environmental protection as well as greater effectiveness and efficiency in providing assistance through policy dialogues.

In addition, Japan has been actively addressing such important global issues as population, HIV-AIDS and the eradication of polio. Japan is committed to making an active contribution to completely ridding the African continent of polio by the year 2000.

With a view to reviewing the progress made since TICAD and to further enhancing the momentum of efforts toward African development within the international community, Japan proposes that the second meeting of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD II) be held in or around 1998, and its preparatory meeting in 1997, both in Tokyo. Japan would like to have high-level participation from Asian countries as well in these meetings.

Furthermore, to promote the development of human resources in Africa, Japan supports having the international community set a goal of giving all African children access to primary education by the year 2015. In this connection, I am pleased to announce Japan's intention to provide assistance amounting to 100 million US dollars over three years for the purpose of expanding education in Africa. Also, with regard to human resource development, Japan intends to accept approximately 3,000 trainees from African countries over the next three years for technical training courses in Japan, and make available 2 million US dollars, out of its contribution to the Japan UNDP Human Resources Development Fund, to promote South-South cooperation, including Asia-Africa cooperation.


Mr. President,

Various discussions have been conducted concerning the role the UN can play in the development field. This UNCTAD IX will serve as an important touchstone for indicating the future course of these discussions. I would like to close my statement by saying that Japan sincerely hopes this conference will be successful and that we will spare no effort to make it so.

Thank you.