"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] Speech by Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, at Geneva II Peace Conference on Syria

[Date] January 22, 2014
[Source] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Notes] Provisional translation
[Full text]

His Excellency, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations,

First of all, I would like to express my great appreciation for all the efforts of Mr. Secretary General and those involved at the United Nations and the relevant countries to realize the holding of the Geneva II Conference.

Get back a beautiful Syria.

I firmly believe that this is the desire and resolve of all the people who gathered here today, as well as the ultimate goal of this conference.

Syria is a prosperous and spectacular country, blessed with a rich history and gifts from the land, and has been a cradle of civilization since ancient times. In this nation, it is a cause of indescribable sorrow that small children, young people who would have built the country and many other innocent victims have lost their precious lives during three years of severe fighting and turmoil in which even chemical weapons have been used.

Japan is the only country in the world to have been bombed with nuclear weapons. Hailing from Hiroshima, I perhaps know better than anybody else here the brutality and the unacceptability of the use of weapons of mass destruction. I have learned these the hard way.

Distinguished delegates,

Even as we sit here, violence continues in Syria. Many citizens are being killed, becoming refugees or being internally displaced. Nothing comes from shaking a hand if the other hand is holding a weapon. I strongly urge this conference to agree first that the participating countries should exert their utmost influence over the parties concerned for an immediate cessation of violence.

Japan recovered from devastation and the abyss of despair after war. It has contributed to the progress of the Syrian people, helping them to overcome a range of hardships. Japan will continue to provide both humanitarian assistance and contribute to the political dialogue – in parallel like the two wheels of a cart – so that the Syrian people can lead ordinary lives that are happy and peaceful, and get back a beautiful Syria.

Over recent decades, Japan has provided continuing assistance to Syria for the development of its people and improvements in their livelihood. About 30 percent of the electric power generation capacity in the country is the result of aid from Japan. Japan has also helped Syria intensively in water-related sectors, such as irrigation and water resources management, which are of vital importance in a country located in a dry area. It is always a matter of the highest priority for Japan that the people of Syria are able to enjoy better lives.

Last year, I visited Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan. There were bewildered mothers, children growing up strong beside them, babies with no idea of their own situation and an endless number of shacks and tents. I felt with certainty that we had no time to lose in providing humanitarian assistance.

Japan has already been implementing humanitarian assistance to Syria, including aid to neighboring countries, amounting to some 280 million U.S. dollars. On top of that, Japan newly plans to extend additional assistance worth 120 million dollars in total. This will include assistance to women and children, aid in the areas of health and hygiene, education and food, in line with the notion of human security – which places a high priority on each and every human being – as refugee and displaced people assistance, as well as a contribution of 10 million euros to the Syria Recovery Trust Fund. Japan will also continue to steadily carry out cross-border assistance, which started last year, to areas that cannot be reached by aid from the international community.

Distinguished delegates,

There will be no stabilization in the Syrian situation without the consistent implementation of the Geneva Communiqué. For the first time, the Syrian government and the opposition will sit face to face at the dialogue table. We must not miss this historic opportunity.

What is needed to bring back a beautiful Syria is dialogue, not a scramble for power. While continuing dialogue with the "National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces," Japan will make efforts to build confidence among parties that agree to the Geneva Communiqué, in order to facilitate its implementation, including the establishment of a transitional governing body. For future nation-building, Japan believes that the promotion of dialogue among the people responsible for the future of Syria, irrespective of their positions, will ensure safe and unlimited access to humanitarian aid throughout Syria, while averting an environment that leads to the rise of extremists, which is one of the greatest concerns at the moment.

In order to solve the conflict and build peace, it is necessary to powerfully encourage the participation of many Syrian people, women in particular.

Distinguished delegates,

In concluding my speech, let me welcome ongoing efforts by the international community for the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria. Japan will also provide greatest possible cooperation to this end and is ready to send personnel anytime to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Further, Japan has about 18 million U.S. dollars at the ready as financial assistance to the OPCW and the United Nations.

I would like to firmly believe that the people who gathered here today will find a clue to the resolving of this difficult problem by bringing our wisdom together and the Geneva II Conference will serve as an opportunity to give hope to the people of Syria. Under its policy of making proactive contribution to peace, Japan will take part in the international community's endeavor as a responsible member and spare no effort in helping the people of Syria bring back a peaceful, beautiful country again.

Thank you very much for your attention.