"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] Address by Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu at the United Nations Kyoto Conference on Disarmament

[Place] Kyoto, Japan
[Date] May 27, 1991
[Source] DIPLOMATIC BLUEBOOK 1991, Japan's Diplomatic Activities, pp. 436-449
[Full text]

Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Government of Japan, it gives me a great pleasure to address this United Nations Kyoto Conference on Disarmament. As one who proposed the holding of a U.N.-sponsored disarmament conference in Japan, I am especially delighted that this conference is convening here in Kyoto. Let me take this opportunity to extend the warmest of welcomes to you all.

(I. Changes in the International Environment)

In the last few years the world has witnessed two upheavals of historic, monumental consequence, upheavals giving cause for both bright hope and dark concern. On the one hand, relations between East and West have shown fundamental improvement. On the other, however, we have witnessed the eruption of military hostilities in the Persian Gulf.

In particular, the last two years have seen the nations of Eastern Europe make substantial gains in their struggle to democratize and adopt free-market economic principles. The fall of the Berlin Wall augured the reunification of Germany, while last year's Charter of Paris formally marked the end of East-West confrontation. On the arms control and disarmament front, the CFE Treaty has been concluded between NATO and Warsaw Pact nations. The U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Reduction Talks are now exploring various new avenues for compromise that will make possible the conclusion of a treaty.

By helping to transcend the thinking of the Cold-War era, this positive shift aroused in people all over the world a fresh sense of hope for the future. However, that emerging optimism was dealt a bitter blow by Iraq's brutal invasion of Kuwait. Fortunately, the cooperative turn in U.S.-Soviet relations remained unshaken in dealing with the Gulf Crisis. That factor, not to mention the courageous efforts of the multinational force and the united backing it received from U.N. member nations, including Japan, ultimately helped bring the crisis back under control. Now the search is under way for new strategies that will ensure true peace and security in the Middle East.

These two momentous international developments have reinforced my conviction that mankind has reached a historic threshold beyond which the paradigms of conventional East-West and North-South dualism no longer suffice for an adequate understanding of international relationships. The fundamental change in East-West relations and the Gulf conflagration have, it appears to me, brought into sharply clearer focus the issues we must together address and solve if the world is to enjoy real peace in the coming century. Arms control and disarmament are one such issue, with political confrontation or conflict another. I want, here, first to discuss arms control and disarmament, in terms of the issues I believe the world must resolve in this final decade of the twentieth century.

(II. Forces Influencing the Arms Control and Disarmament Process)

The remarkable recent changes in the international environment are having a tremendous impact on the substance of arms control and disarmament policy. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, in fact, contributed to a clearer understanding of the shape that the arms control and disarmament process should take in the post-Cold War era.

Political scientists and historians alike will, doubtless, give us a number of vastly difficult accounts of the key underlying factors and processes leading up to the Gulf Crisis. However, the events are approached, one thing is clear; the blame must be facilely pinned on Iraq's military buildup alone; a variety of factors were undoubtedly at work.

No one will, I believe, dispute the statement that aggression is the result of a choice made by people, not weaponry. It is also generally true that a nation will not opt for aggression, unless it has a certain measure of confidence that its machinations will succeed. At the same time, the odds of victory clearly depend very greatly on a gap in the aggressor's and victim's levels of military capability. The highly volatile military imbalance characterizing the Gulf region in recent years stemmed from none other than the enormous Iraqi military buildup. It took Iraq's tanks less than two days to overrun Kuwait. Even the U.N.-authorized multinational force later deployed to liberate Kuwait had to operate in the face of Iraq's stated, and very real, threat that it would use its chemical arsenal if attacked, not to mention the possibility that it also possessed nuclear weapons, however crude.

International arms transfer, access to weapons-related technologies, and arms proliferation together enabled Iraq to build an enormous military machine far exceeding any realistic self-defense needs. To prevent the emergence of a second, or third, Iraq, I firmly believe a concerted effort by the international community is urgently needed to seriously address the disarmament issues of foremost importance; namely, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missile systems and the international transfer of conventional weapons. To be sure, most disarmament discussion to date has been framed largely within the context of East-West polarity. The recent crisis in the Gulf, however, has underlined once again the fact that many other crucial issues cannot be adequately gauged or dealt with using such an approach.

The second point I wish to emphasize is that the Gulf Crisis has made us even more acutely aware of bow important progress in East-West arms control negotiations continue to be. It was extremely encouraging that throughout the crisis, the United States and the Soviet Union succeeding in sustaining the spirit of close coordination that they did in U.N. deliberations and elsewhere. Their doing so, however, contributed to broader recognition of the importance of stable East-West relations in the face of an international emergency. In recent years U.S.-Soviet arms control talks have functioned as a catalyst for improved relations, not only between those two superpowers, but between the nations of Western and Eastern Europe at large. Even with the Gulf hostilities now behind us, efforts to find early agreement in the START negotiations and to faithfully implement the CFE Treaty must move forward. It would be impossible to over-stress the importance of preventing these and other initiatives in the East-West arms control process from losing steam.

My third point is that arms control and disarmament are fundamental issues of global significance that should be dealt with by the world community, and decidedly not by only a few major nations. Obviously, countries which strive to build military arsenals beyond anything that could reasonably be needed for their defense threaten to extend the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. However, we cannot expect to solve this problem simply by criticizing the behavior of the customer alone. We should also question the behavior of the nations which supply weapons and related technologies. In that sense, the Gulf Crisis has perhaps helped to place in clearer perspective the interacting responsibility each of us has to promote the disarmament process.

(III. The Substantive Task of Arms Control and Disarmament Following the Gulf Crisis)

In keeping with this awareness of the problems, I intend to pursue policies on arms control and disarmament that place the emphasis on two key areas.

First, we have to make every effort to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and missile systems. Japan, as the only country which had suffered the nuclear devastation, is of the view that conditions should not be allowed to develop that could lead to any repetition of the past horrors of nuclear devastation. It, therefore, seeks the elimination of nuclear weapons as an ultimate goal and is moving in various ways to promote progress in this direction. Our proposal of a step-by-step approach to the issue of a nuclear test ban is one such effort. Steps should also be taken to strengthen the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and to ensure that the ranks of the nuclear-weapon states do not increase. The history of the NPT has not been an unqualified success as a considerable number of nations have yet to sign the Treaty. Moreover, in recent years, some of its signatories have been lax about fulfilling their obligations while others are even rumored to be developing nuclear devices.

Differing security environments and perceptions regarding nuclear weaponry in general are often the basis for rejection or criticism of the NPT. While bearing that in mind, and in the interests of facilitating universal acceptance for the Treaty itself, I have personally sought, time and again, to persuade the leaders of non-member countries to reconsider. I have followed this course out of my conviction that the NPT is essential to the task of maintaining world peace and security. Japan intends to draw on the lessons it learned from its peaceful use of nuclear energy, as it continues encouraging non-member countries to the NPT to reconsider their position.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has established a safeguards system to help it ensure compliance with the NPT. As the core framework for enforcement, the safeguards system is to be given the credit for the impressive success the IAEA has shown to date in ensuring treaty compliance. However, recent events in the Gulf have intensified our awareness of the need for improvements to this system, and of steps to strengthen the NPT regime in general. It is, thus, Japan's position that international action is needed to bring about technical and policy improvements that will help the IAEA's safeguard mechanism perform its assigned role more effectively and efficiently.

To assist in this undertaking, Japan has already given attention to the question of improving IAEA safeguards. First, it believes serious study should be directed to the possibility of utilizing special inspections as a means of enhancing the safeguard system's efficiency. Secondly, and in the interests of maximizing the effectiveness of the IAEA's limited resources, steps should be taken to establish a more flexible system of safeguard implementation, for instance, by reviewing the frequency of inspections and tailoring them to suit specific circumstances. Japan would like to present concrete proposals based on these perspectives in future IAEA forums.

It is regrettable that some States Parties to the NPT have failed to comply with the treaty obligation to conclude a safeguard agreement with the IAEA. Their failure to do so cannot but threaten to damage the ties of mutual trust with other NPT states. In fact, it could quite easily undermine the Treaty's authority in general. In view of these dangers, Japan strongly urges early action to rectify this state of affairs.

In 1995, an important conference will be held to decide the future of the NPT. As a State Party, Japan intends to work for universal acceptance of the Treaty and work to strengthen its effectiveness. Japan is of the position that the Treaty should be extended into the next century.

As regards the goal of non-proliferation of chemical weapons, it is of primary importance that on-going negotiations on the Chemical Weapons Convention lead to agreement soon. I find it significant that several countries have already taken the initiative by urging that ministerial meetings be held at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, the objective being to inject fresh political momentum into the negotiation process. The recommendations recently made by Australia's Foreign Minister Evans deserve special attention in this context. Yet, for these initiatives to bear fruit, it is crucial that certain preconditions be met so that the problems may be resolved at the political decision-making level. In other words, the negotiation process must first show significant headway on a specifically defined range of key issues on which there is most disagreement. The new U.S. position on chemical weapons recently announced by President Bush could mark a turning point in negotiations on the Chemical Weapons Convention. Very serious efforts should be made in the next round of negotiations to discover areas where compromise is possible. Japan will strive to do all that it can to promote a breakthrough on key issues before the year's end.

During the Gulf Crisis, there existed the very real threat that Iraq might resort to the use of its chemical arsenal. That danger served to reinforce the view throughout the international community that chemical weapons must be banned. It is strongly hoped that participants in the treaty negotiations in Geneva will take note of this heightened international concern and move forward in their task with a rekindled sense of purpose. In contrast to the recent achievements of undertakings in arms control and disarmament at the bilateral and regional level, little success has been seen in the multilateral arena. The signing of a Chemical Weapons Convention would, thus, be seen as an outstanding break through and give fresh encouragement to the many nations that have long called for progress in the multilateral disarmament arena. It is our firm hope that the signing of such an accord is not very far off.

Japan is an enthusiastic participant in the Australia Group, a forum for export restrictions on materials used in the manufacture of chemical weapons. In view of the important role the Group has played in efforts to prevent the spread of chemical armaments, Japan desires to help it to make its activities yet more effective.

Missiles are a means of increasing yet further the offensive capability of weapons of mass destruction. It is now strongly realized that missiles, too, must be prevented from proliferating. The terror that Iraqi Scud missiles caused among the populations of neighboring states is still fresh in our memory.

In March, a conference of what is known as the Missile Technology Control Regime was convened in Tokyo. The participants in this gathering reaffirmed the need for yet more stringent controls on the export of missile-related materials and technologies. Further, and in line with a Japanese initiative, they issued a joint appeal for nations worldwide to adopt clear guidelines on such exports. I view this cooperative effort as an extremely timely development. Japan is committed to an active role in preventing the proliferation of missile systems. As part of that effort, it intends to continue urging that nations possessing key missile technologies introduce stringent export controls.

The U.N. Security Council resolution that established the formal cease-fire in the Gulf Crisis also calls for the elimination of Iraq's stocks of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, and also the creation of a Special Commission to implement this task. Desiring to contribute to this international effort in ridding the Gulf region of these formidable weapons of mass destruction, Japan has sent a leading Japanese chemical weapons expert to participate in the Commission's activities, which we shall continue to support in every way possible. I should add that I am committed to the goal of halting completely the spread of such highly lethal weapons. Moreover, I am determined to make every effort to help ensure that the international community never again has to face, as it did during the Gulf Crisis, the threat of the use of such weapons, and to prevent any circumstances that might ultimately demand the establishment of similar U.N. Commissions.

The lessons of the recent Gulf Crisis indicate that the international transfer of conventional weapons is the second key issue we must address. That task demands that we strive earnestly to expand discussion on the substantive shape of a practical response.

The flow of conventional weapons is a problem that has been with us for quite some time. Past efforts to impose controls on this activity have been characterized by frustrated efforts. We must, also admit that broad regional differences of opinion exist on this issue. This disparity of viewpoints stems from the fact that in a world where military strength is valued for its deterrent effect, while military balance is seen as essential for security. It is in recognition of such a situation that Article 51 of the United Nations Charter proclaims self-defense to be a right of nation states. Therefore, within reasonable limits, arms procurements are considered necessary and entirely proper.

Bearing in mind the complexity of the issues surrounding the international transfer of conventional weapons, Japan is determined to adopt the following approach toward a general solution.

First, we will work for enhanced levels of transparency and openness in the international trade in arms. The lack of reliable data on the arms trade is a factor that tends to make for distrust among nations. Not only would more open and accurate information contribute to enhanced trust, it would also serve as a solid basis for meaningful discussion on the arms trade. In the light of this situation, it is, thus, extremely important that a U.N. Study Group is now exploring the possibility of introducing new levels of transparency and openness into arms transfers. Japan, too, is actively participating in this undertaking, supplying a Japanese expert as a member of the Study Group.

Once the group has presented its report to the U.N. General Assembly scheduled to convene this autumn, Japan plans to submit a draft resolution to the General Assembly calling for improved levels of candor in the international trade in conventional arms. Regarding practical measures, study should be devoted to ways and means of adopting a framework for the submission to the U.N. of data concerning arms trade that can be accepted and implemented by the largest possible number of states. Japan will cooperate fully with the United Nations in efforts to put into effect such a reporting system. Furthermore, should the need arise, we are also prepared to cooperate to the best of our ability in upgrading and expanding the U.N. Disarmament Bureaus database system designed to process information including one related to the arms transfer.

Second, it is imperative that all nations consider establishing or strengthening their own domestic frameworks for self-restraint in the export of conventional arms. I have taken every opportunity to make this point personally to the leaders of the major arms-exporting countries. Supplier countries should manage their arms export policies in such a manner as to prevent the emergence of a purchaser country building a far greater military machine than is necessary for its defense and thereby creating a military imbalance in a region. Of course, I am also aware of the view that the export of arms calls for international regulatory controls, not simply independent attempts at self-restraint. However, as I sought to suggest earlier when referring to the problems facing countries which have to import weapons for their own defense, there exists the danger that in the longer term, international regulatory controls on exports could in fact lead to proliferation of the capacity to manufacture weapons. Seen in the light, national efforts at self-restraint seem to be the most realistic and sensible place to start. Admittedly, some countries might conceivably seize the opportunity to expand their share of the international arms market by filling a vacuum created by others which have adopted stronger measures of self-restraint. Establishing an environment that encourages the maximum number of nations to institute export controls is, therefore, of the utmost importance.

From the point of view of ensuring global peace and security, the U.N. Security Council's permanent members' share of the task of solving the problems posed by the trade in conventional arms will be particularly great. Japan is pleased to accept its share of this global task. It has, in fact, strictly controlled arms exports on the basis of its so-called Three Principles on Arms Exports for more than two decades.

Weapons purchases above and beyond national security needs, particularly in the case of developing nations, will prove a very great burden and an obstacle to social and economic development. In principle, economic development strategies are a domestic matter to be decided on by each country independently, and, decidedly, not something to be dictated by outsiders. However, recent developments in the Gulf have refocused attention, all over the world, on the need for heightened international efforts addressing the issue of military strength, arms control, and disarmament in developing nations.

Recently, Japan elaborated to the international community on Japan's approach to economic assistance to the developing world, that addresses the above concerns, placing emphasis on humanitarian aid and the goal of mutual interdependence. In providing assistance within this framework, Japan will consider various trends and activities in each recipient nation, while bearing in mind the national security circumstances they face. Attention will focus, for example, on trends in military spending, efforts to develop or manufacture weapons of mass destruction, and activities in the arms trade. It is my hope that these policies will encourage nations throughout the developing world to assume a more active role in the international quest for disarmament.

To present the Japanese position on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, international transfer of conventional weapons, and other key issues of arms control and disarmament, Foreign Minister Nakayama will be addressing at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on June 6. I am hopeful that his participation will result in new opportunities for Japan to strengthen its cooperative links with other nations in the dialogue of disarmament.

(IV. Addressing the Costs of Disarmament)

In forging a response to the challenges of arms control and disarmament, most nations have to date typically concentrated on such factors as the adequacy of proposed arms reduction or the substance of verification procedures. Today, however, as hopes for the success of such disarmament endeavors soar, broad study must also be devoted to addressing the associated costs, if they are to be successfully implemented.

My view is that we must pay particular attention to the costs to the environment. The processes involved in destroying nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons pose the risk of releasing a variety of toxic substances into the natural environment. Managing such risks will be no easy task. The disposal of these weapons, thus, demands very exacting levels of caution.

Warfare and the environment is yet another issue that has received considerable attention. In the recent Gulf Crisis, Iraq unleashed an unforgivable, brutal assault on the natural environment. By discharging crude oil into the waters of the Persian Gulf and setting Kuwait's vast oil field ablaze, Iraq has caused untold damage to the delicate ecological balance of the Gulf region.

Japan is actively engaged in helping to clean up and minimize some of the environmental destruction. For example, it has dispatched survey and disaster relief teams to the region, has supplied oil booms, oil absorbent, oil skimmers and oil skimming vessels, to help deal with the emergency oil spills, and has extended financial assistance for the international organizations concerned.

(V. The Need for a Comprehensive Approach)

Effectively implementing and ensuring long-term compliance with arms control and disarmament policies, including ones that address the proliferation of weapons of mass-destruction or the international transfer of conventional weapons, demands that nations everywhere strive in earnest to eradicate mutual distrust and resolve their political differences. One must never forget that unless they do this, there will never be an end to their pursuit of military readiness, including the purchase of arms, and the atmosphere of confrontation this creates. Within that context, I would now like to discuss the importance of resolving political differences and conflict, dealing first with the Middle East, which became the stage for the recent Gulf Crisis, and then with the Asia-Pacific region.

Now that Kuwait has been liberated, no one who is serious about achieving peace and security in the Middle East would fail to address the Palestinian issue and other problems of the regional peace process. Indeed, in the common interest of building a lasting peace in this region, I am convinced that all concerned must surmount mutual distrust, overcome their differences, and work together in earnest to make real progress in resolving these issues.

Toward that goal, U.S. Secretary of State Baker has met repeatedly with leaders throughout the region, striving to gain acceptance for the U.S. proposals regarding the holding of a Middle East peace conference. Japan's position is that a fair, comprehensive, and lasting peace must be established for the region in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. We, therefore, enthusiastically support the U.S. initiatives in this regard.

Japan has expanded its political dialogue with the nations of the region, seeking to explore new avenues for a lasting peace. It will continue these efforts and seek the support of governments in the region for a peace process based on mutual trust. Foreign Minister Nakayama is making this position clear during his visits to Egypt and Israel. He is also conveying my own firm conviction that leaders throughout the region should take advantage of every opportunity to improve the chances for conciliation, putting aside differences to the greatest extent possible, and be more amenable to compromise.

The Asia-Pacific region, too, is characterized by a number of unsettled disputes, confrontations and conflicts. For example, Japan and the Soviet Union have not yet reached agreement on the issues related to Japan's Northern Territories, the Korean Peninsula is still divided between North and South, and civil war continues unabated in Cambodia. Japan is now engaged in vigorous diplomatic efforts to foster desirable change and help create a fresh international atmosphere permanently free of the division and strife that have plagued this region for so long. As things stand, the complex geopolitical factors and military dynamics that shape relations within the region today would clearly seem to call for a fresh diplomatic initiative designed to clear the air of the mistrust blocking improved ties between the region's major countries. In fact, this would seem to be an essential precondition for substantive talks on arms control and disarmament issues. Such an initiative, however, calls for continued bilateral and other efforts for enhancing mutual confidence. Such efforts would be a major first step toward the creation of a favorable Asian security environment. It is, moreover, conceivable that efforts to start this process would prove meaningful on a more localized regional scale.

On the occasion of the recent visit to Japan of Soviet President Gorbachev, Japan and the Soviet Union reaffirmed that the Asia-Pacific region needs to enhance mutual confidence and emphasized the importance of wide-ranging dialogues on various questions, including the issues relating to peace and economic prosperity between our two countries. Without question, a marked expansion of bilateral contacts would very greatly benefit both Japan and the Soviet Union, indeed of great importance to both. At the same time, it would also have broad, long-term implications for the future of peace and prosperity region-wide.

If the Cold-War legacy on the divided Korean Peninsula is to be surmounted, there must be substantial new efforts for dialogue and exchange on the part of Korean states. Japan will continue to do its utmost to help create an environment conducive to fresh and constructive dialogue between the two Koreas. As part of this effort, the recently initiated normalization talks between Japan and North Korea promise eventually to ease tensions and contribute to peace and stability on the Peninsula. Japan will, therefore, continue these negotiations, also maintaining close contact and coordination with South Korea and other nations concerned.

Stability in the Asia-Pacific region also depends immensely on stable development of China through sustained application in each field of its reform and openness policy. Our policy is to support, in principle, the direction that China is now moving in and offer it our fullest cooperation to ensure that there will be no setbacks in the reforms and advances posted thus far.

With regard to Cambodia, Japan has made untold efforts to help bring about a comprehensive and early peace settlement. Last year, for instance, Japan held a special conference in Tokyo to discuss the problems facing Cambodia and to provide the warring Cambodian factions with a forum for meaningful steps toward conciliation. In a policy speech I gave in Singapore during my recent official tour of ASEAN countries, I proposed the hosting by Japan of an international conference on Cambodian reconstruction once a peaceful settlement to the civil war is reached.

Determined efforts to promote and build on political dialogue can help Asia overcome the stifling legacy of confrontation and regional conflict. It is my firm conviction that once this goal has been achieved, the tide of cooperation will have gained a permanent and pervasive foothold throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

(VI. Closing Remarks)

Arms-control and disarmament represent but one facet of the larger issues of war and peace and national security. In my address today, I myself have sought to underscore the need for a comprehensive approach to the solution of political issues between nation states. Arms are the symbols and instruments of violence and destruction, so it is natural that all who desire peace should see efforts to attain disarmament as the inevitable corollary of that desire. With the Cold War receding and the Gulf Crisis ended, the shared desire of the world's people for disarmament is ever more keen. For precisely this reason, I am strongly hopeful that this Kyoto Conference, a gathering of the world's leading authorities on arms control and disarmament, will provide opportunities for policy breakthroughs that promise to fulfill our dreams.

Thank you.