Speeches and Statements by Prime Minister Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet top page


24 September 2009
New York

Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to His Excellency Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki on assuming the Presidency of the sixty-fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly. I would also like to express my respect to His Excellency Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann for his excellent leadership in the previous session.

I highly commend as well the dedication and leadership of His Excellency Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in tackling the various challenging issues that the United Nations faces at this time.

Mr. President,

It was 120 years ago, in 1889, that the electoral system, while limited, was initiated in Japan.From that time forward, the change of government through elections was in fact a matter of course in Japan, which even had an era in the early 20th century called the "Taisho democracy".

Japan thus is a nation with a solid heritage of democracy and elections. After the Second World War, however, Japan has not experienced changes of power through the ballot box. Tensions between the politicians and the bureaucrats disappeared. As a result, it cannot be denied that Japan's foreign policy was somewhat deprived of vitality.

However, on 30 August this year, the Japanese people finally chose through a general election to have a change of power. This is a triumph for democracy in Japan and a victory for the Japanese people. Last week, on 16 September, I assumed the office of Prime Minister of Japan, and thus I stand before you today.

My new administration embodies the dynamism of democracy and will exert all efforts to address both domestic affairs and foreign policy challenges through our "all-Japan" lineup.

Mr. President,

Japan's accession to the United Nations was approved on 18 December 1956. The Prime Minister at the time was Ichiro Hatoyama, my grandfather.

At the eleventh session of the General Assembly, where Japan made its maiden speech, then-Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu stated:

The substance of Japan's political, economic and cultural life is the product of the fusion within the last century of the civilizations of the Orient and the Occident. In a way, Japan may well be regarded as a bridge between the East and the West. She is fully conscious of the great responsibilities of such a position.

My grandfather Ichiro, then Prime Minister, was an advocate of the concept of yu-ai, or "fraternity". This yu-ai is a way of thinking that respects one's own freedom and individual dignity while also respecting the freedom and individual dignity of others.

There is a remarkable resonance between the concept of the "bridge" in Mamoru Shigemitsu's address and Ichiro's concept of yu-ai, or "fraternity".

Now, fifty-three years later, here at the very same United Nations General Assembly, I declare with firm determination that Japan will play again the role of a "bridge".

Mr. President,

Today, the world faces numerous arduous challenges. This is not an easy era by any means, but the "new Japan" will not turn its back on such challenges. Based upon the spirit of yu-ai, or "fraternity", Japan will make utmost efforts to become a "bridge" for the world, between the Orient and the Occident, between developed and developing countries and between diverse civilizations.

Today, I would like to address you regarding five challenges that Japan intends to take on in serving as this "bridge".

The first is measures to respond to the global economic crisis.

While the global economy appears to have emerged from the worst stage of the crisis, it is still difficult to predict its future prospects, including the issue of employment.

What Japan must do in this area is first of all to revive its own economy. The new Japan has a plan for achieving this.

"Child allowances" of 5.5 trillion yen annually will serve not only as an investment in education but also as a means of stimulating consumption and a policy to address the low birthrate in Japan.

The abolishment of provisional rates on auto-related taxes will provide tax relief amounting to 2.5 trillion yen annually, and at the same time is expected to enhance the cost competitiveness of Japanese industries through the revitalization of the distribution infrastructure.

As I will touch upon later, we are setting a very ambitious target to tackle climate change, and this should result in the creation of new markets, including for electric vehicles, solar power generation and clean energy businesses. Furthermore, we will ensure stable potential for growth through the creation of new industries and new technologies in maritime, space, next-generation IT and other fields.

By reviewing economic policies through this change of power, Japan is sending a clear signal of the forthcoming revival of its economy.

The new Japan will also need to respond appropriately to globalization. The deepening of worldwide interdependence described by the term "globalization" includes aspects of both light and shadow. Expanding the light while controlling the shadow has become a global task for the world of today.

As we advance the liberalization of trade and investment, international coordination is necessary in order to forge systems to rein in the issues of poverty and economic disparity, which are difficult to coordinate by simply leaving them to market mechanisms, as well as excessive money-making games. Japan will play a role as a "bridge" in international fora, including the G20, towards the formulation of common rules to that end.

The second challenge is to address the climate change issue.

As is apparent from the increased incidence of extreme weather events, rising sea levels and other phenomena, climate change is a danger that in fact already confronts us. Furthermore, efforts by one country can only produce limited effects. However, due to differences in short-term interests between developed and developing countries, and among developed countries as well as among developing countries, the path to create a post-2012 framework will be anything but smooth.

The new Japanese government has set a very ambitious target for a greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 25% by 2020, if compared to the 1990 level. It has also made it clear that it is prepared to provide more financial and technical assistance to developing countries than in the past, in accordance with the progress of the international negotiations. This international commitment is premised on the formulation of a fair and effective international framework by all major economies and agreement on their ambitious targets. Japan announced this ambitious pledge because it wishes to serve as a "bridge" among countries with varied interests and to preserve the planet for future generations.

I would like to appeal strongly to the distinguished representatives present today: let us work together to ensure the success of the upcoming COP 15 meeting.

The third challenge is that of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

I welcome the progress being made in the negotiations on nuclear weapons reductions between the United States and the Russian Federation. I also commend the United Kingdom and France for their initiatives. It is urgent that all nuclear-weapon- holding States take concrete measures on nuclear disarmament. There are States currently engaged in efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Furthermore, there is an increasingly greater risk that nuclear materials and nuclear technologies will be passed on to terrorists or even actually used.

In this area as well, Japan has the potential to become a promoter of nuclear disarmament and serve as a "bridge" between States possessing nuclear weapons and those without them. Japan can speak with the greatest persuasiveness in urging nuclear-weapon-holding States towards nuclear disarmament and non-nuclear nations to avoid the temptation to acquire nuclear weapons. This is because Japan is the only country which has ever suffered the devastation of atomic bombings, and as such has never ceased to appeal for "no more Hiroshimas" and "no more Nagasakis". Japan has also continued to maintain the "Three Non-Nuclear Principles", despite its potential capability to acquire nuclear weapons.

In April this year in Prague, President Barack Obama articulated a vision of a "world without nuclear weapons", inspiring people throughout the globe. I am one of those people. In order to ensure the success of the NPT Review Conference to be held next year in May, we must take action now towards the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the early commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).

Here I must touch upon the DPRK. The DPRK's nuclear tests and missile launches are a threat to the peace and stability not only of the region but also of the international community as a whole, and cannot be condoned under any circumstances. It is imperative that the DPRK comply fully with the relevant Security Council resolutions and that the international community implement these resolutions. Japan will continue its efforts to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through the Six-Party Talks. Japan seeks to normalize relations with the DPRK in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, through the comprehensive resolution of the outstanding issues of concern with the DPRK, including the abduction, nuclear and missile issues, and by sincerely settling the "unfortunate past". In particular, regarding the abduction issue, constructive actions by the DPRK, including swiftly commencing a full investigation as agreed last year, will be an avenue towards progress in Japan-DPRK relations. If the DPRK takes such constructive and sincere actions, Japan is ready to respond positively.

The fourth challenge is presented by the issues of peacebuilding, development and poverty.

Even in the twenty-first century, the world has not been liberated from the problems of poverty, infectious diseases, health, education, water and sanitation, food and illegal drugs. The situation is particularly serious in developing countries. I am also compelled to point out the unfortunate reality that fragile or failed States can become breeding grounds for terrorism. The global economic crisis that began last year has been exacerbating the situation. The new Japan should also become a "bridge" in this area.

Japan will work in partnership with international organizations and NGOs and strengthen its assistance to developing countries in terms of both quality and quantity. Japan intends to continue and strengthen the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process, and redouble its efforts towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the promotion of human security.

For the stability and the reconstruction of Afghanistan, Japan has provided assistance in a broad range of fields, such as strengthening the security sector including through assistance for the police, and developing social infrastructure. Japan has also extended agricultural assistance and capacity-building support, including vocational training, through JICA, its aid implementation agency. Japan will proactively support Afghanistan's own efforts towards its stability and reconstruction in conjunction with the international community. It goes without saying that the primary actors in achieving peace in Afghanistan and in advancing national reconstruction are the people of Afghanistan themselves. As progress is made, reconciliation and reintegration of insurgents will become critical issues. Japan will make vital contributions in these areas, including possible reintegration assistance, such as vocational training aimed at providing a means of livelihood to people who have undergone reconciliation. The stability of the surrounding region is also important, and Japan is steadfastly providing support for Pakistan and other countries in the area.

In the world in which we now live, national security and human security are becoming increasingly intertwined. The path forward that will save humanity is one which can bring about "shared security", in which various nations, ethnicities, races and religions coexist while acknowledging the differences among them. In other words, it is to bring about a "shared security" through the principles of yu-ai or "fraternity".

The fifth challenge is to build an East Asian community.

Today, there is no way that Japan can develop without deeply involving itself in the Asia and the Pacific region. Reducing the region's security risks and sharing each others' economic dynamism based on the principle of "open regionalism" will result in tremendous benefits not only for Japan but also for the region and the international community.

Given the historical circumstances arising from its mistaken actions in the past, Japan has hesitated to play a proactive role in this region. It is my hope that the new Japan can overcome this history and become a "bridge" among the countries of Asia.

I look forward to an East Asian community taking shape as an extension of the accumulated cooperation built up step by step among partners who have the capacity to work together, starting with fields in which we can cooperate-Free Trade Agreements, finance, currency, energy, environment, disaster relief and more. Of course, Rome was not built in a day, so let us seek to move forward steadily on this, even if at a moderate pace.

Mr. President,

In closing, I would like the distinguished representatives to recall that the United Nations is the forum in which "bridging" diplomacy is manifested.

In resolving various issues in international peace and stability, development and the environment, among others, the United Nations has an immense role to play. I intend to make greater use of the United Nations and to work to enhance the effectiveness and the efficiency of the United Nations as a whole.

I firmly believe that Japan has the capacity to play an even greater role in the United Nations, and above all at the Security Council, as a "bridge" among various countries. Japan will continue to engage actively in the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform, pursuing the expansion of both permanent and non-permanent membership and Japan's permanent membership in the Council.

This concludes my message from the "new Japan".

Thank you for your kind attention.