Which countries are psychologically closest to Japan

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's speech at the 68th General Assembly of the United Nations

Photo: Cabinet Office


Dear Mr President,
Dear Secretary General,
dear delegates,
dear attendees,

Let me begin by congratulating Ambassador John Ashe most warmly on assuming the presidency of this General Assembly.

Mister President,
First of all, I would like to make a new commitment regarding the situation in Syria. The use of chemical weapons has caused deep consternation and outrage among the people of Japan, including myself. Chemical weapons must never be used again. I therefore declare that Japan will fully support the efforts of the international community to destroy chemical weapons in Syria and will offer its greatest possible cooperation in this regard.

We are deeply indignant at the fact that innocent civilians continue to die in Syria. Japan believes that there is an urgent need to end the violence, initiate political dialogue and improve the appalling conditions in which the people of Syria are currently living. Even now, at this moment, the number of refugees continues to grow. Japan will provide even more help to these people than before.

We will work closely with the international community to provide our aid to the displaced in Syria itself and to the refugees abroad. I am proud that non-governmental and volunteer organizations from Japan work around the clock for these people.

Japan will continue its support for the refugees in the regions that are under the control of opposition groups and where the international community finds it difficult to reach them. We are committed to training staff in the medical facilities, and we will also deliver portable X-ray machines and other medical equipment to these regions.

In view of the growing desperation among the refugees as a result of the imminent winter, I would also like to announce that the government of Japan is spending further humanitarian aid to Syria and the neighboring countries amounting to around US $ 60 million, which will be made available immediately.

We are determined to provide this support in parallel with a process of political dialogue, particularly in the context of the envisaged Geneva II conference, and we will continue our corresponding cooperation with the international community.

Mister President,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Japan and its capital Tokyo have now had the great honor of hosting the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in seven years.

In order to return this great favor, which we are very much looking forward to, my first commitment is to make the Japanese economy strong again and then to shape Japan into a “force” that works for the good of the whole world .

I am making the promise today that I will make Japan a strong player for peace and stability, just as my country has done so far, or - given the dire state of our world - even beyond what it is now.

Japan will again hold up the banner of an "active contribution to peace". In doing so, it relies above all on the work it has already done and the great appreciation it is shown for its commitment to peace and prosperity around the world. In this commitment, we have always attached great importance to cooperation with the international community, and we will continue to do so.

The global balance of power is currently undergoing a profound change. On the one hand, technological innovations open up new opportunities across national borders today, but on the other hand they also create new threats. It is therefore no longer possible for a single state to guarantee its peace and security by its own means alone.

For this reason, Japan is committed to gaining trust all over the world as a creator of added value and as someone committed to peace and stability at the regional and global levels.

In view of these circumstances, the role of the United Nations is also gaining in importance. So far, Japan has consistently committed itself to promoting the concept of “human security”. The conclusions that result from this concept also continue to gain weight.

After the presentation of a report by the UN Committee on Human Security, an extensive discussion took place that lasted a total of nine years. In September last year, the General Assembly finally passed a resolution on a common understanding of human security. Guided by the wisdom of our ancestors, Japan is now determined to further spread this concept and put it into practice.

I will enable Japan, as an active contributor to peace, to become more actively involved in collective security within the United Nations; this also includes peacekeeping missions. I am also convinced that Japan needs to develop its own human resources so that they better meet the requirements of the UN's activities.

Mister President,
dear attendees,
Japan, whose national interests are closely linked to the security of the oceans open to all, cannot under any circumstances accept changes in the maritime order that occur as a result of violence or coercion.

We have great expectations for the resolute preservation of spaces accessible to all - be it space, cyberspace, airspace or the oceans - as common goods for the whole world, in which an order is established by rules and laws.

As a country that has experienced the horror and destruction of nuclear weapons first hand, Japan will do its utmost to promote nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as the complete abolition of nuclear weapons in the world.

North Korea's efforts to develop nuclear weapons and missiles are unacceptable. Japan also has grave fears about other weapons of mass destruction that North Korea is likely to have. Pyongyang must listen to the united voice of the international community, change its own behavior accordingly and finally take concrete steps.

We also call on North Korea to release all kidnapped Japanese citizens without exception. I am determined to finally resolve this issue during my current term in office. A normalization of the dipolomatic relations between Japan and North Korea is inconceivable without a solution to this question.

With regard to Iran's nuclear issue, Japan hopes that the new Iranian government will take concrete steps towards a solution. We stand ready to continue to play an important role in resolving this issue. Japan will continue its previous contributions to the Middle East peace process as this region is an important cornerstone for peace and stability in the world.

In addition, my country will expand its cooperation with the states on the African continent, which will certainly develop into a center of global growth in this century. Based on our own experience, this cooperation primarily includes the promotion of human resources. We strive for sustainable growth in which Africa's self-determination is also further promoted.

Last June, my government invited heads of state and government from Africa and representatives of international organizations to Japan to hold the “5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development “(TICAD V).

This meeting made a deep impression on me. The representatives of the African countries have repeatedly expressed their great desire for private sector investment.

More investments are now flowing into Africa than financial aid. I was also repeatedly told by leading African politicians that this aid should be used strategically so that it can act as a catalyst for further investment.

This is the conclusion of a discussion that has developed over the course of the TICAD process, which has been in existence for twenty years. TICAD V thus became a forum where we could celebrate the path that Africa had covered so far. At the same time, we were able to jointly confirm that Japan is a reliable partner for Africa, who is formulating new visions side by side with the countries of this continent.

Mister President,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I firmly believe that the future path of Japanese foreign policy starts here and now, in that we spare no effort to actively face the historical challenges that the world is facing today with our regained strength and our capacities.

I see the phrase “spare no effort” as nothing less than the basis for Japan's future action, whether in foreign policy or in any other area.

As a state with these intentions, strengths and demonstrated achievements, we deeply regret that the composition of the Security Council continues to reflect a situation owed to the realities of a past seventy years ago.

The Security Council must now be reformed without further delay. Japan's desire for a permanent seat on this body has by no means weakened.

Mister President,
dear attendees,
it all starts with reviving the true capabilities of Japan and its economy. If Japan grows, the world will also benefit. On the other hand, the decline of my country would be a loss for all people.

How does Japan intend to achieve this growth? Something that is both a factor and a product of growth is the mobilization of women's potential, a point that comes naturally at this gathering.

There is a theory called "womenomics" which says that the more the advancement of women in a society progresses, the more growth increases.

Japan today has no choice but to create an environment in which women can take up a job and work without restrictions and actively participate in society. For us, this is a matter of the utmost urgency.

By making my intention clear to create a society “in which women can shine”, I am strongly committed to changing the structures in Japan. However, this is not just an internal affair of my country. I would now like to explain to you why this is also an issue that determines the course of Japanese foreign policy.

To begin with, I would like to cite four contributions that will help Japan seek to continue to act as a leader in the international community.

First, Japan has great appreciation for the activities of the United Nations with regard to women. We strive to take a leading position in terms of contributions and thus to become a model country in this area. In doing so, we will also work closely with the responsible international organizations.

Second, as other like-minded countries have already done, Japan is keen to work with grass-roots organizations to develop a national action plan on women, peace and security.

Thirdly, my country will work closely not only with the UN agencies on women, but also with the International Criminal Court and the office of Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, UN Secretary-General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

It is highly outrageous that today, in the 21st century, there is still sexual violence in armed conflict directed against women. Japan will do everything in its power to prevent such crimes against women and to provide both material and psychological support to those who have been victims of such acts.

Fourthly, at the next meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, Japan will once again present the draft resolution so that women are given sufficient consideration in natural disasters, since they are particularly vulnerable in such situations. Japan, which suffered a major natural disaster two years ago, is seeking broad support for this draft resolution, which expresses our sincere feelings.

Mister President,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would now like to take the examples of three women to illustrate Japan's concept of developing a society “in which women can shine”. I would also like to focus on a number of other aspects that should also be addressed.

First, let me give you the examples of a Japanese woman and a woman from Bangladesh, followed by an Afghan woman as a third example.

Tokiko Sato was previously an expert at JICA, the Japan International Cooperation Agency. For 15 years she worked to improve the health of pregnant women, newborns and children in a remote village in Jordan.

She was not deterred by the suspicious looks of the villagers at the beginning of her job and really spoke to everyone in every place.

Devoting herself entirely to her ideas - including the use of public entertainment as a means of persuading the people in the village - she was finally accepted by the village community.

"It is not the woman, but the man who determines how many children a married couple has." With great persistence, Ms. Sato changed this traditional notion to an attitude that also takes the health of women sufficiently into account. As you know, Japan played a leading role in the creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS / HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria. My country will also make an appropriate financial contribution to the forthcoming fourth increase in funding to ensure that this fund is financed.

For the “Development Agenda from 2015”, however, it would be best if the focus could be broadened to include these individual diseases as a whole. Japan believes it would be better to take a holistic approach to the individual in order to better meet people's health needs. For this reason we decided to promote the concept of comprehensive health protection ("Universal Health Coverage", UHC) at TICAD V.

Japan has allocated US $ 500 million to address health issues in different regions of Africa. We are currently focused on training 120,000 people for health and medical treatment services.

Medical treatment is there for everyone. There is no doubt that it is people like Ms. Sato who enthusiastically open up into the local communities and who give the three letters “UHC” a human face.

The second woman I would like to introduce to you is Nilufa Yeasmin, a young Bangladeshi woman who has two children. Her job title is "Poly-Glu Lady".

Poly-Glu is a water-purifying substance made from a food found everywhere in Japan, and you simply put it in cloudy water. Poly-Glu acts like an absorbent that attaches to other substances in the water and settles with them at the bottom of the vessel, while the water above is then clear.

At the beginning, people need to be trained in the correct use of this substance, and Ms. Nilufa and other “Poly-Glu Ladies” work both as shop assistants and as trainers.

As you can see, this activity in the form of a BOP ("Base of the Pyramid") business is characterized by the great expectations placed on the strength of women. By combining her own income with that of her husband, Ms. Nilufa is now able to give her children a higher education.

It was poverty that forced Ms. Nilufa to give up her childhood dream of one day becoming a doctor. However, I have been told that she is now proud to speak of becoming a “clean water doctor”. It is fair to say that this has given her new self-confidence - perhaps the most important enrichment for a person.

My government wants to produce as many women as possible like Mrs Nilufa.By the way, Poly-Glu is made by a very small company in Japan. We will work to expand support for such companies and organizations so that their ideas can bear fruit.

Mister President,
dear attendees,
Finally, I would like to introduce you to another woman. But this lady from Afghanistan is no longer with us. Her name is Ms. Islam Bibi and she was shot dead on July 4th this year. She was 37 years old and has three children.

Ms. Bibi was a police officer in the Afghan Police, an activity she was very proud of. During her nine years of service, she was given greater and greater responsibility. She was responsible for guarding polling stations as part of election observer missions. She also acted as a trainer for junior police officers.

There is still a lot of work to be done, but we must keep moving forward.

As part of the “Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan”, Japan is one of the countries that has always been particularly committed to improving the skills of the Afghan police force and training women policewomen, who will eventually number 1,800. We are still a long way from achieving this goal. I have renewed my determination to continue our support so that more women do not suffer the fate of Mrs Bibi.

Mister President,
Ladies and gentlemen,
What I wanted to show you using the example of Ms. Nilufa in Bangladesh is the need to promote women's participation in society and to unleash their potential.

The government of Japan has made this the first priority of its promotion and we will continue to do everything in our power to achieve this, including setting up start-ups in Africa.

What Ms. Tokiko Sato, the Japanese expert on help, has made clear through her commitment is the great importance of the health of pregnant women, newborns and young children. This is an area where progress towards the Millennium Development Goals has so far been modest. My government will therefore become even more involved in the area of ​​health and medical care for women as a second priority.

Finally, through the tragic example of Mrs Bibi, I wanted to make clear the great need for the participation of women and their protection in the field of peace and security.

Japan will work to ensure women's participation at all levels, including conflict prevention and resolution and peacebuilding. This will also ensure the rights and physical wellbeing of women who are particularly at risk in conflict.

I would like to take this opportunity to announce that the government of Japan will be spending $ 3 billion in government development cooperation (ODA) over the next three years on shaping these three pillars in order to achieve the three goals just mentioned.

Mister President,
dear attendees,
In conclusion, let me emphasize one thing: if we follow the wisdom of the “womenomics” mentioned above, the development concept put forward by Japan, which focuses on promoting the strengths of women, will bring more peace and prosperity to the world.

It is my goal to create a society "in which women can shine", both in Japan and in the conflict regions as well as in the countries suffering from poverty. I know the prospects for that are not very good. But I also know for sure something else: namely, that in my country, in Japan, there are a large number of people who are committed to the realization of this goal.

They are people who do their utmost to work hand in hand with all of you towards this goal.

Many Thanks.



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