|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN JAPAN , 16 – 19 MAY
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Nane Annan arrived in Tokyo, Japan, from Seoul, Republic of Korea, in the evening on Tuesday, 16 May.
He began his day on 17 May with a meeting with former Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, who is now Chairman of the United Nations Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation.
After that, he met with former High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata, who is now President of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.
He met with members of Parliament from all the major parties, including the 15 members of the “Diet alliance on UN reform” and Takenori Kanzaki, Chief Representative of the New Komeito.
In the afternoon, he met with Yukio Sato, President of the Japanese Institute of International Affairs.
The Secretary-General then met with the Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi. In a press encounter following that meeting, he said they talked about UN reform and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (namely, nuclear- and abductees-related issues), as well as Korean-Japanese relations.
He also applauded the Prime Minister for his initiative to set up a prize to reward research into diseases in Africa, named after a Japanese scientist who died of yellow fever in Ghana while working there, saying it will serve as an important incentive for scientists to work on diseases of the poor.
Following the meeting with the Prime Minister, he met with Foreign Minister Taro Aso, and separately with Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe.
In the evening, he and Mrs. Annan attended a dinner hosted by the Foreign Minister and his wife.
On Thursday, 18 May, the Secretary-General began the day with a meeting with the Global Compact, at which more than 20 companies, as well as the mayor of one Japanese city, were represented. He heard about how Japanese companies were applying the concept of social responsibility.
He then had a meeting with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, which was also attended by Jayantha Dhanapala, former Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs and Sri Lanka’s nominee for the post of Secretary-General.
He and Mrs. Annan took part in a tea ceremony hosted by Dr. Genshitsu Sen, before having an audience with the Emperor and Empress of Japan. “It was a wonderful ceremony. I always find tea ceremonies, especially the ones arranged by Genshitsu Sen, very soothing, very peaceful”, he said. “And it’s a wonderful moment of the day, particularly when you live in a very turbulent and messy world, to take a brief moment -- to pause, to reflect, and to see this beautiful ceremony.”
In the afternoon, the Secretary-General received an honorary degree at Japan’s prestigious Tokyo University, where he delivered a statement that focused on United Nations reform and the growing challenges of non-proliferation and disarmament. (See Press Release SG/SM/10466.)
He warned that the world seems to be sleepwalking down a path in which rapidly growing numbers of States feel obliged to arm themselves with nuclear weapons, and in which non-State actors acquire the means to carry out nuclear terrorism. He chided the failure of Governments to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) twice last year, at the NPT Review Conference and the World Summit.
The Secretary-General called for increased efforts to achieve diplomatic solutions to the situations concerning the nuclear programmes in Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He held Japan up as a beacon of the message that nuclear weapons are not essential for greatness. “ Japan’s great success as a nation, while adhering to the self-imposed standard of not manufacturing or possessing nuclear weapons, has sent a powerful message around the world. You have shown that a State does not need nuclear weapons to be ‘normal’. Nor does it need to be armed to the teeth in order to exercise influence. The sources of true greatness lie elsewhere.”
He then took questions from several Tokyo University students before heading to the last event of his official visit to Japan.
A press conference at the National Press Club capped the official visit.
In a separate programme, Mrs. Annan addressed about 500 students at Gakushuin Women’s College in Tokyo, using slides to illustrate her experiences while visiting United Nations projects throughout the world.
She paid special tribute to the role and contributions of women in efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of halving extreme poverty, halting the spread of HIV and AIDS, promoting gender equality, providing primary education for all children, and ensuring environmental sustainability.
In a subsequent question-and-answer session, Mrs. Annan said she was often very inspired by the work of the United Nations, which helps people to meet their basic needs, have enough to eat, send their children to school, and make a living.
In the evening, the Secretary-General and Mrs. Annan attended a dinner hosted jointly by Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, the Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations; Koichi Haraguchi, Japan’s representative for normalization talks between Japan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; and Yukio Takasu, Japan’s Special Envoy for United Nations reform.
The Secretary-General and Mrs. Annan left Tokyo for Beijing on the morning of Friday, 19 May.
* *** *For information media • not an official record