31 March 2010
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Japan’s Participation in Haiti Donors’ Conference


With senior political figures gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York today for an international conference on rebuilding earthquake-shattered Haiti, the Japanese Government announced that it would provide an additional $30 million to the effort and dispatch a team of disaster-prevention experts to the country, according to Kazuo Kodama, Press Secretary in Japan’s Foreign Ministry.


Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Mr. Kodama, who is also Director-General for Press and Public Relations in the Foreign Ministry, said the new commitment, above the $70 million announced in the wake of the massive 12 January earthquake that levelled much of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and surrounding areas, would bring to $100 million Japan’s total commitment to Haiti’s long-term recovery and reconstruction.


He said the announcement had been made by Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada at the opening of the “International Donors’ Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti”, which was co-chaired by United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, Haitian President René Préval and United States Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.


Continuing, he said Minister Okada considered the meeting an opportunity for the international community to demonstrate its solidarity with Haiti, and believed that spirit had characterized the entire morning’s events.  The Minister had visited Haiti just 10 days ago and had witnessed the breadth of the devastation to the land and the agony of the victims.


In his statement to the participants, Mr. Okada had said that, during his visit he had realized Haiti’s urgent need for help in removing the mountains of debris from the streets, and, with the rainy season fast approaching, constructing shelters and preventing the spread of infectious disease.  With that in mind, he said his country, along with the assistance it had already provided through the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), would construct some 9,000 shelters and help protect some 3 million people against disease, including through vaccinations for mothers and children.


The Foreign Minister, he noted, had also stressed that Japan was no stranger to calamities such as earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters.  And in that spirit of solidarity, Japan planned to dispatch disaster prevention experts and to establish a field office of the Japan International Cooperation Agency in Haiti.  He had also welcomed the recent decision of the Inter-American Development Bank to waive Haiti’s debt, an effort to which Japan was prepared to contribute.


Mr. Kodama said that while, the Foreign Minister had expressed appreciation for the Haitian Government’s presentation of its “Action Plan for Reconstruction and National Development”, he had nevertheless stressed that true reconstruction did not mean the return of the pre-earthquake situation “but the rebirth of a State which has an adequate foundation to fully satisfy the people’s needs in such fields as education, medical services, employment and the rule of law”.


On the margins of the donors’ conference this afternoon, the Foreign Minister had met privately with Secretary-General Ban for about 25 minutes, he added.  The two had discussed, along with Haiti’s recovery, climate change, and the situations in Myanmar and Somalia.  On Haiti, the United Nations Chief had expressed his appreciation for Japan’s generous additional contribution.  As Japan was also a leading humanitarian and development assistance donor, the Secretary-General had also expressed appreciation for that country’s ongoing assistance to Africa as the continent made a final push to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  In addition, he had asked the Foreign Minister to convey an invitation to Japanese Premier Yukio Hatoyama to attend the Millennium Goal review summit in September.


When the discussion turned to Myanmar, the Foreign Minister said the Japanese Government had made it clear to Myanmar that it was seriously concerned that under recently published electoral laws, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, could not participate in the upcoming ballot, he said.  That clearly set the stage for an election that would not be transparent and open to all stakeholders.  The Japanese Government would urge Myanmar to reconsider the matter to ensure the elections were fair and open.


He went on to say that the Secretary-General had announced his plan to convene a conference on post-conflict development and reconstruction in Somalia.  That meeting was set to be held on 21 and 22 May in Istanbul, Turkey.  Responding to a question on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said the Foreign Minister had reiterated Japan’s principled and consistent position that that country must return to the six-party talks without pre-conditions.  The Democratic Republic of Korea must also comply with all existing relevant Security Council resolutions.  Further, Japan believed dialogue was the way to address the issue.


Mr. Kodama devoted the bulk of the press conference to highlighting the Foreign Minister’s activities ahead of his arrival in New York, including the meeting he had attended over the weekend in Ottawa, Canada, of Foreign Ministers from the Group of Eight (G-8), the world’s leading industrial countries.  There, he had met with Canadian Foreign Minister, Lawrence Cannon, as well as the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergei Lavrov.  On Monday, Minister Okada had visited Washington, D.C., where he had met with United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.


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For information media • not an official record