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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Tokyo (Japan)

01 July 2008

Press conference at Japan National Press Club

[Unofficial transcript]

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, of the media. It is a great pleasure to meet you during my visit to Japan. This is going to be my last official function. I am just leaving right after this meeting to China.

Let me begin by saying how happy I am to be in Japan as Secretary-General of the United Nations. I was here and I met you in November 2006 in my capacity as Secretary-General-designate. My team and I have felt truly at home among friends here. I would like to express my appreciation to the Government and people of Japan for their warm hospitality and excellent arrangements made for me and for my delegation.

As you know, this is my first visit to Japan as Secretary-General, but my second visit to Japan is already scheduled for next week. I'll be attending the G8 Summit Meeting which will be held in Toyako, Hokkaido. On this current visit that began in the historic city of Kyoto, I had the chance to meet with and have very good exchanges with a wide spectrum of people in your country, from students to scholars, business leaders, parliamentarians and, of course, with the Prime Minister and many other leaders.

My wife and I had the great honour of meeting with His Majesty The Emperor and Her Majesty, as well as their Highnesses, the Crown Prince and Princess. I have also had excellent discussions with Prime Minister Fukuda, Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura, who used to be my counterpart as foreign minister, and Foreign Minister Koumura. I was pleased to hear from them of Japan's renewed strong commitment to the United Nations as a strong supporter of our reform efforts and a determination to expand Japan's role and activities in the organization. I have great expectations for greater cooperation between Japan and the United Nations to tackle the urgent and pressing issues of our time.

Throughout my stay, my message to the people of Japan was simple and clear: you should be proud of becoming a peace-fostering nation, you should remain proud of your modern pacifist traditions and of your unswerving commitment to multilateralism. The United Nations needs Japan to be even more active in our common efforts to mobilize international action on such challenges as climate change, the food crisis and the Millennium Development Goals. At the G8 Summit next week I will appeal to all those gathered there to demonstrate their leadership and act on these three pressing challenges before it is too late.

But first, I will be going to China, then to the Republic of Korea, my home country. Japan, together with Korea and China, are increasingly looking to their common future as friendly neighbours with global interests and responsibilities. I welcome their agreement to hold their first Trilateral Summit and also welcome the encouraging development of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and beyond through the North Korean Government's commitment to implement the disenabling process of the nuclear programme. And I hope also that these three countries in the region will cooperate closely on our common efforts to address climate change, the global food crisis and energy crisis and assistance to Africa, and more importantly, the Millennium Development Goals. It is only natural and necessary that the evolving partnership and the United Nations work together.

Thank you very much and I will be happy to answer your questions.