28 June 2008 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived today in the Japanese city of Kyoto, where a major climate change treaty was forged over a decade ago, kicking off a two-week, three-nation official visit to East Asia which will culminate with his participation at the annual summit of Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized countries in Hokkaido early next month.
Mr. Ban said he had chosen Kyoto as his first stop because he wanted to “send out a very symbolic political message from the place where the Kyoto Protocol was adopted more than 10 years ago.” He told journalists travelling with him that “Kyoto will provide me with a good opportunity to speak to the world.” The Secretary-General will give a lecture on climate change at Kyoto University on Sunday.
Mr. Ban said he was also attracted by Kyoto's history and heritage. On Saturday, he and his wife, Yoo Soon-taek, attended a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. They are scheduled to visit a World Heritage Shinto shrine and a Buddhist temple on Sunday.
Mr. Ban said he was very excited by his first visit to Japan as the Secretary-General. “Japan's leadership cannot be more important than today as it is assuming the presidency of the G-8,” he noted.
The Secretary-General said he would count on Japan's leadership at the G-8 summit in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido to come up with concrete measures to address three pressing, interrelated challenges: the global food crisis, climate change, and the race to reach the global anti-poverty targets – the Millennium Development Goals - by the deadline of 2015.
Mr. Ban pointed out that while he would not expect solutions to be reached all at the same time, he was convinced that the most important outcome of the upcoming summit would be for the leaders of the world's richest countries to unite to galvanize political will.
“We have resources; we have technologies. I think what is missing is largely political will. If we have united political will, I am sure we will be able to overcome these crises,” said Mr. Ban.
On climate change Mr. Ban said he was impressed with all the national initiatives the Japanese government had taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, he voiced hope that all these measures could be incorporated into the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process.
Parties to the UNFCCC are currently conducting negotiations aimed at producing a successor agreement by the end of next year - the first-round commitments under Kyoto Protocol will expire in 2012.
The Secretary-General will have an audience in Tokyo on Monday with the Emperor and Empress of Japan. In addition, hold meetings with Crown Prince Naruhito, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura.
After Japan, Mr. Ban will visit China and the Republic of Korea before returning to Japan for the G-8 summit.
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