United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his wife, Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Tokyo from New York on Saturday, 28 June, and immediately proceeded to Tokyo train station to board a Shinkansen or high-speed bullet train to Kyoto, kicking off a two-week, three-nation official visit to East Asia, which was to culminate with his participation at the annual Summit of the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized countries in Toyako, Hokkaido, Japan.
The Secretary-General began his visit to Kyoto on Saturday by attending a traditional Japanese tea ceremony hosted by tea master Urasenke at Konnichian. He then went to a dinner hosted by the Governor of Kyoto, Mayor of Kyoto and the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto at the State Guest House.
The Secretary-General told reporters accompanying him on his visit that 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”.
On Sunday, he took part in a Town Hall meeting on climate change at Kyoto University. (See Press Release SG/SM/11663.)
He said that Japan, the world's second largest economy and a leader in green technology, had a “moral and political responsibility” to play a bigger role in tackling climate change.
Japan should share its environmental technology with other nations to help reduce their levels of greenhouse gases, he said, and added that he would press the G-8 leaders at their Summit to tackle the world food crisis, climate change and the flagging fight against global poverty.
Before departing Kyoto for Tokyo, he visited the Buddhist Temple Koryuji, known for the Miroku Bosatsuan, a seventh century wood statue designated as the first national treasure of Japan. He also visited the Shimogamo Shinto shrine, a 55-structure complex designated as a World Cultural Heritage Site.
The Secretary-General began his official programme in Tokyo early on Sunday evening by attending a reception hosted by the Global Compact Network of Japan.
He told the gathered business leaders that the race is under way to develop and provide needed solutions, such as clean technology, renewable energy, efficient products and processes, and sustainable goods and services. He said he had no doubt that Japanese companies will play a leadership role in this new era of responsible and sustainable business, as well as in corporate good governance. (See Press Release SG/SM/11662.)
On Monday morning in Tokyo, the Secretary-General received an official red carpet welcome. A band from the Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force played the national anthem and traditional Japanese songs; a group of school children wearing yellow hats waved Japanese and United Nations flags; and the Secretary-General and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda inspected an honour guard.
The Secretary-General and his wife then had an audience with the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and later in the day with the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan.
He met with the Foreign Minister, Masahiko Koumura, who hosted a luncheon in his honour, before meeting with Prime Minister Fukuda.
At a joint press conference following his meeting with the Prime Minister, the Secretary-General said they had an excellent discussion on the major challenges the world faces, as well as practical ways to address them through the United Nations.
He expressed his appreciation to the Prime Minister for his strong personal leadership and tireless efforts to make the coming G-8 Summit in Toyako a success. He told reporters that he had commended the Prime Minister’s leadership in this process, in particular his efforts to combat climate change.
He also said he appreciated the welcome news that Japan is going to send its Self-Defence Forces to the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) and also establish a PKO (peacekeeping) training centre with financial support.
The Prime Minister hosted a dinner in the Secretary-General’s honour at his residence on Monday evening.
Earlier on Monday, the Secretary-General met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura and then with Akihiro Ohta, the Chief Representative of the New Komei Party.
On Tuesday morning, the Secretary-General met with Tsutomu Hata and Yukio Hatoyama of the (opposition) Democratic Party of Japan, and delivered a speech at a meeting hosted by the Japan Institute of International Affairs. (See Press Release SG/SM/11670.)
At his wrap-up press conference, the Secretary-General said he was pleased throughout his visit to hear of Japan’s renewed strong commitment to the United Nations, its strong support for UN reform, and its determination to expand Japan’s role and activities in the United Nations.
He also welcomed the fact that Japan, China and the Republic of Korea are increasingly looking to their common future as friendly neighbours with global interests and responsibilities.
The Secretary-General then flew to Beijing from Tokyo.