Secretary-General's joint press encounter with Japanese Foreing Minister Katsuya Okada [unofficial transcript of Secretary-General's comments only]
Tokyo, Japan, 3 August 2010SG: Okada Gaimudaijin, domo arigato gozaimasu. Minasan, konbanwa.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to meet you again. I am delighted to be in Japan for my fourth visit. I thank the Government and people of Japan for their warm welcome and hospitality. I thank Foreign Minister Okada for his hospitality and for this sumptuous dinner.
I am especially honoured to be here as Japan and the world commemorate the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Japan makes immense contributions to the United Nations. I hope to use this visit to expand our cooperative partnership between the United Nations and Japan. I would like to see Japan play an even greater role in global affairs, commensurate with its global importance.
Japan is already the second largest financial contributor to the UN regular budget and to the UN peacekeeping operations.
But Japan's engagement goes well beyond financing. It extends across the whole spectrum of the UN agenda and goals – from climate change to counter-terrorism, from peacebuilding in Africa to human security and our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. And of course, Japan is a leader on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
Foreign Minister Okada and I have discussed these and other issues, including important regional matters such as the Korean Peninsula, the situations in Afghanistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Somalia.
We also talked about the question of Security Council reform. I am aware of Japan's position and aspirations and its efforts to promote a more representative, transparent and accountable Security Council. I told the Foreign Minister that as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I will spare no effort to facilitate the ongoing negotiations among the Member States to achieve the form of the Security Council, which is absolutely necessary, considering the tremendous changes in the international political scene since the inception of the United Nations.
I look forward to meeting with Prime Minister Kan Naoto tomorrow. Then, as you know, I will visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima to send a very important and strong message to the world: that the nuclear threat is real, and that we must do everything we can to build on the current global momentum towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.
This is what I have discussed. Thank you very much. Now I will be happy to take your questions.
Domo arigato gozaimashita.
Q: The Secretary-General is attending the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the first time as the Secretary-General of the UN. I would like to ask both of you your respective positions towards elimination of nuclear weapons. How are you going to make efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons? That's the first question. And also in your meeting today, what kind of exchange did you have with regard to this issue?
SG: First of all, I am privileged, as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to participate in the 65th anniversary of the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I understand that this is going to be the first time ever that the Secretary-General of the United Nations is going to participate in this very important, very meaningful and moving ceremony.
I sincerely hope that through my attendance in this ceremony, I will be able to send out to the international community a strong message to the whole world that we must strive harder to realize a world free of nuclear weapons and proliferation.
We must help those “hibakusha” -- whose life may just be a matter of a few [more] years -- who are getting older and older. Then we should really help them to realize their aspiration to see the world free of nuclear weapons and non-proliferation.
I fully sympathize with their suffering during the last many, many decades.
As the Secretary-General, I have taken my own proposal, five proposals, and I am pleased some of those proposals are now being met and realized. We are now standing at a very crucial moment. If we work harder, if we build upon what has been developing during the last just one or two years starting from the very historic Security Council summit on nuclear disarmament in September last year. Then, the START treaty extended between the United States and Russian Federation and a very successful Nuclear Security summit meeting in Washington in April this year.
And again, another successful NPT Review Conference which was held at the United Nations headquarters.
We must build upon on these developments. We must not lose this momentum. We must seize this momentum. That's why I am here. We cannot find any [more] appropriate location than Hiroshima and Nagasaki to send out such a strong message. I am pleased to understand that some countries like the United States and other nuclear weapon states are now sending their envoys to this historic ceremony. And I am committed to work together. I have invited Foreign Minister Okada to participate in the high level meeting on conference on disarmament, which will be held on 24 September in New York during the General Assembly, which I am going to convene in accordance with the decision by the NPT Review Conference of May.
All in all, I am very much committed to working together with Japan. I highly commend the Japanese leadership and initiative to work for this nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. We count on Japanese continuing support and commitment.
Q: I have a question for Mr. Secretary-General about DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea]. The six-party talks have been suspended for about two years. Do you think that the United Nations has a role to play in making the six party talks resume? And then will you visit North Korea and encourage them to abandon nuclear arms development? Thank you.
SG: Arigato gozaimasu, Tanai-san. I am deeply concerned about the situation which is now unfolding in and around the Korean peninsula and particularly the nuclear issue of DPRK.
The six-party talks have made a very good statement and declaration, a joint declaration which must be implemented. Now, this whole situation in and around the Korean Peninsula suggests that we need to work even harder. I sincerely hope that six-party [talks] will be resumed as soon as possible. As the Secretary-General, I believe that the countries participating in six-party talks have a primary and crucial role to play.
First of all, to resume this dialogue and to engage DPRK into this dialogue, DPRK should fully comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions, and also the joint declaration to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula of 1992, to fully denuclearize and abandon all their nuclear weapons, thus becoming the responsible member of the international community.
As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I have been discussing with the six-party members, as well as the representatives of the DPRK and I am looking at the possibilities of initiating my own roles. In fact as you may remember, I have dispatched my special envoy, Lynn Pascoe, in February this year. With all these unfortunate incidents with the Cheonan last March, my dialogue with DPRK has not been smooth and I will try to do whatever I can as the Secretary-General to facilitate the six-party talks as well as improve upon the relationship.
In that regard, I would like to emphasize that whether [we] want to have peace and security in Northeast Asia, we cannot do it without the improvement of the relationship between Japan and the DPRK. And I hope that the Japanese Government will also look at this issue very seriously, how this improvement of relations between DPRK and Japan could be facilitated. And I am ready to work together with Japan and other members of the six-party talks to this goal. Thank you.
Q: Air strikes have been taking place in the Middle East in recent days including in Israel, in Jordan, in Gaza as well as most recently on the Lebanese-Israeli border and there have been civilian casualties. Media reports say that Israel had lodged a protest with the United Nations after a Palestinian rocket exploded in an Israeli city. Secretary-General, what is the current situation over these attacks as well as the Israeli protest, and how will the United Nations respond to the situation? Thank you very much.
SG: Thank you. In fact the details of this recent reported attacks are still unavailable at this time. However, I would like to state my position as the Secretary-General and of the United Nations. I condemn the rocket attacks on Aqaba, Jordan and Eilat, Israel, which killed one Jordanian citizen and injured three others. I urge again, as the Secretary-General, cooperation among the countries concerned to bring those responsible to justice as soon as possible. This is an act of terrorism. After today's violence, and earlier unacceptable rocket attacks against civilian neighbourhoods in Israel like Ashkelon and Western Negev in Israel, and Israel's retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza which caused civilian casualties, I sincerely hope that all these countries concerned should exercise maximum restraint.
I underscore the importance of maximum restraint to prevent any further escalation of the situation. I call for an end to indiscriminate attacks by militants and urge all parties in the region to remain focused on the urgent goal of moving forward the political process. All these situations, which happened recently, would not be conducive to on-going dialogue between Israel and Palestine for the peace process.
I have been working very hard. As you may know already by this time, I have launched a panel of inquiry to look into the case of the flotilla, which happened on 31 May. I sincerely hope that all these efforts will contribute to the ongoing peace process in the Middle East.