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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's remarks at press encounter with Koichiro Gemba, Foreign Minister of Japan

Tokyo, Japan, 8 July 2012

Konbanwa. Mata nihon ni koreta koto wo taihen ureshiku omoimasu.

[Good evening. It is a pleasure to be here in Japan once again.]


Gemba-gaimudaijin to hijyou ni yuuigina ikenkoukan wo okonau kotoga dekimashita.

[I just held very good discussions with Foreign Minister Gemba.]

Ladies and Gentlemen, as you know, I gave a lengthy press conference this afternoon, so my statement will be very brief [and] the Foreign Minister has already explained what we have discussed and what we will discuss over [dinner].

Let me just say that the Foreign Minister and I covered a wide range of subjects of mutual concern on which Japan plays an immensely constructive and far-sighted role.

I thanked Japan for its generosity in hosting today’s very important international conference on Afghanistan and Afghanistan’s long-term development agenda.

Japan has been a strong supporter of Afghanistan.

The Tokyo Conference in 2002 marked the start of the country’s reconstruction. The international community gathered here again today to ensure the sustainability of the progress that has been made.  I greatly appreciate the five-year $3 billion pledge Japan made today, and I hope Japan will be equally generous during the critical Transformation Decade.

I also thanked Japan for supporting the United Nations in South Sudan. The recent deployment of Japan's military engineering company to the UN Mission there has proved to be a great help to our efforts at a critical moment. And I also thanked him for the military engineering team which had been deployed in 2010 right after this earthquake in Haiti.

On Myanmar, I stressed to the Foreign Minister the importance of Japan’s recent decision to resume bilateral aid and to write off the country’s debt.  I will continue to look to Japan to increase its humanitarian response and to help the country address sectarian tensions and keep the historic changes moving in the right direction.

We also discussed the situation in Syria, which has reached a pivotal moment.  The situation on the ground has deteriorated dramatically and has become more militarized. Appalling violations of human rights continue to take place, and at least 1.5 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian aid.

The international community must do everything possible to build on the agreement reached by the Action Group last weekend in Geneva, and help the Syrians forge a political solution to this crisis.  I have just reported to the Security Council on the posture and role of the United Nations Supervision Mission, and I encourage the Council to maintain a Mission presence capable of adapting to opportunities that may arise should the parties move towards a political solution.

With respect to the Korean Peninsula, tensions remain high. The humanitarian situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is alarming, especially the malnutrition rates of women and children.  I expressed my appreciation to the Foreign Minister for the efforts of the Japanese Government to prevent an escalation of tensions in the region.  We also agreed on the importance of resolving the abduction issue.

Beyond these immediate security challenges, we also discussed the UN’s wider work.

In particular, I thanked Japan for the strong role it played in making the recent Rio+20 conference a success.  Japan’s leadership will be essential as we articulate both a set of sustainable development goals and the post-2015 development agenda.

Finally, let me thank Japan for its strong financial support of the United Nations, which is especially laudable during these times of global economic uncertainty. I would like to express my sincere gratitude for this exemplary commitment to alleviating poverty and promoting a safer, more just world. The United Nations is taking every possible step to modernize, streamline and ensure that those hard-earned taxpayers’ funds are being used effectively and efficiently to serve the world’s people.

Thank you again to the people and Government of Japan.  This has been a very productive visit, and I look forward to coming again soon.


Off-the-Cuff on 8 July 2012