Press Conference by Japan

9 January 2009

Press Conference by Japan

9 January 2009
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



“The Security Council is not a debating society, it is a place to decide,” the Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations said today at Headquarters.

At a press conference concerning Japan’s priorities as a new member of the Council, Ambassador Yukio Takasu said that, under Article 24 of the United Nations Charter, the body was mandated to take prompt and effective action on behalf of all Member States in order to maintain international peace and security.

One of Japan’s priorities would be to settle disputes by diplomacy and not the use of force, he said.  His country would lead coordination efforts on Afghanistan and Timor-Leste, among other things on mandate extensions.  In February, under Japan’s presidency, the Council would organize a major debate on Timor-Leste, with senior representation.  As the only country that had ever been attacked with nuclear weapons, Japan would also be very active on the issue of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

In Japan’s vision, he said the concept of security was based not only on military might, but also on social stability and economic development.  A comprehensive view of security not only included the national level, but also communities and individuals.  The concept of human security was reflected within the United Nations in peacebuilding in post-conflict situations.

Another priority was consensus, Mr. Takasu continued.  The strength of the Council was its unified voice.  Building consensus was not easy, as yesterday’s events had shown, but the concept of compromise was part of Japan’s character that focused on outcome and efficiency.  Japan’s tenure in the Council would, therefore, be guided by the need for the Council to act promptly and effectively.

He said Japan would be chairing the Council’s working group on peacekeeping operations, where he would try to come to an overall strategy of peacekeeping, as the ability to mount peacekeeping operations was overstretched.  As Chair of the working group on documentation and working methods, he would insist on efficiency and result.  Japan would also chair the 1737 sanctions committee regarding non-proliferation and Iran.

Although Japan had been involved in the situation in Afghanistan, because of Constitutional requirements it could not send troops.  But, it would try to fight weapons smuggling on the Indian Ocean and focus on humanitarian assistance and reconstruction, he said.  Second to the United States, Japan was the biggest contributor to Afghanistan in that regard.  Because of its dependency on exports and shipping, his Government was seriously considering submitting legislation to the Parliament to allow more active participation in combating piracy off the coast of Somalia.  It would also support a resolution on strengthening the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), with the intention of considering a United Nations peacekeeping mission.

Asked what to do if a Member State did implement actions prescribed by the Council, as had happened with the ceasefire resolution regarding Gaza, Mr. Takasu said it was easy to decree a ceasefire, but it would be irresponsible not to ensure implementation.  That was why unity in the Council was important.  As endless debate was irresponsible; comprises had to be made.  One had to strike a balance in order to translate words into action.  He warned that one should not overreact to an initial reaction to yesterday’s resolution.  That resolution was a first step, and must be consolidated by a monitoring mechanism, which had to be negotiated on the ground.  Without monitoring, the ceasefire could not last.

Responding to a remark that one of the problems with the issue of Gaza might be that the United Nations did not recognize Hamas, he said the United Nations was created as an intergovernmental organization, which meant Member States.  The Organization could not overrule the results of the elections in Gaza.  That was a matter for the Palestinian people to settle.

Addressing the issue of Security Council reform, Mr. Takasu said the world had changed since the end of the cold war, and the nature of conflicts had also changed.  The concept of security was changing, as well.  Although the track record of the Council was not as bad as some critics said, the Member States must feel they are represented by the Council.  The Council’s composition had not been changed since the 1960s, when United Nations membership stood at just over 100 nation States.  That composition reflected the world of yesterday.  Expansion was necessary not because Japan wanted to be a permanent member, but to prevent having its decisions questioned by Member States who did not feel represented.  Reform was inevitable and only a question of time.  Even the permanent members had become aware of that.

As for intergovernmental negotiations, he said those were supposed to commence not later than 15 February.  The position of some -- that the purpose of the negotiations had to be qualified before they could start -- was an effort to delay.  On 19 January, the Working Group on Security Council Reform would discuss the matter and the outcome would be presented by the end of January.  He was not concerned about those procedures.  After 15 years of debate, the negotiations must start, he said.  Security Council reform was inevitable and in the interest of the United Nations.

Asked about transparency versus closed consultations, he said he was in favour of transparency, but not for transparency’s sake.  According to Article 24, the Council had to act promptly and effectively.  Sometimes open negotiations were not possible, because results had to be produced.  Transparency should not become an ideology.

Answering a question about Japan’s own nuclear programme, he said his country had highly developed nuclear technology, including enrichment.  Yet, nobody would say that Japan was a potential nuclear-weapon country.  That was because its nuclear programme was completely transparent and inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including through the Additional Protocol.  Although Japan and Iran had very friendly relations, Japan did not agree with Iran in that regard.  Iran should make a clean start.  Clandestine nuclear activities caused social instability.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.