United Nations Secretary‑General António Guterres arrived in Tokyo from Paris on Wednesday evening, 13 December.
On Thursday morning, the Secretary-General had a meeting with Shinichi Kitaoka, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, whom the Secretary‑General thanked for his leadership and the Agency’s close cooperation with the United Nations. Mr. Guterres underscored his focus on prevention and sustaining peace, and expressed appreciation for Japan’s role in promoting the concept of human security to address the link between peace, development and humanitarian assistance.
This was followed by a breakfast meeting with members of Parliament, hosted by State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kazuyuki Nakane.
The centrepiece of the Secretary‑General’s stay in Tokyo was his address to the opening of the high‑level session of the Universal Health Coverage Forum 2017, organized by the Government of Japan.
In addressing the audience, which included Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, the Secretary‑General said that universal health care is just that — care and services for everyone, equitable access, quality care and affordable services. (See Press Release SG/SM/18826). This vision, he added, is at the centre of a more sustainable, inclusive and prosperous future. By investing in health, he explained, we build more inclusive and resilient societies. Underscoring that there is no one size fits all [plan], he said the United Nations stands ready to support the development and implementation of national plans that benefit all.
The Secretary‑General then met with representatives of Japanese civil society. He thanked them for their engagement and stressed how important it is to involve civil society, both in terms of elaborating policies and in monitoring the implementation of these policies.
Afterwards, the Secretary‑General held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Abe, and an official lunch. In speaking to the press after their meeting, the Secretary‑General said that Japan is a pillar of the international system, and thanked the Government for the very strong support, in many fields, it gives to the United Nations. He also underscored Japan’s leadership in human security, which, he said, reflects his own priority of sustainable development.
Speaking about the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the Secretary‑General underscored the need for the full implementation of Security Council resolutions. He called for unity of the Security Council on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea issue to achieve the objective of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and also the possibility of diplomatic engagement that would allow its peaceful denuclearization. He warned that “the worst possible thing to happen would be for us to sleep‑walk into a war that might have very dramatic circumstances”.
While in Tokyo, the Secretary‑General also delivered a lecture to students at Sophia University. He outlined the global challenges that the world faces today, from the nuclear threat to mass movement of people and increased inequality, among others. He said the solutions to these challenges are to be compassionate, rational and based on enlightened self‑interests. We must focus on prevention of crises, but unfortunately the investments in prevention are not enough.
He then met with about 40 students from Japanese universities linked with the United Nations academic impact programme.
Prior to leaving Tokyo, the Secretary‑General held a press conference at the Japan National Press Club, during which he took another opportunity to thank Japan for being a pillar of the international system and also discussed the latest developments of the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
The Secretary‑General departed late on Thursday for New York, where he arrived the same evening.