Why do we have nations

Embassy of Japan

Picture: Prime Minister Abe at the UN General Assembly in New York (Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)

North Korea as a threat to peace

Dear Vice-President, North Korea has now revealed itself right before our eyes as a clear threat to peace. How can we respond to this? The right to exist of the United Nations is now being truly put to the test. North Korea has launched anti-submarine ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Immediately thereafter, the country launched three more ballistic missiles at the same time, each of which flew 1,000 km into Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone. It was sheer luck that no civil aircraft or ship was harmed in this incident.

This year alone, North Korea has launched 21 ballistic missiles so far. In addition, the country claims to have successfully tested a nuclear warhead on September 9th. The most recent nuclear test followed another test that took place back in January. That series of rocket launches and the explosion of a warhead changed the situation fundamentally. North Korea's nuclear program and repeated ballistic missile launches are two sides of the same coin.

Right before our eyes, North Korea is implementing a plan that can no longer be doubted. We cannot help saying that the threat has now reached a dimension that is completely different from what has happened so far. We must now respond to this in a way that is completely different from our previous reactions. We must join forces and thwart North Korea's plans. As soon as I heard about the latest nuclear test, I spoke to US President Barack Obama on the phone. I then spoke to the President of the Republic of Korea, Park Geun-hye. We all agreed that our three countries will take a firm stance towards North Korea and coordinate closely with one another.

Now it is the turn of the United Nations. It is now time for the Security Council to take a clear stance on this new dimension threat.

At the forefront of discussions in the Security Council

Just four months ago, President Obama visited Hiroshima, the place where countless innocent people fell victim to the first atomic bomb to be used. It was a day when we renewed our vows. No matter how long it takes, we must never, even for a brief moment, slack off in our commitment to the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons. Our oaths on that day brought both sides of the Pacific closer together and thus received new strength.

Nonetheless, North Korea continues to escalate its provocations. This poses a challenge to the conscience of mankind. If we ignored this, how could we reconcile that with our conscience? Peace is like glass. If it is well cleaned and transparent, we are unaware of its presence. And a little jump can be ignored for a while without anything changing. But before you know it, the crack gets bigger and then, one day, the glass breaks with a loud bang. For this reason, we have to practice day after day without interruption to handle the glass with great care so that it does not crack. I believe that the original purpose of the United Nations - which came into being after the tremors of two world wars - is to represent this type of awake awareness. Because of this, it is simply unacceptable to continue to tolerate the military provocations. That would be like making a crack in the glass in broad daylight. In addition, the threat to peace now manifesting before our eyes and the nature of North Korea's military provocations weigh far more heavily than ever: ballistic missiles launched from submarines and nuclear warheads used to deploy ballistic missiles. North Korea is undoubtedly about to take possession of both.

The country that is pursuing this program is also one that has kidnapped large numbers of Japanese citizens, including a girl who was just thirteen at the time of the kidnapping. We continue to ask North Korea to release these abductees immediately, but the country is unwilling to do so. It has robbed these people of a life of peace and security and to this day does not allow them to return to their homeland. It is a country where human rights are trampled, where the limitation or balance of power is not given any importance. It is a country that is pushing its armament including nuclear weapons and missiles, while paying no heed to the plight of its people. The threat to the international community is getting bigger and more realistic. This calls for new means as an answer that are completely different from those we have hitherto used.

Dear Vice-President,
In December Japan will mark the sixtieth anniversary of its membership in the United Nations. And 62 years have passed since the peaceful sound of the bronze bell rang for the first time in the garden of the headquarters of the United Nations, which rings every year on the International Day of Peace. Coins sent by the Pope are poured into this bell, which was presented by a Japanese citizen. Coins and medals sent in by adults and children from over sixty countries around the world were melted down for this purpose. What wish did the people from Japan, whose coins and medals are contained in it, have? Since the day sixty years ago, when the people of my country sought admission to this venerable organization, the ardent wish they have kept in their hearts ever since has been: peace in the world and the abolition of all nuclear weapons. It is the vow passed down from generation to generation never to stop on the way to the realization of this wish.

Madam Vice-President, it was actually my intention today to look back at the path that Japan has taken over these sixty years and to reflect calmly on the way my country has taken this path towards peace and prosperity . But now that the threat posed by North Korea has reached a new level, I feel that, given that Japan has remained true to its oath over these sixty years, I must reaffirm my resolve. Now that the world is focused on watching whether the United Nations will thwart North Korea's ambitions and whether the Security Council can unite with North Korea, Japan, as a member of that organization, will be at the forefront of discussions in the Security Council. I would like to make this known with all determination to the representatives of the nations who have come together here in the Chamber of the General Assembly.

Establish the rule of law on the seas

Dear Vice President,
Regardless of the tasks ahead of us, or precisely because we are facing so many challenges, Japan, which is about to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its admission to the United Nations, will do everything in its power to further strengthen the United Nations strengthen. If you add up the individual figures, the total of all contributions that my country made to the United Nations and the blue helmet missions is over 20 billion dollars. The only country that has surpassed Japan's financial contribution over the past thirty years is the United States. In addition, there is our development cooperation amounting to $ 334.5 billion, which is also an addition of the individual numbers.

In my view, there are three major goals that have permeated the history of the United Nations: commitment to peace, pursuit of growth, and desire for a world free from injustice and unfairness. I think you can clearly see that Japan is a country that has worked with all its might for these goals for the past sixty years. Of these goals, growth is the foundation for everything else. Only when there is growth can peace take root and injustice overcome over time. See how Asia now outperforms all other regions in the world in the number of people living in a democracy. This is precisely the result of the growth that Asia began to enjoy from the mid-1980s, the period when Japanese companies began to invest vigorously directly in Asian countries. Only a free and open environment for trade and investment enabled Japan to grow. And this is exactly what has led to the prosperity that the countries of Asia enjoy today. Peace, stability and security on the seas, as well as free navigation and the right to unhindered air travel, form the basis for peace and prosperity in the international community. Should disputes arise, the international community must strictly adhere to the principle that states make their claims on the basis of international law, that they do not use force or coercion in enforcing their claims, and that they can settle the disputes by peaceful means strive for.

Japan will continue to stand by those who uphold a world order that is open and free, and uphold the rule of law and international rules. Let me also note that I have created a special team right at the center of the government of Japan, under my direct leadership, that is committed to promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). My government will work to accelerate the conclusion of the Paris climate agreement and will conscientiously make its pledges to support developing countries in the amount of 1.3 trillion. Maintain yen through 2020. I will personally see to it that this happens. Japan we spare no efforts to strengthen the United Nations for the next sixty years as it has already done for the past sixty years. I would like this promise to be rooted in the trust that people of Japan have around the world.

This is Japan's spirit for the United Nations

Somewhere in Juba a man appeared unexpectedly. It was in a place where ground pioneers of the Japan Self-Defense Forces worked and wore the blue helmets of the United Nations. He said, “I am really very grateful that Japan is building this road. I have all my trust in you. Can I do something? Let me help, I don't want to get anything for it. ”The next day, and the day after that, the man reappeared at the construction site with which an important thoroughfare was being built in the capital of South Sudan, the youngest member state of the United Nations. On the third day the man began doing the work he knew was necessary; after all, he worked with SDF members for eight days. On the day they parted ways, when they patted each other on the shoulder and said goodbye, it was only natural that the Japanese pioneers, who had received nothing but thanks from the man, were deeply moved. Juma Ago Isaac - the members of the SDF made a note of the name of this man from South Sudan, who otherwise would have been nameless, to remember him.

Vice-President,
Regardless of what task or where something has to be done: The Japanese, who are involved in international cooperation in a wide variety of locations, see this type of encounter as the greatest reward for what they do. Everywhere they go, they awaken in the Local people recognize their own abilities and the people recognize that building a country begins exactly where they are at the moment. The people of my country, who watch this again and again, are deeply moved by it and they often remember it for the rest of their lives. It is a source of quiet pride for me that the relationships that Japan and the United Nations have forged over the past sixty years have brought together the hearts of people in Asia, Africa, and indeed all over the world. This is Japan's spirit for the United Nations. I pledge not to forget it, to continue promoting it and to pass it on to future generations.

Urgent Security Council reform

I would like to end my speech by pointing out the need for a fundamental change in the governance structure of the United Nations. States in Africa and Latin America have now gained greater influence on global politics and economics than ever before. Nonetheless, they are still being denied adequate representation on the Security Council. This simple example makes the current state of affairs regarding this body untenable for the generation living now. Even if international relations are treated in the history books 71 years ago, when the last war drew to a close, they no longer have anything to do with the states that have since achieved their independence.

At the 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development, which Japan recently hosted together with African states, I heard the heads of state and government say that the fact that African states are not granted a permanent seat on the Security Council as “a historical injustice “Designated. I could only agree with that from the bottom of my heart. Africa's long-term vision includes a goal of having a permanent seat on the Security Council by 2023, and Japan fully supports that goal. If we do not tackle reform of the UN Security Council now, it can easily happen that this task will be postponed to the next decade or the next. Are we really ready to violate the values ​​of the United Nations? Or shouldn't it rather be our wish to strengthen the United Nations? If the latter is the case, we cannot help but view Security Council reform as a matter of the utmost urgency. I should like to conclude my speech by underlining this point.

Many Thanks.