Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Japanese leaders in Tokyo on Monday and praised the “immense contribution” Japan has made to the work of the United Nations.
Speaking to the press after meeting Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Mr. Ban said that “As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of Japan’s leading and active role in the Organization.”
“Japan should be proud of being ‘a peace-fostering nation’ and its commitment to multilateralism,” Mr. Ban added. “The Japanese people should know how much Japan’s global role is appreciated in the United Nations and worldwide.”
The Secretary-General welcomed the announcement made by Mr. Fukuda today that Japan will send Self Defense Forces personnel to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and will provide financial support to establishing a peacekeeping training centre.
Mr. Ban said he and Mr. Fukuda “had an excellent discussion on the major challenges the world faces, as well as practical ways to address them through the United Nations.”
“I have expressed my appreciation to the Prime Minister for his strong personal leadership and tireless efforts to make the coming G-8 summit meeting in Toyako a great success. It will be a major milestone in our common effort to mobilize international action on such challenges as climate change, the food crisis and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”
The Secretary-General will attend the summit of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations, which will take place in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido from 7 to 9 July. Mr. Ban has said that climate change, the food crisis and the MDGs are top on his agenda at the summit.
“I hope that the leaders of the G-8 summit will come out with concrete measures to address the challenges in a comprehensive manner. I commend the Prime Minister’s leadership in this process, in particular his efforts to combat climate change.”
The Secretary-General said his discussion with the Prime Minister paid particular attention to Africa, “given Japan’s long-standing effort to turn it into ‘a continent of hope’.”
“I am particularly encouraged by the Prime Minister’s commitment to increase Official Development Assistance (ODA) and its contribution to implement the Millennium Development Goals.”
The two leaders also exchanged views on the Korean Peninsula. Mr. Ban expressed his hope that participants in the six-party talks – China, Japan, Russia, United States, and the two Koreas – will build on recent encouraging progress to promote peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.
The Secretary-General and the Prime Minister also exchanged views on the need to move Security Council reform forward.
Earlier on Monday, Mr. Ban and Mrs. Ban Soon-taek had an audience with the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and held a meeting with Crown Prince Naruhito. The Secretary-General also held meetings with Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura, Chief Cabinet Secretary and Minister of State for the Abduction Issue [of Japanese nationals by DPR Korea] Nobutaka Machimura, and leaders of the governing coalition partner, the New Komei Party.
Japan is the first leg of Mr. Ban’s two-week, three-nation East Asian tour. He will travel to China on Tuesday before visiting the Republic of Korea and then back to Japan to attend the G-8 summit.