Statement by State Secretary
for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura
to the First Session of the Conference
of the State Parties of the Organization
for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

May 6, 1997

Mr. Chairman,

It is a great pleasure for me to be here today, as the representative of Japan, to attend the First Session of the Conference of the State Parties of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a landmark in the history of disarmament. First of all, let me express my heartfelt appreciation to United Nations Secretary General Mr. Annan, who has taken upon himself the job of convening this meeting, and to the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, our host nation. Furthermore, I wish to express my profound respect for the representatives from each country who have served as chairmen of the Preparatory Commission and who have worked so hard to coordinate the views of the Member States concerned, as well as for Executive Secretary Mr. Kenyon and the other staff of the Provisional Technical Secretariat, who have provided dedicated support for the activities of the Preparatory Commission.

Mr. Chairman,

This Convention, signed in Paris in January 1993, sets itself clearly apart from previous multilateral disarmament and nonproliferation treaties with its unprecedented features, such as the comprehensive scope of prohibitions and exhaustive verification system. It is the product of many years of unflinching efforts and hard negotiations. Every single article of the Convention represents the fruits of the wisdom and earnest efforts of negotiating countries seeking to rid the entire world of chemical weapons. During the last four years, the signatories of the Convention have spent hundreds of hours per year in vigorous and dedicated discussions here in the Hague for preparing the implementation of the Convention. Now that the time has arrived for its entry into force, we the State Parties to the Convention, securely anchored by our accumulated efforts to date, are embarking on the task of ensuring the effective implementation of the Convention. This is the first experiment for the international community, and its success or failure will influence, to a great extent, the future of other multilateral disarmament treaties.

For instance, various elements of the provisions of the Convention concerning on-site inspections, are to a considerable extent incorporated in the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty adopted and signed in the United Nations in September last year. In addition, as to the Biological Weapons Convention, deliberations are currently underway in Geneva to strengthen the Convention through establishing a legally binding instrument including a verification mechanism: the Chemical Weapons Convention may be continuously referred as a valuable precedent. Thus, the Chemical Weapons Convention has enormous significance in the history of disarmament as a pioneering treaty that is accompanied by comprehensive verification, and therefore a great deal of attention shall be drawn to the manner of its effectiveness.

At the Signing Ceremony in 1993, Japan announced its strong will to work to ensure effective implementation of the Convention. Today I wish to take this opportunity to reconfirm its determination to do so.

Mr. Chairman,

Bearing in mind the foregoing considerations, I would like to address and emphasize several points at this Conference after entry into force of the Convention.

First, in order to effectively achieve the objectives of this Convention to eliminate chemical weapons, it is essential to ensure the universality of this Convention, and for this reason we face the urgent task of enlisting the participation of as many countries as possible.

In particular, the participation of the two declared possessors of chemical weapons, the United States and the Russian Federation, is an indispensable prerequisite, not only to ensure the universality of the Convention but also to preserve its effectiveness and credibility. From this standpoint, Japan sincerely welcomes the fact that the United States has recently ratified the Convention and that its presence is secured here today among the original States Parties to the Convention. At the same time, we hold strong expectations for an early ratification of the Convention by the Russian Federation as well, which has also declared the possession of chemical weapons, and for the Russian Federation's participation in the implementation process of the Convention.

Secondly I wish to point out that smooth implementation of the Convention will not go without cooperation on the part of our chemical industries. Japan, which is home to a world-renowned chemical industry, has steadily proceeded its way for domestic implementation since its signature of the Convention with efforts to achieve mutual understanding with private industry, and has now succeeded in obtaining broad support from industrial circles for the Convention. To ensure the cooperation of private industry, it is necessary to take into account their points of view and give due consideration to matters of their concern. Above all it will be essential to pay the greatest possible attention to protecting commercial proprietary information. Besides, Japan has been assisting the activities of the Preparatory Commission with regard to industrial verification, not only through positive participation in the deliberations of the Preparatory Commission but also by conducting a trial inspection in March 1996 and by sponsoring an Asian Seminar on National Implementation of CWC in October 1996 as well, which could see active participation by representatives from the Asian Group countries. Japan fully intends to continue to improve its cooperative arrangements with private industry in the future, including hosting the Module 3 training which will be conducted at the end of this month for the purpose of qualifying inspector candidates on-site. Thus Japan will contribute to the greatest possible extent to the smooth implementation of the Convention as a whole, including its verification procedures.

Thirdly I would like to note that while the Preparatory Commission has compiled a large number of draft regulations and guidelines prior to the entry into force of the Convention, a number of issues remain to be settled. In particular, the entry into force of the Convention gives birth to inauguration of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and yet the top structure of the Technical Secretariat and the budget for the first year still remain unresolved. At a time when many voices are calling for the administrative and financial reform of international organizations, including the United Nations, we should be united in dedicating ourselves to ensure that the OPCW as a newly born international organization is endowed with both efficiency and mobility from the very start. Japan will continue in the future to cooperate with other countries on working toward this goal.

Finally, Japan is fully committed to sincere implementation of this Convention. The issue of abandoned chemical weapons in China is among the tasks related to this Convention that falls to Japan. In December of last year, Japan held bilateral consultations at the Director- General level with China in advance of the entry into force of this Convention. We discussed the proper course to follow in dealing with this issue, and agreed to set up a Joint Working Group between the two countries, the first meeting of which was held last month. We are going ahead with consultations with China on this issue, and fully intend to take measures to deal with the issue in accordance with the provisions and spirit of the Convention.

Mr. Chairman,

For the past four years and more, we have combined our efforts in working toward the goal of entry into force of this Convention. However, the achievement of that goal, has not brought us to a final destination but rather to a starting point. In order to breathe life into this Convention and maintain its lifeblood, we, the States Parties to this Convention, must be fully aware of our responsibilities and uphold the Convention. I will sum up my statement by stressing my firm confidence that this first Session of the States Parties will make a glorious point of departure on our new journey.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.