Hatoyama promises action on host of challenges in U.N. speech

by Mariko Yasumoto

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama vowed in a speech at the United Nations on Thursday to act to combat the economic crisis and global warming and to achieve nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, while calling on the world for international coordination to control globalization.

''Based upon the spirit of yu-ai or 'fraternity,' Japan will make utmost efforts to become a 'bridge' for the world, between the Orient and the Occident, between developed and developing countries and between diverse civilizations,'' Hatoyama said in delivering a speech at the U.N. General Assembly.

As part of his government's efforts to steer Japan out of recession, Hatoyama, who heads the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and took office about a week ago, introduced to the audience measures he has already revealed in Japan, such as child allowances.

''By reviewing economic policies through this change of power, Japan is sending a clear signal of the forthcoming revival of its economy,'' the 62-year-old new Japanese leader said in his speech delivered in English.

Hatoyama said Japan also needs to respond appropriately to globalization and the ''deepening of worldwide interdependence described by the term 'globalization' includes aspects of both light and shadow.''

''Expanding the light while controlling the shadow has become a global task for the world of today,'' he said, urging the world to coordinate to create a system designed to rein in excessive market-based approaches.

He again reiterated Japan's pledge to aim to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, a target that won praise when he declared it at a U.N. summit on climate change on Tuesday.

Japan announced this ambitious pledge because ''it wishes to serve as a 'bridge' among countries with varied interests and to preserve the planet for future generations,'' he said.

On the nuclear challenge, he said, ''Japan can speak with the greatest persuasiveness'' as it is the only nation to have experienced atomic bombings and as one that advocates three non-nuclear principles of not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear weapons on its territory despite its potential capability to acquire nuclear weapons.

Calling North Korea's nuclear test and missile firings a threat to the peace and safety in the region and the entire international community, he said the acts ''cannot be condoned under any circumstances'' and will continue to make efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula through the six-party framework.

On Japan-North Korea relations, Japan aims to solve the abduction issue and nuclear and missile problems in line with the 2002 Pyongyang Declaration, Hatoyama said.

If North Korea takes ''constructive and sincere actions'' Japan is ready to respond positively, he added.

Referring to other regional concerns, Hatoyama indicated Japan's readiness to offer humanitarian support to people in Afghanistan, more specifically to provide former Taliban soldiers with vocational training to help them return to society.

His government will ''proactively support'' Afghanistan so it can ensure stability and reconstruct itself, he said.

The DPJ-led government has suggested it may end the ongoing refueling mission by the Maritime Self-Defense Force in the Indian Ocean, aimed at contributing to U.S.-led antiterrorism operations in and around Afghanistan.

As proposed in bilateral talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday, Hatoyama again floated the idea of forming an East Asian Community.

''Reducing the region's security risks and sharing each other's economic dynamism'' will result in ''tremendous benefits'' not only for Japan but also for the region and eventually for the international community, he said.

In concluding, Hatoyama said Japan will continue its bid to obtain a permanent seat on the Security Council, saying he believes Japan can ''play an even greater role'' as a bridge among various countries at the United Nations.

(Distributed by Kyodo News on Sept. 24, 2009)