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«Ladies and Gentlemen, It is a great pleasure to open the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in ...»

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to open the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in

Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in the presence of the Chairman of the Standing Committee, and all

the distinguished delegations, international organizations and representatives of NGOs, from more than 100 countries around the world. I would like to express my sincere gratitude on behalf of the Host Government of Japan for the tireless efforts made by the staff of the CITES Secretariat and all others concerned, as well as for the co-operation extended by the people of Kyoto, where the meeting is being held.

Since the creation of life on this planet until this very day, human beings have witnessed the extinction of countless species of wild fauna and flora. In 1986, there were more than 10 million species of wildlife, of which, it is estimated, 3,000 species of fauna and 16,000 species of flora are now threatened with extinction. Some species may have perished due to inevitable changes occurring in the natural environment. However, there are many other species that have died out or have become endangered because of damage to their habitat or because they have been recklessly hunted down. This is a tragic fact.

When we reflect upon our daily lives, we see how deeply they are dependent on wildlife in various ways. For example, our food, clothing and shelter (that is, the necessities of life) and our economic activities can not be sustained without the utilization of wildlife. Also, it is the beautiful flower blooming in the meadow, or the song of the birds in the forests that helps us recover from weariness in our daily routines. The sight of birds on high and of wild animals scampering about brings pleasure to us all.

When we think of this close relationship between human beings and wildlife, it is undoubtedly clear that we need to commit ourselves to their coexistence. Indeed, if we do not do so, none of us will be able to continue our existence. With this recognition, CITES was adopted in order to save endangered species of wildlife through monitoring and controlling of international trade. For the nearly 20 years since its inception, CITES has achieved great success, as a result of major efforts by everyone concerned. Today, the number of Parties to the Convention has reached 112, which is proof that CITES is becoming more widely recognized. Furthermore, we expect that this Convention will play an increasingly important role in the future.

For the human race to peacefully coexist with wildlife and try to utilize the latter appropriately on one hand while protecting them on the other, we have to keep "protection" and "utilization" in good balance. This, indeed, can be called the basic concept of CITES, which tries to recognize the economic value of wildlife while working towards its protection.

We should not deviate from this concept of "Harmony between protection and utilization" for this Convention to further play a more effective role, including the co-operation of each country. Also, regulations under this Convention should be guided by studies based on scientific and objective data.

Japan, since accepting the Convention in 1980, has been making substantial efforts towards its implementation in good faith, with the idea behind the Convention being kept in mind. We are thus ready to join together with all of you here to enforce CITES effectively.

In addition, I would like to emphasize that, since the governments of many countries are directly involved in this Convention, each naturally has the direct responsibility to observe this Convention, but it is all of us everywhere who have to save wildlife from the threat of extinction. One quite often hears of people returning from abroad having souvenirs such as handbags or belts which they bought overseas confiscated by the Customs. This, I believe, would not happen if each member of the public were well informed of the object and regulations of the Convention.

What is really crucial to achieve the ultimate goal of "Harmony between protection and utilization" of wildlife is to enhance our recognition of what we can do for humankind and wildlife, and for the earth itself. Our government, for its part, is ready to do its best to educate and inform its citizens in this regard, and at the same time, we would like to ask for the generous contributions from participating NGOs and media to do likewise.

Protection of wildlife should not limit itself to controlling international trade, or to hunting and trade inside the country, but should be extended to other efforts such as the protection and improvement of the habitats of wildlife. Thus more extensive and positive measures are strongly required.

–  –  –

Japan is willing to make a sizeable contribution towards this environmental issue, which is now placed as one of the most important subjects in our foreign policy. We are also making greater co-operation in the financial and technological fields.

This year marks 20 years since the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, which gave birth to CITES.

More and more international concern is being raised toward the environmental issue, as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) is scheduled soon. It is a great pleasure, that early in this important year, Japan has been able to serve as the host country for this meeting with the aim of protecting wildlife, which is a part of the important issue of the environment.

I would like to propose, ladies and gentlemen, that we take as our guiding concept "a better world for wildlife, a better world for human beings" and, always keeping those words in mind, make yet greater efforts.

During the next twelve days, discussions will be held on a wide variety of issues. I sincerely hope that this meeting will reach a fruitful conclusion, through the efforts of all the participants. With these remarks, I would like to declare the opening of the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Thank you.

–  –  –

Honourable Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen, As a Director-General of the Environment Agency, and as a Minister in charge of global environment, I would like to extend to all of you a cordial welcome on this occasion of the Opening Ceremony for the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES.

With the global environmental issue becoming one of the central political agenda of the world today, it is indeed a great pleasure for me that this meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, a Convention with a noble goal to protect species of wildlife from extinction, is being held here in Japan.

The Japanese attitude towards the Convention has often been subject to criticism in the past as lacking sufficient system for its enforcement. However, with the co-operation and enormous efforts made by the ministries, agencies and other personnel concerned, we have withdrawn a number of specific reservations. Also, we, as a host country of the meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention, have relentlessly made every effort to try to ensure the smooth proceeding of the meeting.

Enthusiastic discussions are expected for two weeks from today, on management and future direction of the Convention, to protect wildlife in the world. I sincerely hope that these discussions will be guided by scientific evidence and biological knowledge, in the pursuit of appropriate protection and sustainable use of wildlife, which is an ultimate goal of the Convention.

Honourable Participants, As human beings living on this planet, it is our responsibility to save the global environment and to hand it over to the next generation. Wildlife also needs to be protected and to live in harmony with us.

There may be differences in the positions of various countries in the world, but let us all, from both developing and developed countries, strive hand in hand. Japan pledges to make all possible efforts for the enhancement of survival of wildlife in the world.

Although Japanese land is small, it is a long archipelago from north to south, covering from the subarctic zone to the subtropical zone. We have still abundant and very much diversified nature left. Also, this City of Kyoto prides itself on its ancient history. I hope this will be a good opportunity for all of you to get in touch with nature and the traditional culture of the nation, and to deepen your understanding of our country.

Let me conclude my welcoming address with a sincere hope for the success of this meeting.

Thank you very much.

–  –  –

Mr Chairman, Members of the Diplomatic Community, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, It gives me great pleasure to welcome the participants gathered here in our ancient city and former capital.

Representing the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the Management Authority which handles all international trade in wild fauna and flora, I would like to present our views.

As you know, it is said that there are approximately 3,000 endangered species of animals, and 16,000 endangered species of plants in the world. Unless adequate measures are taken to conserve these species, an irreparable situation will result. In order to protect these endangered species, it would be most effective to control international trade in wild fauna and flora.

Therefore, I think it is necessary to make efforts to enforce the Global-Network that preserves endangered species which has been established according to the provisions of the Convention.

Since Japan joined the Convention in 1980, we have been making efforts to properly enforce our system of international trade management of wild fauna and flora. Further, as the occasion demands, we have been strictly regulating imports beyond the obligations of the Convention. For example, we certify export permits we receive by contacting the Management Authority of the exporting country. Now, on the occasion of the meeting, Japan is planning to strengthen the management system to control trade in live animals, because the treatment of live animals requires circumspection.

Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult for the importing countries to control international trade in wild fauna and flora by themselves. Therefore, it is necessary for us to obtain co-operation from the Parties and the Secretariat. For these reasons, it is of great importance for the Parties to amend the listings of species included in the appendices of the Convention, to exchange information on various matters and to standardize the construction of the Convention.

Today, Japan has become the second largest economy; as a result, we have an obligation to positively make contributions to the world. It is our fixed national policy to promote import, as we are argued to foster the stable growth of the world economy by offering our huge domestic market to the world. On the other hand, Japan is said to have been the second biggest importer of wild fauna and flora. In this field, however, instead of promoting imports, we will make every effort to strictly control imports of wild fauna and flora.

Finally, I sincerely hope that this meeting will be fruitful for all Parties and participants. I would also like to express my deep gratitude and respect to everyone who made great contributions to the organization of this meeting.

Thank you.

–  –  –

Your Excellencies, Mr Secretary General, Distinguished Delegates, Distinguished Guests, On behalf of the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Dr Mostafa Tolba, I wish to welcome you to the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES.

Dr Tolba, together with Prince Philip, will address this meeting on Wednesday.

Accordingly, I do not intend to make a speech dealing with the substance of the meeting. This will be covered by Dr Tolba.

He has however, asked me to convey his apologies for not being present at this opening ceremony an to welcome you all to Kyoto on his behalf.

Many of the issues with which we shall have to deal in the next two weeks are ones on which many delegations feel strongly. Inevitably though, not all delegations will see these issues in the same way. Arguments will at time become heated.

Let us though participate in the debates on the basis that the different views that will be expressed are honestly and sincerely held and that solution must be found in a spirit of compromise, taking each others' views into account.

We are dealing here with important issues of sustainable development - not just conservation. Let us all listen to the range of arguments with care and sympathy. I for one look forward to these debates.

–  –  –

On behalf of the Standing Committee and in joining hands with the Host Government - the Government of Japan, I wish to warmly welcome all of you present at this meeting. We are particulary grateful to Mr Kakizawa, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, for coming to open this meeting, and to other officials from the Japanese Government who are here to witness this memorable occasion. We feel greatly honoured by this gesture.

May I also thank Mr Brough, Assistant Executive Director of UNEP, who has kindly agreed to be with us and work with both the Standing Committee and the Parties represented here. The continued support of UNEP to the Convention is greatly appreciated by the Parties. We note with satisfaction that this support is a clear indication of the commitment of UNEP to CITES as well as an acknowledgement of the success of this international Convention.

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