NEW YORK – In his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the Islamic State poses “a serious threat to international order” and pledged $50 million in emergency humanitarian assistance in the Middle East.
World leaders have gathered in New York at a crucial time; the international community is grappling with three major issues — the Islamic State extremist group, the Ukraine crisis and the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa.
“What is important now is preventing extremism from taking root while also responding swiftly to the region’s humanitarian crises,” Abe said.
“To assist in this regard, Japan will implement $50 million of emergency assistance right away,” he said just days after the launch of U.S.-led airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria.
Unable to make military contributions under the pacifist Constitution, Japan will offer financial help in Iraq and neighboring countries.
As for Ebola, Abe pledged to extend additional assistance of up to $40 million, saying the health crisis directly affects peace and security in the region.
“We continue to be prepared to take other measures, including the possibility of sending more experts to Africa and sharing a promising potential drug, developed by Japan’s Toyama Chemical Co. and Fujifilm Holdings Corp., which can be effective in the post-exposure phase of Ebola,” he said.
Tokyo is also preparing new assistance for the reconstruction of the eastern part of Ukraine, Abe said, adding that Japan “places great importance on the stability” of the former Soviet state.
In March, Japan announced economic assistance of up to $1.5 billion for Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Japan is calling for reform of the U.N. Security Council, along with its Group of Four partners — Brazil, India and Germany — as next year marks the 70th anniversary of the international body’s founding.
“It is with exactly this determination that Japan aspires to join the Security Council once more as a nonpermanent member at the election next year,” Abe said, adding that Japan also seeks to become a permanent member.
“Japan’s future lies in a straight extension of our history over the past 70 years,” he said. “Our pledge never to wage war is something that will be handed down and fostered by the Japanese people for generation upon generation to come.”
Abe, who recently turned 60, also shared his efforts to promote the empowerment of women in society. The government hosted an international conference in mid-September for that purpose.
“With regard to North Korea, Japan will work in coordination with relevant countries toward the comprehensive resolution of outstanding issues, including abduction, nuclear and missile issues,” Abe said.
Japan officially lists 17 citizens as abductees in the 1970s and 1980s but suspects North Korea’s involvement in many more disappearances.
Five of the 17 were repatriated in 2002. Japan lifted some of its unilateral sanctions against North Korea in early July in return for the launch by Pyongyang of a special investigative unit on the long-standing issue.
At the end of his speech, Abe stressed that Japan will “work even harder than ever to bring about the realization of the principles that the U.N. has set forth. Japan is a nation that implements its pledges without fail.”