Statement by H.E. Ambassador ISHIKANE Kimihiro, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, at the Briefing to the Security Council on “the Humanitarian Situation of Ukraine following the interruption of the Black Sea Grain Initiative”

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July 21, 2023

Thank you, Madame President.

I thank Mr. Griffiths, Ms. DiCarlo and the civil society briefer for their briefings.

The global food supply, already compromised by various factors, has been further exacerbated by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine for over 500 days now. Sadly, this situation has deteriorated even further following Russia’s decision on July 17 to terminate the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI).

Japan condemns this deplorable action by Russia, noting that Russia has already been a significant impediment to the proper functioning of this initiative for several months.

Since its initiation last year, the BSGI has played a pivotal role in ensuring global food security.

Through this initiative, more than 32 million tons of grain and other commodities have been transported from Ukrainian ports. Furthermore, over 725,000 tons of grain have been distributed through the World Food Programme, aiding humanitarian operations in some of the most severely impacted areas globally, such as Afghanistan, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa.

Despite the significant challenges posed by conflict, climate change, and escalating energy prices, the initiative has led to a remarkable reduction in food prices by over 23% since last March.

Japan is gravely concerned about the adverse effects Russia’s decision could have on global food supplies, particularly for vulnerable people. Indeed, it is alarming to witness higher volatility in global wheat prices following Russia’s various actions starting from the termination of the initiative. Russia also threatens to treat civilian vessels bound for Ukrainian ports as potential military targets. It is Russia alone who must take responsibility for all the repercussions resulting from its decision.

Japan categorically condemns Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian Black Sea port areas, resulting in numerous civilian casualties and the reported destruction of at least 60,000 tons of essential grain destined for export. It is crucial to remember that the attacks on civilian infrastructure may constitute a violation of international humanitarian law.

Madame President,

We commend the painstaking efforts of the United Nations and the Government of Türkiye in the extension and implementation of the BSGI.

I also wish to recall the Hiroshima Action Statement for Resilient Global Food Security, issued in May, which advocates for the maximal and continued implementation of the BSGI.

Japan strongly urges Russia to cease the weaponization of food, which will never work for legitimizing its heinous act of violence, and promptly return to the international framework to resume grain exports.

Madame President,

Our collective commitment to mitigating global hunger and maintaining stable food prices worldwide must not falter. In this context, Japan supports the EU’s “Solidarity Lanes” initiative to transport Ukrainian grain and food by land.

For its part, Japan has committed more than 250 million US dollars to facilitate Ukraine’s grain exports and to provide food-related assistance to vulnerable people in regions such as the Middle East and Africa.

Moreover, we have backed the restoration of Ukraine’s agricultural production capacity, severely compromised by Russia’s aggression. Earlier this year, in March, Japan supplied sunflower and corn seeds to 400 smallholder farmers in Kharkiv, with a particular focus on women and young farmers, where war has significantly reduced agricultural productivity and income.

Madame President,

Japan will continue its efforts to secure the global food supply, thereby contributing to the stabilization of global markets, in partnership with the international community.

We heard some so-called objectives analyses or arguments, which aimed at minimizing the importance of the BSGI. But colleagues, we heard voices of concern around this very table, especially from countries that could be directly hit, and also we are witnessing actions that obstruct Ukrainian agriculture export and production. So, the truth is simple- all these concerns or hardships are meaninglessly caused or at least hugely exacerbated by the unprovoked war.

The most effective and straightforward solution to all of these concerns and hardships would be Russia’s immediate and unconditional withdrawal of its forces from Ukraine to end the war.

I thank you.


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