Statement by H.E. Mr. Takeshi Hikihara, Permanent Representative, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the International Organizations in Vienna at the Fifty-Fourth Session of the Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO

Thank you, Madam Chairperson,
At the outset, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you, Ambassador Faouzia Mebarki, for your leadership as Chair of this Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO under these difficult circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I would also like to thank the Executive Secretary, Dr. Lassina Zerbo, for his comprehensive opening remarks. My appreciation also goes to the chairs of Working Group A and Working Group B, as well as the Advisory Group for their valuable contribution to the work of the organization.
[NPT, EIF and Universalization]
Madam Chairperson,
Despite the postponement of the 2020 NPT Review Conference due the pandemic, invaluable contribution of the NPT to the consolidation and maintenance of international peace and security remain unchanged. And as such, it is necessary to continue our efforts to advance international nuclear disarmament and to raise awareness of the important role of the CTBT.
In this context, Japan will continue to promote the entry into force of the Treaty, and will spare no efforts in supporting the Co-Chairs from Algeria and Germany during the Article XIV process.
In this regard, we urge all States that have not yet done so, to sign and ratify the Treaty without further delay, in particular the remaining eight States listed in Annex 2.
[North Korea]
Madam Chairperson,
Japan strongly condemns North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches, which are in violation of relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs). Japan reaffirms its strong commitment to working with the international community in achieving complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all of North Korea's nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles of all ranges as well as related programs and facilities in accordance with relevant UNSCRs. We call upon North Korea to come into full compliance with the NPT and the IAEA safeguards and to sign and ratify the CTBT. We also call on all States to fully implement relevant UNSCRs.
[Capacity Building]
Madam Chairperson,
Regarding capacity building, Japan has been convening the annual JICA Global Seismological Observation Training Course since 1995. The purpose of this training is to develop human resources with skills of both seismic observations to detect nuclear tests, and data analysis to identify them, which play a crucial role for the verification regime of the Treaty. Earlier this year, from January to February, 17 participants from 14 countries were able to participate in the course, without being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are planning to conduct a needs-based survey to select participants for the training. If you have an interest in the course, please let us know. We will provide you with further information.
[Budget Update]
Madam Chairperson,
Japan's basic position on the budgets of the international organizations across the board is already well known and remains unchanged. Given the austerity measures taken under severe budgetary circumstances, we welcome the PTS’s continued efforts to implement cost-saving and efficiency measures, and request the PTS to continue such endeavors. 
Japan would like to request that the PTS provides information on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the implementation of the 2020-2021 budget in an appropriate and timely manner.
We understand that many State Signatories are facing financial difficulties due to COVID-19. However, a lower collection rate of assessed contributions is a concern for us. This could adversely impact the budgetary planning and implementation of the Commission, which would thus affect the maintenance and enhancement of the verification regime. We would like to call upon those States Signatories that have not yet done so, to promptly discharge their financial obligations to the Organization.
Madam Chairperson,
From the point of view of business continuity of the PTS, it is crucial to reach an agreement on the decision of the procedure for the appointment of the next Executive Secretary for the CTBTO at this session, and to begin the process of swiftly moving toward an appointment of the next Executive Secretary at the next session of the Commission in November.
Although the CTBT has not formally entered into force, it is desirable that the appointment procedure should be decided in accordance with the spirit of the Treaty. Taking into account the fact that it will be difficult to start discussions from scratch amid time constraints and the modalities of virtual conferencing, we are of the view that the appointment process should follow the 2012 procedure.
I thank you, Madam Chairperson.