Statement by Counsellor Naobumi Yokota at the Fifty-Fifth Session of Working Group A of the Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson,
At the outset, I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairperson for your efforts to lead and coordinate this Working Group A (WGA) meeting. I also thank the Executive Secretary, Dr. Lassina Zerbo, for his comprehensive opening remarks.
Mr. Chairperson,
Japan welcomes Zimbabwe’s recent ratification of the CTBT, which brings the total number of ratifying states to 168. Increase in the number of signatories and ratifying states is a clear evidence of advancement of the CTBT, and in this regard, we reiterate our call to 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.
We welcome the fact that the vast majority of States expressed the importance of the CTBT during the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 NPT Review Conference a few weeks ago. In this connection, I would like to highlight that the Eleventh Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT, the Article XIV Conference, which will be held six months prior to the 2020 NPT Review Conference, is an important opportunity to create positive momentum towards the Review Conference. With a view to achieving a successful outcome, we stand ready to support the Co-Chairs Algeria and Germany during the Article XIV process.
Mr. Chairperson,
On the issue of North Korea, 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 United Nations Security Council resolutions (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. Japan emphasizes the critical importance for all States to fully implement relevant UNSCRs.
Mr. Chairperson,
My delegation would also like to thank the Chairperson of the Advisory Group (AG), Sir Michael WESTON, for introducing the AG Report, which is helpful for our discussions. We take note of the report and thank the AG members for their tireless efforts in supporting the work of the Commission.
We welcome the commencement of the work of the newly appointed External Auditor, the State Audit Office of the Kingdom of Thailand. In addition, we would like to express our appreciation to the outgoing auditor, the Cour des Comptes of France. We welcome the unqualified audit opinion on the financial statement of the Commission for the current period, and take note of the recommendations mentioned by the External Audit. We would like to carefully follow up on the implementation of its recommendations.

Regarding the collection rate of assessed contributions as well as the number of States that paid them, we welcome their increase in 2018 compared to 2017. The good financial health of the Preparatory Commission is a key to the maintenance and enhancement of the verification regime. I would like to call on the PTS to continue its efforts in taking measures to further reduce the level of unpaid assessed contributions.
Mr. Chairperson,
We appreciate the PTS for issuing the 2020-2021 budget proposals and for providing further explanations on the proposals during an informal meeting of Working Group A.
Japan's basic stance on the budget of the international organizations across the board is 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.
Taking into account the Report of the Advisory Group, we would like to continue constructive considerations on the budget proposals with the intent to reach a consensus at Working Group A in October, and at the Preparatory Commission in November.
Mr. Chairperson,
On the issue of the considerations for the functioning of the AG, Japan notes with satisfaction the advisory role performed by the Advisory Group, and its important contributions to the Commission on financial, budgetary and associated administrative issues. At the same time, we believe there is always room for improvement, and we support efforts to further consider how to make the AG more functional and efficient. In this regard, I would like to thank Ambassador Bouchaara for conducting several rounds of informal consultations on this issue to facilitate our discussions.
Our basic stance regarding the reform of the Advisory Group, is that any suggestion should help to ensure that members can properly perform their functions entrusted by the Preparatory Commission as specified by Financial Rules and Regulations 15.1.
In particular, we believe that a member of the body, which has been entrusted with the function to advise the Commission on financial, budgetary and associated administrative issues, shall possess professional qualifications in financial matters, and shall serve independently from any government.

We are of the view that it is worthwhile to consider improving the nomination process in order to ensure that all members of the AG meet these required qualifications. We stand ready to continue discussing this issue at the present WGA session.

Mr. Chairperson,
Regarding human resources management, it is of great importance for the PTS to hire staff with the highest standards of professional expertise, experience, efficiency and integrity while paying due regard to the importance of geographical diversity and to States Signatories contributions, as appropriate. Gender balance should also be taken into account in order to strengthen the PTS. As a gender champion, Japan appreciates the efforts undertaken by the PTS in placing gender balance as a high priority. We strongly encourage the PTS to continue following this direction.
I thank you, Mr. Chairperson.