Statement by Ms. Yaeko Sumi
Alternate Representative of Japan
on item 27: Social Development
Sixty-seventh Session of the United Nations General Assembly
9 October 2012
I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to you. Let me assure you of my delegation’s utmost support to your efforts and leadership.
Economic and social inequality, adverse employment conditions and lack of economic opportunities have caused the disempowerment of many people. The gap between rich and poor is widening in many countries, including in developed countries. The polarization of society is ongoing. The international community as a whole needs to address these challenges in a comprehensive manner.
In particular, these problems affect vulnerable groups. We should create a society that respects all human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals and enables their empowerment, taking into account the diversity of society.
The power of youth to participate in their society was clearly recognized last year in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in other countries around the world. The international community needs to create a society where youth can fulfill their potential and participate in their society.
In this regard, youth unemployment is currently a serious issue around the world. This is an emerging issue which not only deprives youth of the opportunity to participate positively in their society, but also has the potential to disrupt social stability and hinder economic growth. The current global economic uncertainty and financial unrest further exacerbate this issue.
In June 2012, the Government of Japan developed the “Employment Strategy for Youth”, which is both a medium and long-term strategy designed to encourage youth to achieve a working life for themselves. Based on this Strategy, systematic career education will be introduced and enhanced through educational activities at high schools, universities and other institutions. High schools and universities will try to eliminate employment mismatches in cooperation with employment agencies. Furthermore, local employment support offices for youth will be established with a view to their career development.
The momentum for promoting of the rights of persons with disabilities is increasing. Since the adoption of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the General Assembly in 2006, the number of countries that have ratified the Convention has been steadily increasing. The Government of Japan signed it in 2007 and has been in the process of preparing the conclusion of the Convention. For example, Japan amended its Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities in July 2011. Under the amended law, the “Commission on Policy for Persons with Disabilities” was established in May 2012, the function of which includes oversight of the implementation of domestic policies. Furthermore, persons with disabilities are included in this Commission as members.
In September 2013, the General Assembly will convene the High-level Meeting on Disability and Development. In order to strengthen efforts to ensure accessibility for and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of development efforts, we will be actively engaged in the discussions.
In order to prepare for the rapid increase in the number of the aged in our society, we must realize a society which enables to promote human rights and empowerment of older persons. The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing provides guidance for policy formulation and implementation with the specific goal of successfully adjusting to an ageing world. We attach great importance to the second review of the Madrid Plan of Action next year.
With regard to the notion of human security, we achieved a great success with the adoption by all Member States of a common understanding on human security in the plenary meeting of the General Assembly in September. Human security is an approach to address serious and widespread threats to the survival, livelihood and dignity of people in a multidimensional and comprehensive manner, focusing on individuals. Human security proposes to protect individuals as well as to empower them so that they can mobilize their potential to cope with threats by themselves, and thereby build a better society. Based on the agreed common understanding, it is important to promote human security, recognizing that peace and security, development and human rights —which are the three pillars of the United Nations— are interlinked and mutually reinforcing. In this regard, Japan announced its contribution of approximately 10 million US dollars of assistance through the UN Trust Fund for Human Security.
Volunteering could promote participation in society and deepen people-to-people relations. Brazil and Japan submitted a draft resolution in the Third Committee on mainstreaming and promoting volunteerism for the next decade. This resolution puts emphasis on mainstreaming and strengthening policy coordination of volunteer activities. We hope that more states will extend their support to this resolution.
Under the deepening of globalization and interdependence in our society, the international community as a whole needs to assist vulnerable groups and to promote their social integration and empowerment. Japan will continue to contribute to this important challenge.