2003 Statement


Ms. Kay Fusano

Alternate Representative of Japan to the United Nations

On Item 113, "Promotion and protection of the rights of children"

20 October 2003

Mr. Chairman,

Japan considers this agenda item as one of the most important issues because we believe that children are main actors of our bright future. The resolution on the Rights of the Child does not only complement the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but also serves as guidelines for the action to be taken by the international community to protect and promote the rights of children. For this reason, Japan reaffirms its willingness to make an active contribution to drafting the resolutions.

Before expressing our views on the issues upon which Japan places emphasis, let me briefly comment on the structure of the resolution on the rights of children. This will be the ninth year that the resolutions under this agenda item have been integrated into an omnibus resolution. The present omnibus resolution is important in that it deals comprehensively with and provides an overview of issues of particular importance. The problem, however, lies in the length of the resolution, which last year expanded to 16 pages with 118 operative paragraphs. We believe that it is important for all Member States, including the main sponsor of the resolution, to thoroughly review and attempt to shorten and simplify this omnibus resolution in order to focus on very urgent and central issues.

Mr. Chairman,

For sound growth and development of children, their rights such as the right to live and the right to education must be ensured. Governments should plan and implement policies targeted at children and youth, bearing in mind that these rights are properly secured. This is a key element of a rights-based approach.

It is of particular concern that the well-being of so many children is threatened by recent global trends such as globalization and multiplication of conflict. It is the obligation to us, adults, to protect children from such threats and defend their right to live. The concept of "Human Security" that Japan has been promoting is going along with that idea, since it assures the "Protection" of every individual and promotes their "Empowerment". Based on this idea, the Government of Japan endeavors to resolve the problems children are facing.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me outline the efforts Japan has been making and express the views it has on three particular issues.

First, it is extremely sad that so many children are being affected by armed conflict, for example, in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Liberia, many of the militias are reportedly composed of child soldiers. Disarming them and providing them with the necessary care are pressing needs. Many children are also suffering in Iraq. Japan has contributed fifteen-million-ninety-three-thousand dollars for the relief of Iraqi children, of which ten-million-twenty-eight-thousand went to the implementation of the Back to School Campaign. So many tasks need to be carried out by the United Nations to deal effectively with this serious problem. In this regards, the Government of Japan expects the comprehensive assessment on the U.N. response to this issue be carried out at the earliest possible date, as agreed at the last session of the General Assembly. We are convinced that based on the assessment, the U.N.'s capacity to address this urgent matter will be strengthened.

Mr. Chairman,

Child trafficking is one of the worst forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children, especially in South-East Asia where several thousand children are being trafficked every year. Since this is a complex and cross-border issue and its causes range from poverty and the socio-economic gap between the countries concerned to the difference in their legal systems, it is difficult to find ideal solutions. We must nevertheless try. In this regard, Japan hosted the International Symposium on Trafficking of Children jointly with UNICEF this February in Tokyo, inviting nongovernmental organizations from South-East Asian countries. At the symposium, we reached the conclusion that we must take a comprehensive approach involving governments, international organizations, and NGOs at the regional level. On the basis of the outcome of the symposium, Japan continues to work to put an end to such problems and has already contributed a total of four-hundred-seventy-thousand dollars to the project to protect and care for girl victims of trafficking in Myanmar.

Mr. Chairman,

As I mentioned in my previous statement on agenda item 110, Japan is tackling with another important challenge, the elimination of harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM). These practices have been left unsolved under the cloak of tradition. The pain and tears of girls have been ignored. Such practices should not be regarded as traditions that should be passed on. Governments should take a leadership role in eliminating them.

Through the human rights dialogue between the Governments of Japan and Sudan, an agreement was made to have human rights cooperation on the elimination of FGM. To that end, Sudan held the Regional Symposium on the Abolition of FGM to Ensure Safe Motherhood jointly with Japan and UNICEF in Khartoum on 26-28 August. This symposium successfully awakened the Sudanese public and has created momentum to anti-FGM movement. Japan highly appreciates the efforts of the Government of Sudan and hopes that it will make further efforts to abolish this harmful practice and these actions will have a positive influence on neighboring countries where the practice still exists.

Mr. Chairman,

In addition to the international cooperation mentioned above, Japan also is making continuous efforts to change domestic legal systems in such a way as to protect and promote the rights of children. The Law for Punishing Acts Related to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and for Protecting Children, which began to be enforced in November 1999, has been bearing fruit, not only in the arrest of 1,366 perpetrators in the last fiscal year alone, but also in having a deterrent effect both outside and inside of Japan since the law covers crimes committed by Japanese nationals outside of Japan. An amendment strengthening these measures has been submitted to the Diet, which is now under consideration.

Regarding the two Optional Protocols to the Convention of the Rights of the Child that Japan signed in May 2002, the Government of Japan is currently working on the ratification process. Child pornography through the computer system is becoming a serious issue. Article 9 of the Convention on Cyber-crime, which was drafted under the leadership of the Council of Europe, obliges States parties to take appropriate measures on crimes related to child pornography. Japan considers it an effective tool to fight against the problem and is preparing to conclude it at the earliest possible date.

Legal and administrative measures with a view to the full implementation of the CRC are crucial for the promotion and protection of the rights of the child. Much more needs to be done, but Japan reaffirms its determination to work towards our goals in this area.

Thank you very much for your attention.