Statement by Ms. Shoko Haruki
First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
on agenda item 3 (a): Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication,
social integration and full employment and decent work for all
Fifty-Second Session of the Commission for Social Development
At the outset, I would like to thank you for your leadership during this session. We assure you that you will have the full support and cooperation of the Japanese Delegation as you discharge your important responsibilities.
The three themes of the Commission for Social Development; poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all, are intended to improve and enhance the quality of life of all people, and empowerment is essential for the realization of these themes.
A number of people around the world still face poverty, inequality, discrimination, social exclusion and unemployment. Actions that seek to give these people power and to strengthen their capacities contribute to meeting these challenges. Japan believes that such actions are consistent with the concept of human security, which promotes building a better society through the protection and empowerment of individuals.
Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Shinzo Abe, visited Africa in January and made a policy speech entitled “Japan’s Diplomacy towards Africa: Strengthening Each Individual, One by One” at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia. In his speech, he introduced a Japan’s philosophy, to “seek to elicit ingenuity by enhancing the competency of each individual.” Furthermore, speaking on the importance of individual capacity and effort to the development of economies and democracies, and using Japan as an example, he stressed that “as each individual gains definite confidence and works tirelessly every day, companies will grow. As such companies and workplaces grow in number, one by one, society gradually becomes stable, and in time, positive soil for democracy will emerge there.”
With thinking of values of human beings, Japan will act for the empowerment of all those who shoulder the responsibility of creating a better future. In light of this, Prime Minister Abe stressed in his policy speech the importance of developing “an Africa in which women shine.” We believe that an economy is unable to grow without allowing women the full opportunity to shine, including in their employment, and countries should engage in policies that seek to utilize the power of women. This is suitable not only for my country but also for the international community.
In this regard, Japan is currently engaged in a project of international cooperation for the empowerment of women in Nigeria. During 1980’s and 1990’s Women Development Centers (WDCs) were established throughout Nigeria for the purpose of empowering women at the grass-roots level through vocational training and basic literacy education. Currently, more than 700 WDCs exist in Nigeria. However, a number of these centers were simply unable to meet the demand for such services, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in cooperation with National Communication of Women Development (NCWD) in Nigeria, started a pilot project in Kano State, in order to equip WDCs to provide places for learning and empowerment and thus contribute to improving the lives of women living in poverty. At these pilot Centers, women can acquire skills such as sewing and cooking, and can improve their literacy. Women can benefit economically from such skills directly, and their social participation is enhanced as their activities expand and they become more confident. Such projects toward the empowerment of women are now being expanded across the country.
UN human rights treaties play an extremely important role in the empowerment of people. On 20 January, Japan ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which contributes to protection of human rights and empowerment of persons with disabilities. We intend to make sincere efforts for the implementation of the Convention.
The empowerment of all individuals, including women, youth, persons with disabilities, older persons and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is crucial for social development. My delegation looks forward to having a fruitful discussion on how we may ensure their empowerment.