Statement by Mr. Naoto Hisajima
Minister, 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-First Session of the Commission for Social Development
7 February 2013
Let me first of all thank you for your leadership during this session. I assure you of my delegation’s utmost support to your efforts.
A number of people around the world face poverty, inequality, discrimination and unemployment. Discussions on human rights and the participation of society’s diversifying stakeholders in the United Nations are increasing. These discussions are a significant element toward the empowerment of individuals and the advancement of three themes of the Commission for Social Development. Japan believes that this perspective is consistent with the concept of Human Security which promotes building a better society through the protection and empowerment of individuals.
We appreciate that the proportion of persons living in extreme poverty has been reduced globally by half over the last 20 years through the efforts of the international community toward Goal-1 of the Millennium Development Goals: poverty eradication. Though this reduction represents significant progress, the UN estimates that there will still be one billion people living in extreme poverty by 2015. The post-2015 development agenda should continue to focus on poverty reduction.
The empowerment of all people in society is a key component in the process toward eradicating poverty. Governments, the UN system and civil society should cooperate to create environments and implement policies which together enable people in poverty to be included and participate in the society.
Employment and decent work are crucial for empowerment of people. Income from gainful employment provides people with the means to support a better life and contributes to poverty eradication. Jobs allow people to participate in and contribute to their societies. Decision-making and capacity-building through employment empower people. Globally, some 200 million people were unemployed at the end of 2011 according to the report of the Secretary-General at this session. Youth, in particular, are burdened by very high rates of unemployment. Governments should recognize that this challenge affects not only the motivation and future of young people, but also drags on social stability and development, and should therefore undertake comprehensive employment policies relating to economic growth.
Social integration promotes empowerment. The Government of Japan will continue to listen to the voices of vulnerable people suffering from discrimination and social exclusion and to act toward their social integration.
The international community should work to achieve cohesive societies in which people respect each other’s individuality and character regardless of any disability they may have. For that purpose, we should undertake measures to promote independence and social participation of persons with disabilities in areas such as education, employment and social protection. Furthermore, in response to the rapid ageing of our society, we need to act toward social protection and adequate health systems which contribute to the empowerment of older persons.
In this sense, Japan welcomes that the Secretary-General’s initiative for the empowerment of women and young people for the next five years, and supports further efforts of the UN.
Education and skills training are essential elements for empowerment as means to enhance the capabilities of every individual. Japan considers education a priority issue, and attaches great importance to education in our ODA. We will continue to make efforts to realize high-quality education.
In this regard, I would like to offer you an example of our education-based ODA. Over the past several years, we have been implementing a project to improve the management of literacy education in Afghanistan. Through our ODA project, literacy programs have been expanded, and the monitoring of various education and skills training programs have been implemented. Assistance has also been provided to strengthen the capacity of the Literacy Department of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education, which is in charge of managing all literacy-related activities. This initiative has been in phase two since 2010.
Japan looks forward to sharing best practices with Member States and discussing what actions we should take for the empowerment of people.