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Statement by Mr. Naoto Hisajima
Minister, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
at the sixth Session of the Conference of States Parties
to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
19 July 2013
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank you for this opportunity to address the sixth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as a signatory.
The Convention is a landmark agreement affirming the human rights and fundamental freedom of persons with disabilities. Since Japan signed the Convention in 2007, we have been working towards the conclusion of the Convention by addressing institutional reform intensively. Our Ministerial Board for Disability Policy Reform, which is headed by the Prime Minister and consists of all Ministers, was established in 2009 and has been leading the reform. In particular, the Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities was amended in 2011 in which the legal concept of ‘reasonable accommodation’ was stipulated in Japanese domestic laws for the first time. Furthermore, in June this year, the Act for the Promotion of Employment of Persons with Disabilities was amended, and the new Act on the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities was formulated.
In order to realize the goal of ensuring the possibility of employment as described in the Convention, our amended Act for the Promotion of Employment of Persons with Disabilities prohibits undue discrimination on the basis of disability in relation to employment. Furthermore, the Act also stipulates an obligation on the part of employers and business owners to provide reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities. As of June 2012 the number of employees with disabilities working in the private sector had increased by 4.4 percent from the previous year to 382,000. Also, the legal employment rate of persons with disabilities in the private sector has risen from 1.8% to 2.0% since this April. These efforts, we hope, will help to safeguard and promote the rights of persons with disabilities to work.
The Act on the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities is a epoch-making law which was formulated in response to the call from civil society, in particular organizations of persons with disabilities. It materializes the principles of our Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities and legally forbids undue discrimination on the basis of disability by the private sector and both the national and local governments, and further imposes an obligation on the government to provide reasonable accommodations. As our national laws continue to develop, the principles of the Convention will continue to be increasingly reflected.
Japan attaches great importance to the role of international cooperation in order to promote the empowerment of persons with disabilities of developing countries and their inclusion in society. The Government of Japan has been conducting a wide range of ongoing cooperation efforts through our Official Development Assistance (ODA). For instance, a technical cooperation project in Malaysia entitled the “Project to Support the Participation of Persons with Disabilities - Phase 2” started in 2009. The goal of this project is to promote the participation of persons with disabilities in society by the establishing a ‘Job-Coach System’ which aims to increase the employment with the support to persons with disabilities so that they can adapt to their jobs and workplaces.
Japan also has been making substantive contributions to policy development for persons with disabilities in the Asia and Pacific region based on human security. The Incheon Strategy, the action plan of the Asia and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities 2013-2022, provides the Asia and Pacific region, and indeed the world, with the first set of regionally agreed disability-inclusive development goals. It also includes the viewpoint of promoting disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction and management, which is an area of significant interest in the foreign policy of Japan. My delegation believes that our experiences and knowledge in this field will contribute to the implementation of the Strategy.
The conditions for Japan to conclude the Convention are now being fulfilled, and our policies regarding persons with disabilities have been upgraded. Moreover, we look forward to the High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development in September, and hope to see the momentum for the promotion of the human rights of persons with disabilities increase. Making use of these opportunities, Japan will continue its efforts to protect and promote the human rights and to respect the dignity of persons with disabilities.