H.E. Mr. Shinichi Kitaoka
Deputy Permanent Representative Of Japan
Agenda item 105(b): Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and Agenda item 105(c): Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives
26 OCTOBER 2004
It is our shared understanding that fundamental human rights are universal values and as such have to be promoted and protected in every part of the world. As is stipulated in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the promotion and protection of all human rights is a legitimate concern of the international community. No country may shirk its fundamental responsibility to promote and protect human rights. At the same time, Japan considers it important for the international community to facilitate a country’s effort to improve its human rights situation, taking into account factors such as its history, culture and traditions, all of which have a bearing.
In this regard, I would like to refer to the human rights situation in several countries.
Recalling that again this year the Commission of Human Rights adopted the resolution on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and expressed its concern about the human rights situation there, including the abduction of foreigners, the Government of Japan welcomes the appointment of Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK based on this resolution. Japan, for its part, will offer him its utmost support as he discharges his mandate to address concerns about violations of human rights specified in the resolution. It is the sincere hope of my Government that these concerns will be addressed and all the commitments in the Pyongyang Declaration will be steadily implemented.
In Myanmar, the National Convention was reconvened May this year after having been suspended for eight years and it secured the participation of those ethnic minority groups that agreed to a ceasefire with the Government of Myanmar. Japan has followed this development closely and deemed it a potentially significant step toward democratization of the country. While there was a change of Prime Minister on 19th October, Japan believes that the democratization process in Myanmar should not be delayed. To this end, Japan will continue to call on Myanmar to take positive steps to achieve national reconciliation and democratization, with full involvement of all the parties concerned. We fully support the efforts of the special envoy of the Secretary-General, Mr. Razali Ismail, who has been playing an important role in facilitating such reconciliation and democratization. We call upon Myanmar to receive Mr. Razali as well as Mr. Paolo Sergio Pinheiro, the special rapporteur, as soon as possible.
In August last year, the Governments of Sudan and Japan co-organized a symposium with the aim of ending female genital mutilation, jointly with UNICEF, in Khartoum, Sudan. Because we have experience in engaging collaborative efforts with Sudan such as this to improve the human rights situation in that country, Japan is especially concerned about the serious human rights situation that the people in the Darfur region continue to face and the pace of the measures taken by the Government of Sudan, which does not meet the expectations of the international community. From this standpoint, both Japanese Prime Minister and Foreign Minister took the opportunity of meeting the Sudanese Foreign Minister respectively while he was in Japan this September, to call on the Sudanese Government to quickly take the concrete steps that the international community requests to resolve the Darfur crisis with full awareness of its responsibility to secure the human rights and freedom of its people. Japan welcomes the decision of the Government of Sudan to increase and expand the numbers and duties of the African Union Monitors, and hopes that the on-going talks between the Sudanese Government and the rebels will reach compromise for peaceful solution of crisis as soon as possible.
Elsewhere Japan welcomes Cambodia’s ratification of the agreement with the United Nations concerning the Khmer Rouge trials. It is important for Cambodia to bring the senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge to give justice for their crimes and thereby strengthen the rule of law, part from the culture of impunity, and promote good governmental practices. Japan, having played a central role in supporting Cambodia’s efforts to carry out the trials, urges Member States to make an active contribution to the process with a view to their early realization.
The protection and promotion of human rights requires each country to engage unremitting efforts. Japan is making such efforts. For example, regarding the problem of trafficking in persons, which is a serious violation of the human rights of its victims, Japan is now making every effort to deal with the problem and improve the system to fight against trafficking, focusing on the protection of victims and enforcement of laws. We are also promoting cooperation with neighboring countries based on the view that it is essential to have a comprehensive international approach that includes the countries of origin, transit, and destination.
Education is also important for the protection and promotion of human rights, from a longer-term point of view. In this regard, Japan welcomes the resolution adopted by the Commission of Human Rights for “a world programme for human rights education”. We should not forget the importance of empowerment of the socially vulnerable, who tend to be adversely affected in an emergency, and especially when plunged into the turmoil of armed conflict. Japan will continue to work with the international community in its efforts based on this longer-term point of view.
For the promotion and protection of human rights, every country must continually make efforts for the improvement of its human rights situation whether in fact they arise at home or elsewhere in the world. Japan, for its part, will deal with the problems of human rights as its own problems and continue to work for the improvement of human rights situations in cooperation with the international community, in particular the United Nations.