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Statement of H.E. Mr. Shinichi Kitaoka
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan
On Agenda item 69
Elimination of racism and racial discrimination
8 November 2005
Throughout history, many people have suffered from discrimination based on their race as well as their colour, sex, language or religion, and also for historical, social, cultural and economic reasons. To engage in an act of racial discrimination is to commit one of the most serious violations of human rights, and one most deserving of condemnation. In response, the United Nations has developed human rights norms and mechanisms, and the international community was able to come together for example to achieve the abolition of apartheid. On the other hand, new phenomena, including globalization, the growing number of migrant workers and the development of high technology, have created new situations which may disseminate racism and racial discrimination. In addition, in conflict situations, racism and racial discrimination have become key factors triggering genocide.
We have taken note with great interest the report of the Special Rapporteur, A/60/283. In it, he pointed out “the importance of conducting an in-depth debate on the links between racism, discrimination and identity”, and “the need to give equal treatment to all forms of racism and discrimination, while recognizing the singularity and specificity of each form of discrimination and racism”. We found these points to be based on his deep insight. It is true that, when dealing with a particular issue of discrimination, we should understand its background and cause, and its links with other forms of discrimination in the society.
In Japan , both national and local governmental bodies have taken measures against discrimination including instituting public education and promoting awareness programmes. Those measures have been effective for improving the situation, however, there may still be problems and further efforts are required in order to enact appropriate legislation. This is especially important as the number of foreign nationals in our country continues to grow. For the last several years, the Government of Japan has made efforts to bring a Human Rights Protection Bill to the Diet and to have it adopted. It includes a prohibition on unfair discriminatory treatment, abuses and other human rights violations as well as the instigation of discriminatory acts or practices. This bill will further upgrade the human rights situation in Japan , and it is hoped that it will be passed in the near future.
Education and awareness-raising are essential to the creation of a tolerant multicultural society, as a racist is not born, but created from ignorance and prejudice. As a part of every school’s curriculum, young people must be taught how to live together with people from other cultures, inside or outside the country, and with people of different social classes. At the same time, we should foster the acceptance of different cultures in our multicultural society through foreign country youth exchange programmes. In Japan , the government has strengthened the programmes for youth exchanges and for scholarships to foreign students, and has invited foreign youths to the country to assist teaching at primary, middle and secondary schools. Local governments and other entities implement similar programmes and awareness-raising campaigns. We believe that these efforts to promote mutual understanding and mutual cooperation will help to produce a strong foundation for a multicultural society.
As these examples suggest, Japan has continuously made efforts to eliminate racism and racial discrimination. In this context, we are pleased that the Special Rapporteur Mr. Doudou Diène kindly accepted our government’s invitation and visited Japan last July. Our government and the many people concerned extended him their full assistance and cooperation and we will be ready to extend further cooperation as he prepares his final report to the Commission on Human Rights next year. We will give serious consideration to his report and recommendations once they are issued so that we will be able to introduce further measures to improve our society.
There may be few countries, if any, in the world where some form of racial discrimination and xenophobia does not exist. Thus racial discrimination is a challenge for all countries. The Government of Japan for its part reiterates its firm commitment to fight earnestly and effectively against every kind of racial discrimination that may exist in our country and, to eliminate it. At the same time, we will continue to contribute to the efforts of the international community to eradicate this problem in every part of the world.
Thank you very much.