H.E. MR. YOSHIYUKI MOTOMURA
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan
Ad Hoc Committee established to consider proposals for a comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities
31 July 2002
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
At the outset, I would like to congratulate you on your election as a Chair in this important Committee. Under your guidance, I am sure that the Ad Hoc Committee will finish its important work successfully.
My delegation would also like to express its appreciation to the Mexican delegation for its initiative and the great efforts it made in the preparation for these meetings of the Ad Hoc Committee.
The Government of Japan attaches great importance on the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. Therefore, my delegation welcomes the successful commencement of the Ad Hoc Committee established to consider proposals for a comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.
Japan also welcomes the recent resolution regarding accreditation and participation of non-governmental organizations in the Committee adopted by the General Assembly on 23 July 2002, which enables those organizations to participate in our discussions on this significant occasion. The Government of Japan co-sponsored this important resolution, because it believes that the voice of civil society should be respected as one of a number of essential elements to be considered by Member States.
The Government of Japan would like to take this opportunity to briefly touch upon its efforts to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, especially in the Asia and Pacific region. Following the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992), the Government of Japan took the initiative in launching the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons (1993-2002), in response to a resolution adopted by 48th Commission Session of the United Nations, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) on 23 May 1992. Based on this landmark initiative, the Government of Japan has become even more involved in promotion and protection of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities both in Japan and abroad.
In May 2002, at the fifty-eighth session of ESCAP, the Government of Japan sponsored a draft resolution to declare a new Decade of Disabled Persons (2003-2012) with a view to renewing its commitment in this field and continuing its efforts in areas where expected progress had not been achieved. Co-sponsored by twenty-nine member countries, this resolution was adopted by consensus.
To mark the end of the ongoing decade and celebrate the new, the Government of Japan will host ESCAP's High-level Intergovernmental Meeting to Conclude the Decade of Disabled Persons in October in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture. Prior to the High-level Meeting, three NGO-organized conferences, namely, the Disabled People’s International (DPI) sixth World Assembly, the Campaign 2002 to promote the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, and the Twelfth Rehabilitation International (RI) Asia and Pacific Regional Conference, will also be held in Japan in October. For those conferences organized by NGOs, the Government of Japan will extend financial and other support, including earmarked contributions to the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability for DPI’s Assembly, which we understand will be used to support the participation from developing countries.
I would also like to offer a brief summary of the domestic measures the Government of Japan has taken to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.
Along with the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992), the Government of Japan formulated and implemented the Long-Term Program for Government Measures for Disabled Persons during the period 1982-1992. Following the launch of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons in 1993, the Program was revised and a New Long-Term Program (April 1993 - March 2003) was elaborated in March of that year. Those two successive programs are characterized as national action plans according to the international decades for disabled persons.
Since the current New Long-Term Program will expire in March 2003 and ESCAP’s new Decade of Disabled Persons (2003-2012) is to be launched in 2003, the Government of Japan is now in the process of formulating a new basic plan for the next ten years with a renewed commitment to promoting and protecting the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. To make this process even more effective, in June 2002 a forum chaired by Chief Cabinet Secretary started its works of collecting the views and opinions of civil society including disabled persons, related welfare organizations, and academics, so that they would be properly taken into account in the formulation of the new plan.
At the same time, on the occasion of the Central Government Reform put into effect on 6 January 2001, the Headquarter of Promoting the Welfare of Disabled Persons headed by the Prime Minister was established within the Cabinet to facilitate closer communication and better coordination among the relevant administrative organs and to enhance comprehensive and effective implementation of related policies.
The Government of Japan's policies for persons with disabilities have been promoted with the objective of "Full Participation and Equality" under the Disabled Persons Fundamental Law and the Long-Term Program. The policies are based on a philosophy of "rehabilitation", which aims at fulfilling human rights at all stages of the life cycle, and "normalization", which aims at creating a society in which persons with disabilities are equal to those without disabilities with respect to daily life and activities.
Under the New Long-Term Program, the Government of Japan, with the strengthened governmental structure, has been implementing the Action Plan - A Seven-Year Normalization Strategy, which lays out concrete objectives and numerical goals to be achieved. The Action Plan currently focuses on the following seven areas:
- Living in communities as ordinary citizens;
- Promoting the independence of persons with disabilities;
- Promoting a barrier-free society;
- Targeting the quality of life;
- Assuring safety in daily life;
- Removing psychological barriers; and
- Promoting international cooperation and exchanges.
Finally, allow me to explain my Government’s basic position on the issues in relation to a convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. My delegation is of the view that international human rights instruments should obtain the broadest possible support of the international community in order for them to have universal value and work effectively in such a way as to truly promote and protect the human rights of persons with disabilities. It therefore believes that we should make every possible effort to reach a consensus on proposals in relation to the convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. In so doing, we should first crystallize in a comprehensive manner what the issues are regarding persons with disabilities, taking fully into account the full range of views expressed in the Ad Hoc Committee, including those of civil society. We should then discuss the identified issues constructively and thoroughly. In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, the Government of Japan would like to express the hope that this Ad Hoc Committee will serve as a major catalyst to deepen consideration of the issue so that a solid further consensus will be reached.
Thank you very much.