Statement by H.E. Mr. Kenzo Oshima
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
31 October 2005
First, let me reiterate that my delegation pledges its full support and cooperation with you and the bureau, in the work of the Committee ahead of us.
My delegation wishes to thank all the Special Rapporteurs for presenting their reports.
Promotion of human rights has been one of the fundamental objectives of the United Nations along with its other key objectives such as development and peace and security. This was once again reaffirmed by world leaders during the 2005 World Summit Outcome. Much has been achieved over the years in this area, including the adoption of a number of landmark international human rights conventions and national legal instruments and practical measures based on them. But, at the same time, there remain many challenges and tasks facing us all in achieving the steady realization of the norms of these conventions and instruments to improve the human rights situation around the world. Consequently, the protection and promotion of human rights must remain high in the agenda of the international community.
In practical terms, the following three actions need to go together if we are to achieve improvements in specific country human rights situations: first, promoting mutual understanding through dialogue on each country's specific situations; second, cooperating with the country concerned in an effective and practical way with a view to enhancing human rights protection; and third, where there are cases of serious sustained human rights violations, voicing firm disapproval of them.
Japan has followed this approach in addressing specific country situations in Asia and elsewhere in the world. In Cambodia, for example, we have been trying to facilitate the improvement of the human rights situation through providing assistance that will help the country's consolidation of peace and national reconciliation and reconstruction. To help promote the fight against impunity and strengthen the rule of law, Japan has been in recent years providing substantial assistance towards the realization of the Khmer Rouge Trials, working closely with the Cambodian government and other like-minded countries as well as the UN.
In Myanmar, the National Convention has been convened intermittently since May 2004, as the first step in the Government's "seven-step roadmap" to move forward in democratization and national reconciliation. We will continue to closely monitor the steps and measures taken by the Myanmar government to implement policies enunciated in this roadmap process. We continue to support the Secretary-General's efforts through his Special Envoy to engage with the Myanmar authorities to improve the situation and we will also work with the government of Myanmar and with ASEAN Member States and other countries in the region to encourage the Myanmar government to accelerate its efforts to achieve, with inclusiveness and transparency, the stated objectives in the roadmap process of democratization, national reconciliation, and an improved human rights and humanitarian situation for their people.
The international community has repeatedly expressed concerns about the serious human rights situation in the DPRK. This year once again, the Commission on Human Rights has adopted a resolution on this subject. The Commission expressed "its deep concern about continuing reports of systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights" in that country. It also expressed grave concern over the fact that the DPRK had "not accepted the mandate of the Special Rapporteur" and had "not extended any cooperation" to him. Such a situation and such behavior are regrettable and unacceptable to the international community.
The delegate of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea made reference to the fact that a number of Korean people were brought from the Korean Peninsula to Japan in the not-too-distant past. And he mentioned that the number was millions. In this context, I would like to remind that the Government of Japan is sincerely confronting the fact that many people in the Korean Peninsula were caught in an unfortunate situation in the past and has expressed its deep remorse and offered its heartfelt apology for that past history on numerous occasions. However, the number that the Delegation of the DPRK mentioned are grossly exaggerated and we find it very difficult to accept.
As the Special Rapporteur has correctly pointed out, there has been no progress in resolving the issue of the Japanese abductees. In spite of the repeated requests from Japan on the abduction issue, the DPRK has failed to respond in good faith. We again strongly urge the DPRK authorities to take the matter seriously and implement those measures specified in the resolution of the Commission on Human Rights, including allowing the visit of the Special Rapporteur.
Japan welcomes the agreement reached in the 2005 World Summit Outcome to establish a Human Rights Council to strengthen the international community's efforts to improve the human rights of peoples around the world. We hope that the ongoing active consultations will enable us to reach an early agreement on the details so that the Council can be established by the end of the year. The Council should be established as a strong and effective body, building on the strengths and overcoming the weaknesses of the Commission on Human Rights. My delegation welcomes the active participation of many Member States in the informal consultations being held under the President of the General Assembly, Jan Eliasson, and tbe Co-Chairs, the Ambassadors of Panama and South Africa.
No less important than establishing the Council is the agreement by world leaders to strengthen the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The High Commissioner's Office should be equipped with adequate structure and capacity and provided with resources that will enable it to facilitate implementation of human rights norms and thus improve the human rights situation on the ground through effective capacity-building, technical assistance and other necessary activities. In this context, we support the Plan of Action developed by the High Commissioner which aims towards greater country engagement as its first priority.
Finally, Mr. Chairperson,
The international community must increase its efforts to advance the implementation of human rights norms and improve the actual human rights situations across the world. To this end, we must be principled in our approaches yet flexible in the ways and means adopted to fit the specific circumstances. This, in our view, should be held high in our agenda of reform in the field of human rights. We strongly hope that the historic reform process that we are all now engaged in will enable us take many steps further in the quest of improved human rights for as many people of the world as possible. Japan will continue to be fully committed to this quest and give it all possible support.