Statement by Ms. Mikiko Otani
Alternate Representative of Japan
Sixtieth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
Item 67: Promotion and protection of the rights of the child
17 October 2005
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Japan believes that building a world fit for children would be a major step towards fulfilling the commitments we made at the Millennium Summit in 2000. Indeed all four major goal areas set forth in the Plan of Action adopted at the special session of the General Assembly on children three years ago–namely, promoting healthy lives, providing quality education, protecting against abuse, exploitation and violence and combating HIV/AIDS–are important if we are to establish an environment in which children can live in peace, dignity and freedom.
Although much progress has been made in each of these areas, it is a heartbreaking fact that children, who are entitled to grow up in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding, are still the victims of violence. In my remarks, I wish to introduce some of our efforts relating to the promotion and protection of the rights of the child; child trafficking; children under armed conflict; and natural disasters. All of these problems are the direct cause of suffering of children.
Sexual abuse and exploitation and trafficking of children, especially girls, are violations of the human rights of children as well as acts of violence against them. In order to ensure the effective implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in this area, Japan has been making efforts both domestically and internationally. It enacted the Law for Punishing Acts Related to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and for Protecting Children in 1999 and established a National Plan of Action against Commercial and Sexual Exploitation of Children in 2001. In December of the same year, Japan hosted the Second World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Yokohama . The law regulating acts involving children through the use of Internet dating services took effect in December 2003 . It addresses growing problem of child prostitution taking advantage of the Internet. And the revised Child Abuse Prevention Law and the revised Child Welfare Law were enacted last year. These are designed to better coordinate efforts to address child abuse including sexual exploitation. Finally, in January this year, Japan ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
As one of the comprehensive set of measures it has taken to combat trafficking in persons, a series of amendments to laws and regulations was approved at the last session of the Diet, including an amendment to the penal code to criminalize the acts of buying and selling persons. Japan’s international cooperation in this area has included visits by Japanese delegations to eight countries including the Philippines, Thailand, Romania, and Colombia, cooperation with faith-based organizations, and provision of support through the Trust Fund for Human Security to various preventive/protective programs, such as those entitled “Girl’s education and community development for awareness raising and prevention of girl trafficking in Laos,” “Prevention of trafficking in children and women at a community level in Cambodia and Vietnam,” and “Adolescent girls, trafficking and HIV/AIDS: strengthening responses in South Asia.”
Children caught up in conflict are particularly vulnerable to violence being committed against them. Children need protection and we have both the moral and legal obligation to provide it. We therefore welcome Security Council resolution 1612 adopted in July, which established a monitoring and reporting mechanism on children under armed conflict and calls for its early implementation. We also need to take concrete steps to implement the commitments reaffirmed by our leaders concerning this issue in the outcome document of the high-level plenary meeting.
At this juncture, I wish to refer yet again to the concept of human security, which Japan strongly advocates. What we believe human security to be is the protection of the individual and promotion of his/her empowerment. As the Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly states, children should be prepared to live an individual life in society. For them to do so, they need protection and assistance so that they can fully develop their capacity.
Japan ’s Flash Support for Consolidation of Peace in Africa announced in March is based on this idea. Within this program, Japan has extended contributions to United Nations Children’s Fund projects to effect community rehabilitation in Sierra Leone and Rwanda and providing support for internally displaced persons in northern Uganda , with a view to meeting the basic needs of the devastated communities and children there.
To support the consolidation of peace in the Republic of the Sudan , the Government of Japan has decided to make an emergency grant, one fourth of which it directed to UNICEF for the execution of its project to expand primary education in the south by constructing 100 schools with 800 classrooms and providing 350,000 textbooks. We also believe that reinforcement of the family is essential for the protection of children, and we therefore are providing assistance to a project called “Support to coping mechanisms of crisis affected Congolese households” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo through the Trust Fund for Human Security.
In times of natural disaster, children are even more vulnerable. To help those young people who suffered the most seriously from the major earthquake off the coast of Sumatra and the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, Japan, in coordination with NGOs and other relevant organizations, is implementing the “Child support plan for tsunami victims,” focusing on both child protection, including anti-human trafficking measures, and child survival, including measures against infectious diseases. For this purpose, Japan is utilizing $86 million from the $250 million in emergency assistance it contributed to international organizations including UNICEF, IOM, UN-HABITAT and WHO in response to the emergency appeal. Moreover the Government of Japan has decided to provide grant aid of $20 million for relief from the recent earthquake in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, $8 million of which it is considering providing through international organizations.
To conclude, Mr. Chairman,
I wish to reiterate my country’s firm commitment to creating a world fit for children, and establishing an environment in which children can live in peace, dignity and freedom. Only in this way will they have the opportunity to grow up to be healthy adults who contribute to their own well-being and that of their society to the best of their abilities.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.