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Statement by H.E. Ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
at the Seventh Session of the Conference of States Parties
to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
10 June 2014
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honor for me to deliver this statement representing the Government of Japan as a State Party for the first time.
Two representatives from civil society in Japan have joined this Conference as members of the Japanese delegation and are present here today. Let me introduce them to you. One is Mr. Katsunori Fujii from the Japan Disability Forum, which consists of thirteen Japanese organizations of persons with disabilities. The other is Professor Jun Ishikawa, former Chair of the Commission on Policy for Persons with Disabilities of Japan. The Commission makes recommendations on policies and implementation of the Basic Plan for Persons with Disabilities to the Government of Japan.
On 20th January, I had the personal pleasure of presenting the instrument of ratification of the Convention to the United Nations. In this first statement as a State Party today, I would like to touch upon three points. First is the role of civil society. The second is the importance of international cooperation. And the third is disability and disasters.
First, let us remember that the Convention was negotiated not only by the UN Member States but also with the participation of civil society. The implementation of the Convention has also been promoted together with civil society. Members from Japanese civil society took part in the negotiations at the UN. They are also engaged in the implementation of the Convention in Japan.
In order to ratify and implement the Convention to the full, the Government of Japan amended relevant domestic laws and formulated a new act, legally requesting national and local governments as well as the private sector to take concrete action against discrimination on the basis of disabilities.
The Government of Japan will continue to exchange views with civil society for the implementation of the Convention in specific sectors of policies, such as education and employment. People with diversified disabilities need to join in such discussions. By doing so, we will be able to promote an inclusive society. Those themes of sector-based discussions among people with diversified disabilities were main topics at a side event, which took place today co-hosted by my Government, the Japan Disability Forum and the Government of Poland.
The second point is the importance of international cooperation. Persons with disabilities make up an estimated 15 percent of the world’s population, or approximately one billion people. 80 percent of these people live in developing countries. The Government of Japan has focused on a wide range of community-based rehabilitation, in extending international cooperation to those developing countries. It includes capacity training, skills training and advocacy campaigns.
One example that I would like to highlight is the Asia Pacific Development Center on Disabilities (APCD) in Bangkok, Thailand. Over 1,600 people from over 30 countries in the Asia-Pacific region were trained at the Center since Japan started to extend its assistance to APCD in 2002. More than 50 percent of those who received training were persons with disabilities. After completing the training at the Center, many of them went on to take their own initiatives. For example, some persons with intellectual disabilities in Thailand organized a workshop to discuss the issues and solutions of persons with similar disabilities. Empowered by these activities, the first organization of persons with intellectual disabilities was launched in Thailand. The activities of this organization were later spread to Myanmar and Cambodia.
The third point which I wish to refer to is disability and disasters. The needs of persons with disabilities are particularly sensitive in times of disaster. It is known that the mortality rate of persons with disabilities affected by natural disaster is much higher than the rate of all victims affected. It was also true in the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011.
After the earthquake, the Government of Japan amended the Basic Act on Disaster Control Measures. The amendment includes the creation of obligatory lists of persons who would need support during an evacuation.
Tomorrow the DESA Forum on this matter will be held, co-sponsored by Japan and civil society. At the Forum, disaster risk reduction and resilience will be discussed from the perspective of persons with disabilities. We welcome participation by all present here today.
In closing, I would like to emphasize that Japan attaches great importance to this Conference of State Parties and pledges to work in close cooperation with other Member States as well as with civil society. The Government of Japan intends to contribute to the Convention proactively through continued international cooperation and future participation in the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Thank you, Mr. President.