Statement by Ms. Yoriko Suzuki, Minister at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, on Item 5: Measures to enhance the promotion and protection of the human rights of Older Persons at the 10th Session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Aging

(As delivered)
Madame Chair,

          Allow me to begin by extending our appreciation to the bureau and secretariat for their efforts in organizing this important meeting.

          This year marks the 10th anniversary since the establishment of this Working Group.  We value greatly the role of the working group as a forum to exchange member states’ experiences on aging issues.  I also praise the bureau’s initiative in choosing focus areas.  Since the 8th session, member states, UN agencies and civil society partners have continuously offered information relevant to the focus areas and several active discussions have been held.

          This session’s focus areas are “Social protection and social security” and “Education training, lifelong learning and capacity-building.”  As a leading country on the issue of aging, Japan has implemented measures in these focus areas and shared knowledge with other countries.

          Today I would like to provide an outline of Japan’s policies as they relate to lifelong education and social protection.

          In Japan, a variety of education opportunities are provided so that all citizens, regardless of age, can engage in learning activities throughout their lives.  A variety of public lecture courses are held at universities and other educational institutions.  Moreover, online public learning opportunities are offered through the Open University of Japan, and community centers and other social educational and cultural institutions often offer various educational opportunities as well.

          Japan implements a number of measures aimed at social protection.  In one such measure, insurance premiums for long-term care are decided based on the respective income level of the care receivers, and individuals whose income is below a certain level qualify for insurance premium reductions which are funded by revenue generated from consumption taxes.  Further, out-of-pocket payments are set at 10% in principle, and the Government of Japan, by setting a maximum limit on out-of-pocket payments, ensures that elderly people who need long-term care services can access the services they need.

          In addition to these measures, the Government of Japan plans to establish a structure called the Community-Based Integrated Care System.  The purpose of the system is to comprehensively ensure access to healthcare, nursing care, preventative services, housing, and livelihood support.  Through this system, older persons will be able to live their lives as they choose in environments familiar to them, even in situations where they become heavily reliant on long-term care.

          In international fora, such as the United Nations General Assembly, Japan has been actively advocating for universal health coverage (UHC).  Basic health services of UHC include services such as community comprehensive care and long term care.  As the chair of this year’s G20 Summit, Japan will lead the way in addressing the challenges that face aging societies.  We will continue to work with the international community by sharing our experiences, technology and knowledge through means including assistance for aging societies in developing countries, support for social security system improvements, dispatching of experts, and training.

          It is important for each state to first firmly implement existing frameworks to address the challenges posed by an aging society, including the Madrid Action Plan.  It is Japan’s view that, through the sharing of good practices and capacity-building, we can reflect the knowledge we have learned from each other in our policies without having to develop a new convention for elderly persons.  That being said, we are always ready to listen to insights and opinions from other member states.

          In conclusion, Japan will continue to make our utmost efforts for the achievement of a society where no one is left behind.

          Thank you.