2003 Statement


H.E. Mr. Koichi Haraguchi

Permanent Representative of Japan

On Item 117(b), "Human rights questions,including alternative approaches for

improving the effective enjoyment of human rightsand fundamental freedoms",

and Item 117(c), "Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives"

10 November 2003

Mr. Chairperson,

At the outset, the Government of Japan reaffirms its position that fundamental human rights must be promoted and protected in every part of the world and that the promotion and protection of all human rights is a legitimate concern of the international community, as stipulated in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. It is the primary responsibility of each and every State to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. In many human rights- related cases, we are much encouraged to witness favorable developments. There are some cases, however, in which, to our regret, we have not been able to observe any progress. The international community must further intensify its efforts to address those outstanding issues with a firm determination to resolve them.

The problems related to the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea agents is one of those outstanding issues. The resolution entitled "Situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea" adopted at the fifty-ninth session of the Commission on Human Rights on the 16th of April this year calls upon DPRK to respond immediately to the concerns of the international community by resolving, clearly and transparently, all the unresolved questions relating to the abduction of foreigners. Japan emphasizes the urgent need for North Korea to rectify the current inhumane situation in which the five abduction returnees have been separated from their families in North Korea for more than a year. Japan urges that North Korea take concrete and responsible measures to realize the reunion in Japan of the abductees and their families at the earliest possible date. Japan also urgently requests that North Korea provide concrete information in reply to the fact-finding questionnaires on the abduction cases, which Japan submitted during the normalization talks in October last year.

The resolution also requests DPRK to cooperate with the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to engage in a comprehensive dialogue with DPRK. We urge that North Korea cooperate fully without restriction so that the Working Group and the OHCHR would be able to fulfill their expected mission. At the same time, Japan calls upon all States concerned to cooperate by providing relevant information and conducting thorough investigations, where necessary, on those abduction cases.

Mr. Chairperson,

At the outset, I stated that the promotion and protection of all human rights is a legitimate concern of the international community. But in trying to address human rights cases effectively, we deem it important to take into consideration the specific situations of the country in question, such as its history, culture, and tradition, which have affected those cases. We do not believe that a single across-the-board approach ignoring these specific situations facing a country will in any way be conducive to the improvement of actual human rights situations.

From this point of view, it is essential, in our view, to combine the following three approaches: first, promote mutual understanding through dialogue on each countryfs specific situation, second, engage in cooperation with a view to enhancing human rights protection in an effective and practical way, and third, express firm disapproval of serious violations of human rights, whenever required.

Based on such a three-fold approach, Japan has conducted dialogues on human rights with several countries to promote mutual understanding and seek practical solutions. The basic objective of our discussions here is not to level accusations at our dialogue partners. When we observe a positive development, instead of deploring how far a country has yet to go to completely correct the situation, it would be better to commend the country for how far it has come, and encourage the country to continue and accelerate its efforts to reach the desired end.

Mr. Chairperson,

In this context, I would particularly like to mention the situations in Cambodia, Myanmar, and Sudan. The Government of Japan is greatly encouraged that a number of positive changes have been taking place in Cambodia in the field of human rights. International observers generally agreed that the national elections in July went smoothly and can serve as an important step to further consolidate the process of democratization. On the establishment of the rule of law, which is generally considered to be a key area for democratic nation-building, we are pleased to note that the drafts of the Civil Code, the Code of Civil Procedures, and the Anti-Corruption Law were submitted to the Council of Ministers. With regard to the Khmer Rouge trials, we welcome the signing of the agreement between the Government of Cambodia and the United Nations, and we appeal to the National Assembly of Cambodia to promptly ratify the agreement, and the international community to extend the necessary financial and personnel support to the Extraordinary Chambers. The Government of Japan will continue to assist Cambodiafs sincere efforts in the area of human rights.

Mr. Chairperson,

With regard to Myanmar, the Government of Japan is seriously concerned about the present situation, and considers it important that the freedom of the parties concerned to engage in political activities be promptly restored, and that concrete steps be taken toward national reconciliation and democratization. We fully support the efforts of the special envoy of the Secretary-General, Mr. Razali Ismail, who has been playing a crucial role in facilitating the dialogue between the Government of Myanmar and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. While acknowledging such recent developments as the Roadmap announced by Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt on August 30, we call on the Myanmar Government to proceed expeditiously with genuine efforts towards national reconciliation and democratization by ensuring the participation of all relevant parties in the process. We welcome even further efforts of ASEAN countries to encourage the Myanmar Government to take such steps. We strongly believe that Myanmar is a nation with great potential for prosperity if steady progress is made in these areas.

In Sudan, we are pleased to report that the human-rights dialogue between our two governments has been producing concrete results. For example, last August in Khartoum, the Governments of Sudan and Japan jointly held a symposium against female genital mutilation, together with UNICEF. We strongly hope that the comprehensive settlement of the Civil War, once reached, will further enhance the human rights situations in Sudan.

Mr. Chairperson,

Protecting and promoting human rights requires tireless efforts on the part of the international community. Since its establishment, the United Nations has always played the critical role in these efforts. I would like to conclude my statement by assuring you of the firm commitment of the Government of Japan to continuing to work with the United Nations to this end.

Thank you.