2005 Statement



Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan

Item 3 (a) : Review of further implementation of the World Summit for Social and the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly

High-level plenary meeting Forty-third Session Commission for Social Development

11 February 2005

Mr. Chairperson,

At the outset let me congratulate you and other members of the Bureau on assuming your important roles leading the ten-year review of the World Summit for Social Development. I would like to assure you of my delegation' s full cooperation throughout the meeting.

Mr. Chairman,

Today, ten years after the Copenhagen Summit, it is encouraging to note that there have been significant developments in a number of areas and the concept of a people-centered approach has taken firm hold at different levels of policy-making. At the same time, we must admit that we are still a long way from fulfilling all the commitments made at the Summit, as is pointed out in the report of the Secretary-General.

Mr. Chairman,

Japan's development cooperation policy is based on the idea that development efforts require a comprehensive approach. The Government of Japan announced its new ODA Medium-Term Policy in February 2005, which states that Japan will contribute actively to achieving the Millennium Development Goals in developing countries. The policy has four priorities: poverty reduction, sustainable growth, addressing global issues, and peace-building, while emphasizing human security as an overarching goal of Japanese ODA. It is from this human security perspective that Japan has been extending assistance to protect and empower people, in particular, the most vulnerable in society, giving due consideration to regional disparities and socioeconomic inequalities. Thus, a people-centered approach is incorporated in our development policy and we are committed to implementing it.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation would like to share with you our self-review and assessment with regard to the three core issues identified at the Copenhagen Summit.

With regard to poverty reduction, we are fully aware of the mixed results and uneven progress made in the last ten years. As the report of the Secretary-General pointed out, Asia, and we believe especially East Asia, is a region that has experienced remarkable economic growth and success in reducing poverty. Japan is fully convinced, based on its own experience with East Asian countries, that poverty reduction can be achieved by realizing sustainable economic growth through both support for infrastructure and human resources development, focusing on capacity-building and empowering people. Japan also believes that the East Asian development experience can provide a practical reference for Africa. Japan will continue to actively promote Asia-Africa cooperation through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process.

With regard to employment, Japan has experienced a difficult situation due to our recent economic impasse. Japan's unemployment rate hit a record high, 5.5 percent in January 2003. Although there has been some improvement since that time and the figure fell to 4.4 percent in December 2004, further efforts are required. Through our struggle to overcome these difficulties in the ten years since the Copenhagen Summit, we have realized more clearly the importance of employment in enabling individuals to maintain their livelihoods and dignity, and in enabling society to be decent and prosperous. As a result, we now give priority to promoting employment for youth and older persons. While struggling to overcome a difficult domestic situation, Japan has been extending international cooperation in this field focusing on vocational training, with particular attention to supporting women and vulnerable members of society.

Finally, with regard to social integration, we would like to note that Japan has made steady efforts to elaborate appropriate measures for older persons and persons with disabilities, as well as to support parents in child-rearing and promote human rights education at various levels for the purpose of creating a society for all.
With regard to the problems of facing our rapidly aging society, Japan is accelerating revisions of its socio-economic system, including reforming both the pension and care insurance systems. Although there exists a gap between the thinking of young people and older persons as regards this issue and we realize it is difficult to proceed in a way that will satisfy everyone, the Government of Japan is intensifying its efforts to secure the safety and future well-being of its citizens.
With regard to the issue of persons with disabilities, the Japanese Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities was revised last year to include an article on the prohibition of discrimination and greater representation in policy-making. We have also made considerable progress in promoting accessibility in the physical environment including the areas of transport services and access to buildings, both public and private, although we are still a long way from realizing a real barrier-free society. Japan has also been enhancing international cooperation in this field from the perspective of human security and ensuring fairness, and is contributing positively to the negotiations of the Ad Hoc Committee on a Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion, the delegation of Japan wishes to reiterate its sincere hope that the review we conduct at this meeting will contribute further to creating a world in which each and every person can live a healthy and active life, which we believe is the goal of social development.

Thank you very much.