Statement by Ms. Satomi Okagaki
Delegation of Japan
Item 3 (b): Review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action
pertaining to the situation of social groups
Commission for Social Development
13 February 2006
At the outset, I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the delegation of Japan, to congratulate you and the other members of the Bureau on your election and also to express my gratitude to the Bureau and the Secretariat for the preparations for this session of the Commission. We have full confidence in your leadership and assure you of our full support and cooperation throughout the session.
My government would like to touch upon the situation of social groups, particularly older, disabled persons and youth to which the Government of Japan attaches great importance in order to foment healthy, sound and prosperous society for today and tomorrow.
As far as the issue of aging is concerned, Japan is one of those countries whose population is ageing with unprecedented speed. The percentage of the population over 65 in Japan reached 19.5% in 2004 and the reality of an ageing society presents various serious challenges. In order to meet some of these challenges, Japan recognizes the importance of creating an enabling and supportive environment for older persons and has steadily taken the measures regarding the employment, income, health, and welfare of older persons. In the area of employment, it maintains a system of continuous employment for persons up to the age of 65, and has also elaborated a system to promote re-employment of the elderly. Japan has also initiated reforms of its pension and medical care systems. And in order to promote the fulfillment and health of the elderly, grants are provided for educational and social activities. We believe that such efforts to improve the quality of life of older persons are an example of implementing the goals of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging. The year 2007 is important, as it marks five years since the Second World Assembly on Ageing. Japan, as one of the most acutely aging society, will vigorously pursue to incorporate challenges of aging and the concerns of older persons into its national policy. Sharing our experience, our success and difficulties should certainly contribute to the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Madrid Plan of Action at the national, regional and international levels. In this context, my government is fully committed to cooperate with other member states in preparing for the review and appraisal in the coming year.
Concerning the issue of persons with disabilities, Japan is committed to promoting the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities and has been implementing legislative, administrative and other measures towards this end. In order to further ensure equal opportunities for persons with disabilities, Japan amended the Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities in 2004. Last year, the Japanese Parliament also revised the Law for Employment Promotion of Persons with Disabilities to further enhance the employment opportunities for the persons with disabilities and enacted the Law to Help Persons with Disabilities Become Independent in their Social Life which supports to foment local societies in which persons with disabilities can enjoy an independent and safety life. Japan also supports fully and participates actively in the negotiation process of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and welcomes the significant progress we have made at the seventh session of the Ad Hoc Committee, which ended just ten days ago. Japan will remain active in contributing to the negotiation process.
Finally, I will briefly touch upon the issue of youth. Last year marked the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond. The review conducted at the 60th session of the General Assembly contributed further to address the challenges facing youth and renewed the determination of Member States to attain the goals of the World Programme of Action for Youth. In order to promote the sound development of the young people, Japanese government established the Headquarter for Youth Development within the Cabinet Office in 2003.
Young people are an important asset for sustainable economic growth and social development. Bearing in mind that creation of employment for youth who will lead the nation and the international society in future will contribute to poverty reduction in developing countries, Japan is committed to international cooperation and supports youth in developing countries by providing development assistance as well as by engaging in international exchange and volunteer activities such as providing educational material and equipment.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairperson, the delegation of Japan wishes to reaffirm its sincere hope that it will be able to contribute to efforts to create a society for all in which no one will be treated in a discriminatory manner, and in which every individual is able to live with dignity, freedom and the opportunity for fulfillment.
Thank you very much.