Statement by Ms. Natsuki Soda

Assistant Director of Africa Division 4, Japan International Cooperation Agency

At the Panel Discussion organized by the President of the UN General Assembly

3:00-6:00pm, CR4, UN Headquarters

13 June 2016



Thank you Mr. Chair,


          My name is Natsuki SODA. I am one of the staff with disabilities working at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). JICA has been actively sending persons with disabilities to developing countries. I also had the opportunity to work as a volunteer at a local Disabled Peoples’ Organization (DPO) in the Philippines for two years.


          As a representative from the Government of Japan, I would like to share the lesson that I have learnt from my fellow Filipino leaders with disabilities, when the Typhoon Haiyan devastated the country in 2013.


          The most important lesson I have learnt was that persons with disabilities have the power to initiate the process of mainstreaming - even under the most difficult circumstances.



          “What can we do as a local DPO in the affected area?” – That was the key question of our emergency meeting on the next day the Typhoon hit us.


          We knew that it would take some time for the formal institutional framework of inclusion to be set up. That was the simple reason why we did not wait to be “included”. We chose to initiate the process of mainstreaming by ourselves.


          We started the operation to distribute the relief goods in the most affected municipalities, not only to our registered members with disabilities but to any community member who has not received the relief goods for different reasons. The communities appreciated our contribution. We were all proud that we did promote the mainstreaming.


          Especially in the situation of natural disasters, persons with disabilities are considered as “vulnerable people” to be protected.  However, local leaders with disabilities showed that any so called “vulnerable people” will become “Agents of Change”.



          Only after my 2 years-experience with Filipinos with disabilities, only after I witnessed the changes that we could actually bring together, I made up mind to live as an agent of change in my country Japan and in this world.


          Filipino colleagues told me that the same thing happened to them back in 20 years ago.  Japanese leaders with disabilities have been inviting persons with disabilities from developing countries for the training to help them become the Agents of Change of their own country . I met some of them today in this conference room.


          I would like to emphasize the important implication from here. It is crucial to create more opportunities for persons with disabilities to encounter and empower each other. The determination to be an “Agent of Change” will never leave us, once deeply rooted the encounter with your “role model” from any country.


          Let us lead on the process of mainstreaming, right now, as Agents of Change. Then the results will be different in 2030 and beyond. 


Thank you very much for you attention.



Facebook Twitter Youtube
Sitemap | Legal Matters | About Accessibility | Privacy Policy
Copyright ©2012 Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
The Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
866 U.N. Plaza, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10017
Phone: 212-223-4300