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Statement by Ms. Satomi Okagaki
Delegation of Japan
Sixty-first Session of the General Assembly
Item 60: Social Development
2 October 2006
Let me begin by extending my delegation's congratulations to you and the other members of the Bureau on your election. My delegation is pleased to be able to participate in discussions under agenda items 60, which deal with social development. We have full confidence in your leadership and assure you of our full support and cooperation in order to guarantee the success of the work of the Committee during the sixty-first session of the General Assembly.
Copenhagen +10 Summit
Japan continues to support the implementation of the commitments made at the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995 and during the 24th special session of the General Assembly. We also reiterate our commitment to implement the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.
Japan welcomes the review of the first United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty which took place at the 44th session of the Commission for Social Development in February 2006. That review made clear what has been achieved during the Decade and what still needs to be done in the various areas of social development. Japan reiterates its strong support for achieving these commitments based on the people-centered approach of "human security."
Japan believes that a human security approach enables us to protect people from diverse threats including poverty, environmental degradation, conflicts, landmines, refugees' problems, illicit drugs and infectious diseases and empower those people to enhance their resilience. My government has actively promoted human security as an important perspective of Japan's foreign policy and has consistently offered its Official Development Assistance (ODA). To date, the Japanese government has contributed about 280 million dollars to the Trust Fund for Human Security which was established through the initiative of the Japanese government at the United Nations in 1999. This Trust Fund for Human Security has supported more than 160 projects which have brought concrete and sustainable benefits to peoples and local communities worldwide.
My government highly welcomes the fact that the eighth session of the Ad Hoc Committee in August reached an agreement on a draft convention to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. The draft convention enables persons with disabilities to enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms equally with others and promotes their full inclusion in society. We highly appreciate the continued efforts of the Member States, since the first session of the Ad Hoc Committee in July 2002. It should also be noted that the continued participation of civil society, including the persons with disabilities, in the negotiation process has set a good example of the cooperative relationship between the Member States and civil society. Such a relationship has enabled us to respond to the real needs of persons with disabilities and to bring several special perspectives into the Convention.
Japan, as one of the active participants of the negotiation, sincerely hopes, along with all other Member States, that the Convention will be adopted during the 61st session of the General Assembly and commits itself to doubling its efforts to realize a cohesive society where every individual's personality and character is respected and persons with disabilities enjoy equal rights and opportunities.
The year 2007 is the 5th anniversary of the adoption of Political Declaration and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging by the UN Second World Assembly on Aging. Japan recognizes that issues related to ageing and older persons remain relatively low on the list of items on both national and international development agendas in many parts of the world. Japan is a country whose population is ageing with unprecedented speed. The percentage of the population over 65 in Japan reached 21.0 % in 2005 and the reality of an ageing society presents various serious challenges. Japan continues to implement policies and programmes on aging within a broad framework provided by the Madrid Plan of Action with a view to create a society for all ages and is ready to share its experiences and expertise with the international community.
International Plan of Action for the United Nations Literacy Decade
About four years have passed since the United Nations Literacy Decade was launched on 1 January 2003 to complement other agreed development goals including the entire Education for All (EFA) process. The recent report of the Director-General of UNESCO on the implementation of the International Plan of Action for the United Nations Literacy Decade shows that there are still over 771 million non-literate adults worldwide according to April 2006 statistics and those numbers are much greater if school-age children who have been denied access to basic education are taken into account.
Japan, recognizing that investment in education should be the basis for nation-building, commits itself to achieve the Literacy Decade goals through international cooperation in the field of formal and non-formal education. In this regard, Japan has been providing a unique international cooperative program called the "World Terakoya Movement" which was initiated by the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan. The movement started in 1989 and as of 2005, 409 projects have been implemented in cooperation with central governments, educational institutions and NGOs in 43 countries. The program provides the opportunity for children not enrolled in school and adults who did not have adequate opportunities for basic education in developing countries to study at "Terakoya" schools. The term "Terakoya" literally means "temple hut" in Japanese which refers to the civilian-run schools in Japan that used to provide literacy and basic education to the children of common people from the 14th to 19th centuries. Japan reaffirms its commitment to contribute to the field of literacy in collaboration with the international community.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairperson, the delegation of Japan wishes to reaffirm its sincere hope that Japan will be able to continue to contribute to efforts to create a society for all from a perspective of human security, by protecting and empowering individuals' lives, livelihoods and dignity.
Thank you very much.
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