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Statement by Ms. Mikiko Otani
Alternate Representative of Japan
on Advancement of women (Item 61)
(a) Advancement of women, and
(b) Implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women and of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly
61st Session of the General Assembly
10 October 2006
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.
Last year, on the occasion of the "Beijing + 10" and the World Summit, we reaffirmed our strong belief that gender equality is essential if solid progress is to be made in the area of development, peace and security. Japan shares this belief and the principles that must be observed in order to achieve internationally agreed development objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals, through effective implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Japan believes that further efforts needs to be made to achieve gender equality in society so that women can fully realize their potential and come to play a wide range of vital roles in society.
It is essential to enhance women's participation in all areas of society, in response to changes that have taken place in the socio-economic environment.
At the national level, Japan's revised Basic Plan for Gender Equality clearly states that greater participation by women is necessary in new areas such as the environment and disaster prevention and recovery. Moreover the Plan clarifies one of its targets, namely, that women hold at least 30 percent of leadership positions in all fields of society by 2020.
This year Japan revised the Law on Securing, Etc. of Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment (commonly called "Equal Employment Opportunity Law"). The revised law expands the scope of the prohibition on sex discrimination and detrimental treatment due to pregnancy, for example, and is expected to facilitate greater participation by women in society.
As an illustration of international cooperation in the area of gender equality, a ministerial-level meeting of East Asian officials concerned was held in Tokyo this June on the theme of "Toward Gender Equality in East Asia." Views were exchanged on related issues such as globalization, the rights of women and women's participation in decision-making processes, and the participants discussed ways and means of promoting gender equality. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Tokyo Joint Ministerial Communiqué was adopted, aimed at promoting regional networking for the purpose of sharing good practices and lessons learned.
My government warmly welcomes the report of the Secretary-General, "In-depth study on all forms of violence against women" (A/61/122/Add.1). This comprehensive document provides an analysis of persistent problems from a range of standpoints, and identifies good practices and lessons learned about the steps to eliminate all forms of violence against women. Japan considers that UNIFEM (the United Nations Development Fund for Women) has played an important role in this area and my government supports its activities. Japan hopes that all relevant mechanisms within the United Nations will enhance their policies and strategies for achieving effective and efficient implementation of programs and projects for combating violence against women.
Let me briefly introduce two examples of domestic activities that Japan has recently carried out in this area. First, in accordance with the revised Law for the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims, which provides for comprehensive regulations concerning spousal violence, local governments established Spousal Violence Counseling and Support Centers, 170 nationwide as of 1 September 2006, and they provide much-needed assistance to women who are victims of such behavior.
Secondly, in 2004 Japan developed and adopted a national Action Plan of Measures to Combat Trafficking in Persons, which it believes is a serious crime as well as a grave violation of human rights to which a prompt and appropriate response is required, and since that time it has implemented a number of the measures in the Plan. On the international front, in order to prevent and eradicate trafficking in persons, we believe that close cooperation is necessary among concerned states. To this end, a government delegation has visited countries including the Philippines, Thailand, Columbia, Indonesia and Russia to discuss anti-human trafficking measures and share information with representatives of governments, NGOs, international organizations and faith-based organizations.
Based on the "Initiative on Gender and Development" introduced last year, Japan has worked to integrate a gender equality perspective into every phase and every area of the implementation of its ODA and also strengthened assistance to developing countries' efforts to achieve a gender equality in society. And Japan promotes the concept of human security, which aims to protect people from critical and pervasive threats to human life, livelihood and dignity and to empower them, thereby enhancing the prospect that they will find fulfillment. Japan believes that through such protection and empowerment, the participation of women in society will be facilitated.
Allow me to introduce some concrete examples of the efforts Japan has made to realize human security through the Trust Fund for Human Security.
In Timor-Leste, Japan has extended some 5 million US dollars in assistance to the "Ainaro and Manatutu Community Activation Project" in order to enhance rural communities. This project includes income-generating activities such as weaving and basket making, aimed at enabling women to participate in and thereby contribute to community development.
In Afghanistan, Japan has supported a UNIFEM project and promoted the social re-integration of female refugees and internally displaced persons. That support takes the form of vocational training, convening seminars and carrying out income-generating programs.
In conclusion, the government of Japan reaffirms its commitment to achieving gender equality within and outside of Japan, working toward that goal in close partnership with international organizations and civil society, including non-governmental organizations.
Thank you very much.
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