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Statement by Minister Yasushi Takase
Delegation of Japan
Item 3 (a): Promoting full employment and decent work for all
Commission for Social Development
8 February 2007
At the outset, on behalf of the delegation of Japan, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you and the other members of the Bureau on your election and also express my gratitude to the Bureau and the Secretariat for so successfully completing 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.
We appreciate that in the twelve years since the Copenhagen Summit, 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. In its foreign policy, Japan has accorded high priority to human security, that is, to the goal of ensuring the safety and well-being of every individual everywhere. Our ODA policy clearly states that Japan emphasizes human security as one of the most important goals of the international cooperation in which it engages. And we will continue to work to promote social development based on this idea of enhancing human security.
My delegation would like to share with you its views with regard to agenda item 3(a): Promoting full employment and decent work for all.
Globalization of the economy and the advent of information technology have had a beneficial impact, because they have created new job opportunities, improved productivity and promoted economic growth. However, it is also true that many people, especially vulnerable groups such as women and youth have to some extent been left behind, which is to say they have not received the blessings granted by this new world.
It is essential that the benefits conferred by rapid globalization and technological revolution be shared broadly among all people. As is pointed out in the report of the Secretary-General, "Promoting full employment and decent work for all," "Human security is intrinsically related to employment." Employment is significant not only as a means of securing income, it also has a direct bearing on how vulnerable a person is, and in fact is a prerequisite if individuals are to maintain their dignity.
It is important to achieve full employment through high-level sustainable economic development. This is not a matter of avoiding unemployment but of ensuring decent work for all, productive employment under conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. The delegation of Japan would like to take this opportunity to express its views on youth employment in particular, as this is now a serious issue in Japan and in many other countries and was chosen as an emerging issue to be considered at this session of the commission.
The employment situation of young people in Japan has been improving lately, due to the fact that families are having fewer children and also due to the economic recovery. The youth unemployment rate remains high, however.
There are a growing number of young people who are attempting to earn a living at a job which is not full-time and also those who fall into a category that in Japan has come to be called NEET, "Not in Education, Employment or Training".
Young people cannot find good jobs, and this instability in their lives comes during the important period when they should be developing vocational skills. As a result, it is difficult for them to plan careers. Recently, older workers are experiencing similar problems.
The young, however, are naturally creative and flexible. If they are given a sufficient opportunity to accumulate knowledge and experience, they can become assets to society and contribute to its development. By drawing on this potential, we can revitalize both the economy and society and establish the foundation for a system that provides more fulfilling work.
Japan has been striving to address the issues of youth employment on the basis of the "Action Plan for Young People's Independence and Challenge," which the Government of Japan formulated in 2003. For example, my Government has initiated one-stop job placement service centers, which it calls job cafés, for young workers. Local governments, in cooperation with local schools, educational institutions and public employment agencies, are trying to help young people seeking jobs by providing them with opportunities to gain workplace experience and offering placement services. Another initiative is the Japanese version of the "dual system." Based on the German model, the Government of Japan is offering an education at training institutions in conjunction with practical business training. It is hoped that the system will make for more stable and robust careers in the workplace.
I would also like to touch upon the comprehensive "Challenge Again Assistance Measures," which the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Abe, proposed last year. Through these measures, Japan is trying to create a society in which the efforts of people are rewarded, in which the world is not simply divided up into winners and losers, and the ways in which a person may work, learn, and live are many and diverse. In other words, it is trying to create a society of opportunity, where everyone has a chance to challenge him or herself again and again. And Japan will make further efforts to promote the employment of women, elderly and young people.
In the area of employment, Japan, which is struggling to overcome some of its own domestic problems, has been engaging in international cooperation, directed especially at women and vulnerable members of society. For example, it provides support for basic, higher, and technical vocational education and training, and it accepts foreign students at its higher educational institutions. Also, in 2005 the Government of Japan announced a comprehensive set of "Development Initiatives for Trade," with a view to promoting the development of developing countries and helping them gain more of the benefits that the free trade system has to offer. Japan hopes that the international cooperation it provides as part of this package will further promote sustainable development through trade and thereby contribute to the promotion of employment.
To date Japan has contributed some 297 million US dollars to the Trust Fund for Human Security, which was established at the United Nations through the initiative of the Japanese government. Through the Trust Fund, Japan has supported projects involving the creation of jobs and capacity-building, with special attention given to women and vulnerable members of society. In this way it hopes to contribute to the enhancement of human dignity worldwide.
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 decent work for all, and a working world in which no one is treated in a discriminatory manner and in which every individual is able to live with dignity, freedom and the opportunity to find fulfillment.
Thank you very much.
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