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Statement by Dr. Nobuko Kurosaki
Alternate Representative of Japan
To the Sixty-second Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
Item 64: Social Development

8 October 2007

Mr. Chairperson,

Let me begin by extending my delegation's congratulations to you and other members of the Bureau on your election. A member of the Bureau itself, Japan assures you of its full support and cooperation ensuring the success of the work of the Committee during the sixtieth-second session of the General Assembly.

Mr. Chairperson,

The risk that members of vulnerable groups, including older persons, persons with disabilities as well as children, would be affected by natural disasters is alarming. In recent years, Japan has experienced repeated earthquakes, and many older persons have become victims of these disasters. While average life expectancy is increasing, many of the oldest in our society are disabled, and their lives are in peril when natural disasters occur. In other countries, people are affected by disasters from natural hazards that exist as a result of environmental degradation and global warming. Based on its experience, Japan intends to continue to tackle the issues affecting the socially vulnerable by paying increased attention to the vulnerability that people have and by sharing information on the subject with its humanitarian partners.

Japan positions Human Security which focuses on individuals as one of the key perspectives of its foreign policy to respond effectively to the diverse threats including poverty, environmental degradation, conflict, landmines, refugees' problems, illicit drugs and infectious diseases. Japan has implemented assistance which protects people and communities from and empowers their capacity to respond to these threats, and then contributes to realization of a society where the individuals can secure his or her life, livelihood and dignity through the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security and other bilateral schemes in cooperation with international society.

Turning to the issue of disabilities, Japan has been promoting comprehensive measures for persons with disabilities. For instance, the Law for Supporting Independence of Persons with disabilities was enacted in October 2006, with a view to providing more user-oriented services that would improve assistance available to persons with disabilities in seeking employment.

In December 2006, the Government of Japan approved the "Bill for Facilitating Movements of Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities." This legislation would promote measures such as the creation of a barrier-free environment that would include streets, outdoor parking lots and public parks. It is needless to say that education is indispensable for creating barrier-free environment among the mind of everyone.

In the area of education and training, the School Education Law was amended in April this year to provide education tailored to the needs of children with multiple disabilities.

Furthermore, the Government of Japan is pleased to report that, on September 28, Minister of Foreign Affaires of Japan signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Bearing in mind the increasing attention the international community is giving the issue of disabilities, which led to the adoption of the convention, the Government of Japan will engage in further deliberation with a view to ratifying of the Convention.

Mr. Chairperson,

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. The Government of Japan is pleased to note that at its forty-fifth session, held in February, the Commission for Social Development conducted a review of the progress that has been made. As one of the fastest ageing countries in the world, Japan intends to continue to implement useful policies and programs and share its experiences with other Member States facing similar problems.

As far as the issue of ageing is concerned, Japan is one of those countries whose population is ageing with unprecedented speed. In 2005, one out of five people in Japan was over 65 years old, and in the future that proportion is expected to grow continuously. In order to respond to this demographic transformation, the Government of Japan is formulating and implementing a comprehensive range of measures, including its undertaking for work and income, health and welfare, learning social participation, as well as provision of good quality housing environment.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairperson, the delegation of Japan believes that it is the common goal of the international community to realize a society where everyone respects each other and each of us enjoys a peaceful and stable life. Japan, in cooperation with other international organizations and Member States, will continue to make every effort to make such a society a reality.

Thank you very much.

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