Statement by Dr. Nobuko Kurosaki
Alternate Representative of Japan
Item 64(b): Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms
Item 64(e): Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
63rd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
28 October 2008
Human rights have universal values in the international community and promotion of human rights has always been an important part of Japan's diplomacy. Through "dialogue and cooperation", which, Japan believes, is the basic approach taken by international human rights fora including the Human Rights Council and this Committee, in addressing human rights issues, Japan has engaged in human rights dialogues with more than ten countries, principally in Asia. Its aim has been to deepen the understanding of each other's human rights situations and the efforts for their improvement and to share the recognition of the challenges ahead. These dialogues have contributed to concrete forms of cooperation such as assistance for judicial system reform.
At the 9th session of the Human Rights Council last month, Japan presented the resolution "Advisory services and technical assistance for Cambodia," which was one of the outcomes of human rights dialogue between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Government of Japan, and it was adopted by consensus. I would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation for all the support we received and our expectation that progress will be made based on this resolution, through concrete cooperation between the international community and Cambodia. For its part, Japan will continue to cooperate with the Cambodian Government in helping appropriate implementation of the civil code and the code of civil procedure that were drafted with our assistance and to complete the legal process under Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
Promotion of human rights is a difficult and time-consuming task. For that reason, Japan will continue to provide other countries with its assistance in accordance with their needs and work to help them improve their human rights situations, attaching importance to their long-term commitment to achieving that end.
Japan has made human security one of the main pillars of its diplomacy. The human security approach aims to build societies in which people can realize their full potential and live their lives with dignity, by protecting and empowering individuals and communities. As we think that the mainstreaming of human rights is consistent with the concept of human security, we strongly support doing this in the United Nations activities in a variety of areas, including peace and development.
For its part, Japan is working domestically and in international fora for the advancement of women, and will make more efforts to introduce a gender perspective in our national policy. In addition, we wish to further expand protection of vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children, and persons with disabilities.
Japan has taken up the human rights issue of leprosy-affected persons and their families in the international fora. At the eighth session of the Human Rights Council in June, we presented a draft resolution entitled "Elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members," which was adopted by consensus with the support of 59 co-sponsors. Japan will make efforts to follow up this resolution, and it will continue to take the initiative on this issue so that, working with the rest of the international community, further progress can be made towards eliminating discrimination against leprosy-affected persons and their families.
As one follow-up activity, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will hold a meeting next January. Japan thinks that the meeting will be of the utmost importance in achieving a common and appropriate understanding of and eliminating prejudice against those with leprosy in the international community. For this reason, Japan will make every effort to ensure its success, and it calls on other Member States and NGOs to participate in it actively.
People affected by leprosy have faced discrimination for a long time in our history, but there are also people suffering from or affected by emerging diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, whose human rights must also be respected. Japan has contributed to global efforts for their rights to health, mainly through the Global Fund. At a national level, the Government of Japan has worked with municipalities and NGOs in raising awareness to eliminate discrimination and prejudice against affected people, and it has engaged in campaigns to encourage employers to work together with people living with HIV/AIDS with a view to boosting working opportunities for such people.
Lastly, Mr. Chairman, I would like to refer to Japan's policy on persons with disabilities. Aiming at the realization of a society in which all persons with or without disabilities can mutually respect their personalities and individualities, the Government of Japan has been implementing a comprehensive set of policies to promote the independence and participation in society of persons with disabilities. We think that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will help greatly to enable them to fully enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedom. Japan is therefore pleased that the Convention came into effect in May, having itself signed the Convention in September last year. Taking into consideration the views and thoughts of persons with disabilities, we are making efforts to ratify the Convention as soon as possible.
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