Statement by Dr. Nobuko Kurosaki
Alternate Representative of Japan
On Social Development (Item 55)
To the Sixty-third session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
6 October 2008
I would like to extend my delegation's warmest congratulations to you and the other members of the Bureau. We have great 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-third session of the General Assembly.
"Social development" is a relatively new concept, one that arose from the need to set right the widening social inequity that has accompanied economic development. Recognizing the importance of social development, in 1995, the United Nations held the first World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen. At the Summit, States reached the consensus that we must put people at the center of development; in other words, that we must place "human security" at the heart of our development efforts. The Copenhagen Summit allowed a wide and comprehensive discussion of social development issues, with special attention to three priority areas: 1) the eradication of poverty; 2) the support of full and productive employment, and 3) the promotion of social integration. While the three fields each have distinctive significance and are interrelated, I will focus my statement on social integration because it is the priority theme of the Commission for Social Development for 2009 - 2010.
ECOSOC affirms that social integration policies should seek to reduce inequalities; promote access to basic social services, education for all and health care; and increase the participation and integration of social groups. Although more than 10 years have passed since the World Summit, social integration remains a challenge in many societies due to poverty. Without the support of the global community, it may be difficult for least developed countries to make advances in social integration. Japan has taken various actions domestically and internationally to enhance social integration.
To promote "society for all," in which all individuals and groups are able to contribute to society, we must consider the two points: 1) the inter-dependence of all members of society and 2) the life-long learning approach. One important aspect of "society for all" is a "society for all ages" that guarantees older persons' full integration and continued participation in society. Japan is a rapidly aging society in which, in 2007, 21.5% of the population was over age 65, and this percentage will continue to increase. Japan is implementing comprehensive measures to respond to these changes in the national population. For example, in 2007, the Employment Promotion Law was partially amended to prohibit age limits for recruitment, as well as to establish a stronger social welfare and care-giving system to address the varied needs of older persons.
Japan is also seeking to realize a society in which each and every individual, with or without disability, recognizes he or she is supported by each other with respect. In order to enhance the independence and social participation of persons with disabilities, Japan has formulated comprehensive measures under the 10-year Programmes since 1983. The current "Basic Programme for Persons with Disabilities" covers the years 2003 to 2012, and the Japanese government is working to implement the "New Five Year Plan" for the latter half of this 10-year period.
In addition, September last year, Japan became a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Currently, Japan is undertaking a study that will take into consideration the views of persons with disabilities, with the aim of the earliest possible ratification of the Convention.
The Government of Japan is promoting awareness of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and leprosy in order to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against those affected by these diseases. These patients often suffer from misunderstanding and prejudice, including discrimination and infringement of privacy in everyday life, in the workplace, and in medical institutions. Japan is undertaking consultations and studies on discrimination to protect their human rights.
With regards to discrimination against persons affected by leprosy in particular, at the 8th session of the Human Rights Council in June of this year, Japan tabled a resolution entitled, "Resolution on Elimination of Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy and their Family Members," which was co-sponsored by 59 countries and adopted without a vote. This resolution is intended to protect the human rights of those who are suffering from discrimination related to leprosy all over the world, and aims to examine effective methods of eliminating this problem. We must ensure follow-up is undertaken to enact this resolution in the international community.
Japan has provided its Official Development Assistance keeping in mind social development issues, such as income disparity, sexual discrimination, human rights, democratization, and environmental considerations in each recipient country. The basic policy of Japan's ODA emphasizes human security of each individual. Japan, therefore, contributes aid both bilaterally and also through the UN Human Security Fund in order to help protect the livelihood and dignity of individuals.
For example, the UN Human Security Fund has supported a project entitled, "Protection and Empowerment of Victims of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence in Moldova" that will be implemented by UNDP, UNFPA and IOM in cooperation with OSCE. This project focuses on individuals as the core of development, as it addresses full participation in society, enhancing social protection and reducing vulnerability. Each of these issues was specified in the Report of the 36th Social Development Committee as necessary for the promotion of social integration.
From the 1995 World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen to the 24th Special Session to 2008 and beyond, Japan will continue to strive to meet the goals of the UN Millennium Declaration and the commitments of the World Summit.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Back to Index