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Statement by Ms. Azusa Shinohara
Alternate Representative of Japan
on Social Development (Item 61)
Sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
5 October 2009
At the outset, 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.
Due to the volatility of the prices of food and energy in the latter half of 2008, as well as the global financial and economic crisis, we remain mired in the greatest recession the world has experienced since World War II. As we all recognize, it is the vulnerable members of society who are suffering most deeply. With a view to building "a society for all", we must respect our differences as we seek to extricate ourselves from our current plight and promote social development in a comprehensive manner.
The United Nations has warned that, as a result of the financial crisis and world recession, between 73 and 103 million more people are likely to remain impoverished or fall into poverty in 2009. In developing countries, about half of the progress the world has made in poverty reduction over the last ten years is expected to be wiped out in the two years 2008-2009. In developed countries, the economic recession has adversely affected employment, leadings directly to increased social instability. As we have learned from past experience, employment rates will not return to pre-crisis levels for four to five years after an economic recovery begins. Consequently, it is urgent that steps be taken to meet people's fundamental needs, implement strategies for promoting sustainable economic growth and build the foundation for social integration that will make it possible to weather future crises.
The world is still working towards the goal of the full participation of older persons in social activities and Japan, where the aging of society is advancing at a very fast pace, is doing the same. As of last October, the percentage of the Japanese population 65 and over had increased to 22.1 percent. By 2035, it is forecast that this proportion will have risen to one third, at which point we will have become an aged society on a scale never experienced anywhere in the world.
In order to create a society in which people of all ages look forward to living long, full lives that are filled with joy and in which older persons are able to live in safety, the Government of Japan adopted the Basic Law on Measures for the Aging Society. It spells out steps to be taken, such as increasing employment opportunities in accordance with the interest and skills of individual, appropriate medical services and care-giving, social participation through volunteer activities, and protection from accidents, crime disasters and other dangers.
It is unfortunately also true that the degree of social integration of persons with disabilities for which we have been working has yet to be attained. The Government of Japan is promoting policies for persons with disabilities based on frameworks such as its ten-year, long-term "Basic Programme for Persons with Disabilities", with a view to removing barriers to their social participation as well as to supporting them in their efforts to achieve their full potential. And last year it began a review of policies for persons with disabilities, including the study on the possible revision of the Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities in relation to the conclusion of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Japan signed in September 2007.
Within a year and a half of the entry into force of the Convention, the number of States parties has increased three-fold. This is surely a reflection of the wider recognition within the international community of the human rights and fundamental freedom of persons with disabilities. Japan for its part aims to conclude the Convention as soon as possible, and continues to take necessary steps to that end.
Japan commits to overcoming the global crisis we are facing today by creating "a society for all", in which every person has access to basic healthcare and education, and food and housing are available to everyone, which in turn will lead to increased productivity and enhanced economic activity. These are, in fact, the aims of human security, a concept Japan strongly advocates, as it believes that social integration can be achieved only through such a people-centered approach. We look forward to continuing to cooperate with the international community to attain these goals.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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