Statement by Minister Takashi Ashiki
Delegation of Japan
Item 3(a): Social integration
Commission for Social Development
5 February 2010
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. I also wish to express my gratitude to the Bureau and the Secretariat for the excellent preparations that were made for this session of the Commission. We assure you that you will have our full support and cooperation as you discharge your important responsibilities.
The goal of social development is the realization of a "Society for All". In order to achieve it, we must establish policies and take prompt action to promote social integration by protecting children, women, the elderly, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, minorities and other vulnerable groups and people, and also by working to ensure that all are able to participate actively in the life of their society.
The global financial and economic crisis has left vulnerable groups and their members in an even more difficult situation than they had been previously. It is therefore all the more important that we minimize the harm they suffer and strengthen their capacities so that they will be better able to meet the challenges they face.
Today, threats to individuals have become more diverse and serious, ranging from poverty to terrorism, military conflict and climate change. To realize a "Society for All," it is essential to fully address these threats from the perspective of human security. Human security focuses on each individual and aims at protecting and empowering those who are most vulnerable. Various threats are closely interrelated with each other, and thus, human security adopts a comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach. It also adopts a participatory approach and encourages all actors concerned to take their parts in addressing threats. It is important for us to enhance social integrity worldwide by taking these approaches that capture the essence of human security.
Employment has been severely impacted by the global financial and economic crisis, and unemployment must therefore be addressed as a matter of priority. We note that there were concerns expressed in the World of Work Report 2009, released by ILO in December 2009, that "the global jobs crisis is not over and it could even worsen unless adequate action is taken."
Measures to address unemployment are not only critical to a global economic recovery; they are also crucial to the eradication of poverty. We must accommodate those groups and individuals who are vulnerable and ensure that there is decent work for all.
At the national level, the Government of Japan has carried out emergency employment measures aimed at promoting job security. These measures, implemented by our nationwide network of employment security offices, include support for workers striving to hold on to the jobs they already have, support for new graduates seeking employment, support for all those seeking reemployment, and support for housing.
Japan has also provided assistance at the international level to realize the goal of decent work for all. In Armenia, for example, Japan has supported a project called "Sustainable Livelihood for Socially Vulnerable Refugees, Internally Displaced and Local Families" through the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security. This project aims at protecting and empowering the vulnerable such as women and the youth through providing vocational training, and thereby enhancing social integrity. In India, the Government of Japan made available a financial assistance scheme, known as Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP), for one such project, whose goal was to provide job training to women and persons with disabilities in rural areas and to build medical care facilities there. The project was successful, helping those concerned to develop vocational skills and making medical treatment available to the population as a whole.
Education is the basis of social development, as it is essential to empower the socially vulnerable so that they can participate in the policy-making process, obtain the work they want, and be free from poverty.
At the national level, a number of efforts by the Government of Japan are under way to alleviate the adverse effects of the present economic situation. For example, Japanese-language and study-skill learning centers have been established for foreign children who do not currently attend school, in order to facilitate their transfer to public schools and make it possible for them to interact more easily with their local communities.
At the international level, Japan has provided financing under the scheme I mentioned a moment ago (GGP), for example, for a project aimed at building girls' boarding houses for junior high and high school students in Uganda. Japan believes that this support has increased the opportunity for girls to receive a good education.
Medical care is another essential service, for pregnant women, infants, the elderly, persons with disabilities and other groups in need of a particular form of care in order to live their daily lives. Japan has a universal health insurance system from which all nationals are entitled to receive medical treatment by paying a portion of the fee required for medical treatment, and, partly as a result, it has achieved the highest average life expectancy and one of the highest standards of medical treatment in the world. Now that the Japanese society is aging rapidly and experiencing a low birth rate, the challenge is to find a way to make the health insurance system sustainable, for example, through the reallocation of resources.
Today it is recognized all over the world that it is just as important to reinforce national healthcare systems as it is to take the measures traditionally taken against individual diseases. For this reason, Japan, through the World Health Organization (WHO), is providing assistance aimed at the reinforcement of national healthcare systems. It has also been providing assistance to developing countries in their efforts to train specialists and build healthcare systems, in cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), by dispatching experts, inviting trainees to programs in Japan, and providing technical assistance.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman,
In order to realize a "Society for All," it is important that we raise awareness of the concept "All for Society" and gain the commitment of every sector to working together. For its part, Japan will continue to cooperate actively to foster stable, safe and just societies, where all human rights are respected and everyone, including members of vulnerable groups, enjoys equality of opportunity.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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