Statement by Ms. Azusa Shinohara
Alternate Representative of Japan
on Item 27 Social Development, the Third Committee
Sixty-fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly
4 October 2010
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.
It has been fifteen years since the World Summit on Social Development was held in Copenhagen in 1995. We committed to promote social integration by fostering inclusive societies that are stable, safe, harmonious, peaceful, just and tolerant and that respect diversity, equality of opportunity and the participation of all people, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and persons.
Since then, frameworks to protect vulnerable social groups such as older persons, youth, persons with disabilities and indigenous people have been adopted at the United Nations. According to report of the Secretary-General entitled "Follow-up to the implementation of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly (A/65/168)", significant progress has been achieved in some areas, such as primary school enrollment and gender equality.
However, all Member States should strengthen their efforts to build "a society for all", in which people respect diversity and all individuals are able to participate and contribute.
Due to the volatility of food and energy prices in 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. We are facing problems such as an increase in child mortality, unemployment, worsening poverty and a decrease in school enrollment ratios.
As we have learned from past experience, it is urgent that steps be taken to meet people's fundamental needs, implement strategies for promoting sustainable economic growth and build a foundation for social integration that will make it possible to weather future crises.
Japan has recently become a true "society of the aged". The percentage of the Japanese population 65 and over now exceeds 23 percent. One out of five people are 65 or over, and one out of ten are 75 or over. In order to create a society in which people of all ages look forward to living long, full lives that are filled with a sense of satisfaction 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. Under the Law, General Principles Concerning Measures for the Aged Society were formulated to facilitate a greater choice of life styles for older persons through assistance for self-reliance, strengthening of cooperation between different generations and promotion of participation in local society. This system thus established will be continuously reviewed.
It is a primary goal of Japan to achieve a cohesive society in which people respect each other's individuality and character regardless of any disability they may have. Last December, the Ministerial Board for Disability Policy Reform (MDPR) launched the Committee for Disability Policy Reform (CDPR) and began intensive reviewing its system.
Japan also has contributed to this field in other Asian countries, in particular through ESCAP, in accordance with the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons. Japan promotes removing barriers for persons with disabilities both within Japan and in other countries. In addition, Japan for its own part, is aiming at concluding the Convention as early as possible, and continues to take necessary steps to that end.
Children and young people are facing a difficult situation in Japan, characterized by a severe employment environment including an increase in irregular employment and children living in inescapable poverty over the course of a generation due to economic disparity.
In April, the Act on Promotion of Development and Support for Children and Young People came into force, mandating comprehensive assistance to children and young people. Based on this law, the program entitled Visions for Children and Young People was adopted, and it provides policies on education, welfare and employment to enable children and young people to become proactive members of society and to establish a society inclusive of every children and young people.
The concept of "a society for all" matches that of human security, which takes protection and empowerment, and participatory approaches, focusing on individuals and capacity-building to promote participation. Japan will continue to cooperate with the international community to create "a society for all" through a people-centered, human security approach.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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