Statement by Mr. Tetsuya Kimura
Delegation of Japan
Agenda item 3(b): Review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups
Forty-ninth Session, Commission for Social Development
14 February 2011
In 1995, the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen provided the opportunity for a wide and comprehensive discussion of social development issues, with special attention to three pillars: 1) the eradication of poverty, 2) the support of full and productive employment and 3) the promotion of social integration. Since then, various plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups have been adopted at the United Nations. My delegation would like to share with you some of Japan's domestic efforts and experiences in the area of youth, persons with disabilities and older persons.
Young people are vital for the continuing development of the societies in which they live. Empowerment of young people and ensuring their full and effective participation in those societies is therefore essential.
In April 2010, the "Act on Promotion of Development and Support for Children and Young People" came into effect in Japan. Through this legislation, Japan is promoting a comprehensive policy on youth focused particularly in the following three fields: firstly, assistance for their healthy growth such as education, opportunities for social participation and employment; secondly, assistance for children and young people in difficult circumstances and their family members, such as welfare, medical care and rehabilitation; thirdly, assistance for improvement of the social environment for children and young people, such as cooperation within local societies and greater access to the Internet.
The Government of Japan considers education as "social security for the first half of one's life", to ensure equal opportunity for all, and as an "advance investment" for a vital society in the future. Japan believes that all students should have the opportunity to receive an adequate education, regardless of the level of income of their parents. Since April 2010, various laws authorizing assistance in education have been implemented.
Japan is seeking to realize a "society for all", in which each and every individual, with or without disability, is recognized as deserving of the support and respect of others. In January last year, the Government of Japan established the Committee to Promote Systemic Reforms for Persons with Disabilities, whose membership comprises experts including persons with disabilities and academics. The Committee has discussed how to improve the system now in place for assisting the disabled and to reinforce policies in this field.
Japan considers that it is also important to put its technology, experience and knowledge to good use not only in the domestic context but also on an international scale. To that end, Japan contributed to the second session of the ESCAP Committee on Social Development in Bangkok in 2010 on "promoting an inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based society for people with disabilities in Asia and the Pacific". It also has been contributing to the preparations for the High-level Intergovernmental Meeting for the final review of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons 2003-2012 in the Republic of Korea in 2012.
Japan has recently become a true "society of the aged". The percentage of the Japanese population aged 65 and over now exceeds 23 percent. The Government of Japan in 1995 enacted the Basic Law on Measures for the Aging Society, in order to create a society in which people of all ages look forward to living long, full lives filled with a sense of satisfaction and in which older persons are able to live in safety.
One example of efforts undertaken under the Law has been increasing employment opportunities for the aged. There are many older persons in Japan who have a strong wish to continue working. On that basis, the Government of Japan has undertaken to promote employment of older persons hoping to continue working beyond normal retirement age. To enable them to work regardless of their age and to allow society to benefit from their experience and knowledge, this initiative encourages employers to raise the company retirement age and offer extension of contracts beyond retirement and assistance in the process of re-employment, as well as promoting participation in social activities.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, Japan is committed to working actively in cooperation with the international community at large to implement relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action in order to realize our goals in this area.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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