OPENING REMARKS BY H.E. MR TAKEAKI MATSUMOTO
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF JAPAN
AT THE MDGS FOLLOW-UP MEETING
2 JUNE 2011
At the outset, allow me to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has gathered here from around the world to attend the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Follow-up Meeting today.
I would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate the gratitude we feel for the overwhelming support and assistance offered by almost 160 countries and regions and some 40 international organizations, private companies, NGOs, and other members of civil society around the world in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Despite recent events, we decided to hold today's conference as originally planned, because we wanted to demonstrate that Japan is determined to continue playing a active role in contributing to peace and stability in the international community. This will also allow us to express our appreciation to the international community for the solidarity shown to us since the disaster.
Let me make it quite clear to you here today that Japan remains fully dedicated to carrying out faithfully the international commitments it has expressed in the past—not least among them the "Kan Commitment" to achieving the MDGs.
I would also like to say a few words about the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. We sincerely apologize for the great anxiety caused by this accident. The Government of Japan intends to work together with the Tokyo Electricity Power Company (TEPCO) to stabilize the reactors in a systematic manner in the next six to nine months. We will continue to provide the international community with prompt and adequate information on our response to the nuclear accident with the highest levels of transparency. Japan would like to participate and play an leading role in international discussion on nuclear.
Recovering from Japan's worst natural disaster since World War II will certainly not be easy. However, it is true that many people in the world face no less difficulty as a result of poverty and disease.
The assistance we have received from around the world has helped to sustain Japan in its time of need, and has brought home to us more than ever the importance of solidarity within the international community. This is why I would like to emphasize just how vital this spirit of "mutual support" within the international community will be in achieving the MDGs as well.
Achieving the MDGs by 2015 will require guiding principles and effective approaches for channeling this spirit of solidarity in a direction that leads to concrete results.
For us to overcome the trials of poverty, disease, and natural disasters, I believe it is essential to build societies that are both kind to people and resilient at the same time.
The disaster has had a particularly serious impact on children and the elderly. Large numbers of children are still forced to live restricted lives in emergency evacuation centers. Damage sustained by hospitals has disrupted medical treatment for many elderly people. Although considerable progress has been made to restore services and facilities since the disaster, there can be no true recovery as long as the vulnerable members of our society are not provided with the assistance they need.
The same is true of the MDGs. Even if we otherwise succeed in achieving the MDGs as a whole, our societies will remain unstable if their vulnerable populations are left behind. In order to achieve the MDG goals in a sustainable way, it is vital that we correct social inequalities, and build "caring societies" that are considerate of their vulnerable members.
At the same time, it will be vital to ensure that our societies are resilient enough to withstand natural disasters. Young people have taken the initiative throughout the disaster areas, assisting the elderly and infirm by volunteering to help with cleaning, preparing meals, and a variety of other activities. This, I believe, is the definition of a resilient society—one marked by a sense of order and group solidarity, in which people help each other.
Building this kind of resilient and "robust society" will be essential to achieving the MDGs. A vital step will involve raising the self-help capacities of societies by empowering people.
The concept of human security will be key to achieving our goal of building societies that are both caring and robust at the same time. This approach sets a high value on consideration for each individual person, particularly the vulnerable; and emphasizes the resilience that comes from empowering individuals and communities. Japan will support efforts to build societies that are both caring and robust based on this human security perspective.
To ensure that the concept of human security contributes to the achievement of the MDGs, the international community needs to share effective approaches.
For this reason, Japan proposed two assistance models at the UN MDGs Summit last year: the "EMBRACE" model in the field of maternal and child health, and the "School for All" model in the field of education.
The "EMBRACE" model aims to ensure mothers and babies a continuum of care, from pre-pregnancy to after childbirth, including antenatal care, postnatal care at facilities with quality equipments, improved access to facilities and immunization. As part of our contribution to achieving the MDGs, we are currently considering initiating implementation research in Ghana to examine the effectiveness of the model.
Japan's other proposal, "School for All," aims to comprehensively improve the educational environment. Bringing together schools, communities, and governments, this model aims to improve the quality of teaching, school management, and provisions for female students and children with disabilities. The model has already started to yield concrete results, such as a project carried out in Senegal with the participation of local residents to improve school management.
I would like to take this opportunity to call on once again developing countries to adopt these models and on the international community to make concerted efforts in implementing optimal assistance measures to support maternal and child health and education.
In addition to these undertakings, I would like to emphasize the effectiveness of a value-chain approach in addressing food security, another urgent issue in much of the world. Japan will contribute to food security through a comprehensive approach that will cover every stage of the value chain from cultivation to storage, processing, and distribution.
The traditional donor countries cannot achieve the MDGs alone. Let alone the efforts by developing countries themselves, the newly emerging countries, whose economies are currently undergoing such remarkable growth, will have an important role to play.
It will also be indispensable to make use of the wisdom and knowledge of companies and the civil society. The Government of Japan is eager to promote collaboration between the public and private sectors in order to achieve the MDGs, and has launched a framework to this end.
Let me conclude my remarks by expressing my sincere hope that there will be a meaningful exchange of ideas between the diverse range of participants in attendance here today, who include representatives of international organizations, emerging countries, private companies, and civil society. I hope that our meeting will provide useful suggestions on ways for us to achieve the MDGs together. Thank you very much.
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