Country Statement by H.E. Mr. Naoki KAZAMA
Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs
and the Head of the Japanese Delegation
at the High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on the Final Review
of the Implementation of the Asia and Pacific Decade
of Disabled Persons, 2003-2012

1 November, 2012

Mr. Chair,
Honorable Ministers,
Distinguished delegates and Participants,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure and honour to be given the opportunity to speak at this meeting which discusses the "Incheon Strategy", an action plan for the "Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022" that was co-sponsored by the Government of Japan and adopted in May this year. I would like to commend the ESCAP secretariat and the Government of the Republic of Korea for their initiative in organizing this important milestone meeting.

The Government of Japan has actively promoted the three successive Asian and Pacific Decades of Disabled Persons, 1993-2002, 2003-2012 and 2013-2022, notably by co-sponsoring all the related resolutions for these three decades. Among them is the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action which serves as a guideline for the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons for 2003-2012. Japan has been actively supporting the follow-up of the Framework through the Japan and ESCAP Cooperation Fund, providing 160,000 US dollars every fiscal year.

Mr. Chair,

I am pleased to mention that Japan’s efforts on persons with disabilities over the past ten years have produced steady results. For example, the Basic Act for Persons with Disabilities was amended to include the new provision for abolishing discrimination against persons with disabilities regardless of their gender. The Special Needs Education System has been established to support and teach children according to their needs regardless of the type and degree of their disabilities. Besides that, the number of persons with disabilities employed in private companies and the number of them recruited through Public Employment Security Offices have increased.

The spirit of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, "Nothing about us, without us!" is a fundamental concept. The Government of Japan has therefore involved persons with disabilities in the policy making process. We will work further towards eliminating discrimination against persons with disabilities and enhancing the protection of their rights.

Mr. Chair,

We all know that the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action has greatly contributed to the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities in Asia and the Pacific. However, we are facing new challenges. Among them is how we can protect persons with disabilities in disasters.

During the gigantic earthquake and following tsunami that hit the eastern part of Japan in March 2011, the mortality rate of disabled persons was found to be higher than that of persons without disabilities. This fact shows the importance of human security including the need for special care for vulnerable people such as persons with disabilities and the need to reflect the views of all stakeholders including disabled persons, in policy planning for disaster reduction. This concept was reaffirmed by the international community at the "World Ministerial Conference on Disaster Reduction in Tohoku" hosted by Japan this July. Japan believes that its experience and knowledge will contribute to the implementation of the "Incheon Strategy", which underlines the need to protect persons with disabilities in the context of disaster reduction.

Mr. Chair,

In order to achieve sustainable development, the potential of each individual should be fulfilled based on human security. A society where all people respect each other regardless of disability must be realized. The needs of vulnerable people including persons with disabilities need to be considered in the post MDGs process. The Incheon strategy is important in this regard, too.

Last but not least, the Government of Japan will actively implement domestic and international policies for persons with disabilities over the next 10 years in close coordination with the ESCAP secretariat and other member states.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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