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Statement by Ms. Azusa Shinohara
Alternate Representative of Japan

on Item 69 (b): Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms

Third Committee
64th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
New York
26 October 2009

Mr. Chairman,

The promotion and protection of human rights, which are universally valued by the international community, is a pillar of Japanese foreign policy. And the fundamental approach Japan takes to this issue is to engage in dialogue and cooperation.

The Japanese government believes that human rights and democracy are advanced by each individual. To put it another way, the promotion and protection of human rights and the consolidation of democracy can only take place when an enlightened citizenry and civil society are cultivated through unceasing efforts to empower individuals. Thus the development of democracy is inseparable from the development and capacity-building of individuals. Japan for its part is therefore working to strengthen the capabilities of every individual and create communities where everyone is able to realize his or her potential and live in dignity. And it grounds its efforts in the concept of human security, which it has been promoting for some time now. In the context of the current economic and financial crisis, it is the most vulnerable among us whom we must especially endeavor to protect, as it is they who are always the first to fall victim to hunger, disease, or crime, all of which are afflictions that reduce human dignity.

The protection and promotion of human rights and consolidation of democracy is an enterprise requiring the perseverance, courage, and wisdom of vigilant people. Governments and citizens must persevere in their commitment towards this end. For its part, Japan will continue steadfastly to provide assistance to countries taking initiatives to protect human rights and promote democracy.

It is necessary for the international community to work together to increase respect for the universal values of human rights and democracy. And the mainstreaming of human rights must not take place only here, within the confines of the United Nations system, but also outside these walls, all over the world. Here at the UN, however, Japan will continue to participate actively for the protection of human rights in key international fora, in particular, the Third Committee and the Human Rights Council.

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce one of Japan's initiatives to improve its performance with regard to a major human rights problem. I am referring to the discrimination that my Government recognizes continues to be practiced against those suffering from leprosy and their families. Although leprosy is a curable disease and the WHO is leading international efforts to eradicate it, misunderstandings still form the basis for prejudice and discrimination, and this is a situation that must be corrected. To that end, Japan contributed to the process by which the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council drafted principles and guidelines for the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, and it presented a draft resolution on this subject to the Council, which was adopted by consensus at its twelfth session.

Japan will continue to play a leading role in efforts to eliminate discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members based on misunderstandings and prejudice, and it will do so, for example, by working to promote the principles and guidelines drafted by the Advisory Committee, which Japan hopes will be adopted by the Human Rights Council next year.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, Japan will continue to cooperate with the international community, especially the United Nations, to promote and protect human rights, which are of critical concern to us all.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Related Information (Human Rights)
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations Official Web Site other site

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