Statement by Dr. Atsuko Heshiki
Alternate Representative of Japan
on item 27: Social Development
Sixty-sixth Session of the United Nations General Assembly
4 October 2011
I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to you and the other members of the Bureau. Let me assure you of my delegation’s utmost support to your efforts and leadership.
The global financial and economic crisis has had a great social impact and led to an increase in poverty, hunger, unemployment, and inequality. I would especially like to stress that increasing opportunities for employment is indispensable to the eradication of poverty. Bearing in mind the situation, it is necessary for the international community to accelerate our efforts to implement and achieve international social development goals such as the MDGs and the goals of the World Summit for Social Development.
Furthermore, we have to recognize that vulnerable groups such as youth, older persons and persons with disabilities are suffering most deeply in these situations. The international community should make efforts to create an environment conductive to the elimination of discrimination and social barriers in order to advance their social integration.
The Government of Japan has undertaken specific efforts for the protection of vulnerable groups.
(Persons with disabilities)
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. Japan signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007 and is now in the process of preparing for the conclusion of the Convention.
We established a mechanism whereby the voices of persons with disabilities can be heard and reflected in national policies. Furthermore, the Amended Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities was approved in July this year. It sets up, within a year, the Commission on Policy for Persons with Disabilities which oversees the implementation and monitoring of on-the-ground measures taken for persons with disabilities. It reflects the new legal concept of "reasonable accommodations", which was introduced by the Convention.
We are responsible for the challenges youth face today and for improving conditions for future generations. UN member states discussed this issue at the High-level Meeting on Youth in July. Young people are particularly affected by poverty and youth unemployment. As shown by the recent developments in the so-called Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa, we should recognize that employment of all youth around the world contributes to maintaining social stability, advancing social development and reducing poverty.
Japan is a rapidly ageing society in which 23 percent of the population is now over age 65. Responding to these circumstances, Japan is implementing comprehensive measures through two Acts, which are "the Basic Law on Measures for the Aging Society" and "General Principles Concerning Measures for the Aged Society". In addition, we continue to facilitate specific measures such as employment opportunities, a reliable public pension system, and medical insurance reform.
Creating an environment to promote the participation of vulnerable groups in society is necessary for social integration. The Government of Japan has promoted the provision of opportunities for youth and older persons to participate in volunteer activities within their communities. We would like to report that a lot of people including youth and older persons have volunteered to help in the reconstruction of the devastated communities in the aftermath of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake.
Brazil and Japan will submit a draft resolution on the tenth anniversary of the international year of volunteers in the Third Committee. This resolution puts emphasis on the need to recognize and promote all forms of volunteerism in order to engage and benefit all segments of society including vulnerable groups. We hope that more states will extend their support to this resolution.
In conclusion, "a society for all" which sets high value on the consideration of individuals, particularly the vulnerable, matches the peopled-centered perspective of human security, an initiative that Japan strongly advocates. Japan will continue to make efforts for the achievement of international social development goals through the people-centered, human security approach.
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