The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan


The child shall be respected as a human being.
The child shall be esteemed as a member of society.
The child shall be raised in a good environment.

(excerpt from the Children's Charter of Japan)

1. As of October 1999, the population of children (those below the age of 18 years) stands at 23,261,000, accounting for 18.4% of the total population. Families with children total 13,172,000, 29.3% of the total households. When the National Action Program for Year 2000 was worked out in December 1991, children's population accounted for 23.06 percent of the total population and the families with children, accounted for 38.5 percent of the total households. The number of children has been decreasing since then, which is a serious problem for Japan. In an effort to put on brakes on declining birthrate, the Japanese government has been taking measures and will continue to do so.

2. Japan has been expanding its welfare and educational programs particularly since the end of World War II. Every program has attained high-level achievement. By continuing these programs, the government of Japan intends to improve children and home welfare programs and improve universal access to basic education.

3. As the Japanese society gets more and more complicated, social environment involving children, including home environment, is undergoing great changes. Such new social problems as child prostitution, child pornography, bullying, juvenile delinquency, suicide, drug abuse and child abuse have emerged and deteriorated. The Japanese government faces these problems which have to be addressed urgently and effectively.

4. In addition to the Government, the society as a whole including individuals and NGOs, plays an important role in dealing with the human rights issues of children. In order for Japan to carry out its major responsibilities in the field of human rights, it is necessary for the Government and community to constructively cooperate with each other and fulfill their own responsibilities based on the relationship of mutual trust.

5. On April 22, 1994, Japan ratified the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child. In May 1996, the Japanese government submitted the Initial Report to the United Nations in accordance with Paragraph 1, Article 44 of the Convention. Seven years have passed since our ratification of the Convention, and the Japanese government is submitting this report as the Second Report. The report covers explanation of government measures introduced to solve recent social problems concerning children as well as plans and opinions of the government in response to the finalized view issued by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in June 1998.

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