Statement by H.E. Ambassador Shinichi KITAJIMA
High Level Segment of the Human Rights Council at its Tenth Session

(March 4, 2009, Geneva)

Mr. President, Madam High Commissioner for Human Rights, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great honor to address the Human Rights Council on behalf of the Government of Japan. Japan would like to commend His Excellency Ambassador UHOMOIBHI for his leadership as the President of the Human Rights Council. We would also like to express our appreciation to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Madam PILLAY, and her Office for their contributions.

Mr. President,

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) marked its 60th anniversary last December. Since the end of World War II, the idea of "Peace and Happiness through Economic Prosperity and Democracy" has been the backbone of Japan's diplomacy. Although economic prosperity is confronted with challenges everywhere, Japan is determined to support efforts made by those countries aspiring to liberty, a market economy, and respect for human rights.

Also, for the further promotion of all human rights, it is effective to take an approach based on "Human Security," which promotes that people live in freedom through the protection and empowerment of both individuals and communities.

Mr. President,

The Human Rights Council is entering its third year and we have the responsibility to nurture this young institution to meet ambitious expectations. We should recall as proclaimed in Article 1 of the UDHR that "dignity and rights" shall be guaranteed worldwide among the socially vulnerable.

As a Member of the Human Rights Council since its establishment, Japan has actively participated in the Council's institution-building, including the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Japan will continue to make efforts to help improve the Council's effectiveness, both in institutional and in procedural aspects.

Mr. President,

Special procedures of country-specific mandates, which have been cultivated by the international community, do not compete with the UPR but rather complement it. Special procedures facilitate dialogue between the country in question and the international community. Especially where there are continued systematic and serious human rights violations, special procedures should play their role to the maximum extent to improve the situations.

Japan appreciates the active role played by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, Professor Muntarbhorn. Although he is facing difficulties, as the DPRK has never permitted entry nor has it participated in constructive dialogue, he has continued to work sincerely and faithfully in order to fulfill his given mandate.

The Special Rapporteur met with families of the victims of abduction in several countries, including Japan, and understands the deep scar and shock which this issue has left on the families and the countries concerned.

The human rights situation of the DPRK, including the abduction issue, remains grave. Japan believes that, in order to improve this situation, it is essential to renew the Rapporteur's mandate and allow the Rapporteur to finish his valued work to date for the achievement of better outcomes. Therefore, I urge your country's support on this matter.

Mr. President,

As for the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, I have been deeply saddened by the fact that many civilians, especially children, became victims of the conflict from the end of last year to mid-January. Japan strongly hopes that a permanent ceasefire will be achieved as soon as possible. Japan urges both sides to exercise their utmost self-restraint in order to maintain the current ceasefire.

Japan has actively been contributing to the realization of Middle East peace through, among other initiatives, the "Corridor for Peace and Prosperity" initiative in the West Bank.

Furthermore, Japan has also actively been making efforts for the improvement of humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip, and provided emergency humanitarian assistance in order to help alleviate the current situation as well. Japan also hopes that the crossings will be open continuously in order to ensure the unhindered provision of humanitarian assistance.

Mr. President,

Japan has been working to address the issue of leprosy. In January of this year, Japan took an active part in the Consultation on Elimination of Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy and Their Family Members. Through efforts such as extending cooperation to draft the Principles and Guidelines for the elimination of leprosy-related discrimination, we are determined to continue to eradicate such prejudice and discrimination.

Mr. President,

As for the Durban Review Conference, it is important to recognize once again the original purpose of the review, which is to "unite against racism." Japan has participated in the preparatory process of this Conference and, with participation of as many countries as possible, hopes that it will provide an opportunity to reconfirm the international community's commitment towards the elimination of racism.

Mr. President,

It goes without saying that each country needs to make continuous efforts for the protection and promotion of human rights.

Japan reiterates its determination to continue to fully engage itself in the activities of the Human Rights Council and of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, so that we might witness the achievement of "freedom from fear and want" in the every corner of the world.

Thank you very much.

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