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Statement by Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan Shinako Tsuchiya
on the occasion of the International Symposium on Human Security:
" Human Security - Its role in an era of various threats to the international community "

Venue: Goshiki-no-Ma, Akasaka Prince Hotel, Tokyo
Date: 25 February 2003

Co-chairs of the Commission on Human Security Mrs. Ogata and Professor Sen; distinguished panelists; honored guests,

It gives me a great pleasure to welcome you and say a few words at the opening of this International Symposium on Human Security.

Ladies and gentlemen,

All people should be born in dignity, should be able to live in dignity, and should be able to end their lives, still in dignity. This is so obvious, but unfortunately, we live in a difficult world where this ideal often remains unachieved.

Perhaps many of us here today are already familiar with the term, "human security." But there may be some among us who are hearing it for the first time, though they would instantly recognize the term, "state security."

Rapid advances in information technologies have led to a surge in the globalization of human and economic activities. Globalization has enhanced world economic growth and raised living standards, but these benefits have been offset by increasingly severe global problems, including the widening gap between the rich and the poor, environmental degradation, conflicts, landmines, refugees, transnational organized crimes, and the spread of deadly infectious diseases.

Each person's life is irreplaceable and it is with abundant potential. But it is extremely difficult for individuals to realize their potential and capabilities when their lives and livelihoods are threatened and their dignity is trampled. In such circumstances, the future of individuals, indeed the future of entire societies, is at stake. For people to achieve their own potential, societies must first enable them to live in dignity. This is the goal of human security.

When I visited Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan last month, I was even more deeply impressed by the importance of human security. Both countries were once part of the Soviet Union, but gained independence in 1991 during the events marking the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The people there had great hopes in the establishment of democracy, but state functions did not operate reliably under major transformation of political and economic systems, and there has been economic stagnation and social upheaval. In this type of situation, individuals cannot be protected solely by application of the concept of state security. Human security is also needed, with its emphasis on the role of the community and the viewpoints of individuals.

In Uzbekistan, I visited a vocational training center for children from disadvantaged families and orphans. Though they face difficult circumstances, they have not lost hope, and I was deeply moved by their smiles and diligence during the training sessions. There I became even more deeply aware of the need to offer educational opportunities and create an environment in which they can live without anxiety, enabling them to realize their innate unlimited potential. This would bear hope in their hearts and help them to fulfill their hope. That is, I am convinced, the meaning of achieving human security. The international community - indeed each one of us - has the responsibility to lend a hand so that these aims are realized.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Human security has been one of the key perspectives of Japan's foreign policy, and the Government of Japan has continually supported the activities of the Commission on Human Security, co-chaired by Mrs. Sadako Ogata and Professor Amartya Sen. I understand that the Commission has agreed on its Final Report, giving a comprehensive overview of its activities over the last two years. Here I would like to express my great esteem for the untiring efforts of all Commissioners who have successfully completed a difficult yet most worthwhile project, refining the concept of human security and offering recommendations that will serve as concrete action guidelines for the international community. Japan will continue doing everything it can to ensure the achievement of human security.

It is becoming ever more essential to view issues from the perspective of human security. The Symposium, I am sure, will assist all gathered here today to gain a deeper understanding of human security.

In closing, once again, I would like to thank all the panelists and moderators who graciously agreed to participate in the Symposium.

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