Statement by H.E. Dr. Tatsuo Arima The Representative of the Government of Japan at the debate in the plenary of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly:
"World Summit for Social Development and Beyond"
28 June 2000
First I should like to express my deepest gratitude to all those who have been involved in the preparations of this conference, a special session to discuss the present state of social development as we face the twenty-first century.
"To place people at the center of development," the consensus that evolved at the World Summit for Social Development at Copenhagen in 1995, has had a profound impact on all our activities in this important field of development. "We must put people at the centre of everything we do," a statement in Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Millennium Report, mirrors the same recognition arrived at Copenhagen.
Since that Summit, however, the so-called globalization with its blessings notwithstanding has bred the widening gap between the rich and the poor. The central concern of the measures we implement to cope with this condition has to be the protection of livelihood and of the dignity of the individual. That is to say, we have to place our concern with human security at the very core of our actions for social development.
Japan, as the top ODA donor for nine consecutive years, attaches particular importance to poverty reduction in the developing countries. Poverty reduction efforts of developing countries should be supported by debt relief. Japan is firmly committed to the full cancellation of all ODA debt owed by Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) under the Enhanced HIPC Initiative agreed upon at the Cologne Summit last year. It is urgent that the implementation of the Initiative be accelerated, and in this connection, Japan decided this April to extend enhanced debt relief of up to 100 percent of non-ODA debt owed by eligible HIPCs under the international framework and to make a contribution of up to 200 million dollars to the HIPC Trust Fund of the World Bank.
In implementing debt relief through various options recognized internationally, it is important to ensure that resources released through debt relief be used effectively for the socio-economic development and well being of the people in the debtor countries. To this end, the participation of civil societies and other parties concerned in this process is beneficial. The Government of Japan will implement its debt relief measures, taking into consideration views of various parties, such as NGOs and other civil societies.
In the long-run, however, developing countries must strengthen their debt management capacity and increase their ability to make the best use of available loans. For these purposes, Japan has organized debt management seminars since 1999 in Nairobi, Singapore and Tunis with the participation of African countries. We will also continue to assist developing countries in establishing systems that extend the benefits of economic growth to the poor.
In our efforts to reduce poverty in developing countries, the importance of primary education and health as well as the empowerment of women cannot be over-emphasized. Japan's Mid-term Policy on ODA, which was announced in August last year, attaches high priority to these areas.
In education, Japan will actively contribute to the promotion of quality basic education with particular emphasis on the education of girls in accordance with the Dakar Framework for Action adopted at the World Education Forum.
In health, we will continue to assist developing countries in the provision of health care services with emphasis on primary health care. In order to contain the spread of infectious diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS, Japan has implemented assistance amounting to about 100 million dollars between fiscal 1994 and fiscal 1998 under our Global Issues Initiative on Population and AIDS.
Japan will continue to include a gender perspective in development assistance and place emphasis on women's education, health, and participation in socio-economic activities. We contributed to relevant international organizations under our Women in Development (WID) Initiative 5.5 million dollars in fiscal 1999.
In developing the poor regions, a participatory approach in which the local people are empowered to take an active part in raising their standard of living has proved very effective. Japan embraces the participatory approach in its grassroots assistance to reduce poverty with such measures as micro-credit, vocational training, employment generation, and provision of basic social services. In order to support the efforts of international financial institutions in this regard, Japan has decided to create funds for poverty reduction at the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, contributing to each 10 billion yen, or roughly 94 million dollars.
Armed conflicts, which have occurred frequently in recent years, cause humanitarian disasters and destroy the achievements of social development. The promotion of social development including social integration is significant not only in itself but also as a long-term measure to address the root causes of conflicts.
Recognizing the importance of the strong foundation that democracy provides for good governance in developing countries, Japan has implemented cooperation under what we call the Partnership for Democratic Development (PDD), such as support for administrative, legal and judicial systems, support for democratic elections, and efforts to strengthen the civil society through voter education, human rights education and leadership training. In the five-year period beginning fiscal 1994, Japan has accepted 765 trainees to support their democratization efforts and provided electoral assistance to about 40 areas.
Employment is significant not only as a means of securing income but also as a prerequisite for individuals to maintain their dignity. As we try to overcome our present economic impasse in Japan. We give priority to the creation of employment from the people-centered viewpoint. It is in the same vein that Japan's development cooperation focuses on vocational training, with particular emphasis on supporting women and the vulnerable segments of society.
The Asian economic crises since 1997, in response to which Japan has to date pledged more than 80 billion dollars in aid to help the Asian countries, have provided us with many lessons. Among them is the important role of the tripartite dialogue between the government, labour and employer organizations in forging and effective social consensus to overcome such crises. Japan hopes that the tripartite principle in the area of employment policy will be established universally.
The ILO plays a major role in promoting social development and its initiative in this area is gaining in importance. The ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work adopted in 1998 is a vital instrument for promoting core labour standards worldwide. It is our strong wish that the ILO continue to play a leading role in promoting these standards.
Today, the rapid advances in information technology are transforming the pattern of our lives, making them more efficient and perhaps even improving their qualities. This process has expanded the opportunities for the full realization of individual potentialities. This new environment, through the mobilization of individual potentialities, should facilitate a human-centered social development.
Unfortunately, the benefits of information technology have not reached all the peoples of the world and the disparity caused by the level of access to such technology has emerged as a serious issue. One of the keys to making the twenty-first century peaceful and prosperous is to ensure that those who have not been able to share in the blessings of this progress also benefit. Japan is making its effort in this regard and is exploring ways to help promote information technology in the developing countries.
We have gathered here with the shared awareness of the limitations of the pursuit of economic development for its own sake, the de-humanizing impact of globalization as it were. With this awareness in mind, here we together will formulate the "Further actions and initiatives". Japan pledges to do it utmost to contribute towards its fulfillment.
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