1 July 2003

Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to attend the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations today on behalf of the Japanese Government. I appreciate very much, Mr. President, your eminent leadership in conducting this substantive session in such a productive manner.

Mr. President,

"Growth" is an indispensable element for the reduction of world poverty. While rural areas of developing countries are home to three quarters of the world's poor, I am convinced that robust, broad-based, and equitable economic growth is needed to fight the poverty of such rural areas.

In order to realize "growth" and good rural development, it is necessary to improve, in each area, agricultural productivity, the health and sanitation situation, women's social role, and the level of education in a balanced manner. It is also important to strengthen cooperation among rural communities and to create opportunities for local products to gain access to urban markets. For that purpose, in addition to a nation-based approach, it is essential to realize a "community empowerment" approach based on "good governance," targeting and aiming to strengthen communities.

Mr. President,

To elaborate my idea, let me introduce some examples of the experiences of my country.

In the process of development of rural areas in Japan, we have taken various measures not only at the national level but also at the grass roots level. For example, in the field of agricultural development, our policies for the establishment and development of Agricultural Cooperatives have played an important role. Through this system, each agricultural household enjoys various benefits, in areas ranging from professional activities to daily life, such as the common purchase and use of machinery, local technical assistance, and mutual insurance. This comprehensive scheme has contributed significantly to the improvement and development of the rural standard of living.

In the field of health and sanitation, a Public Health Nurse system has been introduced. In order to prevent diseases and improve medical standards, the government allocates female medical officers, called public health nurses, in schools and factories in various regions throughout the country. Their close collaboration with each local public health center has contributed considerably to the improvement of local health and sanitary standards.

Moreover, the expansion of local water supply systems, which began in 1945 immediately after the World War II, within the framework of the national infrastructure development plan, facilitated Japanese women's water procurement work, gave rise to the Kitchen Revolution, and promoted women's access to society.

The Japanese people have believed in the importance of national education since the Middle Ages. In the nineteenth century, the city of Tokyo, called Edo at that time, was the city where the largest amount of printed materials was being published in the world. Introduction of compulsory primary education after the sweeping reform of the state structure in the latter half of the nineteenth century, contributed greatly to human resources development which constituted the basis of rural development.

All these measures at the grass roots level have contributed very much to the development of Japan, and thus, to rural development.

Such local activities take place not only in our country but also in several countries of Southeast Asia which have achieved high economic growth, although those examples are not completely identical with our case.

The success of such an approach underscores the validity of the idea of "Human Security," which has drawn considerable public attention in recent years. "Human Security" is a notion that focuses on each individual or community facing various kinds of threats, and promotes an approach consisting of human resources development and community building by protecting and empowering individuals, and thus leads to nation building. This idea was elaborated in the final report of the Commission on Human Security, co-chaired by Mrs. Sadako Ogata, former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Prof. Amartya Sen, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge University. The report was presented to the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, last May.

Mr. President,

Japan has contributed in various ways to rural development in developing countries.

Let me give you some examples. Japan has been contributing both financial assistance and personnel including the dispatching of research fellows to the West African Rice Development Association (WARDA), which is studying a drought-resistant rice species entitled NERICA (New Rice for Africa).

In the field of national education, we committed, in June of last year, more than 2 billion US dollars in financial assistance for over a five-year period for low-income countries, and launched the Basic Education for Growth Initiative (BEGIN). Prevention of infectious diseases, which is of significance for rural health and sanitation, is another issue. Japan has been stressing its importance since the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit in 2000. Toward the eradication of polio, we intend to extend up to 80 million US dollars in financial assistance by 2005. In January 2002, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was created, and Japan plays an active role on its Board.

Moreover, Japan has been conducting various technical cooperation programs, under which it accepts trainees from developing countries and dispatches Japanese experts for organization and management of agricultural cooperatives or training of nurses. Japan also extends direct technical assistance through Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers to local people in many rural areas. Furthermore, we have been promoting projects to effect gender equality in rural areas.

My home area, Saitama Prefecture, contributes toward the assistance offered to developing countries by admitting students to the Agriculture Management College. It is essential for rural development to keep competent human resources in rural areas by working to prevent the movement of people from rural areas to urban areas. I am sure that the experience of Saitama Prefecture provides a meaningful example of technical cooperation in that context.

To realize rural development, international trade also plays a very important role. Japan has been actively striving to improve its market access vis-a-vis the least developed countries. At the same time, we seriously recognize the importance of bringing the WTO Doha development agenda to a successful conclusion by settling all the issues related to developing countries in an appropriate way prior to the deadline, and thus intend to continue to devote our best efforts to the negotiations.

Mr. President,

We believe in the potential of ordinary people in developing countries and their capacity for entrepreneurship. This means that in order to conduct rural development through Community Empowerment effectively, efforts by those countries themselves according to their nation's circumstances are vital. It is also essential to create a solid national economic environment, free of corruption and fraud, in which regional capital or revenue obtained within the country is recycled into national investment. The indispensable element for that is Good Governance. Japan has long been stressing that nation building according to real needs will be possible only when developing countries, in the spirit of ownership, promote development by themselves, based on good governance, and when the donor countries, international organizations, and NGOs respond to their efforts as partners.

In 2001, African countries established the New Partnership for Africa's Development, called NEPAD. They are moving toward nation building based on ownership and good governance. This shows that our trust in the people of developing countries is valid. In this context, Japan is supporting NEPAD through the process of Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) which shares the above-mentioned idea with NEPAD. I hope that our discussions in the present High-level Segment of ECOSOC will become a useful input to TICAD III, to be held in Japan in September.

Thank you.

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