12 October 2015: Statement of Her Excellency Ms Kuni SATO, Representative of Japan to the Executive Board, on the occasion of the 197th Session of the Executive Board




"Thank you, Mr. Chair,
Madam Director-General,
Dear Colleagues,



            As we approach the 70th anniversary of UNESCO and the 38th General Conference, I very much look forward to fruitful exchange of views in this session of the Executive Board.

            Last week, my country celebrated two new Japanese Nobel Laureates, who share this honor with American, Chinese and Canadian colleagues. It shows how scientists of different nationalities can jointly contribute to the welfare of human beings through sound competition and cooperation. Fully recognizing the importance of international cooperation in science, Japan continues to work with UNESCO and its Members for the operationalization of “Sustainability Science”, an integrated approach for sustainable development.


            In the area of culture, Japan expects UNESCO to continue to implement steadily and soundly the World Heritage and Intangible Heritage Conventions, among others, as the only UN body in charge of culture.


            As for the World Heritage Convention, in particular, we would like to support efforts to promote heritage conservation, as well as efforts for an appropriate system to evaluate new nominations towards a more balanced and representative List. We welcome the initiative by Turkey as the next chair of the World Heritage Committee.

            Allow me here to share with you one recent example of Japanese contribution to the protection of cultural heritage in conflict areas. The Foundation for Cultural Heritage and Art Research, established by Mr. Ikuo Hirayama, late UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, has been protecting and preserving 102 items of cultural property taken away from Afghanistan during conflict, and recently decided to return them home next year.


            In communication and information, discussion, in close cooperation with experts, is due on the Memory of the World program for its sound development, including on improvements in its governance and transparency. Shortcomings should better be addressed properly and promptly, so that UNESCO be better prepared to cope with politically sensitive files which otherwise would bring division rather than harmony among Members. Japan expects strong leadership on the part of the Director-General for the improvement of the program. Japan, as a responsible Member of UNESCO, is ready to support such reform efforts, in which we, Members, remind ourselves of the founding purpose of UNESCO enshrined in the Constitution.

            In the field of Education, UNESCO should continue to play a leading role, with clear priorities, in coordinating all stakeholders such as international organizations and civil societies to achieve the goals of Education 2030. Japan also encourages steady implementation and regular follow-up of ESD Global Action Programme adopted by the 37th General Conference. In this connection, my Government recently announced a new cooperation strategy entitled the “Learning Strategy for Peace and Growth”. We will further promote international cooperation based on this new strategy, in consultation with UNESCO.


            On management issues, I would like to reiterate the need for a most efficient and effective budget and its implementation. We hope that the Invest for Efficient Delivery Fund will enhance effectiveness of each program through strengthened human resources and improved program delivery.


            Japan strongly supports UNESCO’s gender priority. Many global leaders and high-level representatives, including the Director-General, actively participated in the World Assembly for Women 2015 in Tokyo this August. I thank the Director-General for her valuable contribution including one as a panelist on Girls’ Education.


            Regarding priority Africa, Japan encourages the Secretariat to place more focus on areas of its comparative advantage, such as technical and vocational training, teacher-training and science policy.


            To conclude, Japan remains committed to making contribution to UNESCO by involving various stakeholders including municipalities, universities, schools and researchers, to ensure UNESCO continues to play its solid role in the international community."




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