Statement of His Excellency Mr Takio YAMADA, Representative of Japan to the Executive Board, on the occasion of the 206th Session of the Executive Board

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

This year 2019 marks a critical milestone for all of us, as the first two years are passing since the appointment of Madam Director-General in 2017. During the period, Japan has actively contributed to achieving “stronger UNESCO” as a responsible Member State and as a major contributor.

Mr. Chair,

Japan will host the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development, TICAD7, at the end of August. We will take the opportunity to advance our initiatives for “Priority Africa” in cooperation with our African friends and the Secretariat. The initiatives will focus on areas such as tangible and intangible cultural heritages, disaster risk reduction, capacity-building of film industries, and artificial intelligence.

On artificial intelligence, Japan congratulates on the success of the High Level Conference on the ethics of AI last month. As discussed in the Conference, UNESCO should play a leading role in formulating a non-binding normative instrument for AI. Japan supports this important initiative. Japan also aims to establish principles on AI in G20 as the President of this year, through multi-stakeholder approach including UNESCO, with a view to creating a global environment to enable researchers and users to develop and utilize AI safely and freely.

ESD, Education for Sustainable Development, is another priority of Japan. We look forward to actively contributing to discussions on the draft new framework for ESD beyond 2019, called “ESD for 2030”, which is being prepared based on our proposal in the 204th Session blessed by 46 co-sponsors.

Japan also highlights ESD and other education initiatives through the “G20 Development Working Group”. In September, Japan will host a G20 conference on education, which will include a symposium co-organized by UNESCO to pre-launch and disseminate the “ESD for 2030”.

On Intangible Cultural Heritage, after 15 years since the adoption of the Convention, we believe this is an appropriate time to explore ways for the improvement of the current mechanisms and procedures of the Convention based on transparency, fairness and reasonability, while respecting and maintaining the original spirit and design of the Convention.

Against this background, we proposed to start the reflection on the mechanisms and procedures of the Convention, including the evaluation process and criteria for inscription, and provided financial support for the process. Japan will actively contribute to this reflection process such as through the expert meeting in September.

Concerning natural science, given the growing risk of natural disasters caused by climate change, disaster risk reduction based on scientific data is becoming increasingly important. Japan welcomes UNESCO’s further engagement in this area through its expert network and knowledge exchange with disaster-prone countries including Japan.

Japan also appreciates UNESCO’s leading role in the whole UN system to prepare “the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030”. Japan has supported this important process in finance and human resources. We encourage all Member States to join the endeavor.

Mr. Chair,

Lastly, let me reiterate the importance of strategic, institutional and political reforms of the Organization.

To achieve “stronger UNESCO”, the Strategic Transformation of the Organization should be further advanced. Japan is ready to contribute to the long-awaited truly strategic discussions from policy and intellectual perspectives.

Given the challenges UNESCO faces today, the Executive Board’s responsibility for the governance of the Organization has become greater than ever. In this regard, any discussions concerning embership of the Board should be conducted in a way which ensures a stable and quality governance of the Board based on responsible commitment of the Member States.

Lastly, on the comprehensive review of “Memory of the World”, it is essential to establish core principles such as “UNESCO should not enter into disputes concerning the interpretation of historical events, nor does it take sides”, as presented by the IAC, and also an effective mechanism to materialize such principles, including discreet handling of contested nominations. Japan will continue to actively and constructively contribute to discussions of the open-ended Working Group.

I thank you very much."