26.11.2010 - ODG

Director-General Calls Upon Japan’s Top Officials to Reinforce Support to UNESCO

© UNESCO/Cynthia Guttman - Irina Bokova with Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Seiji Maehara

In a series of top-level meetings in Tokyo on 25 November 2010, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova called upon Japan to further strengthen its cooperation with the Organization in the fields of education, cultural heritage, water management, disaster risk reduction and other key areas.

Affirming that UNESCO is positioned to contribute to the stability of the world in the era of globalization, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Seiji Maehara welcomed the Director-General’s reform initiatives and efforts to enhance the Organization’s comparative advantage. Over the course of a traditional Japanese dinner that he hosted at the Iihkra Guest House, he underscored Japan’s expertise in cultural heritage preservation, its know-how in combating natural disasters, its support to literacy and skills training in Afghanistan, and more broadly for Education for All as a pillar of the Millennium Development Goals. “We can contribute know-how to UNESCO,” he stated.

Ms Bokova praised Japan’s longstanding engagement with the Organization and sought Minister Maehara’s support for UNESCO’s bid to have full access to the Global Environment Facility. “We have important responsibilities and expertise in the area of tsunami warning systems, flood risk reduction, water management, the protection of biodiversity. Full access to this fund will enable us to manage more projects.” The Director-General also asked for Japan’s support to UNESCO’s capacity-building projects in Pakistan in flood forecasting capacity, flood risk and hazard mapping.

The Commissioner of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Mr Seiichi Kondo, discussed the importance of the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention, to be marked in Japan in November 2012.  He welcomed the focus on the role of cultural heritage in advancing development, stating it was aligned with his policy to promote cultural industries as a source of revenue and national pride. Turning to the Convention on Intangible Heritage, the Director-General stressed the need for “a balanced approach,” referring to the absence of candidacies from Africa, and called upon Japan to increase its support for capacity building in this region.

The Director-General highlighted UNESCO’s experience in the field of post conflict and post disaster situations with Sadako Ogata, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency. From Haiti to Iraq and Pakistan, she explained how UNESCO is working to put education back on track, protect cultural heritage, and strengthen scientific capacity in water management, early warning systems and other scientific domains. “There is increasing demand for capacity building in developing countries, and with our unique expertise, we want to strengthen our capacity to react,” she said, inviting Japan to further support UNESCO’s projects in Pakistan.

Japan’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Yoshiaki Takaki, expressed strong support for the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and stated that the country was looking for UNESCO’s leadership to organize the close of this decade. 

The Director-General also presented UNESCO’s initiatives and projects to Crown Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako during a private meeting.

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