• Kyodo


Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida announced that Japan will contribute $1 billion through March 2019 to assist children and youth as part of U.N. efforts to combat poverty and hunger.

The contribution will focus “on children and youth, particularly in the areas of education, health, disaster risk reduction and gender equality,” Kishida said Monday at a high-level U.N. political forum on sustainable development.

Kishida is among top officials from around the world who have gathered to discuss ways to promote a set of 17 goals adopted by U.N. member states in 2015 as part of a global action plan.

The goals include ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all. Each of the goals has specific targets set to be realized by 2030. This year’s meeting is centered on the theme of eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity.

Tokyo will strive to “squarely address” issues that include inequality and the role of women, Kishida said, while implementing strong policies to tackle poverty among children, youth unemployment and violence against children.

“Japan’s vision for the (sustainable development goals) is to create a diverse and inclusive society in which no one is left behind,” he said, saying his government is working to improve internally as well as internationally under the theme of a public-private action for partnership.

Part of the initiative includes educating children about the goals under new school curricula, as well as establishing a related award and distributing program logos to organizations that are interested in promoting the project.

During his speech, Kishida praised the efforts of Lin Kobayashi, who three years ago opened Japan’s first international boarding school.

Drawing from a diverse mix of students from places like Afghanistan and Somalia, as well as Japanese students from various economic backgrounds, the focus of the school, Kobayashi said, is on empowerment and teaching young people to be “change agents for peace and a sustainable future.”

“By combining (the) wisdom of various stakeholders, including civil society, private enterprises and the government, Japan will take concrete actions, both at home and abroad,” Kishida stated.

Ishikawa Prefecture, which Kishida visited last month, has linked up with local companies that are using technology to work toward the goals.

Comedian Pikotaro, whose catchy song “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen” became a viral hit last year, has also been recruited to promote the project.

At an international level, Tokyo is promoting cooperation based on the concept of human security, intending to improve lives — especially of those who are suffering in conflict zones.

Kishida said that in Syria, Japan is working on an ongoing basis with seven international organizations to rebuild schools, assist teachers and help educate those who have been internally displaced.

Japan joins 43 other countries in volunteering to present a progress report and outline its path forward during the three-day ministerial segment that ends Wednesday.

While the goals are meant to be achieved within the next 13 years, Kishida suggested that an important factor in reaching them will be “the empowerment of children and youth.”

The forum began on July 10 and concludes Wednesday.

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