NEW YORK — Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida announced Monday that Tokyo will contribute $1 billion over two years through March 2019 to assist children and youth as part of U.N. efforts to combat poverty and hunger.
“Today, I am pleased to announce that the government of Japan commits to provide $1 billion of assistance…focusing on children and youth, particularly in the areas of education, health, disaster risk reduction and gender equality,” he said at a U.N. high-level political forum being held on sustainable development.
Kishida is among the top-level officials from around the world who have gathered to discuss ways to promote the so-called sustainable development goals. They are 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 out to be realized by 2030. This year’s meeting is centered on the theme of eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity.
Japan joins 43 other countries in volunteering to present its progress report and outline its path forward during the three-day ministerial segment that ends Wednesday.
“Japan’s vision for the SDGs is to create a diverse and inclusive society in which no one is left behind,” he said, noting how his government is working to improve internally as well as internationally under the theme of the public-private action for partnership.
While the goals are 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.”
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 kids 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 wisdom of various stakeholders, including civil society, private enterprises and the government, Japan will take concrete actions, both at home and abroad,” Kishida explained.
Among its other intended measures, Tokyo will strive to “squarely address” issues, including inequality and the role of women, while implementing strong policies to tackle poverty among children, youth unemployment and violence against children.
Part of the initiative includes educating children about the SDGs under new school curricula, as well as establishing the “Japan SDGs Award” and distributing SDG logos to organizations that are interested in promoting the goals.
Ishikawa Prefecture, which Kishida visited last month, is carrying out cutting-edge efforts with local companies that are using technology to advance the aims.
The world-famous entertainer Piko Taro, whose catchy “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen” song became a viral hit last year, has been recruited to make the SDGs catch on.
At the international level, Tokyo is promoting cooperation based on the concept of human security, intending to improve the lives especially of those who are suffering in conflict zones.
Kishida pointed out how 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.
The high-level forum began on July 10 and concludes Wednesday.