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  5. HURIGHTS OSAKA 10th Anniversary Citizens' Forum

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FOCUS September 2004 Volume 37

HURIGHTS OSAKA 10th Anniversary Citizens' Forum

HURIGHTS OSAKA celebrated its 10th anniversary in July 2004. As part of a series of events commemorating the occasion, HURIGHTS OSAKA co-organized a "Citizens' Forum" on July 21st with the governments of Osaka City and Osaka Prefecture, and with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Forum, titled " Human Rights across Borders - Studying International Human Rights" had Ms. Kayoko Ikeda, a writer and translator of German literature, as the main speaker. It also included a brief report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the drafting process of the international convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, the award ceremony for HURIGHTS OSAKA Award 2004, as well as a performance of Indian music.

Mr. Shigeki Sumi, Deputy Director-General of the Global Issues Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who headed the Japanese delegation to the Third Session of the "Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities" gave a report on the recent developments in the drafting process of the convention. He explained some of the issues that were discussed at the meetings, such as right to express one's opinion and access to information, education, employment, as well as appropriate procedure and remedies for coerced intervention and treatment. He noted that the current drafting process differed from those of previous human rights instruments in that representatives of people with disabilities themselves were active participants. There may be divergent opinions on various issues, but the countries agreed on the need to ensure the rights of people with disabilities, he told the audience.

The Award Ceremony for the HURIGHTS OSAKA Award 2004 for International Human Rights Education was held after Mr. Sumi's report (see next page for details of the Award).

Ms. Kayoko Ikeda, the main speaker for the day, is the author of the Japanese version of "If the World were a Village of 100 People." She spoke of how she came to publish the book after being inspired by a Japanese doctor, who worked as a volunteer in Afghanistan. As the doctor called for donations, she thought of writing a book based on the stories circulating on the internet. She established with the royalties of the book a fund to support NGOs working overseas as well as people seeking refugee status in Japan. In particular, she had supported an Afghan boy detained at the Immigration Center, who has since been released and is studying at a night-school in Tokyo. She also emphasized the importance of the Constitution in the respect for human rights. In it, the Japanese people proclaim our rights, according to Ms. Ikeda, and at its core is Article 13, which provides for the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. On the future role of Japan in the international community, she sees the field of environment as being the most promising. Japan has learned much from its past, when it suffered from pollution. Japan should look to becoming an environmental power, she concluded.

For more information, please contact HURIGHTS OSAKA.

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