On the margins of the World Assembly for Women in Tokyo on 28-29 August, the Director-General met with the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Mr Hakubun Shimomura and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Fumiko Kishida.
Both Ministers asserted that UNESCO enjoys great support among the citizens of Japan, who hold strong expectations towards the Organization as it celebrates its 70th anniversary. Minister Kishida recalled that UNESCO was the first UN organization that Japan acceded to after WWII and underlined the importance Japan attaches to relations with UNESCO, also reflected through his country's significant financial contribution.
The Director-General said that she has always been moved by this attachment, which traces back to the founding of the first UNESCO club after World War II in Sendai, that she visited in 2012. She expressed appreciation for the enormous contribution of Japan to the Organization.
Commending the Ministers in her separate meetings for the World Assembly for Women and the measures taken by the Abe administration, she said that the Prime Minister provides the example of a political leader who understands that investing in and for women is the best investment a country can make for inclusion, boosting the economy and enabling the balanced development of society.
Minister Shimomura affirmed that Japan, which hosted the World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Aichi-Nagoya in November 2014, is committed to following up on its outcomes, in particular through financial support to the implementation of the Global Action Plan and the establishment of the UNESCO-Japan Prize on ESD that will be awarded for the first time this year.
Turning to cultural heritage, the Director-General thanked Minister Shimomura for Japan’s support to the Baghdad Museum, which reopened this year. In light of the trend towards escalating destruction of cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq, she noted the need for further support to both protect heritage and and to fight the illicit trafficking of works of art. Minister Shimomura expressed sensitivity to this call, nothing that the destruction of heritage by both human beings and natural disasters required protection and prevention, because these are common assets of humanity.