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At a glance: Japan

Japan and UNICEF reaffirm commitments to children during visit by Executive Director

UNICEF Image: UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman with Their Imperial Highnesses Crown Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako.
© Imperial Household Agency
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman had the privilege of an audience with Their Imperial Highnesses Crown Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako during her visit to Tokyo, Japan.

By Michiko Nagashima

TOKYO, Japan, 12 April 2006 – UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman visited Japan this week as an official guest of the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reaffirming the significance of the partnership between UNICEF and Japan to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals and promote the rights of children. The four-day visit featured high-level meetings with royalty, politicians, celebrities and children.

“Children are at the heart of the Millennium Development Goals,” said Ms. Veneman. “All the issues addressed in MDGs, be it child mortality, universal education, maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS – they are all UNICEF’s mission.”

Japan currently ranks as the second largest donor to UNICEF. This huge commitment to children was acknowledged in an address Ms. Veneman gave at the Japan National press Club. She also stressed the need for further collaboration, particularly in Africa.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso agreed with the prospect of increased collaboration during a speech at a dinner he hosted for the UNICEF Executive Director.

“UNICEF’s work for the children in the field, particularly in Africa, is outstanding,” he said. “We expect this relationship to continue and further develop as we work together in the future.”

© UNICEF Japan/2006/Nagashima
On her trip to Japan as the official guest of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman meets with Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso.

‘Strengthening the partnership’

During her stay, Ms. Veneman had the privilege of an audience with Their Imperial Highnesses Crown Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako. She also had an audience with Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado, who has been an active supporter of UNICEF and a powerful advocate of child rights around the world. Ms. Veneman paid tribute to her extraordinary work, particularly in the area of combating the commercial and sexual exploitation of children.

Shortly after arriving in Tokyo, Ms. Veneman met with UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, a renowned actress and a popular TV personality. Ms. Veneman thanked Ms. Kuroyanagi for her 22 years of service as an influential and effective Ambassador. Over the years, Ms. Kuroyanagi has made 23 trips to countries in crisis and helped raise $35 million to support children through UNICEF, featuring their stories on her daily talk shows and other programs.

Later, Ms. Veneman was accompanied to the Cabinet Office by National Ambassador of the Japan Committee for UNICEF Agnes Chan, who recounted stories of her field visit to children and families affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe commended UNICEF as a “results-oriented organization” with a strong field presence. “UNICEF has earned a high trust among the people and the Government of Japan,” he said, “and we look forward to further strengthening the partnership with UNICEF.”

© UNICEF video
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman meets with Goodwill Ambassador Tetsuko Kuroyanagi.

Meetings with supporters

Other important meetings included Ms. Veneman’s discussion with Minister of Finance Sadakazu Tanigaki, who was newly elected as President of the Parliamentary League for UNICEF after serving actively for almost 20 years as its Secretary-General. Ms. Veneman thanked him for his personal dedication and longstanding support for UNICEF.

The League held a luncheon where Ms. Veneman met with UNICEF supporters among Japan’s Members of Parliament.

Consultations also took place with the Japan National Committee for UNICEF as well as Japan International Cooperation Agency President and former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata.




12 April 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Sabine Dolan reports on UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman’s visit to Japan, one of the organization’s most generous donor countries.

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