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At a glance: Japan

Japan’s new First Lady visits UNICEF for first public engagement

© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-1421/Toutounji
At UNICEF House in New York, Deputy Executive Director Hilde F. Johnson stands with First Lady of Japan Miyuki Hatoyama, wife of Prime Minister of Japan Yukio Hatoyama, who is attending the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

NEW YORK, USA, 23 September 2009 – First Lady of Japan Miyuki Hatoyama chose to visit UNICEF headquarters today as the site of her first public appearance since her husband, Yukio Hatoyama, was elected Prime Minister earlier this month.

Deputy Executive Director Hilde F. Johnson welcomed Ms. Hatoyama to UNICEF House. “We are very, very happy that you were able to take the time to visit UNICEF,” said Ms. Johnson. “We are thankful for the close and long-standing cooperation with your country.”

UNICEF’s 60-year collaboration with Japan is one of the most significant in its history. UNICEF first provided powdered milk to Japanese children in 1949; Japan made its first contribution to the organization a year later.

Next month, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman will visit Japan to mark the anniversary of the partnership.

Broad support
During her visit, Ms. Hatoyama toured UNICEF’s Emergency Operations Centre. She was also briefed on Japan’s support for child survival and peace building, and on the work of Japanese performers Agnes Chan Miling and Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, both of whom are UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors.

In addition, Ms. Hatoyama saw a sample Olyset insecticide-treated bed net, which is produced by a Japanese company, Sumitomo Chemical. UNICEF – the world’s largest purchaser of anti-malarial bed nets – has been buying Olyset nets for the past five years.

Ms. Johnson took time to outline UNICEF’s partnership with the Japanese Government, its people and its private sector, and noted the fundraising successes of UNICEF Japan’s National Committee for UNICEF.

“There is a broad ownership amongst the Japanese public relating to UNICEF,” she said.

A spirit of fraternity
Ms. Hatoyama concluded her visit by buying a teddy bear at the UNICEF gift shop. She expressed her agreement – and her husband’s – that Japan should continue to support developing countries with a spirit of fraternity.

In 2008, the Government of Japan contributed more than $153 million to UNICEF’s programmes, making it the agency’s sixth-largest government donor.



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