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At a glance: Japan

In Japan, Anthony Lake cites 'moral imperative' of achieving development goals

Executive Director thanks government and people for extraordinary support for children

© UNICEF Tokyo/2010/Ayano Sato
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake poses with Japanese children, and Goodwill Ambassadors Tetsuko Kuroyanagi and Dr. Agnes Chan, at a public event with UNICEF supporters in U Thant International Conference Hall at United Nations University, Tokyo.

TOKYO, Japan, 12 May 2010 – On the second day of his first visit to Japan as UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake met today with His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Naruhito, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada – as well as other government officials, representatives of the Parliamentary League for UNICEF, Japanese Goodwill Ambassadors and children.

The meetings took place during a public event entitled ‘Towards a World Fit for Children’ in the U Thant International Conference Hall at United Nations University, Tokyo.

‘Listening and learning’

In his remarks at the event, Mr. Lake – who took office as Executive Director on 1 May – focused on accelerating the work of UNICEF and its partners towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by the MDG target year, 2015.

© UNICEF Tokyo/2010/Ayano Sato
Executive Director Anthony Lake addresses UNICEF supporters at a public event in Tokyo entitled 'Towards a World Fit for Children'.

“We must always remember that our effort is not simply a statistical exercise. It is a moral imperative,” he said. “And it is up to us to put a human face, the face of a forgotten child, on the MDGs.

“I am new to my job. I am listening and learning,” Mr. Lake added. “But I do know this: To realize our vision, we will need Japan’s leadership – your ideas, your voices, your passionate advocacy – more than ever.”

Extraordinary support from Japan

A diverse audience of more than 300 people gathered at United Nations University to welcome the new Executive Director. Among them were representatives of civil society, the diplomatic corps, academia and the private sector. A fifth-grade children’s chorus from a local primary school graced the event with a performance of ‘Lullaby,’ the UNICEF anthem composed by UNICEF Canada Ambassador Steve Barakatt last year to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

UNICEF Ambassadors Tetsuko Kuroyanagi and Dr. Agnes Chan also joined Mr. Lake, who took the opportunity to thank Japan for its extraordinary support for children.

“The Japanese Government and the Japanese people are firm supporters of UNICEF’s mission to help improve the lives of children in need,” he said. “Japan’s leadership on the Millennium Development Goals has also been, and will continue to be, very significant.”

Tomorrow, Mr. Lake will visit the headquarters of the Japan Committee for UNICEF in Tokyo before heading back to New York. He is expected to see an interactive exhibition designed by the Japan Committee to sensitize the public – and especially students – to critical issues affecting the world’s children.



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