The Global Welfare Initiatives proposed by Japan at the G7 Summit (Lyon Summit) in June of 1996 aims at solving problems of each country by sharing the wisdom and experience not only among developed nations but also including developing nations. The Initiatives gains a great support from many nations and international organizations all over the world.
(1) The 3rd Meeting of the Employment, Labor and Social Affairs Committee at Ministerial Level; OECD Ministerial Meeting on Social policies
The 3rd Meeting of the Employment, Labor and Social Affairs Committee at Ministerial Level; OECD Ministerial Meeting on Social policies was held at Paris on June 23 and 24 of 1998 in which Koizumi, the then Welfare Minister, sat as the vice chairman. For the meeting, the member nations submitted the reports on their own social security systems based on a common framework. The Secretariat submitted a general report and analysis report on the assembled results. The topic of the meeting was the New Issues of Social Policies for the Caring World. Discussions were made about the long-term sustainability of social security systems, pensions in the aged society, desirous medical care and nursing care systems, the compatibility of the independence of individuals and social solidarity, and so forth. The joint statement announced after the meeting showed an agreement in the views of participated ministers on: 1 the necessity to secure fairness and efficiency in the structural reform of social security systems; 2 the necessity of a quick reform of retirement pension systems; 3 the management of functions between the health and medical area and the social welfare area; and 4 aids to devising effective means for the result evaluation of measures and the development of social index that are internationally comparable, etc.
Acting this meeting, in the OECD Secretariat, a project on retirement income survey and research was launched to make a study on retirement income policies including public pensions and their social and economic effects in the OECD member nations.
Other implementations of the Global Welfare Initiatives include inter-area researches on the social and economical effects of aged society and the direction of measures to cope with them. In April 1998 , a report of the results of the researches; the maintenance of Prosperity in an Aged Society was submitted to the OECD Council of Ministers. The content and the preparation procedure of a report has been under discussion in order to submit it to the G7 Summit expected to be held in Japan in 2000.
(2) Pacific Islands Ministers' Meeting
Pacific islands such as Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga have their population dispersed over a large territory respectively because they include many remote islands. It is therefore a critical issue to provide proper medical care services to the people living in the regions. From August 24th to 27th in 1998, the Pacific Islands Ministers' Meeting was held in Tokyo. In the meeting, the health and welfare ministers from fourteen of these nations gathered and discussed about the desired medical systems including the use of information technology.
Other projects for the implementation of the Global Welfare Initiatives aimed at developing nations include subprojects for receiving trainees from those developing countries and for fostering competent Japanese instructors to be dispatched to the countries (the project for fostering advisors to the promotion of social security policies).
(3) Promotion of cooperation with advanced countries in the area of health and welfare
Based on the agreement made in the Scandinavian Summit in June of 1997 on the promotion of cooperation in the issues related to aging society, the Ministry's officials in charge and experts visited four Scandinavian countries (Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) in August of 1998. They exchanged views and participated in the open discussions on the topic of in-home nursing care for the elderly. The administrative officials and experts from the Scandinavian countries in turn are expected to visit Japan in the autumn of 1999 to exchange views on and talk over the same issue.
Furthermore, it was agreed in the meeting between then Welfare Minister Koizumi and the welfare ministers from Australia, etc. in January of 1998 that a study group should be set up in each of the nations on the nursing care of the elderly. Joint researches are now being carried out among the groups headed by experts.
2. Towards Policy Coordination
A continuous expansion of international trade and investment has been increasing the necessity to promote an international harmonization of systems by making our social and economic structure more transparent, fair, and open to others while securing the health and safety of people.
In this respect, the Ministry of Health and Welfare should cover a wide range of spheres from the procurement of medical devices by the Government to the certification of standards for manufacturing and importing drugs, foods, and the management of pensions. Efforts have been made through bilateral conferences such as the US-Japan Framework Talks and the Japan-EU talks on Deregulations.
As for the US-Japan Framework Talks, the Market-Oriented Sector-Selective (MOSS) Talks, an experts' meeting, and a senior meeting in the area of medical instruments and supplies have just been held under the Reinforced Framework of Deregulation Talks in June of 1997. As the achievements of the deregulation talks this year, the First US-Japan Joint Report on the Status of Deregulation was announced after the US-Japan summit meeting in May of 1998. The report included the acceptance of foreign clinical test data and the shortening of the period required for the approval of a new drug.
Between Japan and EU, talks have been going on toward the conclusion of mutual approval agreements in the areas of management standards for manufacture and quality of drugs (GMP) and standards for good laboratories of chemicals (GLP). This is expected to make the market further open in these areas.
3. Trends in International Cooperation in the Area of Health Care
A low level of health status caused by poverty, underdeveloped infrastructure for daily life, and insufficient medical care and health care programs. These factors make the societies unstable and hampers their social and economic development. Therefore, it is required urgently to Japan to join in the international cooperation in this area.
(1) Strengthening of cooperation with WHO
Since joining WHO in 1951, the government of Japan has actively been participating in the activities of WHO headquarters and the West Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) to which we belong. We are also planning to offer powerful supports to WHO through financial aids and the offering of human resources.
In particular, an active support is specifically intended to WPRO, since Shigeru Omi, professor of the Jichi Medical School, was designated Regional Director for the West Pacific Regional Office at the WHO West Pacific Regional Committee held in Manila in September of 1998 and assumed the office since February of 1999.
WHO also focuses on measures against smoking. It was resolved at the WHO Executive Board in January of 1999 to set up an inter-governmental negotiation organization for drafting a "Framework Convention on Tobacco Control" and a working group for its preparatory work. These resolutions are to be discussed at the World Health Assembly in May of the same year. Apart from this, WHO is planning to hold the "WHO International Conference on Tobacco and Health in Kobe" in autumn of the same year using the WHO Kobe Center. The Ministry of Health and Welfare is expected to cooperate with the event.
(2) Actions for international parasite control
Having successful experience of controlling parasite diseases such as malaria and Shistosomiasis, Japan is expected to contribute to international cooperation efforts in the tropical regions where such parasite diseases cause a significant health problem.
At the G7 Summit in May of 1998 (Birmingham Summit), then Prime Minister Hashimoto appealed the necessity of international measures against parasite based upon a report that outlined the current issues around parasitic diseases in the world and Japan's experience in the control of parasitic diseases. In response to the address above, Thailand, Kenya, and Ghana have been chosen to establish as centers of Global Parasite Control (Hashimoto Initiative) in terms of operational research and human resource development. The further details and the procedure to implement this Initiative are under discussion. The implementation of activities is to be initiated in 2001. WHO is also working on the Roll Back Malaria Project for which the Ministry of Health and Welfare intends to have some collaboration. In addition, the Ministry has carried out researches in the area of parasite in terms of the diagnosis and treatment of malaria, Shistosomiasis and filariasis.
(3) International cooperation efforts related to the area of health and medical care
In addition to the areas related to basic human needs such as health and medical care, drugs, population and family planning, water supply and waste, the Ministry of Health and Welfare is lending cooperation also in the areas of social insurance and social welfare through the Japan International Corporation of Welfare Services (JICWELS) or in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). This focuses on the fostering of people by dispatching experts to and receiving trainees from developing countries with a view to help develop the independence and self-help of those nations. Apart from these, active efforts are being made independently by local public entities.
Major efforts in international cooperation include the population and AIDS control. As well as financial support according to the "Global Issues Initiative (GII) on Population and AIDS", the training programs are given at home and abroad for administrative officials in charge of the AIDS measures in Asia and Western Pacific Regions. The Ministry is promoting international cooperation in this area also through training projects for fostering Japanese experts who can give us useful advice to the administration of population and AIDS control in developing countries.
The Ministry has been supporting WHO activities regarding the eradication of polio myelitis in the area of children's health. WHO is shifting its effort to global eradication of polio from that in Western Pacific regions where no polio case has been detected since March of 1997. The Ministry support will continue as well. It also organizes workshops for measures against iodine deficiency that is a risk factor of the development disability of children's intelligence.
(4) Promotion of international cooperation in narcotics control
Drug abuse is one of the serious problems in the world. In the 20th United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs held in June of 1998 in New York, a politic pronouncement and six related statements were adopted that will be a guideline for international narcotic control toward the 21st century. Japan has so far been lending an active cooperation in international narcotic control based on the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and has been dispatching the experts of stimulants in the Ministry of Health and Welfare to UNDCP since January of 1999. Also, the "No, Absolutely No" Fund Raising for the United Nations activity sponsored by the Narcotic and Stimulants Abuse Prevention Center has been carried out every year in order to support non-governmental organizations (NGOs) dealing with activities for preventing drug abuse in developing countries.
4. Promotion of Memorial Services for the War Dead
To give memorial services for the war dead in the World War II, the Government runs the National Memorial Service for the War Dead on the 15th of August every year and implements other programs for memorial services such as the recovery of the remains of the war dead abroad and pilgrimages for memorial services.
(1) Recovery of the remains of the war dead abroad
The recovery of the remains of the war dead abroad was started in 1952 in the southern regions of Asia and the Southern Pacific islands. In 1991, recovery was allowed in the former Soviet region for those died during internment. Furthermore, recovery was allowed in 1994 as for those died during internment in Mongolia. Returned so far were the remains of about half (about 1,230,000 persons) of all persons died abroad (about 2,400,000 persons) including those brought back by repatriated persons from abroad after the war.
Most of the recovery works were done in the southern regions of Asia and the Southern Pacific islands. However, the Sulfur Island and other areas were excluded where recovery is not allowed due to the natural conditions such as in the deep sea or the specific circumstance of the nation. The Ministry will resume the recovery effort by sending recovery groups whenever it receives any information on remains.
In the former Soviet Union and Mongolian regions, about 575,000 people (projected upon the hearing survey from those returned) were interned and about 55,000 people died during the internment. 9,376 remains have been recovered by 1998 and a steady effort will be continued in the recovery of remains in these regions.
Showakan opened at Kudan, Tokyo in March of 1999 which was constructed as part of the aiding measures for the bereaved of the war dead. It collects and stores historical materials and information relating to the hardships experienced by the children and other bereaved families of the war dead during the war and postwar days so as to provide the later generations with an opportunity to know their ordeal. In the seven-story building with two levels of basement, real materials that depict the living of people during that time are exhibited, related books/documents and images/audio data are offered for public perusal, general information on libraries at home and abroad as well as information on literatures and materials are provided.
(2) Pilgrimage for memorial services, etc
Since it is physically difficult to recovery all remains, pilgrimages for memorial services mainly consisting of the war bereaved have started since 1976 in the former major battlefields.
As part of the program, a memorial service was carried out, with the people concerned gathered with the bereaved, on the sea under which Tsushimamaru, a ship for carrying primary school pupil evacuees, was confirmed lying. The ship was found at the bottom of the ocean in December of 1997 near the Akuseki Island of the Nansei Islands in Kagoshima Prefecture. The ship was attacked and sunk by a submarine of the US navy during the war.
Also implemented are planned visits to the burial sites of those died during internment in the former Soviet Union and the Mongolian regions.
Since 1991, the Friendship and Goodwill Memorial Project for the Children of the War Dead has started. The project aims at giving a memorial service through which the bereaved children of the war in two countries may form a friendship with each other while sharing the same ordeal, understand each other more, and help the memorial services go on in the future.
(3) Construction of monuments for the war dead
Selecting one main location in each of the former major battle fields and with a sincere condolence and desire for peace, the Ministry has constructed a total of fourteen monuments for the war dead on the Sulfur Island and the other thirteen sites abroad since 1971.
5. Supporting Policies for Japanese Remaining in China after the War
(1) Investigation on Japanese Orphans Remaining in China after the War
A number of "Japanese Remaining in China after the War" were generated in the northeastern area of China where many Japanese had resided in prewar days. Those people were forced to remain in China because they had been separated from their families, had been taken and fostered by Chinese families, or had married to Chinese as a result of the extreme turmoil of evacuation after the Soviet Union joined the war on August 9, 1945.
The Japanese people had been intermittently repatriated in groups from China but exchange of people and even letters were restricted until 1972 when Japan and China reestablished their diplomatic route.
The reestablishment of the diplomatic route between Japan and China triggered the inquiries of the Japanese identity from Japanese orphans remaining in China after the war. It was then promoted to locate their Japanese families through open investigations. In March of 1981, the visit investigations to locate the families were started sponsored by both the governments of Japan and China. In the investigations, those confirmed as a Japanese orphan remaining in China after the war were invited to stay in Japan for a certain period of time to find their families with the cooperation from media and all levels of citizens. There were a total of twenty-nine such investigations by 1998. As for the orphans with disabilities who are impossible to join in a visit, the personnel from the Ministry of Health and Welfare visit China to conduct hearing investigations (the Investigation in China).
As a result of various investigations including the above, 1,260 out of 2,707 orphans have located their families as of the end of March in 1999.
(2) Council on the measures for People Returning from China
Following the decision made in 1973 for supporting those who desire to return to Japan, a full-scale support for returning to Japan was started in 1974 when transport by air between Japan and China was established.
Since then the Ministry have so far been providing travel expenses and mediation to find personal guarantors as well as dispatching self-sufficiency counselors. Now further promotion is planned for the receiving of persons desiring to return to Japan, as the people remaining in China are advancing in age.
On the other hand, as the number of remaining Japanese increases who do not desire permanent residency but desire just a temporary return for the reunion of families or for visiting burial sites, the provision of travel expenses for temporary returning was started in 1973. The program has been improved since 1995 so as to allow those who desire a temporary returning every year to do so.
(3) Promotion of permanent residency and self-efficiency
Since remaining Japanese have lived in the Chinese society for a long years, they tend to face various difficult problems in terms of language, living and employment when they return to permanently reside in Japan and seek for self-efficiency.
To cope with such problems, a program has been implemented to accommodate returned families in the Placement Center for Persons Returning from China for four months after they returned to Japan. There they were given the lessons of basic Japanese and basic guidance on living. After the four months in the Center, another program is prepared for returned people in which they attend from their home the Training Centers for People Returning from China to Establish Self-sufficiency for eight months to receive further Japanese lessons and guidance on living and employment. In addition, various local friendship programs are provided for building a bridge between the returnees and the residents of the community.
Since 1997, the programs implemented at the Training Center have been improved by providing friendship parties and new seminars for the promotion of employment, etc. and by increasing the number of classes for re-learning of the Japanese language. Furthermore, various other projects have been implemented including the provision of self-sufficiency allowance and language texts, three-year dispatch of self-sufficiency counselors to each family, and special measures for national pensions.
Other ministries and agencies concerned are also taking actions such as giving preference on moving into public housing, job training and job mediation, the securing of opportunities for children's education, and others.
(4) Issues to be dealt with in future efforts
In order that Japanese persons remaining in China and their families can permanently reside in Japan and acquire self-efficiency, it is of course required on the part of returnees to make their efforts. But also required are efforts on the part of communities on the receiving side to have full recognition of their circumstances and to support the returnees on a long time basis. Now the number of post-war generation has exceeded the others, and it is often said that the war experience is fading away. It is essential, however, to make continuous efforts for promoting early return of those people and their families and smooth permanent residency and self-efficiency in the Japanese society. Cooperation and understanding are required from a wide range of the Japanese including the post-war generation as well as persons remaining in China and others around them.