UN ESCAP chief reaffirms 60-year relationship during first official visit to Japan

Executive Secretary Shamsahd Akhtar with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. Photo Credit: UN ESCAP

As a regional and global leader in development cooperation, Japan plays an invaluable role in supporting our efforts to address the key challenges facing the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in climate change and disability-inclusive development, the top United Nations official for Asia and the Pacific said during her first official visit to Japan this week.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Dr. Shamshad Akhtar today met with the Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, as well as several leaders of Japan’s pre-eminent research institutes to discuss global, regional and bilateral issues, including strengthening the base for increased and expanded cooperation between Japan and ESCAP.

The Executive Secretary’s inaugural visit marks the 60th anniversary of Japan’s membership of ESCAP. This is the first official invitation by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan to an Executive Secretary of ESCAP.

“Over the last 60 years, Japan has been a strong supporter of ESCAP and actively engaged in our intergovernmental work, particularly population issues, disability-inclusive development, disaster risk reduction and statistics,” said Dr Akhtar.

“As we celebrate this important milestone it is time to both reflect on our past achievements and look to the future,” Dr. Akhtar added. “Today we reaffirm ESCAP and Japan’s relationship and lay the groundwork for a joint sustainable and inclusive development path going forward.”

Dr. Akhtar emphasized that ESCAP aims to establish strong ties with some of Japan’s leading research institutes to conduct joint research into solutions for persisting and emerging regional development challenges. Key priority areas include sustainable development financing, gender equality and the empowerment of women, social protection, poverty and inequality and the environment and climate change.

Today, the Executive Secretary also visited the Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP) the training arm of ESCAP’s statistics sub-programme. Established in 1970, SIAP aims to improve the knowledge and skills of official statisticians and government officials in producing, disseminating and using quality statistics and modernizing national statistical institutions.

Tomorrow, the Executive Secretary will meet with Governor of the Bank of Japan Haruhiko Kuroda and the President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Akihiko Tanaka, along with representatives of United Nations agencies and country offices at the United Nations University in Tokyo. The Executive Secretary will also meet with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and visit the Asian Development Bank Institute.