Friday, May 26, 2006

May 25, 2006: UNGASS+5: Japanese Government Delegation Launching Ceremony: Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori serves as head of delegation, 4 members

On May 25, a launching ceremony of the Japanese government delegation to UNGASS+5 took place at the First Members' Office Building of the House of Representatives. Former Prime Minister, Yoshiro Mori, who is serving as the head of the delegation was also there. In his speech, he emphasized Japan’s contribution to the progress made against world’s infectious diseases, such as the G8 Okinawa Summit in 2000 when he served as prime minister, which propelled the establishment of the Global Fund against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The Japanese Government Delegation, headed by Mr. Mori, former prime minister, consists of two members from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, two officials and one specialist from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, and four advisors from civil society. In addition, other members of the office to the UN, such as Ambassador Kenzo Oshima (former UN Undersecretary General) are members of the delegation.

Mr. Tadashi Yamamoto, Director of the Friends of the Global Fund Japan, will be joining the delegation as an advisor representing civil society. Other advisors from civil society are Masayoshi Tarui, Vice-Chair of Japan AIDS and Society Association, Mr. Hiroshi Hasegawa, Director of Japan Network of PLWHA, and Mr. Tsutomu Nemoto, National Focal Point for Japan, Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS.

May 22, 2006: UNGASS+5: Government of Japan remains conservative vis-à-vis Political Declaration. Civil society continues dialogue

At UNGASS+5, a meeting which will be held from May 31 to June 2 in New York, heads of member states will adopt a Political Declaration to strengthen future HIV/AIDS response. In early May, the first draft of the Political Declaration was presented by the President of the General Assembly. Each government began deliberations on the Political Declaration. On May 12, a document which brought together each government’s recommended amendments was submitted, and on May 19, a second draft was published.

The document with brought together each country’s recommended amendments included the following five recommendations made by the Japanese government.

(1) In regards to the clause about prevention, reference to harm reduction and condom use should be eliminated.

(2) The forecasted funds required for the HIV/AIDS response, i.e. 1.8-2 billion US dollars by 2008, should be removed. Furthermore, the allocation of resources to the HIV/AIDS response should be downplayed, rewriting the clause so that donor countries’ responsibility, including Japan’s, remains ambiguous.

(3) The clause regarding WHO/TRIPS agreement that states to promote flexibility in ensuring universal access to treatment should be watered down.

All these points undermine the content of the Political Declaration, leading to a negative and weak HIV/AIDS response, which is unacceptable to civil society.

Japanese civil society has been exerting efforts in the following way regarding the Political Declaration.

First of all, on May 12, at the policy dialogue forum between Government of Japan and Japanese civil society for UNGASS+5, Japanese civil society submitted a recommendation which called for the need to include specific numerical targets in the Political Declaration and a proactive clause to address the needs of vulnerable groups, and an exchange of opinion took place.

Secondly, at the regular consultative meeting between Japanese NGOs involved in health issues and Ministry of Foreign Affairs held on May 16, Japanese civil society questioned the relevant government staff regarding their reasons to omit reference to condom use and harm reduction, as well as ambiguous reference to resource mobilization, and requested a more positive inclusion of these points.

Furthermore, on May 22, Japanese civil society submitted another recommendation to the Government of Japan in response to the second draft of the Political Declaration released on May 19. Japanese civil society requested the following to be included: detailed reference to a comprehensive prevention response such as condom use and harm reduction; reference to the improvement in the quality of counseling provided, enriching HIV testing services; reference to the elimination of discrimination and stigma and protection of human rights of vulnerable groups, specifying these vulnerable groups such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and sex workers. Moreover, Japanese civil society also requested that the government incorporate the perspective of human security, which is a pillar of Japan’s international assistance policy, into the Political Declaration in relation to the AIDS response in countries at the stage of generalized epidemic, allowing for a more comprehensive implementation of the HIV/AIDS response.

Japanese civil society intends to continue dialogue with the Government of Japan regarding the Political Declaration, seeking their constructive commitment. The recommendations mentioned above are available here.

May 12, 2006: Civil Society and Government Policy Dialogue Takes Place in preparation for UNGASS+5

On May 12, in advance to the UNGASS+5, a forum for policy dialogue between civil society and the government in regards to the HIV/AIDS response took place at Keio University, sponsored by Japan AIDS & Society Association with the cooperation of GII/IDI Network (a Japanese network of NGOs involved in health issues). From the government, two staff from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and 3 staff from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) attended. 3 staff from Japanese Foundation for AIDS Prevention also attended. 12 people from civil society participated, including people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and representatives of the Youth Coalition.

Masayoshi Tarui, Vice-Chair of Japan AIDS & Society Association (also professor at Keio University) facilitated the forum. Each member of civil society and the government spoke about their country report, which was followed by an in-depth discussion. MHLW stated that they plan on resolving problems with the current HIV/AIDS response, as they just revised their AIDS Prevention Guidelines. On the other hand, civil society called for the shared understanding that Japan is entering the stage of concentrated epidemic, implementation of an HIV/AIDS response that meets international standards as reflected in the Declaration of Commitment, and further participation of civil society, including PLWHA in policy-making.

An exchange of opinion and discussion followed regarding the Political Declaration proposed by the President of the General Assembly. Civil society asserted that in order to achieve universal access to treatment, care and prevention by 2010, the Political Declaration needs to be refined so that progress is assessable. Furthermore, civil society insisted that the need to ensure human rights of and provide appropriate responses for men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, sex workers and other communities vulnerable to HIV ought to be included in the Political Declaration. Having said that the Political Declaration is overall satisfactory, the Japanese government stated that they would not include any references to harm reduction measures. In turn, civil society argued for the need to include harm reduction, which fueled further discussion.

This forum, initiated and sponsored by civil society, was an opportunity for policy dialogue preceding UNGASS+5, and was the first time for such dialogue to take place between the Government of Japan and civil society. It clarified common ground and differences between civil society and the government. It is hoped that this will serve as a beginning of future efforts and cooperation based on an equal relationship between civil society and the government in fighting HIV/AIDS, a much needed framework.

May 7, 2006: Japanese Civil Society Develops a Shadow Report in preparation for UNGASS+5

Japan’s movement is speeding up as UNGASS+5 approaches. The Government of Japan prepared a Country Report and submitted it to UNAIDS in February. After March, Japanese civil society including a network of Japanese NGOs prepared and submitted a recommendationsto the Japanese government regarding UNGASS+5 . Furthermore, Japanese NGOs working against HIV/AIDS started to put together a Shadow Report in the beginning of April, and completed a Japanese version at the end of April. An English version was also created by early May.

The Country Report created by the government is a mere 4 page document, while the Shadow Report prepared by civil society was not only longer, but was more comprehensive, covering everything from civil society’s understanding of the current prevalence of HIV to problems with Japan’s domestic and international response to HIV/AIDS. The main points of the Shadow Report are as follows:

(1) Japan is at the stage of low prevalence; however, as prevalence is expanding among men who have sex with men, Japan is approaching the stage of concentrated epidemic.

(2) Japan’s HIV/AIDS response lacks an inter-ministerial political will, and there is no organization which brings together and consolidates the efforts of various sectors effectively, as seen in national AIDS committees which many countries have established.

(3) While access to treatment is improving, lack of information and fear of stigma and discrimination prevents access to testing. It has been reported that of all people living with HIV/AIDS, only 20% are aware of their status. A chronic lack of financial and human resources allocated to the HIV/AIDS response has resulted in such insufficiency.

(4) In the realm of international cooperation, the past approach of providing instruments and building capacities of medical professionals has given way to supporting communities, which is worthy of praise. However, the shift remains insufficient. Moreover, most of the HIV/AIDS-related programs have been carried out in sub-Sahara and the Caribbean, and not enough is being done in other parts of the world.

The Shadow Report is available here.

Monday, April 03, 2006

March 22 2006: Japanese Government Released Its Country Report for UNGASS+5

In February, Government of Japan submitted the country report for the UN General Assembly for reviewing Declaration on Committment on HIV/AIDS (DoC), which will take place in the end of May and early June. It was released to Japanese civil society groups in late March.

The official deadline set by UNAIDS to submit the report was the end of December 2005. UNAIDS also urged all the governments to have consultation with civil society and private sectors in the drafting process of the reports. But Japanese government didn't have any consultation in its process for drafting the report.

The document was written by mainly Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) and has only 4 pages. It lacks many points necessary to review the achievements of targets of DoC.

You can get Japanese Governmental Country Report from Here

Masaki Inaba
Program Coordinator on HIV/AIDS, Africa Japan Forum

March 13, 2006: Japanese Int'l NGO network submits recommendation on UNGASS+5

GII/IDI NGO Network, a coalition of Japanese NGOs working on global health, submitted the recommendation paper on UN General Assembly on Declaration of Committment on HIV/AIDS to Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) in March.

The recommendation paper consists of 4 parts; i) respect and imprementation of Declaration on Committment (DoC), ii) speech of the representative of Japanese government, iii) civil society participation, iv) DoC and Japanese ODA. In the recommendation paper, the network urged Japanese government to ensure its full implementation of DoC domestically and internationally. It also urged Japanese government to involve itself to the realization of the universal access to prevention, care and treatment by 2010, and harmonize its policy and implement of its ODA on HIV/AIDS with the DoC.

It was submitted to MoFA on 16th and MHLW on 22th March.

more details, please contact the following;

Masaki Inaba
Board Member on Infectious Diseases, GII/IDI NGO Network
Program Coordinator on HIV/AIDS, Africa Japan Forum

"AIDS in Japan" Blog is opened

Hello. This is the website named "AIDS in Japan", which introduce basic and updated HIV/AIDS informations of Japan. We welcome everyone interested in HIV/AIDS situation, national policies, and civil society activities in Japan.

Masaki Inaba
Program Coordinator on HIV/AIDS and Infectious Diseases
Africa Japan Forum