APDA The Asian Population and Development AssociationAPDA The Asian Population and Development Association


4 March 2024

On 4 March, the Japan Parliamentarians Federation for Population (JPFP) held a meeting on the occasion of the visit to Japan of Dr. Natalia Kanem, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA. Hon. Aisawa Ichiro, Acting Chair of JPFP, gave a welcome address and Hon. Kikawada Hitoshi, Secretary General of JPFP, facilitated the meeting.

In her speech, Dr. Kanem expressed her appreciation for the longstanding cooperation between UNFPA and Japan, especially the contributions of parliamentarians through APDA/JPFP activities. She then congratulated JPFP on its 50th anniversary this year. Given that this year also marks the 30th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD, or Cairo Conference), she stressed the need to recognize once again what is happening now in the population field. Population is an aggregate of “individuals”; it is imperative to protect their rights and dignity and provide support for them so that no one is left behind. Dr. Kanem explained that each country needs to consider sustainable policies that respond to diverse demographic changes.

During the Q&A session, Hon. Odawara Kiyoshi mentioned that young people are moving to cities in search of jobs, causing an imbalance in birth rates between prefectures. He asked how we could address the difficult trilemma of ensuring freedom of migration, autonomous local government policies, and stable wages.

Then Hon. Makihara Hideki said that accepting migrant workers would be a solution to the labor shortage and asked Dr. Kanem to comment on the cultural, linguistic, and other challenges faced by migrant workers in the society to which they migrate.

In response, Dr. Kanem mentioned that the immigration issue is indeed multidimensional and that there are always unintended effects and consequences, which we must anticipate and work together to address. She also emphasized that when it comes to lack of the working population, there is a big role for the innovation, robotics and technologies in meeting certain social needs. On the other hand, she added that it is important to understanding that human touch is irreplaceable and asked Japan to take a leading part in thinking about these issues based on its experience and knowledge.

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