TOKYO (ILO News) - Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Guy Ryder, and Japan's Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, have signed the Memorandum of Cooperation in Tokyo on 11 May 2017 to further strengthen the bond of cooperation between the ILO and Japan taking into consideration new developments including the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in 2015, and the ILO's centenary to be celebrated in 2019.
The importance of decent work in achieving sustainable development is highlighted in the SDGs by its Goal 8 that aims to "promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all." The government of Japan has established the SDGs Promotion Headquarters and adopted the Guiding Principles to implement measures related to the SDGs comprehensively and effectively.
Working style reform is one of pillars of Japan's Plan for Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens, which has been developed to create a mechanism of virtuous cycle of growth and distribution. "Future of work 2035: For everyone to shine," policy document published by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in August 2016, presents the Ministry's vision on inclusive and sustainable society and the roadmap towards that goal. Similarly, ILO has embarked upon a landmark initiative to investigate the future of work with an objective to create a world we want under the Director-General's Future of Work Centenary initiative.
Building on these momentum, the Memorandum has an objective to make cooperative relationships between the ILO and the Ministry more firm and stable through organization of Annual Strategic Consultation Meetings to discuss trends in the world of work; enhancement of discussion concerning the future of work in terms of demographic change and longevity; implementation of technical cooperation activities towards developing countries and; facilitation of the use of Japanese extensive knowledge and expertise in labour and employment fields by the ILO by improving the situation of under-representation of Japanese nationals among ILO staff, among others.
Japan has a long-standing relationship with the ILO in the field of development cooperation dating back to 1974 when the Asian Regional Women Labour Administration Seminar was held in Japan as first project under the ILO/Japan multi-bilateral programme. Since then, Japan has established itself as a key partner of the ILO in the promotion of social justice and decent work, especially in the Asia and the Pacific region. Japan is the second largest contributor to the ILO's regular budget and the voluntary contribution between 2012 and 2017 amounted to USD 31.8 million.
"By strengthening the cooperation with the ILO, we would like to see decent work realized in all over the world," said the Minister Shiozaki at the signing ceremony. Guy Ryder drew attention of the government to the possible positive contribution of the ILO to the working style reform undergoing in Japan since it is mostly in line with the future of work initiative promoted by the ILO.
During his stay in Japan from 10 to 13 May 2017, Guy Ryder paid courtesy calls to the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida as well as the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (JTUC-RENGO), the Japan Business Federation (KEIDANREN) and the Central Labour Relations Commission and discussed such topics as working style reform, centenary initiatives and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He met with Toshiro Muto, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) to consolidate the framework of collaboration which would help to advance decent work in connection with the 2020 Games.
On 12 May, the Head of the ILO presented ILO's centenary initiatives at the breakfast meeting of the Japanese Parliamentarians' League on ILO Activities, delivered keynote speech at the Future of Work Symposium organized by the ILO together with the Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training (JILPT) and discussed the issue of future of work in the United Nations University (UNU) Conversation Series Event entitled "Future of Work: Towards Decent Jobs for All? A Conversation with Guy Ryder."
This was the second official visit of Guy Ryder as ILO Director-General since he took office in October 2012. Guy Ryder was accompanied by Tomoko Nishimoto, Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.