This year begins with an especially strong wish, unlike any previous year.
It has now been three years since the outbreak of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). At the beginning of last year, the epidemic strain which was the Delta variant with its high mortality rate became the highly infectious Omicron variant with a low mortality rate. As such, the outlook remained totally bleak. However, despite the high number of infected patients, the number of serious cases and deaths noticeably declined due to the effect of vaccination, providing a somewhat slightly optimistic view. The Japanese government and conferences of specialists continue to maintain a cautious stance, but it seems that the day the virus will be viewed as if it were another type of influenza is coming close.
For the entire world, the year 2022 became a dark, clouded year with the invasion of Ukraine. The outcome remains unclear, but most countries around the world seem to have taken a united stand against this unthinkable invasion of one country by a superpower.
At the United Nations, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) did not recognize Special Needs Education, Japan's education for children with disabilities, as inclusive. While this was somewhat foreseen, the fact that it was categorized as "segregated" education was not welcome news last year. We can only hope that advice will serve to bring education closer to truly inclusive education.
Last year was full of such dark clouds, but there were also a few cheerful topics for children. First, the mortality rate of children due to COVID-19 infection showed a much lower trend compared to that of adults or the elderly. Although it might be pointed out that the number of children who died was not zero, this trend itself could be considered a positive one.
CRN has taken the lead in conducting a survey research on the resilience and well-being of children in eight countries in Asia. Studies show that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Quality of Life (QOL) of children has been kept at a high level. Furthermore, the survey has also clarified several factors that can heighten children's resilience which is also positive news.
There are many twists and turns and it is still hard to understand the whole picture, but let us rejoice at the decision to establish an Agency for Children and Families.
This may be a message that you are tired of, but I hope and wish that this year will be a happy one for children. CRN will also cooperate in this effort and do its best to offer support.