Section 3. Japan's Response to the Post-Gulf Crisis Problems


1. Problems after the Gulf Crisis

The use of force by the multinational forces ceased on February 28 after Iraq expressed its intention to accept the relevant resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. With this, a virtual truce took hold. Although the Gulf Crisis was to end with this, in the implementation process of the cease-fire resolution it was confirmed that Iraq had uranium concentration operations against its international obligations. In addition, there remained a number of problems with which the international community had to urgently cope in the Middle East region, mainly in the Gulf area. They included the Kurdish refugee problem, environmental destruction brought on by Iraq, including the crude oil pollution of the Gulf and the oil well fire in Kuwait, the removal of mines laid in the Gulf by Iraq and the reconstruction of Kuwait and the other neighboring countries.


(1) Kurdish Refugee Problem

After the cease-fire by the multinational forces, anti-government rebellions by the Kurds in the North and the Shiites in the South expanded in Iraq at the beginning of March 1991. Since the Government of Iraq suppressed these rebellions with arms, massive refugees, mainly the Kurds, began fleeing into Iran and Turkey, which share borders with Iraq. In response to this situation, on April 6, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 688, which criticized Iraq for oppressing the Kurds and requested humanitarian assistance for the Kurds.

Starting in the middle of April, the joint troops of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and other countries were deployed in northern Iraq and began relief activities which include establishing camps for refugees as a humanitarian and temporary measure in line with Resolution 688 of the U.N. Security Council. Since the middle of May, part of the refugee camps established by the joint troops have been transferred to the control of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and U.N. guards have been deployed. Activities of the United Nations thus have become gradually activated. Responding to the agreement reached on June 7 to completely transfer the jurisdiction of refugee relief activities from the joint troops to the United Nations, the joint troops started to withdraw and the withdrawal was completed on July 15.

The number of refugees that fled to Iran once reached 1.4 million, and those fleeing to Turkey reached 410,000. Since the middle of May, voluntary repatriations proceeded and many refugees were sent back to Iraq through the cooperation of the joint troops and others. Consequently, the number of refugees decreased to less than 170,000 in Iran and about 7,000 in the border area of Turkey and Iraq as of the beginning of August.

Since April, negotiations between the Kurdish anti-government organizations and the Iraqi government concerning expanded Kurdish autonomy have been held, but a final agreement has not been reached. It is essential for a practical solution of the Kurdish problem to establish a political system which sufficiently assures the Kurds their rights and security. Close attention should be paid to the course of this negotiation.


(2) The Environmental Problem

Since around January 19, 1991, immediately after the multinational forces launched air operations, the Iraqi army intentionally let crude oil flow into the Persian Gulf from oil facilities in Mina Al Ahamadi, which is a port for oil shipment in Kuwait, and five tankers anchored in the port (Note). The oil floated down along the eastern shore of Saudi Arabia, drifting ashore on the way, and reached as far as the northern shore of Qatar. As of July, the crude oil floating on the ocean either evaporated, sank or drifted ashore so that it could not be recognized by sight. The cleaning operation on the sea was almost completed and the main task shifted to the cleaning of the seashore. Furthermore, from February 22 to 24, the Iraqi army set fires in oil fields in Kuwait as they fled from Kuwait, leaving more than 600 oil wells burning. The smoke generated by the oil well fires spread over the neighboring countries. Iran, Iraq and other countries had black rain and it was reported that in the neighboring countries, daytime temperature dropped by almost 10 degrees from the average due to the air pollution.


(3) Nuclear Development by Iraq

After the cease-fire implemented by Resolution 687 of the U.N. Security Council, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sent a survey mission to inspect nuclear weapons and nuclear materials in Iraq. The investigation is not altogether going well, due to the resistance and sabotage from the Iraqi side. In this investigation process, it became clear that Iraq was engaged in nuclear activities, including the concentrating of uranium and extracting of a small amount of plutonium, despite the fact that Iraq is a party to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and had concluded a full-scope safeguards agreement with IAEA, violating its obligations under international law. IAEA assesses that these activities by Iraq can hardly be considered as having a peaceful objective.


2. Measures Taken by Japan

Ensuring stability in the Middle East after the Gulf Crisis is an indispensable element for forming a stable international order. It is also an extremely important issue from the perspective of ensuring a stable supply of energy. Particularly for Japan, which depends on the region for about 70 percent of its oil imports, ensuring a stable supply is a matter of vital importance. It is therefore not only the responsibility of Japan in the international community but a necessity for Japan's own interests as well to actively participate in international efforts to ensure the long-term stability of the region. From this point of view, the Government announced on March 20 "Japan's Immediate Response to the Problems in the Middle East" which articulated that it will take various measures to cooperate on: (1) security in the Middle East region, (2) arms control and disarmament, (3) peace process in the Middle East, (4) economic reconstruction and (5) the environment. In addition, the Government also made it clear that it would make contributions to refugee relief activities.


(1) The Refugee Problem

Concerning the refugee problem, Japan made a financial contribution of $100 million in response to requests made by the relevant international organizations, dispatched the Japan Disaster Relief Teams consisting of doctors and nurses to Iran (5 teams totaling 51 persons) and Turkey (1 team of 8 persons), and provided relief goods (worth \93.78 million) to Iran and Turkey. These steps were taken before the United States or the United Kingdom took similar measures on the basis of the relevant U.N. resolutions. In Iran, the Disaster Relief Teams from Japan were the first official missions to arrive. Foreign Minister Nakayama inspected the refugee camps in the northwest region of Iran during his visit to Iran in May 1991.


(2) The Environmental Problem

As for dealing with the environmental problems, such as the air pollution generated by the oil well fires and the water pollution caused by the outflow of crude oil, Japan promptly sent oil fences, oil absorption materials, oil skimmers, small oil collecting boats and other equipments through the Gulf Peace Fund to Saudi Arabia and other suffering countries. Japan also dispatched a total of 70 persons (as of the end of August 1991) on survey missions, as experts and international emergency aid corps for crude oil collection, to maintain desalinization plants and to provide environmental medical health care and to deal with air pollution.

Furthermore, as for cooperation through international organizations, Japan contributed funds to the emergency action by the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Gulf Oil Pollution Disaster Fund of the International Marine Organization (IMO). These contributions by Japan have been highly evaluated by Saudi Arabia and other affected countries.


(3) Removing Mines in the Persian Gulf

It was assumed that in the northwest region of the Persian Gulf, the Iraqi navy laid about 1,200 mines. This, combined with the destruction of oil wells and port facilities in Kuwait, became a major obstacle to the recovery of Kuwait after its liberation and the resumption of crude oil exports from Kuwait and northern Saudi Arabia. In April 1991, the Government of Japan made a decision to dispatch six minesweepers with approximately 510 crew of the Maritime Self-Defense Force to the Gulf. From June, these minesweepers cleared mines from the open sea off Kuwait in a joint operation with vessels from eight countries - the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia.

Japan firmly adheres to its policy under its peace Constitution of not dispatching armed forces abroad for the purpose of use of force. Japan took the abovementioned step under the situation in which the cease-fire had officially been agreed upon and the danger of military conflicts had been removed, for a peaceful and humanitarian purpose of assuring the safe navigation of ships, including the Japanese, by removing mines which were identified to have been left in the water. Therefore, the measure taken does not apply to the sending of forces abroad.

This new international contribution by Japan was highly evaluated or welcomed by not only the Middle Eastern countries but also many other countries, including those in Asia, as well as the U.N. Secretary-General. This contribution was also made with strong support from the public, which shows the recent rise in the public awareness of Japan's international responsibility.


(4) Other Problems

In addition to the problems mentioned above, there are other problems in the Gulf region and the Middle East, of which solutions are essential for the long-term stabilization of the region, which include the security problem, arms control and disarmament, and the issue of the peace in the Middle East including the Palestine issue. In solving these problems in the region, it is obvious that the intentions of the countries in this region should be respected in the first place. At the same time, the international community should actively cope with the problem as its own, paying due respect to the will of the countries in the region.

Japan dispatched a Foreign Ministry official to the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM) and experts to the U.N. Ad Hoc Committee for abandoning weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As the Iraqi violation of the IAEA safeguards agreement became public knowledge, the Government of Japan summoned the Iraqi Ambassador in Tokyo to convey its condemnation of the Iraqi violation and requested its appropriate action in prompt and faithful implementation of Resolution 687 of the U.N. Security Council. Based on the fact that the danger of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missiles, as well as of the transfer of conventional weapons, became obvious during the Gulf Crisis, Japan engaged in further diplomatic activities to promote the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missiles and to control the transfer of conventional weapons. In cooperation with the United Nations, Japan convened the Conference on Disarmament in Kyoto in May 1991, and stressed the importance of these issues at the London Summit. Consequently, as already pointed out, Japan's view was strongly reflected in the declaration of the London Summit. Also at the IAEA, Japan proposed the improvement and strengthening of the IAEA safeguards clause and made it clear that it would propose specific measures for them.

In relation to the issue of the peace in the Middle East, the U.N. proposal to hold an international conference for achieving peace was moving toward realization as the Gulf Crisis ended. Japan decided to extend indirect support for promoting peace in the Middle East, and took some measures as the first step to bring more balance to Japan's relationship with Arab countries and that with Israel. Particularly, on the relationship with Israel, which had been relatively weak, the Government of Japan sent Deputy Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hisashi Owada, to Israel in January 1991 and Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama in June. The dialogue between the two countries has been intensified and Japan decided to enhance its assistance to the Palestinians in the occupied territories.



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Note :The amount of crude oil released is estimated to be about 1 million to 4 million barrels.