Keynote Speech by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida "A Peace-Loving Nation Walking with Asia" at the High Level Seminar on Peacebuilding, National Reconciliation and Democratization in Asia
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you very much for participating in this high level seminar. We have invited renowned leaders and experts who have played an important role in the fields of peacebuilding, national reconciliation, and democratization to attend. I am truly honored to hold this seminar here at the United Nations University with their attendance.
I will take this opportunity to describe Japan’s ongoing efforts towards peacebuilding moving forward into the future, while looking back on the path Asia and Japan have taken since the end of World War II.
1. Asia and Japan’s Progress since the End of the War
Looking back 70 years, there were only a handful of independent nations in Asia immediately after World War II. Japan returned to the community of nations as a result of the entry into force of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1952. Around the same time, many Asian nations gained their independence.
As a politician from Hiroshima, the concept of peace and war resonates especially strongly with me.
Seventy years ago, Japan was devastated by World War II. In addition, Japan brought a great deal of suffering to the peoples in Asia by its actions. Based on this experience, the Japanese people have earnestly worked on reviving the nation of Japan, and built up a free and democratic nation that upholds basic human rights. We have walked the path of a peace-loving nation, with feelings of remorse, and resolved to keep the peace and never to wage a war again. This resolution that Japan has taken as a peace-loving nation will remain unchanged. We must not avert our eyes from the past, and have to strive as a peace-loving nation towards the future.
During the post-war era, the conflicts never ended in many parts of Asia. Given the plight of our own nation 70 years ago, and seeing the continuing conflicts across Asia, Japan has sought to reach out as a friendly nation; and provide as much support and assistance as possible. Japan should not be the only nation accustomed to peace. Only after the benefits of peaceful and friendly relations accrue to the region and the entire world, we can establish a true and long-lasting peace. With this strong inner determination, Japan has been actively striving for peace in Cambodia, Myanmar, Mindanao, Aceh, and Timor-Leste, home of former President H.E. Dr. José Ramos-Horta; as well as Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia.
At present, Japan has set out a “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation as the basis of its security policy. This policy is founded on Japan’s firm commitment to peace. The core of Japan’s “Proactive Contribution to Peace” represents the contributions that Japan has made to peacebuilding in Asia. In order to ensure more effective and seamless implementation of its contribution to peace, Japan’s Legislation for Peace and Security is currently under deliberation in the National Diet.
Seventy years ago no one could have imagined the degree of development and progress seen in Asia today. Unfortunately, there are still some conflicts, as well as their underlying causes, that remain unresolved. Looking forward, Japan, with our Asian partners and friends, will continue to make strong efforts towards achieving and establishing peace-building, national reconciliation, and democratization.
2. The Three Principles of Japan’s Peacebuilding
Under what conceptual framework has Japan worked on peacebuilding? Looking back on the past, I think Japan’s peacebuilding has the following three principles and characters.
(Emphasis on “people” and the “field”)
Principle number 1 is the emphasis on “people” and the “field.” Japan attaches importance to going out to the field, in cooperation with the local governments, where peacebuilding and democratization operations are underway. This allows us to walk hand-in-hand with local people and think things over together.
We also consider it critical that Japan’s technological expertise and know-how are embraced by the local populace and take root on the ground.
The activities of JICA represent the front line of Japan’s contribution to international cooperation. JOCV work with local people in the field at the grass-roots level. Furthermore, Japan has also deployed personnel and troops to support UN PKOs in post-conflict regions such as Cambodia, where Mr. Yasushi Akashi, the Chairman of today’s seminar, served as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.
It is from this point of view that Japan is working to strengthen the training of peace-builders. This year, we will reinforce our past efforts and start the “Program for Global Human Resource Development for Peacebuilding and Development.” Also, through “JENESYS2015,” which is a people-to-people exchange program between Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, we will invite approximately 300 youths to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to deepen their understanding of the reality of atomic bombing and to discuss peacebuilding with the youth of Japan.
(Emphasis on Economic Development)
Principle number 2 is the emphasis on economic development. As the basis of peace and reconciliation, Japan made great efforts to improve living standards through economic development. Japan reinforced its own path as a peace-loving nation through the success of economic development. Peace will remain fragile, even when parties to a dispute are able to overcome their differences, if the peace is not undergirded by economic development. Long-term peace can only take root when the so-called “peace dividends” are shared and felt by the people. It is this idea upon which parties to the “Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka”, held in 2003, based a policy called “positive linkages.” This policy linked the assistance of the international community closely to the progress of the peace process in Sri Lanka.
Currently in Asia there are many post-conflict countries that have come to achieve high levels of economic growth. I am pleased that Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar are leading Asia with annual growth rates of 7%. Japan will continue to take an approach to peace-building that emphasizes economic growth in order to improve living standards.
(Tolerance of Diversity)
Principle number 3 is tolerance of diversity. While emphasizing universal values such as freedom, democracy, and human rights, Japan is cautious about hastily seeking results in Asia given its ethnic and religious diversity.
A good example of a successful approach to this effort is Indonesia. Despite the wide variety of ethnicities and religions in that country, they could achieve a transition to a unified and cohesive democracy through the implementation of a national policy called “Pancasila – the five principles.” From this point of view, we focus on the creation of societies resilient to radicalization. We must prevent the spread of extremist views in Asia that groups like ISIL seek to promulgate. Japan fully supports the promotion of moderation by nations including Malaysia and Indonesia. We will carry out projects that counter violent extremism, utilizing the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), which Japan established in ASEAN and developed in cooperation with H.E. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, former Secretary-General of ASEAN.
3. Japan’s Contribution from this Point Onward: Five Efforts
Under these principles, Japan will continue active efforts towards peacebuilding, national reconciliation, and democratization in Asia. More specifically, we will continue to work on the following five issues.
First, we will continue to support national reconciliation between the Government of Myanmar and ethnic minority groups. Under the cooperation with Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, the Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar, we support the efforts of the Government of Myanmar toward achieving national reconciliation with these ethnic minorities. For that, Japan will steadily implement the assistance of up to 10 billion Japanese Yen for the next five years.
Secondly, we will continue to support peace in Mindanao. Based on the summit meeting between Prime Minister Abe and President Aquino earlier this month, we will support the steady implementation of economic development projects via J-BIRD 2 under the cooperation with H.E. Murad Ebrahim, Chairman of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Thirdly, we will continue to support national reconciliation in Sri Lanka. We welcome the serious efforts toward reconciliation taken by the new Sirisena administration. Working closely with Foreign Minister Samaraweera, we would like to further strengthen our support for Sri Lanka with the assistance of Mr. Akashi. As part of this effort, Japan will implement human resources development training for over 1,800 local government officers.
Fourthly, Japan will support recovery and reconstruction of Nepal. Japan will co-chair the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction to be held in Kathmandu on June 25, and intend to exert our utmost effort in a seamless manner from the stage of emergency assistance to the recovery and reconstruction phase. It is important to assist Nepal in a manner that prevents the calamity from derailing the democratization process, so that Nepal will recover as a more vibrant democratic nation.
Last but not least, we will support protection of women and children. The most vulnerable populations in conflict situations are women and children. From the perspective of human security, Japan will utilize ODA to promote educational support for girls, and to protect victims of trafficking in persons. We will also continue to deepen our cooperation with the UN Office of the SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict. In fact, Japan became the top donor last year.
With regard to non-regular immigrants, including women and children trying to cross the Indian Ocean, Japan has decided to extend 3.5 million US dollars through IOM and UNHCR.
Many people argue that the 21st century is the Asian Century. However, without an abiding and sustainable peace, this economic growth will not last. We have to continue our efforts to keep the peace. As a Minister of Foreign Affairs from Hiroshima, I again pledge my commitment to peace here and now. Moving forward, I will make the contribution to peacebuilding, national reconciliation, and democratization in Asia a new pillar of my “Kishida-Diplomacy.” And with Asia, and with the broader world, we are dedicated to make strong efforts together towards a future of peace and prosperity.
I sincerely hope the discussions at today’s seminar are rewarding and fruitful in a number of ways, and with that thought I will conclude this keynote address.
Thank you very much.