Section 2. Japan's Response to the Gulf Crisis


1. Diplomatic Efforts

Japan requested Iraq to immediately withdraw on August 2, 1990, the very day of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Since then, Japan consistently took the position that the problem should be solved peacefully based on the complete implementation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions, including the withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait and the restoration of the authority of the legitimate Government of Kuwait, and concentrated its diplomatic efforts for that purpose. Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu postponed his visit to the Middle East scheduled in August 1990 in order to supervise the task of formulating Japanese policy on the Gulf Crisis. On his behalf, Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama left Japan on August 17 to visit Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey. In October, Prime Minister Kaifu visited Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Oman and Foreign Minister Nakayama visited Syria. Through these visits, Japan confirmed that its basic position toward the solution of the Gulf Crisis was fundamentally in line with those of the countries around Iraq, and it was agreed that efforts would be made jointly to fulfill their objectives. Throughout the Gulf Crisis, Japan continued its efforts to foster an environment for peacefully settling the situation through close contacts and consultations with the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and other major countries. At the same time, Japan repeatedly appealed to Iraq to solve the problem peacefully by unconditionally withdrawing from Kuwait through such means as Prime Minister Kaifu's meeting with First Deputy Prime Minister Ramadan of Iraq in Jordan in October, which was the first meeting by a leader from the West and sending a letter from Prime Minister Kaifu to President Hussein in December, as well as through the U.N. Secretary-General and the Japanese Embassy in Iraq. In addition, Japan made direct approaches to Iraq such as Deputy Foreign Minister Hisashi Owada's contact, in Geneva, with a close associate of President Hussein in December.

Furthermore, in January 1991 as tensions mounted toward armed conflict, Japan made every possible diplomatic effort to the last moment based on the stance that it requested a peaceful solution in accordance with the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. Specifically, when the U.N. Secretary-General visited Iraq, Prime Minister Kaifu sent a message that Japan would extend any assistance to the intermediation taken by the U.N. Secretary-General. Foreign Minister Nakayama also visited the United States immediately before January 15, which was the withdrawal deadline stipulated by Resolution 678 of the U.N. Security Council. In addition to his meeting with high officials of the U.S. Government, Foreign Minister Nakayama met with the U.N. Secretary-General 14 hours before the deadline of the withdrawal and requested his continuous efforts. During the period from the middle of February, when the ground operation became most likely, until the end of the fighting, Japan maintained close contacts with the countries concerned. Prime Minister Kaifu talked on the telephone with U.S. President Bush and Soviet President Gorbachev, while Foreign Minister Nakayama contacted U.S. Secretary of State James Baker.


2. Economic Sanctions

When Iraq invaded Kuwait, Japan immediately took action to protect Kuwaiti financial assets in Japan and strongly criticized Iraq for the invasion. Japan decided on its own initiative to take economic sanctions against Iraq on August 5, prior to the adoption of the U.N. Security Council resolution concerning economic sanctions. The Japanese economic sanctions were comprehensive, including: (1) embargo on oil imports from Iraq and Kuwait, (2) embargo on exports to the two countries, (3) adoption of appropriate measures to suspend investments, loans and other capital transactions with the two countries and (4) freezing of economic cooperation with Iraq.

On August 6, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 661, which requested member countries to (1) prohibit imports from Iraq and Kuwait, (2) prohibit cooperation involving exports by the two countries, (3) prohibit exports to the two countries and (4) prohibit service transactions with the two countries. Japan took necessary domestic measures to implement the resolution in addition to its own decision taken previously.


3. Support for Peace Restoration Activities in the Gulf Region

Faced with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the international community established an unprecedented cooperative relationship under the authority of the United Nations from the very beginning. The unity of the international community was embodied in adoption of a series of resolutions in the U.N. Security Council, dispatch of the multinational forces, the global burden sharing of costs and others. In particular, 29 countries led by the United States participated in the multinational forces, irrespective of the differences in race, philosophy and creed, willing to sacrifice their people and to expend enormous costs despite the economic hardships in their own countries. In addition, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Germany provided financial assistance. Among extra-regional countries, Japan and Germany made large financial contributions. Japan, in particular, provided the largest amount of financial assistance.

The act perpetrated by Iraq to militarily invade and annex its neighbor country tramples on the most basic principles of the international law stipulated in the U.N. Charter, such as "All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered." and "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of forces against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations." Japan could not in any way overlook this situation. It also was an obvious responsibility for Japan, which has come to assume an important position in the international community, to make positive contributions to cope with this situation both by extending financial assistance and by cooperating with human resources to the extent possible. There was also a strong expectation in the international community that Japan should share a considerable portion of this burden.

Standing on this recognition, the Government of Japan decided on August 29, 1990 to cooperate by making contributions involving transportation, goods and materials, medical services and financial assistance for the efforts to establish peace in the Gulf region. On September 21, Japan contributed \122.88 billion (equivalent to $900 million) to the Gulf Peace Fund (Note) and allocated \14.1 billion for cooperation by the Government in transportation and medical services. Furthermore, on September 14, the Government of Japan announced that it was ready for additional cooperation. Following this announcement, the Government appropriated \130 billion (equivalent to $1 billion) in the supplementary budget and contributed it to the Gulf Peace Fund when that supplementary budget was approved.

On January 17, 1991, following the use of force by the multinational forces based on Resolution 678 of the U.N. Security Council, Japan, as a U.N. member country, expressed its firm support of the action taken by these countries. Moreover, based on the approval by the Cabinet on January 25, in consideration of the various elements such as the situation in the Gulf region and the position of Japan in the international community, the Government appropriated \1,170 billion (equivalent to $9 billion at the then exchange rate of \130 to $1.00) in the supplementary budget for the immediate expenses necessary for the relevant countries. When that supplementary budget and the law concerning the ad hoc measures to secure the fund (including tax increases) were approved, the government contributed the previously mentioned amount. Resolution 678 of the U.N. Security Council stipulated that all U.N. member countries were responsible for extending "appropriate support" for the efforts to restore peace by the relevant countries, and additional contribution of \1,170 billion by Japan was made to assume such responsibility. This example set by Japan to contribute funds can be considered to have also promoted later financial contributions by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Germany.

Even after the termination of the use of force in the Gulf region, various activities to restore peace and stability in the region were still required. Under such a circumstance, in light of the emergence of a new fund requirement which had not been anticipated at the time it was decided to contribute the \1,170 billion, Japan made an additional contribution of \70 billion (equivalent to $500 million), which was considered necessary and appropriate for Japan, following the decision of the Cabinet on February 9, 1991.

On August 29, 1990, the Government of Japan announced that it would extend support to the affected countries in the region and assistance to displaced persons, and on September 14, it decided to extend economic cooperation equivalent to $2 billion in total to the neighboring countries, such as Egypt, Turkey and Jordan, which were facing serious economic difficulties. Furthermore, in March 1991, Japan announced that it would provide ODA loan equivalent to about $500 million to Syria as a part of its support to the neighboring countries.

As for supporting the displaced persons, the Government assisted the International Organization of Migration (IOM) with the cooperation of private airlines, in addition to the financial cooperation totaling $60 million, and repatriated Filipinos in Jordan in September and October 1990 and Vietnamese and Thais in January and February 1991 to their home countries. Although it was not implemented, the use of the Self-Defense Force airplanes for transporting these victims was considered and the necessary government ordinance was enacted in January 1991.


4. The U.N. Peace Cooperation Bill

During the Gulf Crisis, the United Nations led the unified activity of the international community to maintain the world order, through which the importance of the role played by the United Nations for maintaining international peace and security was reaffirmed.

To these efforts made by the United Nations, Japan is naturally required to make contributions which are appropriate to its national strength as a responsible member of the international community. And it was acutely felt that effective cooperation involving human resources was as necessary as financial and material cooperation. Based on such thinking, the U.N. Peace Cooperation Bill was formulated by the government. It aimed to arrange the domestic institutions for appropriate and quick cooperation with the U.N. peace-keeping and other operations, following the U.N. resolutions adopted for maintaining international peace and security by utilizing human resources as well as materials. Although the bill was rejected after deliberation in the 119th session of the Diet, through wide-ranging debates the public certainly became more aware that Japan should cooperate through extending human resources as well as materials for activities related to international peace, particularly the U.N. Peace-keeping Operations. The Government of Japan considers it necessary to consolidate domestic systems which will enable cooperation in such a way that could obtain the public understanding, and intends to continuously make efforts for that purpose.


5. Evaluations by the International Community

Various cooperative efforts made by Japan on the problems arising from the Gulf Crisis, including the large amount of financial contributions, are gaining international praise with the passage of time. However, during the course of the Gulf Crisis when the immediate situation dominated the attention of the international community, there was criticism against Japan's cooperation being "too little, too late" and that it did not include cooperation making use of its human resources.

On the other hand, the Gulf Crisis forced Japan to judge and cope with many questions which Japan after World War II had not experienced. It would have been unavoidable to a certain extent that the Government needed some time for deciding its policies, or that there were limitations to its activities.



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Note: A fund established in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for the purpose of assisting countries taking action to achieve peace and stability in the Gulf region in accordance with the related resolutions of the U.N. Security Council, based on the exchange of notes between Japan and the GCC on September 21.