Chapter II.
Sectoral Analysis of the International Situation and Japan's Foreign Policy

Section 1.
Ensuring peace and stability

C. Efforts toward the realization of world peace

1. Overview

As is often the case with communities which are made up of individual persons, various clashes inevitably arise in the international community, which comprises states and a variety of other entities. At the same time, efforts to maintain international peace and security are crucial in ensuring that all the people of the world can live in peace with their basic human rights respected. Conflicts of views among states should be worked out before they escalate into armed conflicts, and those which threaten international peace and security need to be resolved "by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law" as stated in the UN Charter. Efforts toward conflict resolution need to address all aspects of conflicts. A "comprehensive approach" is needed to forestall conflicts before they occur, forming an overall picture of poverty and various other factors which lie behind each conflict and addressing problems on the basis of this, and over the last few years, Japan has been advocating the "New Development Strategy," which is based on this philosophy. When a conflict actually occurs, on the other hand, international peace cooperation becomes vital in preventing it from expanding and intensifying, and leading the way toward a peaceful resolution. Because regional organizations and related countries have a major role to play in resolving regional conflicts, a "regional approach" is needed whereby the United Nations, as a universal international organization, works closely with various regional organizations, etc. Also important is international support toward the restoration of true peace, including efforts to resolve the refugee problems created by conflicts and to facilitate post-conflict peacemaking. Of these various aspects, this section focuses on conflict prevention and responses once a conflict has occurred, examining conflict prevention, international peace cooperation, refugee problems, and the Kosovo issue, which remained mired in conflict throughout 1998.

2. Conflict prevention

Conflict prevention entails prior identification of confrontations in various dimensions which could escalate into an armed conflict, dispelling or calming these to forestall an armed conflict before it occurs.

Armed conflicts during the Cold War generally reflected the bi-polar structure, while the central issue of that period was preventing both the United States and the Soviet Union from triggering a nuclear war. On the other hand, the collapse of the Cold War structure caused an explosion of conflicts arising from a variety of political, economic and social issues which had been contained within the bi-polar structure, such as the repression of human rights by governmental authority, poverty and starvation and animosity between ethnic groups. Forestalling a conflict requires comprehensive efforts based on a total grasp of various factors behind the conflict in question, and expectations are growing as to the conflict prevention role of the United Nations, the foremost objective of which is to maintain international peace and security. Conflict prevention is an area of major concern not just to the United Nations but also to regional organizations and frameworks such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Organization for African Unity (OAU) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), with the OSCE and the OAU having set up their own conflict prevention mechanisms. Concern on conflict prevention is therefore growing at both international and regional levels, with efforts being enhanced in this regard; however, while there appear to have been fewer conflicts and fewer refugees emerging in recent years, it would still be difficult to say that the above efforts were having sufficient impact. To resolve this situation, Japan held the Tokyo International Conference on Preventive Strategy in January, gathering the foremost leaders in the area of conflict prevention, and participants engaged in a very substantial discussion on the direction of conflict prevention strategies. The conference noted the central importance of the political commitment of members of the international community in forestalling conflicts, and considered concrete measures which would enable the United Nations to work with regional organizations toward boosting conflict prevention capacities. Japan also hosted TICAD II in October together with the United Nations and the GCA, putting together the Tokyo Agenda for Action and otherwise taking the initiative toward promoting development with the link to conflict also borne in mind.

Japan intends to further promote this comprehensive approach, which is increasingly gaining recognition worldwide. More specifically, Japan will contribute positively to international efforts in regard to all aspects of conflicts, ranging from risk management, whereby situations which are likely to develop into conflicts are identified at an early stage and dealt with promptly, to longer-term aspects such as efforts in regard to the issues on economic and social development which lie at the heart of conflict.

3. International peace cooperation (UN peacekeeping operations, etc.)

a) Current status

United Nations peacekeeping operations (PKO) have played an important role in maintaining international peace and security. To mark the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), which has been called the first PKO, the General Assembly on the 50th Anniversary of the UN Peacekeeping Operations was held in October 1998. In Japan too, a symposium on the current status and future of UN peacekeeping operations was held in March, where various discussions took place as to PKO prospects.

With regard to recent UN peacekeeping operations, as a result of PKO experiences in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia, the importance of traditional PKO principles is widely recognized again, such as the existence of a ceasefire agreement, consent by conflicting parties on the undertaking of a PKO, impartiality and the non-use of weapons except in self-defense. All PKOs currently underway are basically in line with these principles. Moreover, given various problems, including those related to securing staff and financing, major-scale operations such as those seen in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda have less frequently been established; in their place, comparatively small-scale PKOs are performing such traditional duties as ceasefire and withdrawal observation, but also complicated areas including civilian election monitoring, support for the return of refugees, surveillance of the state of human rights, support for and coordination of humanitarian relief activities and advice on administrative matters. There have also been instances where UN peacekeeping operations and regional organizations have cooperated to resolve regional conflicts and make efforts to maintain peace. For example, operations in the former Yugoslavia spearheaded by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), those of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Georgia and Tajikistan, and those in Sierra Leone conducted by the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Military Observation Group (ECOMOG) are cases where regional organizations have been successfully working together with UN peacekeeping operations.

As of December 1998, 16 UN peacekeeping operations are underway, including the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) and the United Nations Observer Mission to Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL), both established in 1998, with around 15,000 personnel engaged in peacekeeping operations.

b) Debate on PKO

The international community is aware of the need to implement PKO more efficiently and effectively, and continues to explore concrete measures to this end.

As of December 1998, 80 countries have expressed their willingness to participate in the United Nations Standby Arrangements, a system whereby UN Member States report to the United Nations beforehand the type and number of personnel they can provide within a certain period so as to enable a faster PKO response. Around 100,000 personnel are now registered under this system. In October 1998, the UN General Assembly agreed to cover part of the necessary budget for the Rapidly Deployable Mission Headquarters concept, marking major progress toward realization of this concept, whereby troops on standby are dispatched to the mission area immediately after the decision has been made to establish a PKO, carrying out the necessary preparatory work. Further, the United Nations Stand-by Forces High Readiness Brigade, the establishment of which was proposed primarily by the North European countries, is an organization aimed at the prompt dispatch of a more flexible unit within the framework of the UN Standby Arrangements, and a basic organization comprising a steering committee and a planning body has already moved into action, with the full operating structure expected to be developed from 1999 onward.

On the other hand, casualties among PKO personnel, and particularly civilian staff, have been steadily increasing in recent years. In 1998, civilian casualties outnumbered military casualties for the first time. Moreover, Yutaka Akino, former professor at Tsukuba University, who had been dispatched by Japan as a political affairs officer to the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT), and three other UN personnel were killed by anti-government forces in July. Responding to this incident, Japan intensified its lobbying for the early entry into force of the Convention on the Safety of UN and Associated Personnel (Japan having already become the second signatory to this in 1995). As a result, 22 countries had ratified by December, which was necessary for its effectuation, and the convention is scheduled to enter into force in January 1999. In the context of this issue, in July 1998, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan instructed the relevant UN departments to undertake a comprehensive review of safety measures for staff, including NGO staff, engaged in PKO and humanitarian relief operations.

c) Japan's cooperation

Since the Law Concerning Cooperation for United Nations Peacekeeping and Other Operations (the International Peace Cooperation Law) went into effect in 1992, Japan has taken part in PKOs in Angola, Cambodia, Mozambique and El Salvador. At present, as part of a comprehensive effort toward the peace and stability in the Middle East, a total of 45 personnel (43 personnel as part of a support unit, and 2 staff officers) have been dispatched to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) operating on the Golan Heights since February 1996. The work of the Japanese personnel has been highly commended by United Nations officials, including the local commander, as well as by host countries.

As August 1995 marked the third year since the International Peace Cooperation Law went into effect, a review of the law was initiated in accordance with its relevant additional provisions, and in June 1998, the amended law was passed and promulgated. The following three amendments were made to allow the government to contribute more appropriately and effectively to the effort for international peace by United Nations and other bodies.

  • Japan can cooperate in international election monitoring activities which are conducted with the involvement of the United Nations and/or certain regional organizations, and which do not take the form of UN peacekeeping operations.
  • Japan can provide cooperation in kind to humanitarian international relief operations undertaken by certain international organizations even where no formal ceasefire agreement has been reached.
  • Use of weapons by members of the Self-Defense Forces and other staff participating as a unit must in principle be at the order of the senior officer present at the scene.

The amended law opened the way for Japan to cooperate in the OSCE election monitoring operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina in September, and Japan dispatched 25 election management staff and five monitoring staff to take part in this operation.

4. Refugees

The ethnic and religious conflicts which have surfaced in a number of regions since the end of the Cold War set world refugee numbers soaring in the 1990s, with the total refugee population reaching 30 million in 1995. Since then, however, the solution of the Indochina refugee issue and the repatriation of many refugees from Mozambique and Rwanda have whittled this figure down to around 26 million as of January 1998. Refugees around the world and a large number of internally displaced persons, who have been uprooted for reasons such as conflicts and forced to flee their homes, continue to be not only of humanitarian concern but also a global issue which could have an effect upon the peace and stability of both the regions concerned and the entire world. Japan recognizes humanitarian assistance for refugees and displaced persons as an important pillar in its international contribution, and provides substantial support through international organizations in a neutral position, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), including emergency assistance for the enormous number of refugees and other displaced persons in and around the Kosovo region in Yugoslavia.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata was re-appointed in 1998. Hence, Japan intends to contribute to seek the permanent solutions for the problem of refugees, maintaining close liaison with the UNHCR and other international organizations.

Permanent solutions for the problem of refugees will require not simply support from a humanitarian perspective but also provision of assistance toward regional stabilization to prevent conflict and to keep returnees from becoming refugees once again. Therefore, not only efforts toward conflict prevention need to be strengthened, but it will also be important to ensure a smooth transition from emergency humanitarian relief to reconstruction assistance, and to development assistance. Coordination and cooperation must be strengthened among the various governments, international organizations, NGOs and other parties, which are actually engaged in providing this assistance. In addition, refugee assistance operations are being frequently threatened by incidents such as the killing of UNHCR and WFP staff in Afghanistan and other countries. Thus, ensuring the safety of humanitarian assistance personnel has now become a crucial issue in conducting humanitarian assistance for refugees.

5. Kosovo

Albanians constitute 90% of the two million population of the Kosovo province within the Republic of Serbia in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), and tense relations between Albanian residents seeking independence and the Serb authorities had continued for some time before escalating into armed clashes at the end of February, with exchanges of fire producing many casualties. These clashes also produced a massive number of refugees and internally displaced persons-more than 200,000-causing strong concern over the deterioration of humanitarian conditions.

With the West perceiving a need for strong measures to break through this situation, U.S. Envoy Richard Holbrooke pushed hard in order to stabilize the situation, indicating the possibility of the use of force by NATO. As a result, in October, the FRY pledged to fulfill the six items under Security Council Resolution 1199, including the withdrawal of security forces, the return of refugees and the launching of negotiations. The FRY also agreed on how to verify the fulfillment of these commitments and how to advance negotiations in regard to the status of Kosovo. In terms of the former, the FRY and the OSCE agreed the same month that an OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) of approximately 2,000 personnel would be sent to Kosovo, and part of this mission was dispatched before the end of the year. The United States continues to mediate toward a political resolution in regard to Kosovo's status, but the yawning gaps between the respective stances of the parties involved do not indicate an early conclusion.

Recognizing the deterioration of the Kosovo situation as due to the excessive use of force by the Serbian authorities, Japan is coordinating with the major Western powers in taking measures such as freezing the Yugoslav Government's capital and suspending new investments in the Republic of Serbia. At the same time, to support Kosovo refugees and displaced persons, in August, Japan contributed a total of US$2.31 million in emergency grant assistance to the UNHCR and the ICRC. These funds have been used to support operations such as the establishment of temporary camps, water supply, the supply of food and other daily necessities, and medical and sanitation-related activities. Furthermore, over September and October, Japan communicated its position to the relevant countries and also dispatched a survey mission to Kosovo to examine further support measures. Based on the report of this mission, in October, Japan announced Kosovo contribution measures, centering around additional humanitarian assistance totaling around US$7.3 million, to be provided through international organizations and grass-roots grant assistance to support refugees and displaced persons.

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