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

Section 3.
Efforts toward the realization of a better global society

A. Overview-human security

With goods, capital, technology and information now moving more freely, globalization has been proceeding with enormous momentum. At the same time, issues such as environmental degradation, terrorism, violations of human rights, transnational organized crime, illicit drugs, refugees, anti-personnel landmines, poverty, and infectious diseases such as AIDS are becoming more severe, moving across borders to directly threaten human survival, daily life and dignity.

The international community has been engaged in intensive area-specific efforts to combat these problems, producing some results. Recently, on the other hand, an approach which bundles all these problems as human security issues is gaining international credence.

In Asia too, the economic crisis which began in the summer of 1997 has a serious impact on the socially vulnerable-low-income earners, the unemployed, women, children, the elderly and the disabled-and as seen in Thai Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan's proposal at the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Meeting, there is now widespread recognition of the need to build social safety nets. Japan has been active in this regard, holding a symposium entitled "Health Initiative in the Asian Economic Crisis-a Human-Centered Approach" in Tokyo in April with the initiative of Prime Minister Obuchi, which deepened discussion among experts from the Asian countries and international institutions on the impact of the Asian economic crisis on the health of the socially vulnerable and the response of the international community to this. In a policy speech in Singapore in May, Prime Minister Obuchi indicated that Japan's response to the Asian economic crisis would stress measures for the socially vulnerable. In addition, attending a December conference entitled "Intellectual Dialogue on Building Asia's Tomorrow," which brought together key figures from the Asian countries, the Prime Minister presented the following approach to human security.

  • Human security comprehensively covers all the menaces that threaten human survival, daily life and dignity-for example, environmental degradation, violations of human rights, transnational organized crime, illicit drugs, refugees, poverty, anti-personnel landmines, and other infectious diseases such as AIDS-and strengthens efforts to confront these threats.
  • As these are all cross-border issues, coordinated action by the international community will be important, as will linkages and cooperation among governments, international organizations, NGOs and other parts of civil society.

Based on the above, the Prime Minister proposed a vision for Asia in the 21st century in a policy speech he gave in Viet Nam in December, namely that the century be a century of peace and prosperity built on human dignity. He noted Japan's emphasis on human security as one of Japan's efforts toward the realization of such a century, and revealed that Japan was ready to establish the Human Security Fund under the United Nations based on a 500 million yen contribution as capital cooperation for projects being implemented in this area by the organizations in the UN systems.

While a variety of approaches can be taken in efforts toward realization of human security, including economic issues, environmental degradation and other global-scale issues, or children living under armed conflicts and other regional conflict-related aspects, strengthening such efforts will require the preparation of common rules, the establishment of the coordinated action of the international community, and strengthening the linkages with developing countries. It will be important to take up these issues in cooperation with various governments, international organizations, and civil society members like NGOs and others, linking the human security concept with concrete action, and also reflecting it in reform of the United Nations, which could play a central role in this area.

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