Diplomatic Bluebook 2015

Chapter 2

Japan’s Foreign Policy that Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map

2.Situation in Syria

The Syrian Arab Republic has seen a continued violent conflict between the Syrian government and opposition groups since March 2011, which has escalated into a triangular fight, as Islamic extremist ISIL has expanded its power in Syria since June 2014. Under such circumstances the United States and other countries initiated air strikes against ISIL in the Syrian territory since late September.

With respect to the humanitarian aid, the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria (Kuwait II) was held on January 15 in Kuwait, in which Japan announced that it was planning additional financial support of about 120 million US dollars for humanitarian aid in Syria and the neighbouring countries. The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2139 on February 22 and Resolution 2165 on July 14, to expand humanitarian access. Through the latter resolution, the UN humanitarian agencies and their partners were able to provide humanitarian aid across conflicting lines and borders with notification to the Syrian authorities. As of late August it was reported that more than three million refugees in total fled Syria. Japan announced in September its financial support of about 25.5 million US dollars for stabilization of the Middle East. Among that support, about 5.5 million US dollars was allocated to support Syrian refugees and host communities in Lebanon, which accepts the biggest number of refugees, and to support for areas within Syria which the international community had difficulty reaching (cross-border support).

With respect to the political process, Geneva II Conference on Syria was held on January 22 in Montreux, Switzerland. It was followed by the first-ever direct talk between the Syrian government and the opposition groups from the end of January to early February by a mediation of Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations and Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria, but did not lead to results. The political process was halted since Special Representative Mr. Brahimi resigned on May 31 and Mr. Bashar al-Assad was elected as President of Syria for his third term on June 4. On July 10, the position of Special Representative Mr. Brahimi was taken over by Mr. Staffan de Mistura, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Syria. On September 24, a ministerial meeting on Syria was held in New York during the period of the general debate of the UN General Assembly to support so-called moderate opposition groups in Syria. In the meeting, Foreign Minister Kishida emphasized that every country should support in its own way the activities of the Syria Opposition Coalition (SOC)1 to create an environment of direct talks among interested parties who are responsible for the future of Syria.

With regard to the issue of chemical weapons, in accordance with the decision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN Security Council Resolution 2118 in September 2013, the removal of chemical agent from Syria was completed in June 2014 and the destruction of chemical agent outside Syria with international cooperation is close to an end. Progress was also made in destruction of the chemical weapons production facilities within Syria.

Since the situation in Syria deteriorated, Japan has contributed more than 400 million US dollars to humanitarian aid in Syria and neighbouring countries as of the end of 2014. Acknowledging that a political solution through the “Geneva Communique”2 is fundamental for the stabilization of Syria, Japan will continue to provide both humanitarian assistance and contribute to the political dialogue in parallel like the two wheels of a cart (See Focus on page 20 for details on ISIL and terrorist incidents regarding the murder of Japanese nationals).

  • 1 SOC was formed by Syrian opposition groups in November 2012. Its headquarters are located in Istanbul.
  • 2 The “Geneva Communique” was document adopted in the meeting of Action Group for Syria on June 30, 2012 (Geneva I Conference), which proposes a Syrian-led political transition process including the establishment of a transitional government body.