It has been reported that in May 2002, East Timor, which has endured a situation of continuing conflict over its independence from Indonesia, will finally become an independent nation. The Japanese Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) Units are also being dispatched to East Timor. Please explain why it is necessary for Japan to send PKO Units to East Timor, a country that has very little relation to Japan.
- In East Timor, under the transitional rule of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), the representatives of a Constituent Assembly were elected in August 2001. East Timor's administrative structure has also started to materialize, including the establishment of the first Administration under the management of the people of East Timor. The East Timorese Constitution was finalized in March 2002, and the presidential election was conducted on April 14th. Eventually, East Timor is expected to be formally independent on May 20th.
- East Timor sits in the geopolitically important area that divides Asia and the Pacific. Recognizing a stable East Timor should contribute to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. Japan has placed an emphasis on assisting East Timor.
- From this viewpoint, Japan has been actively providing assistance to East Timor for reconstruction and development and in humanitarian areas: in 1999, Japan hosted the First Donor's Meeting for East Timor in Tokyo; at the meeting, Japan pledged assistance that totals US$130 million for three years, with particular emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture and human resources development; Japan has been supporting Japanese non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are active in East Timor, with financial assistance totaling US1.46 million (since 2000) under the grassroots grant aid scheme.
- Japan is also active in the area of peace cooperation, based on the International Peace Cooperation Law. Japan dispatched three civilian police officers to the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), which conducted the direct balloting in 1999 on whether East Timor would remain part of Indonesia. In addition, upon the request of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), air transport units of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) were dispatched and transported humanitarian relief goods to East Timor for the refugees resulting from the violence and confusion in the wake of direct balloting. Recently, Japanese personnel were dispatched to East Timor for monitoring activities in the Constituent Assembly election in August 2001.
- Currently, as an operation based on the International Peace Cooperation Law, Japan has dispatched 680 Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) personnel in Engineer Units and ten PKF headquarters personnel to UNTAET. Those dispatched are carrying out such logistic support operations for UNTAET as the maintenance and repair of roads and bridges. Such operations are expected to provide assistance for the economic activities and daily lives of the East Timorese people. The current dispatch of SDF personnel, the largest ever to a UN Peacekeeping operation, is an epoch-making initiative that makes Japan's assistance to East Timor more multi-faceted. At various opportunities, United Nations officials and East Timorese leaders have voiced expectations for the activities of the SDF Unit. Japan also dispatched electoral observers to the above-mentioned presidential election.
- Having gone through various conflicts and confrontations, East Timor is now making efforts for reconciliation among its citizens and reconstruction/development. Japan sees such efforts as an important initiative for conflict resolution and nation-building in the international community. As East Timor faces many challenges, Japan as an Asian nation will continue to actively support East Timor.
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