Japan's Contribution to UN Peacekeeping Operations
at Ziouani Base
on the Golan Heights
As of 31 January 2005, 103 countries are taking part in UN peacekeeping operations, with a total personnel level of approximately 65,000. In accordance with the International Peace Cooperation Law enacted in 1992, Japan has cooperated in 8 peacekeeping operations such as in Angola, Cambodia, Mozambique, El Salvador, the Golan Heights and Timor-Leste; in 5 international humanitarian relief operations such as for Rwandan refugees and Timorese and Iraqi displaced persons; and in 5 international election monitoring activities such as in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Timor-Leste.
Japan Joins UN Peacekeeping Operations
Japan, as a responsible member of the international community, has been strenuously working for the maintenance of peace and security. Accordingly, participation in UN peacekeeping operations is today placed as one of Japan's important areas of cooperation for international peace and security.
Japan's first substantial participation in a UN peacekeeping operation was in 1989, when 27 electoral observers were dispatched to the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) in Namibia. Then in 1992, the enactment of the International Peace Cooperation Law enabled Japan to send not only its civilian personnel but also its Self-Defense Forces personnel to UN peacekeeping operations. Based on that law, Japan participated in peacekeeping operations in Angola, Cambodia, Mozambique, El Salvador and Timor-Leste, and since 1996 has been dispatching a Self-Defense Forces contingent to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which is deployed on the Golan Heights. Japan's Self-Defense Forces personnel were also sent to assist Rwandan refugees and Timorese displaced persons as part of international humanitarian relief operations. Japan also cooperated in international election monitoring activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (in 1998 and 2000), Kosovo (in 2001) and in Timor-Leste (in 2001 and 2002).
To date, Japan has also made contributions in kind. For example, Japan provided refugee relief materials such as tents and blankets for Kosovar refugees and Timorese displaced persons in 1999. In the same year, Japan also provided radios for public information purposes in support of the direct ballot in August 1999. In 2003, Japan provided refugee relief materials such as tents for Iraqi refugees and in 2004, for Sudanese refugees in Chad.
In addition to these field activities, Japan takes an active part in discussions in the United Nations to improve the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations. Japan, for example, is serving since January 2005 as chair for the Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations.
With regard to the issue of the safety of peacekeepers, Japan strongly maintained that necessary measures should be taken for significant improvement, and Japan's initiative resulted in the adoption in 1994 of the "Convention on the Safety of UN and Associated Personnel," which Japan was the second to ratify. Japan has been actively urging other countries which have not yet done so to become a party to the convention.
Japan will continue to cooperate with UN peacekeeping activities not only by participating in actual operations but also by actively engaging in discussions for further improvement of these operations.
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