(Provisional Translation)

A School to Build Peace Builders
Keynote Speech by Mr. Taro Aso, Minister for Foreign Affairs
on the occasion of the MOFA Japan - UNU Seminar
"People Building Peace: Human Resource Development in Asia for Peacebuilding"

August 29, 2006, UN House (U Thant Hall)


Ambassador Brahimi, Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

During my tenure as Minister for Foreign Affairs, one area in which I have sincerely hoped to set a clear path ahead is the topic that we are taking up today, namely "human resource development for peacebuilding". Today, through this speech, I am finally able to make good on a promise I made to Vice-Minister Yamanaka some time ago.

Today I would like to present to you three commitments.

The first of these is that we will be creating terakoya to foster human resource development for peacebuilding. Terakoya, as you may know, were the schools in Japan from the 14th to 19th centuries that provided literacy skills and basic education to children. Referring to them as gakko, which are schools in modern terms, would cause people to have a somewhat overblown image of buildings, but that is not what I mean here. For this reason, I will be referring to them as terakoya.

I hope that we launch these on a trial basis sometime during the next fiscal year, with an aim to have them firmly on track in the years to come. I have to add that there have not yet been discussions on a budget for this, so as a point of fact, in some ways I will be discussing an idea that is yet to be consulted.

That said, let me tell you why these terakoya are necessary.

The United Nations undertakes activities for peacebuilding as well as peacekeeping all around the globe. To overview this, just looking at people related to peacekeeping operations (PKO), 5,000 civilians are involved as international personnel, coming from countries all around the world. I broke down these 5,000 people by country of origin, looking to see what countries are sending how many people.

To make it easier to compare the figures, let me give you now for a few countries the number of civilians involved in various United Nations missions per million people. For New Zealand, it is 11.5; Norway, 7.8; Canada, 7.0; and Sweden, 6.0. In contrast to these, the comparable figure for Japan is a mere 0.16.

My message to you today is that we should work to correct this situation, re-dyeing to a new hue the banner of "Japan--a nation of peace" that we have been bearing.

Japan is not a nation that always seeks to send out its self-defence forces. Yet in order to build and maintain peace, a large number of civilians are also necessary. And it is the civilians that Japan wants to send out in increasing numbers in the future.

However, for the civilians who dare to undertake efforts in dangerous areas during that long period from the time when gunfire might still be heard to the period of nation building, we will need for them to acquire the knowledge and safety management skills appropriate for such missions. It is also critical that they have the ability to interact and coordinate with other personnel on the ground. It is through having such wisdom and expertise that they will be truly able to make the best use of the practical experience and knowledge that they bring to the peacebuilding mission.

I would like terakoya to provide programs ranging from short-term training courses to curricula through which a full academic degree could be earned in the future. Leading nations in the area of PKO such as Sweden and Canada have schools which train peacekeeping specialists and teach know-how including such things as how to protect oneself. I would also like to bring into the terakoya some of the instructors from those schools.

Young people in Asia who will lead our future are also whom I would like to invite to the terakoya. Some countries in Asia have already been contributing numerous soldiers to peacekeeping operations. And yet when it comes to areas requiring an extra degree of knowledge or expertise, such as practical skills in government administration or the development of legal systems, it might not be a bad idea to have persons even from those countries come to Japan and study at the terakoya together with the Japanese. A vision of the future would be for Japanese to one day work for peacebuilding side by side with Thai or other graduates of the same terakoya, somewhere perhaps in Africa, recognizing each other by the same school emblem on the sleeves of their safari shirts.

Now as for the second pledge I will make here today, I intend for Japan from now on to exhibit even greater intellectual leadership towards peacebuilding than ever before.

The newly-established Peacebuilding Commission of the United Nations launched its activities in June of this year. As one of its founding members, Japan has been continually involved in this Commission. Furthermore, Japan has been serving as the leading nation in the UN Security Council with regard to peacebuilding in Timor-Leste and Afghanistan. When the Security Council desires to submit documents regarding these countries, Japan's role is to formulate the drafts and then finalize them. Moreover, it is Japan that has from the beginning served as the flag-bearer for the principles of Human Security, the importance of which has come to be recognized widely in recent years. Under the concept of Human Security, unless each individual is empowered to be free from fear and from want, peace cannot ultimately be achieved.

Japan possesses not only experiences that can be utilized in peacebuilding but also language that is grounded in experience. Japan will be a leader in global discussions, actively spreading these words and experiences and speaking up on these issues passionately at the United Nations and at so many other occasions--that is my second pledge to you.

The third is that we take steps towards becoming a nation of practitioners.

Were we to assert, yes, we will develop human resource for peacebuilding, even as we speak out so eloquently on these ideals, and yet fail to send our people to places where peace needs to be built, what good would that be to anyone? What are needed are people who will get out there into the field and do the hands-on work of peacebuilding. It goes without saying that there is an infinite variety of desirable approaches, based on the country and the conflict in question. So what we need, then, is an increase in both the number and the quality of the people who are able to assume that burden together with other participating personnel there on the ground, with the people of the country in need at the core.

Incidentally, when you hear me speak of people working on the ground there in the thick of things, I wonder, don't you picture a brawny, suntanned man going about his work? Well, as I went about writing this speech I came to know about three Japanese women who just might change your mind.

When we talk about Japan's experiences in peacebuilding, it is clear that our work in Cambodia really started it all. All in all, things proceeded relatively smoothly in Cambodia, and this is because Cambodia was a country with such a rich history that it already possessed a solid basis upon which to build. Even still, the question emerges of what Japan has been doing there in recent years. And when I took to exploring exactly that issue, I heard about the activities of Japanese women there.

One of them is Azumi Misawa, who has been a prosecutor with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office since 1996. The other two have also been serving as an assistant judge and a prosecutor since around the same time.

All three of these women are affiliated with an organization called the Research and Training Institute of the Ministry of Justice and have worked in Cambodia. In recent years, progress has been made in the development of Cambodia's legal system. Japan's ODA has contributed to this, and the country's civil law and code of civil procedure are currently being formulated. They have also established a school to foster judges and lawyers. The three Japanese women of whom I spoke earlier served as professionals who coached the teachers at the school to higher levels of expertise.

I would like also to introduce one more person here, a man named Motoo Noguchi. In Cambodia in July of this year the trials of the top officials in the Khmer Rouge regime began. For countries that are trying to recover from conflict, the process of trying state crimes committed during the days in which the country was in the midst of conflict is in many cases unavoidable. This is because, should justice not be served here, reconciliation among the people will prove difficult.

Taking this stance, Japan is covering half of the expected total cost to be expended by the United Nations in the trials of the Khmer Rouge, amounting to some 2.4 billion yen. In addition, Japan has dispatched Mr. Noguchi, a legal specialist in his mid-forties, as one of three international judges of the Appeals Chamber of the Khmer Rouge trials. Mr. Noguchi has served as a professor at the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFEI) in Tokyo, which is affiliated with the Research and Training Institute I mentioned earlier. Having assisted with the formulation of the legal systems of Viet Nam, Laos, and Cambodia and having also worked on various issues of international humanitarian law at the International Legal Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Noguchi was without question the person with the most suitable credentials for serving at these trials.

Of course, we also have Japanese working in Cambodia who do fit that brawny male image you may have of our people out in the field. Some of those include the people affiliated with the NPO Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS) who have so patiently continued with their efforts for landmine removal. The JMAS organization began when people who had served in the Self-Defense Forces' (SDF's) peacekeeping operations in Cambodia came together and decided to return to the places they had served. Many of these people are no longer on active duty in the SDF. They are not otherwise looking particularly formidable, to be honest, with their hair graying. Among the SDF members who had served in PKO in Timor-Leste, I have also heard of people who have returned to teach the local people how to operate earthmovers, and each of these stories really touches my heart.

Indeed each and every time I hear a story like that, I could almost see how they would look like. I recall when I was serving as the head of the Liberal Democratic Party's Youth Division, I called upon members from each prefectural group to join me as I toured the places where Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) were working in the field. I have to say that all of the Japanese working in those places radiated satisfaction. Their faces spoke of how their jobs were a pleasure for them.

In any event, I hope that you have become convinced of the fact that peacebuilding is a job that requires a broad range of human resources. From retired Self-Defense Force personnel to judges, everyone can become an instrument in the building of peace. And that is because, as I will discuss in greater depth later on in this address, peacebuilding is really the act of nation-building.

It seems to me that for Japan, Cambodia has provided the training grounds that have taught us the ABCs of what it really means to build peace. Japan took the initiative to lead the peace talks to a success. That was step one, the equivalent of the "A" in the ABCs. From peacekeeping operations, DDR, and election monitoring to the subsequent formulation of the laws and legal systems, Japan has continuously worked on a seamless process. Incidentally DDR stands for "disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration" of combatants. It's similar to the sword hunt conducted by Taiko Hideyoshi to return some local samurais to the farming class disarmed, but in a modern version.

Japan was thus involved in its first full-fledged PKO in Cambodia, with its Self-Defense Forces and police officers participating. More than ten years have passed since Japan assisted in the conducting of Cambodia's elections, and even now we continue to learn lessons from Cambodia. One of those lessons has been that what really needs to be addressed once peace has been consolidated is nation-building. Another lesson has been that nation-building is a task that takes a truly enormous amount of time.

Let us think about it for now. A nation is built up through tax revenue, but generally speaking, tax revenue is not something which easily comes by in areas that have just emerged from conflict. You have to deal with issues such as how to establish property rights for assets and how to go about conducting the collection of taxes, and then of course how to set up the local authorities and how to convene the legislature and so forth. And of course in nation-building, the creation of a full and meaningful educational system is critical, first of all in the elementary grades up to high school, and then, as I mentioned earlier when I introduced the three Japanese women working in Cambodia, training of specialists is also crucial. So, you have to formulate a system across a wide range of levels.

We can say, then, that peacebuilding involves, exactly as we can see here, the consolidation of peace and then the conducting of nation-building. Bringing a stable peace to the regions of a country and then undertaking the tremendous task of creating government administration, firmly establishing the roots which will lead to the country's future--these are what I would argue to be the critical aspects of peacebuilding. Upon these basic premises I have proposed and implemented Japan's policies regarding the "consolidation of peace and nation-building."

Now, based on what I have said thus far, there are two more points that can be raised.

The first of these is that Japan has experience in having worked hard to create its own government administration since the Meiji era. In recent years, Japan has also been the standard bearer for Human Security, which seeks to empower the individual. Japan therefore should be able to explain and fully convey its experiences and messages to the world.

A few moments ago when I mentioned that Japan possesses experiences which can be utilized in peacebuilding as well as words grounded in those experiences, this is what I was referring to. When I was serving as Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications the son of Colonel Qadhafi of Libya paid a visit. I explained to him administrative decentralization and the principles of local autonomy, and once he had returned to his home country he sent me a letter, saying, "I now understand clearly the fact that democracy is something that does not occur overnight. The practical aspects of a decentralization of power to local governments are things that I had never even thought about before." So I can say with great confidence that, with regard to imparting practical experiences to other countries, Japan's ability to lend a hand and really enrich others with our wisdom is much more significant than we are fully aware of.

The second point in this regard is that peacebuilding calls for efforts across an entire spectrum, from PKO to building up the education system, from DDR to establishing a system for litigation, along with know-how regarding asset registration, and registration of residents, and knowledge about taxation. In other words, what is needed over the course of peacebuilding is the know-how to manage government administration on a practical level, things that we take for granted.

Now, if that is the case, then can we not say that in Japan the human resources that are able to make a contribution are virtually unlimited, even if perhaps they are now left underutilized? The people who have what it takes to be professional peacebuilders are you yourselves, and Mr. Suzuki or Ms. Tanaka, the average people you see around you in your daily lives.

The terakoya that I proposed earlier will be a means for imparting the necessary knowledge to, and supplementing the experiences of, those average people you see around you, making it possible for them to become workers for peacebuilding with confidence. And it will be necessary to create, for example, a system or other means by which they will be able to return to their previous jobs after returning to Japan.

Today I touched on the example of Cambodia many times in the hope that you would come to an understanding about the fact that peacebuilding is equal to the consolidation of peace plus nation-building. Various episodes on Cambodia also illustrate that the tasks involved in peacebuilding are open to people from various types of backgrounds.

At the same time, I must emphasize that Cambodia is a case in which peacebuilding succeeded because the country had a basis on which we could build. Good proof of this is the fact that Cambodia is now sending peacekeeping personnel of its own to Sudan, making it a country that itself helps others in the building of peace. However, in that regard, the stark reality is that Cambodia's success in peacebuilding most certainly constitutes an exception to the rule. What is the real challenge facing us now is how to bring peace to conflict-torn areas in Africa and the Middle East in which the tragedies are recurring even as I address you here this morning.

Although the past record of humankind in this regard is not something to be proud of, there are countries that are sending their civilians and continuing to make efforts. I hope that Japan too is able to join that circle with sufficient human resources in the near future. For that, we want to be sending out young people as well as middle-aged people in their prime, all having specialized knowledge and skills, and what's more, having chivalry, be they men or women. And this is the very motivation for creating these terakoya after today's seminar.

Japan has gradually built up its wealth of experience, assisting in institution building in agriculture and education in the case of Timor-Leste and taking on the challenging task of DDR in Afghanistan. What we need to do now is "keep on keeping on." In Sudan as well, which is now groping for some route to the building of peace, there are some Japanese women serving in the United Nations mission as civil affairs officers. We need to increase the number of such persons even further.

A country in which many of its citizens step into the world seeking opportunities to take action in order to take on the task of peacebuilding for themselves....... To realize such a country is to reinvigorate our determination to carry the banner of "Japan--a nation of peace" which we have worked hard to bear since the end of WWII.

And for us to be able to hoist a new banner of that type, the Japanese government will begin in the next fiscal year to work diligently on the fostering of human resources that are in demand. In repeating this pledge to you, I would like to end here my remarks to you today.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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