Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Mr. Masahiko Koumura
Japan: A Builder of Peace
H.E. Ms. Zainab Bangura, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Sierra Leone,
H.E. Mr. Venant Kamana, Minister of Interior and Communal Development of the Republic of Burundi,
H.E. Mr. Conmany Wesseh, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Introduction - My experience in Cambodia
First of all, I would like to express my appreciation for your participation in today's symposium.
Japan must play a responsible role in the international community as a "peace fostering nation" to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world. This is what the Government of Japan, led by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, has been advocating recently.
Japan indeed must demonstrate leadership in building peace in the world.
I would like to see my country become a focal point for the world to gather knowledge and experience in peacebuilding and to nurture peacebuilding professionals.
At the United Nations, Japan is fulfilling the duties of chair of the newly established Peacebuilding Commission (PBC).
Japan also contributed funds amounting to twenty million dollars to the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) soon after its establishment.
These contributions demonstrate that Japan regards the work of the Commission as significant and essential. I am therefore particularly pleased to see the participation in this symposium of Ministers from Sierra Leone and Burundi, the two countries that the PBC has been addressing as its first agenda items, and the Deputy Minister from Liberia, the first country for which provision of assistance from the PBF was decided.
Nineteen years ago, in 1989, a peace conference on Cambodia was held in Paris. That year marks Japan's first participation in peacebuilding.
In the period following World War II, this Paris Conference was the first opportunity for Japan to vigorously participate in international activities towards resolving a conflict in a third country in Asia.
The next year, in 1990, we extended invitations to the parties to the Cambodian conflict and convened a peace conference of our own in Japan.
Two years later, in June 1992, the International Peace Cooperation Law was adopted, and in September of the same year, Japan deployed its self-defense force personnel to participate in the UN peacekeeping operation in Cambodia.
These were all new experiences for Japan.
It took so long after World War II, but finally we had come to that point, I remember feeling at that time.
I think there had been a humble, but also rather timid, attitude among many of the Japanese people for a long time after World War II, which led them to believe that they were not worthy to extend their hands for peacemaking and peacebuilding. It might have been a backlash of sorts, from their experience of the War.
I felt from the bottom of my heart that that should not be the case and that I needed to experience these activities for myself.
In July 1997, the "July Incident" occurred in Cambodia.
Cambodia had a two-prime-minister system at that time. As the elections approached the following year, tensions rose between First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, which eventually led to violent clashes. First Prime Minister Ranariddh went into exile, and Second Prime Minister Hun Sen seized power throughout the country.
Mr. Hun Sen declared that Prince Ranariddh would be brought to trial when he returned to the country.
The international community, however, affirmed that it would not recognize the forthcoming elections unless they were conducted after the safe return of the Prince.
In the efforts to establish a new Cambodia, Japan had played a leading role in such a process for the first time in its history.
It was only about five years after the start of Japan's active engagement that the aforementioned incident occurred. We thought that we must avoid allowing the situation to return to square one. I was Parliamentary Vice-Minister in the Ministry at that time.
I was given the role of working with the two sides and mediating between them. I personally met with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh and tried to persuade them to accept Japan's "four pillars" proposal consisting of, among other terms, a cessation of hostilities and the guarantee of Prince Ranariddh's security and safety in Cambodia and his participation in the election.
As a result, Prince Ranariddh returned to Cambodia the following year, in March 1998.
In July 1998, one year after the "July Incident," Cambodia held its elections, and international electoral observers certified the elections as free and fair. Japan also dispatched more than thirty observers to the elections, making a significant contribution to those efforts.
In November of the same year, a new government with a single Prime Minister, Mr. Hun Sen, was inaugurated.
The situation stabilized after those developments, and I still firmly believe that my efforts in negotiating with both parties at that time played some part in the resolution of the issue.
Nothing can be achieved if you look on and pray from a distance, least of all peace.
Those who want to build peace in a place where it does not exist must go there and work with the parties directly, to the extent possible. I learned this obvious truth from my experience at that time.
Where to engage in the great river of peacebuilding?
Next year, it will be twenty years since Japan participated in the Paris Peace Conference on Cambodia.
I will speak in a moment about areas in which Japan has to do more. But during the last twenty years, which is long enough for a person to become a grown-up, we have made efforts and accumulated experience in peacebuilding in various countries and regions, from Cambodia to Timor-Leste, Bosnia and Kosovo.
The job that the Japan Self-Defense Forces performed in Samawah in Iraq and the work that they are still doing in the country should inspire pride in the Japanese people. In Afghanistan, given the responsibility of assisting in the disarmament of former national soldiers and illegal armed groups, Japanese staff members of the Foreign Ministry and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are tirelessly working to disarm the former combatants and integrate them back into society.
The year 2008 will be a momentous year for Japan, with the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) in May and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July. So it should be the year for us to make a resolution.
Japan is a country dedicated to building peace. Peacebuilding is one of Japan's national policies. This year we wish to make a resolution of that magnitude regarding our peacebuilding efforts.
In order to build peace, the first prerequisite is the containment of violent clashes.
After that, there still remains a long and difficult road to follow.
It is said that roughly half of countries emerging from conflict relapse into violence within five years.
We cannot build peace without going through a long process: from peace mediation and urgent humanitarian assistance to recovery of security, followed by reconstruction and nation-building.
Implementing this process in a seamless and irreversible manner is both a cardinal rule and a challenge of peacebuilding.
One may liken the process to the flow of a river: what begins as a small headstream can grow into a great river through everyone's efforts and eventually lead to an ocean of peace.
There are many jobs that Japan can do along the course of this river.
There are jobs that we should do but have not been doing so far, and we will undertake to do them. This is the point that I would like to make today.
What I wish for is that, when you hear the name of Japan, you will think of a country that is dedicated to cooperating in building peace and considers peacebuilding a job that it is committed to doing.
What is Japan doing in this area now?
What must Japan do in the future?
Before addressing these questions, I would like to touch upon one point.
There may be no need to explain the reasons why Japan must make efforts in peacebuilding, but I nonetheless wish to provide some explanation.
The world has become interconnected after the end of the Cold War. Today, whatever happens anywhere in the world affects the world markets and international media such as CNN broadcast it in a moment.
In a very real sense, the reality of the economy and our consciousness have become global, perhaps for the first time in the history of humankind.
No longer can one region, let alone one country, ensure its security in isolation from the rest of the world. When deep hatred and a desire for revenge are generated somewhere in the world, the end result may be international terrorism and harm to innocent people.
In order for peace to take root, we must free individuals from fear and poverty.
Only recently has humankind begun to embrace the perspective that individuals and local communities must be focused on in ensuring security.
It is against this background that the concept of "human security" was born.
Madam Sadako Ogata is, so to speak, the "mother" of this concept, and, as this is an important example of Japan's intellectual contribution, I have been advocating this idea. I am in fact the chair of the Parliamentary League on Preventive Diplomacy and Human Security.
In any case, there are not very many countries in the situation of Japan, an island country without natural resources, which requires a world where people, materials, money, and intellect and information move and flow freely.
If you consider this, I think it is self-evident why Japan must work hard in building peace.
Beginning with human resource development
With the explanation above, I would like to introduce a new project that Japan launched recently.
It is a human resource development project at Hiroshima University.
It is called the "Pilot Program for Human Resource Development in Asia for Peacebuilding." It may sound like a preliminary project, but we intend to make it a full-scale training program as soon as possible.
Currently the trainees of the inaugural class are engaged, under challenging living conditions, in practical work in the actual field of peacebuilding in locations such as Kosovo, Sudan, Timor-Leste and Sri Lanka.
Thirteen of the Japanese trainees are women; only two are men.
In addition, nine men and five women, one person each from Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam, have also joined the project.
Launching the program with a mixture of Japanese trainees and participants from other Asian countries was an important feature of the project.
We all hope that in the future the project will serve as a central hub in Asia for the training of peacebuilders.
Next, I am tempted to talk about other projects that we have been implementing, but, as I have already touched upon Iraq and Afghanistan to some extent, I will not go into those details.
But I would like to stress that there have been clear characteristics in Japan's work in peacebuilding.
One is that we have made tireless efforts in implementing ODA, an area in which Japan has strong expertise and rich experience. Such efforts include not only bilateral assistance for nation-building but also humanitarian relief and reconstruction assistance through international organizations and, more recently, security-related projects such as small arms collection, demining and reintegration of ex-combatants.
Another feature is that we are striving to address areas in which Japan has not necessarily been actively involved in the past.
The activities in Mindanao, Philippines, illustrate these characteristics well, and therefore I would like to discuss them in some detail.
Case study: Mindanao - achievements and limits
It is Japan's view that, for the steady development of the ASEAN and Asia-Pacific countries, the prosperity of the Philippines is essential.
And for the advancement of the Philippines, stability in Mindanao is indispensable.
With that in mind, we have been providing assistance for Mindanao through a combination of financial and technical cooperation.
We set target areas and provided concentrated assistance through the scheme entitled "Grant Assistance for Grass-roots and Human Security Projects." Decisions regarding the provision of funds under the scheme can be made in a prompt manner, and the local people thus were able to witness the establishment of schools one after another right before their eyes.
In order to convey to the local population that Japan comes to assist them with unsparing effort, we labeled Japan's activities as a whole with the name "J-BIRD" and, inspired by the name, created a logo with the picture of a bird.
More concretely, a task force consisting of staff from the Japanese Embassy, JICA and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) always has been working together and consulting with the local communities.
In addition, we have tried to do whatever we could do through ODA, such as by dispatching political advisors and providing training for administrative officials in order to increase the capacity of the Muslim autonomous regional government.
Moreover, in October 2006, Japan sent a senior adviser to the International Monitoring Team (IMT) in Mindanao.
This team, led by Malaysia, had been working for more than three years on the ground to mediate the peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
To this group made up of personnel from Muslim countries such as Malaysia, Brunei and Libya, Japan dispatched the only staff member from a non-Muslim country.
That was Mr. Masafumi Nagaishi, a forty-five-year-old expert from JICA.
Mr. Nagaishi had rich experience in grant assistance. He had implemented projects in Sri Lanka in cooperation with the local government. He also had been engaged in a process transforming smoothly from the provision of emergency relief to reconstruction in Iran in the aftermath of a major earthquake. In short, he was a skilled and experienced ODA expert.
For young people who wish to work in the field of international cooperation, he is living proof that one can come to engage in significant work through a step-by-step accumulation of experiences.
To reference again the aforementioned metaphor of a great river of peacebuilding, the flow of the river becomes steady in the midstream and downstream areas through the stabilization of the security situation. It is in these phases that experts in reconstruction activities like Mr. Nagaishi are most needed.
What matters now is how Japan involves itself in the upper stream, that is, the phase in which the security situation is still unstable.
In fact, Mr. Nagaishi's work had distinctive features that demonstrated potential in this regard.
His case was a rare experience for Japan. Mr. Nagaishi worked within a framework of peacebuilding which was formulated at a stage when there was no officially agreed peace and elaborated internationally without the involvement of the United Nations.
Mr. Nagaishi lived in a town called Cotabato on Mindanao Island, where the headquarters of the International Monitoring Team were located, and spent days and nights there with more than twenty staff members.
Almost all of the twenty people he lived with were military officials from Malaysia. At that time, Japan had little experience in implementing reconstruction and development assistance projects with military personnel.
In other words, in the case of Mr. Nagaishi, while mobilizing all acquired knowledge and expertise in regard to ODA, we moved into an unknown area.
What are the limits and how do we overcome them?
Perhaps the activities mentioned above may be the upper limit of ODA-centered assistance in peacebuilding.
We must consider why we should say this and how we can go beyond the conventional thinking in this area and move further up the river of peacebuilding.
First, other countries are providing assistance to peace operations implemented by the military and armed police. Japan has not extended direct assistance to the activities of the military, even to peacekeeping centers.
But the needs in this field are high. Japan therefore has elaborated creative modes of assistance and for the first time provided funds for various peacekeeping centers in Africa.
I will not go into the details, but we have also extended assistance to the Chadian police, which was part of an operation endorsed by a resolution of the UN Security Council.
We intend to expand the scope of assistance with a view to targeting peacekeeping centers in Asia.
This is a story of financial cooperation. What about personnel contributions?
We are now able to continue the refueling activities in the Indian Ocean by the Maritime Self-Defense Force through January 2009.
But without adopting special measures laws one by one, our system does not permit us to dispatch personnel of the Self-Defense Forces to conflict areas or to have them participate in logistical operations.
UN peacekeeping operations are an exception to this rule. But even in that case, there are only just over fifty officers of the Self-Defense Forces currently on duty, in the Golan Heights and Nepal. According to the rankings for personnel contributions among the UN Member States, Japan is at the eighty-second position.
Japan is the second largest financial contributor to the UN after the United States. It is also the second largest financial power in the world. But its record in personnel contribution stands in stark contrast to its financial contribution. Ladies and gentlemen, what do you think about that?
There are various kinds of jobs including ceasefire monitoring in the upstream portion of the peacebuilding river. So far, the Japan Self-Defense Forces do not have sufficient experience in those activities.
We cannot deny that our record is less than impressive as compared with those of Italy and France, which have about two thousand personnel each participating in peacekeeping operations. The same may be said with regard to China, which dispatches more than one thousand eight hundred personnel and last August gained the position of a force commander in the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara.
We have various unique reasons for not being able to move to the upstream of the river, such as the need for compliance with the five strict conditions for participation in peacekeeping operations.
I believe that there are many civilian police personnel who are willing to do the jobs that they can perform. Opportunities should be provided for them to actively participate.
In any case, as long as we are not able to fully engage in the jobs in the midstream and upstream areas, which are crucial to peacebuilding, I am afraid that we cannot help feeling some hesitation about asserting, "Peacebuilding is Japan's national policy."
Determination to adopt a "general law"
There are in fact UN missions that we can join under the current system.
We will make active efforts to achieve that.
In Cambodia, we had our first experience in mediating peace. We were involved in the origin of the stream, rather than the upstream segment, of peacebuilding, so to speak.
We were able to contribute to that extent in the beginning. But since that time, we have not been able to do that sort of work in a sufficient way. We therefore must inspire ourselves and do more in peacebuilding.
If we want a fundamental solution, however, it will have to involve a change in the system.
It will be an important breakthrough to adopt a so-called "general law" regarding cooperation for international peace and to make greater use of Japan's manpower such as the Self-Defense Forces for peacebuilding.
Fortunately, in the process of discussing the Replenishment Support Special Measures Law during the recent emergency session of the National Diet, we heard strong voices from both ruling and opposition parties calling for the adoption of a "general law."
The media also echoed these opinions. I have been carefully and sincerely listening to these voices.
I have said that this year we would like to significantly increase our capabilities in peacebuilding. I will therefore aim for the adoption of a "general law," as an extension of our endeavors for peace since the Cambodian peace process and the Gulf War, and promote consideration towards that goal.
In addition to the personnel issue, although I just stated that ODA was Japan's specialty in peacebuilding, there is a problem in that the amount of ODA has been steadily decreasing.
Japan's ODA budget amounted to one trillion one hundred sixty-eight point seven (1,168.7) billion Japanese yen in fiscal year 1997. In 2007, it was seven hundred twenty-nine point three (729.3) billion yen, which represents about a forty percent decrease. In order to actively promote peacebuilding, we must increase ODA as well.
I will stop pointing out problems at this point and devote my concluding remarks to speaking about my resolution.
Japan is a country that does its best for peacebuilding. Peacebuilding is a job at which Japan excels. When people inside and outside of Japan hear the name of the country, such are the images that will come to mind. This is a picture of the country that I believe we should make every effort to realize and hand over to the next generation of Japanese people.
I would like to share this determination of mine with many people, and I want to take this year as a landmark opportunity to promote active discussions towards achieving this goal.
It is my policy not to give up without achieving success once I have undertaken something, and I have no plans to change that practice.
I intend to speak on this topic as often as needed in the future too. While asking for your continued attention to, and also some tolerance for, my repetitive stories, I will now conclude my remarks for this occasion.
Thank you very much for listening.
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