(Provisional Translation)

Keynote Speech by Mr. Masahiko Koumura, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
"Building Peacebuilders for the Future"

Tokyo Peacebuilders Symposium 2008
March 24, 2008
UN House (Elizabeth Rose Hall), Tokyo, Japan

(photo) (photo)

Speech: Japanese
Symposium Summary

Introduction: Witnessing the Success of the First-Year Pilot Program

Distinguished panelists,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me begin my remarks today by extending my heartfelt appreciation to you for participating in this Peacebuilders Symposium, co-organized by the United Nations University and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. I was originally scheduled to deliver my Keynote Speech tomorrow, but because of my obligations at the Diet and elsewhere I have needed to move my address forward. I am just joining you now, having rushed here from another commitment.

I believe that many of you in attendance today are already aware of this, but the Pilot Program for Human Resource Development in Asia for Peacebuilding launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this past September has successfully graduated all its participants. It is a pleasure to have so many of these trainees joining us here today and I am delighted to see their confident faces, reflecting the fact that every single one of our participants made steady progress to achieve solid results, all without incident.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank most sincerely the young trainees who participated in the Pilot Program with such sincere resolve, as well as Dr. Hideaki Shinoda, Director of the Hiroshima Peacebuilders Center and so many others at Hiroshima University behind the scenes supporting this project, and also the related national and international organizations and lecturers that have endorsed this Program so warmly and extended such generous cooperation.

After passing a very stringent selection process, the Japanese and Asian participants--about 30 in total--undertook coursework in Hiroshima, followed by overseas on-the-job training on peacebuilding-related projects in such field locations as Timor-Leste, Sri Lanka, and Kosovo. Having completed these assignments, they have returned to join us today at this symposium.

One of the major duty stations for trainees was the Sudan. Currently, many unresolved conflicts are concentrated in the area around the Sudan, and as such, it is an acute issue of concern for international community. One of the participants, Ms. Eri Suzuki, made use of her experience in emergency relief and her expertise in child protection, working as a civil affairs officer for the United Nations peacekeeping operation underway in Darfur, western Sudan to help build up the ability of the civil affairs section to operate at the headquarters in El Fasher. In the southern part of the Sudan, Mr. Tatsuhiko Furumoto took up an assignment at the office of the UNHCR in Juba, handling repatriation assistance for refugees returning to their home villages. Ms. Marie Oniwa intends to continue her activities as a member of the UNICEF office in Abyei, Sudan.

We can imagine each and every trainee engaged so naturally in these activities, grounded in a rich sense of humanity and noble ambitions to focus on people suffering in conflict-affected regions, bolstered by the ability to go directly to these hot spots and take action.

Evolving Efforts towards Global Peacekeeping

At the beginning of this year I delivered a policy speech entitled "Japan: A Builder of Peace," in which I stated that Japan "must demonstrate leadership in building peace in the world." I also likened the process of peacebuilding to a great river and stated that Japan must be more proactive in engaging in assistance with a Japanese face in the upper reaches of this "river"--that is, the phase just after a conflict in which the security situation is still unstable.

To give you a more concrete image of just how major an issue this is for Japan, I would like to give you a brief overview of the current situation.

Efforts towards global peacebuilding efforts have been changing dramatically in recent years. Looking at UN Peacekeeping Operations, for example, we see that there are currently 17 missions underway, with a large number of them involving more than just ceasefire monitoring between the parties to the conflict, instead extending to such diverse functions as repatriation of refugees and election assistance. Instead, they are engaged in such diverse functions or support for governance and legal systems to promote nation-building, among others. In addition, missions involving more than 10,000 people are by no means rare. As for financial considerations, the UN PKO budget currently stands at some US$6.7 billion, more than three times the size of the UN's regular budget. What's more, the international community is now also engaged in a variety of efforts outside the auspices of the UN, such as those underway in Mindanao in the Philippines and the Solomon Islands in the Pacific.

Japan's Limited Contributions in the Area of Human Resources

Against this backdrop of the global situation, Japan makes a significant contribution from the perspective of finance, shouldering 16.6% of the total PKO budget, as the second-largest economy in the world. However, with regard to military and police personnel, according to UN statistics, Japan has dispatched only 36 people, constituting a mere 0.04% of the total. This puts Japan at the low rank in the world community of 83rd among 119 nations. With regard to civilian participation as well, the number of people dispatched to UN PKO stood at only 23 as of the end of 2007. Our track record for the number of civilians dispatched under what is commonly called the "PKO Law" of Japan, enacted 16 years ago, has remained extremely limited, except for election monitoring activities and so on. Yet, at the same time, we find that Cambodia--the country that Japan first provided assistance to under its PKO Law--now dispatches more than three times the number of personnel to UN PKO that Japan has (with 146 persons dispatched, according to UN statistics current as of the end of February).

As we consider this situation, it can only lead us to think that it is necessary for Japan to participate more proactively in the UN Peacekeeping Operations in which we are able under our current domestic legal framework. In addition, I think you can agree with me that the accomplishments of the graduates of this year's peacebuilders training program were a much more valuable contribution than what the participants themselves might have anticipated.

Future Directions: Building Peacebuilders

Ladies and gentlemen,

I want to look now to the future, to discuss with you what Japan needs to do in the years to come in order to nurture Japanese who will shoulder peacebuilding and engage in peacebuilding efforts in the field.

Even if I were to declare here unequivocally that Japan is determined to strengthen its support for peacebuilding, the fact is that unless we have individuals going into the field to actually engage in peacebuilding, it would never get off the ground. What we need, then, is a collection of actions with foundations in the humanity of each individual. It is this that will collectively comprise the Japanese "face" for our efforts.

I intend to make the utmost efforts in providing support so that each of you participants in the peacebuilders training program can continue in the future to shoulder peacebuilding out in the field, helping the local people to create a peaceful future for themselves with their own hands. Prime Minister Fukuda also stated in his recent policy speech to the Diet that "Japan aspires to become a hub of human resource development as well as for research and intellectual contribution to further promote cooperation in the field of peace-building."

Here I would like to make a commitment to you. I pledge to continue this human resource development program beyond the next fiscal year, developing it significantly so that more and more people with the same aspirations as yourselves can carry on after you.

We will be continuing the Pilot Program for one more year. However, we will at the same time be fleshing out the ideas that will enable its full-scale activities to begin in earnest. For example, this might include expanding the training course, having experts from relevant ministries, agencies, and organizations participate, creating a pool of human resources able to operate in the field in peacebuilding activities, or maintaining a database.

Among our panelists today we have the distinguished legal specialist Mr. Motoo Noguchi, International Judge in the Supreme Court Chamber of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. In the future, I hope to make it possible for experts from all fields to enhance their activities in the area of peacebuilding.

In order to do that, even as we work to foster human resources, it will be critical for us to strengthen our systems for dispatching civilian experts to various locations around the world.

Collaboration with Asia and Africa: Support for PKO Centers

Peacebuilding is an issue to be addressed by the international community as a whole, and cooperation with many countries, notably those of Asia and Africa, will be indispensable. In particular, coming from the perspective of building peacebuilders, it is important to provide support that will enable the people of Asia and Africa to maintain peace through their own efforts.

With that in mind, I am aiming to launch proactive cooperative partnership with PKO centers in various countries in the area of human resource development. It is for this reason that during my visit to Tanzania in January, I stated my intention to support PKO centers around Africa. We are currently taking steps to put this project into a concrete form.

The Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, founded in 2003, has already trained over 2,500 personnel from over 100 countries. In the initial stages of peacebuilding, the control of small arms and light weapons is critical. Japan has launched assistance toward this center in cooperation with UNDP to enhance the capabilities of roughly 400 personnel in this area.

In addition, in Kenya, neighboring such conflict-torn areas as Sudan and Somalia, Japan plans to extend assistance to the Kenya Peace Support Training Centre and its International Mine Action Training Centre, supporting training courses in landmine removal and civil-military cooperation.

Currently, Japan is extending assistance first to PKO centers in Africa, with a view to supporting regional self-help efforts. However, there are many PKO centers in Asia as well. One example is the PKO center in Malaysia, which accepts trainees from not only the ASEAN member states but also distant Africa. In the years to come, Japan intends to actively consider expanding its support to Asian PKO centers such as this, as well as promoting Asian regional cooperation or multitiered cooperation with both Asia and Africa, including through the dispatch of lecturers. This would be with a view to fostering various kinds of human resources able to engage in peacebuilding out in the field.

Becoming a Hub for Intellectual Contributions

I have been speaking about fostering human resources until now, but the contributions from Japan and Asia in the area of peacebuilding are certainly not limited to the area of human resources. Japan also has the experiences of the opening of the country during the Meiji Era and reconstruction after World War II, as well as the many types of wisdom that have been gained through those experiences. What's more, many Asian countries have overcome ethnic and religious differences to form nation-states, achieving remarkable economic development in the latter half of the 20th century. These success stories and the lessons gleaned from them constitute valuable hints and encouragement for other countries working towards the consolidation of peace and nation-building both within the Asian region and beyond it.

For example, Japan takes pride in waving the flag to lead the way towards the promotion of self-help efforts, infrastructure improvements, and human security. Within its Plan of Action for 2004 to 2010 towards the creation of a regional community, ASEAN has also expressed its intention to advance regional cooperation to support peacebuilding. I would argue that this represents an excellent opportunity for a still-developing ASEAN to make use of its experiences to assist in the resolution of peacebuilding challenges, which are taken up by international community as a whole.

Japan has been serving as the Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission since June 2007. Moreover, we will be hosting the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development in May and holding the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July. Beyond fostering human resources, Japan also aims to become a hub for peacebuilding by formulating policy for the international community. It can achieve this through intellectual contributions from symposia such as this and from international meetings such as the ones I just mentioned.

Concluding Remarks

As I end my remarks today, I would like to reiterate that Japan does not regard peace as a "given" by any means. For Japan, a nation that has been able to travel the road to prosperity thanks to a foundation of peace and stability in international society, global peacebuilding, notably in Asia and Africa, is of extreme importance. Prime Minister Fukuda also stated at the World Economic Forum in Davos that he would consider ways to strengthen Japan's contribution for activities on the ground in conflict-affected zones. Faced with such a major challenge, it is simply unacceptable to be merely a passive onlooker. At the beginning of my remarks today I highlighted the activities of our trainees in the Sudan, but the fact is that we also have Japanese NGO personnel working there in the Sudan in cooperation with international organizations. I feel strongly that we should value the expanding network of such people.

The Program to foster human resources that I spoke of today had its start in Hiroshima, which we can think of as epitomizing Japan's wish for peace. I believe that just as each trainee conducted peacebuilding support in the field, Japan must make further contributions as a country that builds peace. That will be a tremendous achievement lasting for generations to come, helping to bring a radiance to the faces of the local people wishing for peace. I hope that this symposium serves as an opportunity to advance further the contributions to global peacebuilding from Japan and from Asia, making use of our practical actions and wisdom.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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