Policy Speech by Mr. Hirofumi Nakasone, Minister for Foreign Affairs
"Creating Peace: Japan-Africa Partnership"
TICAD IV Follow-Up Symposium
His Excellency Dr. Luka Biong, Minister of Presidential Affairs of the Government of Southern Sudan,
His Excellency Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Minister of Regional Cooperation of the Government of Southern Sudan,
His Excellency Mr. Samuel Poghisio, Minister for Information and Communication of the Republic of Kenya,
His Excellency Mr. Farid Zarif, Chief of Staff of the United Nations Mission in Sudan,
Mr. Geofrey Mugmya, Director of Peace and Security of the African Union Commission,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to extend my gratitude to all of you for attending the TICAD IV Follow-up Symposium today.
Although it was regrettable that His Excellency Mr. Salva Kiir, the First Vice President of the Republic of the Sudan had to cancel his visit to Japan due to extenuating circumstances, it is a great pleasure for me to wholeheartedly welcome Minister Biong on his behalf and distinguished experts on the present state of peace and stability in Africa from Kenya, the African Union, and the United Nations.
(Introduction: My encounter with Africa)
My first encounter with Africa dates back more than 30 years. At that time, I worked at a petrochemical company and was in charge of plant exports. One time, our company received business inquiries from Nigeria. I went all the way there and got off at Lagos airport all alone.
At that time, only a dozen years or so had passed since Nigeria achieved its independence. Nigerians were experiencing an uplifting feeling as they started building their own nation by themselves. The country was filled with a different type of vitality from Japan. Although it was a short stay, I had to deal with everything alone because there was no overseas representative office there. As a consequence of that, however, I was able to accumulate many valuable experiences that I could never have had in Japan. Because of those experiences, I have become interested in what is going on in various parts of Africa.
Thirty years have passed since then. Lately, Africa's economy has been developing rapidly. Its attractive resources under the ground and its potential market with a population of more than 900 million people are drawing attention from all over the world. Japanese companies are also actively expanding their businesses in Africa. In addition, as shown in the case of Somali pirates, incidents in Africa are having more and more impact on the security of Japanese people and their property. Furthermore, by forming the African Union (AU), African countries have strengthened regional integration in the fields of politics and the economy as well as steadily enhancing their influence in international community. When I think of those drastic changes taking place in Africa, I am overcome by deep emotion.
(Japan's contribution to Africa)
Japan feels proud that we have contributed to African development no less than any other country has, through the process of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development or so-called TICAD. We held the fourth TICAD at the summit level in Yokohama in May last year and thereby came up with various assistance measures including a pledge to double ODA to Africa and assistance for doubling private investment to the region. In addition to that, we have drawn up the Yokohama Action Plan which contains a compiled list of specific assistance measures designed to promote African development in the coming years. We have also established a TICAD follow-up mechanism and on 21st and 22nd March this year, the TICAD ministerial follow-up meeting will be held in Botswana to review the implementation of those assistance measures. In this meeting, we are also going to discuss the impact of the current financial and economic crisis on African countries and how we can overcome the difficult situation. We will put the voices of Africa together on these matters and present them at the upcoming London summit meeting on financial markets and the world economy in April. If permitted in the Diet, I am willing to serve as a co-chair of the Botswana meeting in order to have a discussion with African colleagues.
In the area of peace and stability in Africa as well, our country has extended assistance in various ways with a focus on the "consolidation" of the peace achieved. Japan has achieved significant results, such as in humanitarian assistance for refugees and internally displaced persons in Sudan and Chad, reconstruction and institution building assistance for Liberia and Sierra Leone with a view to rebuild their countries after the conclusion of peace agreements, as well as in assistance to remove mines in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
However, we have only started to contribute to creation of peace in Africa. In other words, our contribution at the initial stage of the peace-building process namely, solving conflicts and concluding and implementing peace agreements has just started. Therefore, today, I would like to discuss how Japan intends to cooperate in this field by mainly focusing on four areas.
(Active involvement in ending conflicts and achieving peace)
What I would like to mention first is active involvement in putting an end to conflicts and in achieving peace.
Conclusion of a cease-fire agreement and a peace agreement by the parties concerned is a prerequisite for creating peace. Since there was a geographical and historical distance between Japan and Africa, until now, Japan has not necessarily been engaged in directly working with the conflicting parties or in the process of achieving peace agreements. It could be said that Japan has hesitated to get involved in the process. However, along with the expansion of our presence within international society, expectations by the global community, including Africa, for Japan to contribute more proactively to conflict resolution and peace negotiations have increased. In order to meet these expectations, our country needs to strengthen efforts in these fields as a responsible member of international society.
For example, please allow me to discuss the cases of Sudan and Somalia.
The conflict in Darfur, Sudan, is said to have left more than 200 thousand people dead and more than 2 million people internally displaced so far, and as of this moment, peace talks are underway under the Qatari government's initiative. Until recently, Japan had not participated in the peace-talk process. However, after we expressed our willingness to actively contribute to the peace talks as well as humanitarian assistance, Japan dispatched our representative to Doha peace talks for the first time last month at the invitation of the Qatari government and Mr. Bassole, the Joint African Union-United Nations Chief Mediator for Darfur. In the Doha talks, we were able to directly convey the Japanese government's message to the parties and countries concerned. Such action by Japan, based on its neutral stance, has been welcomed by the countries concerned.
The same can be said about the case of Somalia. Somalia has been suffering a civil war since the beginning of the 1990's. Recently, we have seen positive trends such as the election of the new president under the "Transitional Federal Government" and the establishment of a new Cabinet and Parliament. A Japanese representative took part in the International Contact Group (ICG) meeting on the Somali situation held in Brussels last month for the first time. In the meeting, Japan stated that it has implemented assistance amounting to some 64 million dollars in the past two years for humanitarian assistance, security improvement, and support for the police. Japan also expressed its intention to continue its active support for Somalia. Japan's participation and contribution to the discussions were highly welcomed by the countries concerned.
Needless to say, neither the conflicts in Darfur or Somalia will be solved easily and it is still unpredictable whether the current positive move toward the conclusion of peace agreements would bear fruit. But still, Japan intends to work strenuously to terminate conflicts and achieve peace together with countries concerned.
Many of the subjects discussed in the UN Security Council, of which Japan has just become a member as of January, concern peace and stability in Africa. Japan, as a member of the UN Security Council, will participate in these discussions even more actively.
(Active involvement in implementing peace agreements)
The second point I would like to mention is our active involvement in implementing peace agreements. Japan is making a move toward a more proactive role in this field as well. In addition to the issue of Darfur, Sudan has another major issue, namely, the implementation of a peace agreement between the South and the North Sudan. In Sudan, the conflict between the south and the north, which had lasted for 20 years, finally came to an end in 2005 and a peace agreement is currently being implemented. The most challenging element which was implemented behind schedule in this peace process was the so-called DDR (disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration) of ex-combatants. Japan served as a co-chair at the donor's meeting on the DDR Program last June and my Government decided to provide financial aid amounting to some 17 million dollars to DDR activities ahead of any other country. This fact encouraged the Sudanese government and international society to tackle the issue more proactively. To be specific, though the DDR process had been suspended for a long time, Japan's decision to provide aid to DDR activities helped the DDR process start officially on 10 February. In the Second DDR Round Table held in the Southern Sudan the other day, many nations expressed their willingness to follow suit in providing assistance for this process.
(Expanding Support for Peace Keeping Capacities of African Countries)
Thirdly, I would like to emphasize the importance of enhancing Africa's capacity for peace building. Africa is stepping up its own efforts toward peace creation. Japan bears some 17% of the cost for UN PKO missions and currently there are 16 missions deployed worldwide. Seven of these missions which include 70% of all total staff are in Africa. Many mission staff deployed in Africa comes from African countries. Africa's own peacekeeping missions are also dispatched under the auspices of the AU to countries such as Somalia. These missions are deployed to monitor cease-fires, to maintain security and to improve humanitarian situations on the ground. However, Africa's capacity for peacekeeping is still at the early stages and requires further development. In many cases, these missions face shortages of equipment and qualified personnel.
Last year, Japan hosted the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit and announced a policy of strengthened support for peace keeping capacity building with a focus on Africa. As a part of our efforts to strengthen these capabilities, Japan has been implementing support programs for PKO training centers in Africa. In these programs, Japan has extended assistance to enhance the training program, provide necessary equipment, and repair facilities for those centers. In total, 14.5 million US dollars was provided to 5 PKO training centers in countries such as Egypt, Ghana, and Kenya last year. This year, Japan will commence support for PKO centers in South Africa, Benin, and Nigeria. In addition to this financial support, Japan dispatched two Self Defence Force (SDF) officers to PKO centers in Egypt as lecturers. These officers talked about their experiences and lessons learnt through SDF's reconstruction activities in Iraq and disaster relief operations overseas. Mr. Hideaki SHINODA, Director, Hiroshima Peacebuilders Center, and Associate Professor at Hiroshima University, who is one of today's panelists, was also asked to be a lecturer. He made a lecture on developing human resources for peace keeping activities in the field. Trainees highly appreciated these discussions at which 35 people from 9 countries attended. Japan is committed to actively engaging itself in the enhancement of Africa's capacity for peace keeping.
Apart from the UN PKO missions, I believe that the number of missions under the auspices of the AU will gradually increase. In Somalia, which I touched upon earlier, about 3,500 personnel are deployed for the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). But these Africa's own missions are facing financial problems and need support from international society. Japan has been providing support for these missions and will continue to do so.
The final topic which I would like to discuss concerns our personnel contribution to peace-building in Africa. Since the dispatch of the SDF to the PKO mission in Mozambique, Japan had not sent the Self-Defence Forces (SDF) to Africa for approximately 15 years. Last year, however, we did send two SDF personnel to the headquarter of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). Currently, a total of 38 Japanese personnel are sent to three UN peacekeeping operations, which ranks Japan 81st out of the 120 contributing countries. I think we need to continue enhancing our personnel contribution including personnel for peace keeping operations. I am encouraged by the fact that, presently in Sudan, even in such a severe environment, as many as 32 Japanese are making active contributions as UN staff and 26 as staff of non-governmental organizations. Among them are four graduates and trainees of Hiroshima Peacebuilders Center, a terakoya or "school" for human resource development in peace-building, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been promoting. Furthermore, 2 Japanese staff is working diligently, literally day and night, in the African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID), which is said to be one of the harshest PKO missions in the world. I would like to see more and more Japanese get trained to work at the forefront of peace-building.
Securing peace and stability in Africa is a huge, demanding enterprise that requires deep determination and resolution. Japan has accumulated experience, wisdom and achievement in the field of reconstruction and development. Building on what Japan has achieved so far, my Government wants to strengthen its engagement throughout all the phases of the peace-building process including that of peace-making which Japan has not excelled in so far. Needless to say, there are certain activities that Japan can engage itself in and other activities that Japan cannot. However, I think that we can do more. I would like to explore this possibility to the fullest extent possible. This is the question I would like to present before you for discussion.
I hope I can learn as much as possible from today's discussions.
Thank you for your kind attention.
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