Published On: Thu, Jun 15th, 2017

After 25 years, Japan searches for new place in peace missions

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Thursday marks the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the U.N. Peacekeeping Activities Cooperation Law.

Based on this law, Japan has engaged in 27 international peace cooperation operations, among which the Self-Defense Forces have been dispatched in 14 cases of peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations, including a peacekeeping mission in Cambodia from 1992 to 1993.

Although Japan’s contributions have been hailed by the international community, the nation currently has no SDF personnel dispatched to PKOs since the Ground Self-Defense Force completed its withdrawal from South Sudan in May.

The government is now trying to determine what other contributions the nation can make in this field.

“Under the flag of ‘proactive contributions to peace’ and by utilizing the strength of our nation, we would like to continue to make efforts in the area of international peace cooperation, such as boosting assistance in capacity building [for developing nations] and dispatching [SDF] units,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference on Tuesday.

However, there is no prospect for any new dispatch of SDF personnel. Peacekeeping operations in the past used to mainly involve monitoring ceasefires. In recent years, however, the focus has been placed more on the protection of civilians in regions where it is difficult to maintain public security such as in South Sudan.

This has made it harder for the SDF to be dispatched. Thus, the government intends, for the time being, to focus on efforts to boost the capabilities of developing nations’ military units, such as improving their facilities, while looking at the possibility of dispatching SDF personnel on a new mission.

The U.N. Peacekeeping Activities Cooperation Law was enacted on June 15, 1992, under the administration of Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa. The legislation was submitted to the Diet under the administration of Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu after Japan received criticism from the international community that it did not dispatch the SDF during the Gulf War in 1991.

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