20 Years since the Enactment of the International Peace Cooperation Law
Twenty years have passed since Japan's Act on Cooperation for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and Other Operations (International Peace Cooperation Law) (PDF: 63KB) came into force. Japan has dispatched 27 International Peace Cooperation Corps in these 20 years. Let's take a quick look at Japan's major international peace cooperation activities.
|June 1992: International Peace Cooperation Law came into force|
|After the outbreak of the Gulf War in 1990, a general understanding arose in Japan that the country should play an active part in the international community, not only financially and materially, but from the viewpoint of human resources. Against this backdrop, in July 1991, the government set up a task force in the Cabinet Secretariat that was in charge of preparing a draft law of international peace cooperation, and started to draw it up. The bill was brought before the Diet on September 19, 1991. After serious discussion in the Diet, the Act on Cooperation for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and Other Operations was adopted on June 15, 1992. It was promulgated on June 19 and came into force on August 10.|
|September 1992: Election observers were dispatched to UNAVEM II as the first assignment based on the International Peace Cooperation Law|
|In September 1992, the United Nations Angola Verification Mission II (UNAVEM II) observed Angolan legislative and presidential elections. Japan dispatched three election observers, one from the private sector and the others from the public sector. This was Japan's first International Peace Cooperation Assignment based on the International Peace Cooperation Law.|
Voters at a voting station
|September 1992: The first 600-personnel GSDF engineering unit was dispatched to UNTAC, and 75 civil police officers were dispatched in October 1992|
In September 1992, Japan dispatched eight ceasefire observers and an engineering unit composed of 600 Ground Self-Defense Forces personnel to the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) headed by the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General Yasushi Akashi. With peacekeepers from other countries, the observers supervised collected and stored weapons after disarmament and monitored the ceasefire, whereas the engineering unit reconstructed roads and bridges devastated during the civil war; provided other UNTAC troops with fuel, water, medical services, and accommodations; transported supplies; and stored them.
In the same month, Japan provided UNTAC with audiovisual equipment such as videos, radios, and portable generators in support of the promotion and education of the Cambodian Constituent Assembly elections, which made Japan's first Contribution in Kind under the scheme of the International Peace Cooperation Law.
In October 1992, 75 civil police officers were dispatched to Cambodia. They supervised local police activities to ensure fairness and neutrality, and gave guidance and advice on how to investigate criminal cases to the Indonesian police, who were responsible for maintaining law and order there. Though they lost one colleague on duty, they fully accomplished their missions.
⇒ Go to the Contribution in kind to UNTAC
SDF personnel reconstructing a road
|February 1996: Two staff officers and a GSDF transport unit were dispatched to UNDOF in the Golan Heights|
Following the Agreement on Disengagement between Syria and Israel in 1974 after the Yom Kippur War, the United Nations established the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which was mandated to observe the ceasefire and disengagement. UNDOF has been deployed in the Golan Heights, southwest of Syria, an area at the core of the peace talks between Israel and Syria.
Since February 1996, Japan has dispatched two staff officers (three since March 2009) to the Force Headquarters in UNDOF as well as a GSDF transport unit that consists of 43 personnel.
A Japanese peacekeeper working with his colleagues
SDF personnel transporting equipment
|June 1998: International Peace Cooperation Law was partially amended|
After a comprehensive review of Japan's past International Peace Cooperation Assignments, an act came into force on June 12, 1998 that amended part of the International Peace Cooperation Law for the purpose of Japan's more timely and effective contribution to the efforts of the UN and the international community toward international peace.|
The amendment created a third category of "International Election Observation Operations" in addition to "UN Peacekeeping Operations" and "International Humanitarian Relief Operations," which enabled Japan to observe elections at the request of the UN or other international organizations, but not under the scheme of UN Peacekeeping Operations. The amendment also allows Contributions in Kind for International Humanitarian Relief Operations conducted by certain international organizations even when no ceasefire agreement exists. The amendment further provides that, in principle, personnel in an SDF unit can use weapons when their senior officer gives necessary orders.
|August 1998: 25 polling station supervisors were dispatched to Bosnia and Herzegovina for the first time after the amended International Peace Cooperation Law created the category of "International Election Observation Operations"|
|An election for the presidency and other elections were held in Bosnia and Herzegovina in September 1998. At the request of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Japan dispatched five election observers and 25 polling station supervisors. This is the first International Election Observation Operation after the International Peace Cooperation Law had been amended in the same year.|
A building ruined by the conflict
A Japanese election observer checking the polling process
|July 1999: Three civil police officers were dispatched to UNAMET: Japan's first Assignment in Timor-Leste|
Starting from the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) the UN established in 1999 to help the country's state-building effort toward independence until the current United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), the UN has supported Timor-Leste's autonomy and democratization.
Japan dispatched three civil police officers to UNAMET in July 1999 to collect information on incidents that took place in Timor-Leste and give advice to the Indonesian police, which were then responsible to maintain law and order in Timor-Leste. Since then, Japan has carried out the largest number of International Peace Cooperation Assignments in Timor-Leste: nine, including an International Election Observation Operation in 2007.
Japanese civil police officers
|December 2001: International Peace Cooperation Law was partially amended for the second time|
Based on Japan's past experiences in International Peace Cooperation Assignments, a second act that amended the International Peace Cooperation Law was made public on December 22, 2001.|
The amendment lifted the ban on the SDF's participation in so-called core peacekeeping operations (e.g. monitoring a ceasefire agreement, patrolling in buffer zones, inspecting weapons) that had been suspended since 1992. The amendment also enabled SDF peacekeepers to use weapons when they protect "individuals who have come under their control" as well enabling use of SDF weapons.
|April 2005: The International Peace Cooperation Advisors Program was launched|
In view of an increasingly important role of civilian personnel in international peace efforts centering on the UN, the system of International Peace Cooperation Program Advisors was begun in response to recommendations by the Advisory Group on International Peace Cooperation chaired by Yasushi Akashi, former Under-Secretary-General of the UN.
The framework aims to foster human resources who have hands-on experience in international and other organizations and who are expected to play a key role in international peace cooperation. Advisors can enroll in the scheme for a maximum period of two years, and most of them continue to work extensively in the field of international peace cooperation after retirement, such as in the UN and other international agencies.
International Peace Cooperation Program Advisors at a symposium
|February 2010: A GSDF engineering unit was dispatched to MINUSTAH|
A major earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale hit Haiti on January 12, 2010. The earthquake caused enormous damage, including the loss of an estimated several hundred thousand people. Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon visited Haiti right after the earthquake, and recommended reinforcing the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The UN Security Council authorized an increase in the Mission's personnel on January 19 of that year.
In response to the UN's request, the Japanese Cabinet decided to carry out the International Peace Cooperation Assignment in Haiti on February 5, 2010. Two staff officers in the Force Headquarters in MINUSTAH and a GSDF engineering unit composed of around 300 personnel were dispatched, and have been in operation ever since. In cooperation with NGOs and other private organizations, the unit removes rubble, levels ground, repairs roads, and constructs simple facilities to meet local needs and help Haiti's prompt reconstruction efforts.
A Japanese staff officer discussing with his colleagues
Japanese engineering personnel on duty
Orphanage facilities constructed by the Japanese unit
|September 2010: Two Military Liaison Officers were dispatched to UNMIT|
The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) was established in 2006 with its mandate, including restoring and maintaining peace and stability and supporting presidential and parliamentary elections.
Japan dispatched two SDF personnel as military liaison officers since September 2010. They visited villages in the areas of their responsibility, collected information from local chiefs, and report their findings to the UNMIT Headquarters. In March 2011, a female SDF peacekeeper was dispatched as a military liaison officer for half a year. She is the first woman dispatched to a UN mission individually, not as a member of an SDF unit.
A Japanese military liaison officer interviewing the locals
A Japanese military liaison officer blowing bubbles with local kids
|July 2011: Release of "Interim Report of the Study Group on Japan's Engagement in UN Peacekeeping Operations"|
|A Study Group on Japan's Engagement in UN Peacekeeping Operations was set up in October 2010 for the purpose of recapitulating the accomplishments of Japan's international peace cooperation and discussing how Japan should best cooperate in the future with a view to reviewing the role Japan played in the international community and playing a more active role in international cooperation with other countries. The Study Group was chaired by Shozo Azuma, the then-Senior Vice-Minister of the Cabinet Office, with the attendance of high-level officials of relevant ministries and agencies, and released an "Interim Report" (provisional translation) (PDF: 163KB) on July 4, 2011.|
The Study Group on Japan's Engagement in UN Peacekeeping Operations
|November 2011: Japan decided to dispatch two staff officers to UNMISS|
The Republic of South Sudan achieved independence on July 9, 2011, after nearly 99% of the population voted for independence in January. On the same day, the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) was launched with its mandate to support peace consolidation and foster longer-term state-building and economic development.
Japan dispatched two SDF personnel in November 2011 and an additional one in February 2012 as staff officers in the UNMISS Force Headquarters. Besides, in January 2012, up-to-330 GSDF engineering troops started to be deployed in and around Juba, the capital city. They are expected to engage in road construction and other infrastructure restoration.
Japanese staff officers in the UNMISS Force Headquarters
SDF personnel on an advance team of the engineering unit arrived at Juba, South Sudan
Since the International Peace Cooperation Law came into force in 1992, Japan has dispatched some 9,100 peacekeepers to 27 International Peace Cooperation Assignments, and made 21 in-kind supports as of October,2012.
As a result of globalization, the probability of large-scale conflicts between major countries has declined. Recent conflicts have shifted in nature from conflicts between countries to civil conflicts within single countries and complex conflicts in which neighboring countries become involved in some manner in a civil conflict within a single country. In line with such changes, Japanese International Peace Cooperation Corps have been expanding their fields of activity to support for elections and infrastructure reconstruction in the state-building process, along with traditional ceasefire monitoring.
Japan's significant contributions on the ground have been highly appreciated in the international community, and Japanese peacekeepers' high morale and capability are a model for their colleagues from other countries. In Japan, an opinion poll conducted in 2011 reveals that more than 80% of people supported Japan's participation in UN peacekeeping operations, whereas the poll conducted in 1994, two years after the International Peace Cooperation Law came into force, shows that the percentage hovered around 60%.
Japan will continue to participate in UN peacekeeping operations actively, and cooperate with the international community for world peace.
Source: Cabinet Office, Opinion Poll on Diplomacy, October 2011⇒ Go to useful Links