Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

(As of September 2015)

1. What are UN peacekeeping operations?


Traditionally, UN peacekeeping operations help to prevent a recurrence of conflict by monitoring a ceasefire as well as the withdrawal of armed forces between parties, and to resolve conflicts through dialogue in a peaceful and steady manner in accordance with the Security Council (or General Assembly) resolutions after the parties reach a ceasefire agreement.

After the Cold War, as religion- and ethnicity-based civil wars and conflicts increasingly broke out and the role UN had played in conflict resolution was reviewed, the mandates of UN peacekeeping operations were expanded various areas ranging from the organization of elections,  dispatch of civilian police officers, human rights protection and refugee protection, administrative assistance, and reconstruction and development. The UN peacekeeping's contributions to international peace have been highly appreciated, and the UN Peacekeeping Forces were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.

2. How many UN peacekeeping missions are in operation in the world?

As of September 2015, there are 16 UN peacekeeping missions in operation worldwide, half of which are deployed in Africa. Each mission has its own mandate. Some have been in operation for decades, performing duties such as traditional ceasefire monitoring and military observation; others are increasingly carrying out humanitarian assistance, election observation, reconstruction and development.

3. What is the "Act on Cooperation with United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and Other Operations"? 

>The "Act on Cooperation with United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and Other Operations" (hereafter the " PKO Act"), enacted in June 1992, stipulates the structures and procedures for Japan's active contribution to international peace. It categorizes Japan's international peace cooperation in three areas: UN peacekeeping operations (e.g. ceasefire monitoring), international humanitarian relief operations (e.g. medical care, distribution of food, clothing and other goods), and international election observation operations.

4. What are "the five basic principles governing the participation of Japan in the UN Peacekeeping Forces" in the PKO Act?

The PKO Act provides that Japan shall participate in UN peacekeeping operations according to the following "five basic principles" (See Article 6 (7) of the PKO Act (PDF:63KB)pdf):
1) Agreement on a ceasefire shall have been reached among the parties to the armed conflict.
2) Consent for the conduct of UN peacekeeping operations as well as Japan's participation in such operations shall have been obtained from the host country as well as from the parties to the armed conflict.
3) The operations shall strictly maintain impartiality, and not favor any of the parties to the armed conflict.
4) Should any of the requirements in the above-mentioned guideline cease to be satisfied, the International Peace Cooperation Corps may suspend International Peace Cooperation Assignments. Unless the requirements are satisfied again quickly, the Government of Japan may terminate the dispatch of the personnel engaged in International Peace Cooperation Assignments.
5) The use of weapons shall be within the limits judged reasonably necessary according to the circumstances. 

5. Why is it important for Japan to take part in UN peacekeeping operations?

Since the enforcement of the PKO Act in 1992, Japan has promoted cooperation with UN peacekeeping operations around the world through personnel and material contributions. Recognizing that the stability of the international community is intertwined with its own security, Japan to cooperate with the efforts of the international community toward international peace and security to make a contribution that is expected of Japan in light of its international status and responsibility. Japan's cooperation of this kind is highly appreciated in the international community.

6. What procedures is Japan bound to follow before dispatch of personnel?

After a thorough examination of whether the mission meets the five basic principles, and whether its activities are worthy of Japan's contribution, the Prime Minister seeks a Cabinet decision on a draft Implementation Plan that, among other things, prescribes the type and content of the Assignments, the period of dispatch, and the size and composition of the Corps (See Article 6 (1) and (2) of the PKO Act (PDF:63KB)pdf).Having gone through all these formalities, Japan dispatches the International Peace Cooperation Corps.

7. Why is it important for the government of Japan to cooperate in international election observation operations based on the PKO Act ?

 Japan actively supports the efforts of the international community for conduct of fair elections aimed at establishing a governance system through democratic means in regions that suffered from conflicts.

8. How do you differentiate contributions in kind based on the PKO Act from other forms of cooperation such as the Official Development Assistance ( ODA ) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and emergency relief supplies by the Japan International Cooperation Agency ( JICA )?

The principal idea of contributions in kind stipulated in the PKO Act is to provide supplies that are urgently needed but time-consuming to procure. That way, contributions in kind play a clearly different role from grants and other aid schemes.
While aid by JICA is primarily directed to victims of major disasters in developing areas, contributions in kind based on the PKO Act aim to help victims of conflicts that endanger international peace and security.

9. Where can I get more information on Japan's international peace cooperation?

Road to Peace(PDF:1.49MB)open PDF in a new window is available online. It illustrates Japan's cooperation with UN peacekeeping operations and other operations. A paper version is also available. For previous reports and documents, please see the archives.