JAPAN IS STARTING TO SEND WEAPONS by TAKAHASHI Kiyotaka*
投稿日時 2006-11-2 21:17:00 | トピック： 9. Anti-Teror
|JAPAN IS STARTING TO SEND WEAPONS|
nikkanberita, 14 September 2006
Contents of Japanese ODA (Official Development Assistance) have been changing greatly. The idea of humanitarianism or poverty eradication has been faded away, and, instead, national interests and economic benefits are considered to be important in all aspects as to Japanese ODA policy. In addition, strong connection between ODA and security affairs (in other words, military affairs) has shown up. It was initiated by the dispatch of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to Iraq. Also, in this summer, the Cabinet decided to grant three patrol vessels to the Indonesian government using ODA in the name of the "countermeasures against piracy". "Exportation of weapons" through ODA projects has been openly started. I would like to introduce efforts of NGOs including the Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC), which are lodging objections against the Japanese ODA policy tending to be used for military purposes.
On the morning of June 13, just before the closing of the Diet, the Japanese government adopted a resolution at a Cabinet meeting to provide three patrol vessels to the Indonesian government using ODA in the name of "countermeasures against piracy" which appears frequently in the Strait of Malacca. With respect to the resolution, the following NGOs requested the Japanese government to re-examine the resolution again: JVC and other 10 NGOs had called for supporting the petition, and 69 organizations and 338 individuals had assented to the proposal of JVC and others.
The reason why the NGOs objected to the resolution is that even though the patrol vessels would be provided in the name of the anti-piracy measures, the provision may accelerate the recent tendency of Japanese government to ignore the value of "arms embargo" which Japan has been holding as a peace-loving nation. Besides, if the exportation of weapons is realized by ODA funds, it conflicts with the principle that "ODA must not be used for military purposes" prescribed by the Japanese ODA Charter. In addition, the NGOs are strongly concerned that the use of the limited ODA budget for providing the weapons will diminish the engagement in poverty reduction, which have been and must be the primary and essential purpose of Japanese ODA.
Making an exception for the "three principles controlling exports of weapons" was announced as a comment of the Chief Cabinet Secretary together with "the National Defense Program Guidelines (the new NDPG)" in 2004 when Japanese government decided to provide technical cooperation with respect to the US missile defense measures. It was indicated at the announcement that "support for anti-terrorism and anti-piracy measures" is also deemed as an exception of the "three principles controlling exports of weapons". Therefore, the provision of the patrol vessels is based on this decision. The Japanese government explained that, though bulletproof countermeasures are equipped with the vessels, they have no machine guns having capability to wound and kill any person, and that their receiver is not any armed forces but the Indonesian marine police.
However, considering how the vessels will be used by the Indonesian government, it goes without saying that the government will possibly equip them with machine guns and use them in joint operations with the Indonesian navy. In other words, there is an extremely high probability that they will be used for military purposes. And, the "weapons" in question are exported using ODA.
In light of the principles of the ODA Charter, such usage of ODA is undesirable, and, in order to avoid the usage of ODA for military purposes, high-level monitoring system must be maintained. Furthermore, reinforcement of the whole governance such as Indonesian-civilians' capacity to monitor the Indonesian authorities should be demanded to prevent them from running out of control.
Though the Japanese government stated that it would monitor the Indonesian authorities carefully together with the Japanese embassy in Indonesia and JICA, it is doubtful whether JICA has any capacity to monitor anti-piracy operations performed by the Indonesian authorities. If any "support for counterterrorism measures" had been considered comprehensively and realistically, much more careful responses would have been needed. However, different from other exceptional occasions concerning weapon's exportation, at this time, the decision was made in the Cabinet without any Diet deliberation.
The Strait of Malacca is one of the main routes between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. Since tankers from the Middle East heading to Japan go along the strait, 80% of crude oil imported to Japan passes here. In addition, this strait is one of the areas where pirates appear most frequently in the world. Indonesian coast is particularly dangerous. Furthermore, current pirates even possess modern weapons such as machine guns or rocket launchers.
The Japanese government must have made the decision of the provision in view of the abovementioned circumstances. In the new ODA Charter revised in 2003, it is stated that one of the purposes of ODA is to "ensure security and prosperity of Japan", and "counterterrorism" is included as one of the priority issues. And, the provision of the patrol vessels in question served as a suitable precedent of the new prescription. However, is it appropriate for us to allow ODA to be used for "provision of weapons" even in the name of "contributions to national interests" or "counterterrorism"? Furthermore, reinforcement of security in the Strait of Malacca is a sensitive issue connected with rearrangement of the US Armed Forces which is to be based in Guam. In addition, discussion of the issue will be extended to provision of weapons for the purpose of "pre-conflict measures" and usage of ODA together with the SDF in "post-conflict reconstruction".
Do we and are we going to allow any kind of means or decision making if they contribute to Japanese national interests? This case poses us, Japanese civilians, a question as to how we should regard the relationship between ODA and "security". If so, the matter should have been discussed and decided carefully at a place more open for and disclosed to the civilians. I would like to continue expressing my opinions to the government from this standpoint as a civilian.
* TAKAHASHI Kiyotaka
JVC research and advocacy staff