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01.10.2013 г.

The Concept of Human Security in Japan's Foreign Policy

Olga Dobrinskaya

The changing paradigm of international security in the early 1990s pointed to the need to develop new approaches to achieve security. Expansion of the concept of security and the inclusion in it of non-military aspects was reflected in the notion of human security, a notion that relied on two key concepts - freedom from fear, i.e., protection against immediate threats of physical nature, and freedom from want, i.e., protection from economic threats.

The end of the cold war stimulated Japan to search for a new role in the global community. This called for rejection of orientation toward narrow national interests and a readiness to become more involved in international affairs while observing its constitutional constraints.

The ideas of human security were willingly accepted in Japan shortly after they had been promulgated. Facilitating this acceptance were well-established standards of pacifism, the non-use of military force to resolve international disputes, and the recognition of the integrated security concept.

The use of the principles of human security was instrumental in updating the content of the policy of official development assistance (ODA). At the same time, some aspects of the concept as it relates to freedom from fear evoked disagreement in Tokyo. As a result, Japan elaborated its own approach to human security, and undertook further efforts to promote it internationally.

One of the first national leaders who expressed support for the new concept was Prime Minister T. Murayama. The concept was fully recognized and became formally part of Japan's foreign policy under Prime Minister K. Obuchi.

The first Japanese initiatives in the field of human security were made in response to the financial crisis in Asia. They placed emphasis on the economic component of the concept of human security, thus reflecting the philosophy of freedom from want. K. Obuchi's vision of human security and efforts to consolidate it among Japan's foreign policy priorities were continued by Prime Minister Y. Mori. Addressing the UN Millennium Summit, Mori even called human security one of the pillars of Japanese diplomacy.

The concept of human security receded from the limelight after Mori had stepped down from the post of prime minister. This was due to the changed environment with regard to international security after the events of September 11, 2001. Traditional security threats shifted global challenges aside from the top of Japan's foreign policy priorities. At the same time, Tokyo wished to make use of the existing tools to enhance its role in safeguarding world peace and stability while minimizing the need for its defense forces' participation in U.S. military operations. The government emphasized the link between Japanese participation in the fight against terrorism and its measures to safeguard human security. Moreover, in the context of the reconstruction of Afghanistan, a concept of consolidation of peace was proposed which made it possible for Japan to become involved in post-conflict peace-building.

Human security became an important part of the renewed ODA program again in 2003. Peace-building was also incorporated in ODA, while participation in it was seen in the context of human security, that is, with the emphasis on reconstruction and development. Thus, with the implementation of its human security diplomacy Japan sought to expand its role in dealing with issues of conflict resolution. This role is limited to areas that exclude direct intervention in conflicts, in other words, it is focused on non-military aspects of providing freedom from fear.

Tokyo undertook every effort to establish its vision of human security at the global level. Japanese officials succeeded in setting up control over policies implemented in the framework of the UN Trust Fund for Human Security. Being for years its only donor, Japan's voice is still decisive in votes to approve project funding and identifying regional priorities.

Promotion of the Japanese concept is associated with activities of the Commission on Human Security, which was convened by the UN in January 2001 at the suggestion of Y.Mori to clarify the content of the concept and make recommendations for its implementation. The Japanese side provided funds for the commission and its co-chair was the former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, S. Ogata. After its work was completed, the commission was transformed into the Expert Council on Human Security, also headed by S. Ogata, which was to make recommendations to the UN Secretary General on the implementation of the commission's final report and the uses of the UN Trust Fund for Human Security.

Japan's vision of the concept has undergone changes over the years. Whereas in 1998-2000 it was perceived as a key trend in the continued development of national diplomacy and even as a pillar of foreign policy, over time it has come to be primarily considered in the context of development assistance; today it forms the basis of Japan's efforts to address the global problems of humanity.

Implementation of the concept of human security fits in with Japan's national interests. It is an essential element of the country's cooperation with the UN and it helps consolidate the image of Japan as a leader in dealing with the socio-economic agenda. Human security strengthens the regional dimension of foreign policy and helps create a positive image of the country not only in Asia, but also in the more remote areas that are important to Japan, for example, in Africa. Human security also plays a positive role in the Japanese-American alliance, as it supports and supplements some activities of the United States in various fields, such as in post-conflict reconstruction. To sum up, the concept of human security has become an integral part of Japan's foreign policy in the era of globalization.
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