This article explains “Japanese way of peacebuilding” through the analysis of historical changes in peacebuilding policy implemented by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Peacebuilding has been focused from the standpoint of eradicating the hotbeds of terrorism amid U.S.-led anti- terrorism war, and has become widely seen as a crucial element of international order in the post-Cold War international security dimension, where anti-terrorism measures have been gaining increasing significance.
At the same time, Japan has faced operational and judicial constraint to expand its peacebuilding efforts. As a consequence of those restrictions, Japan has dealt with peacebuilding issues mainly by the improvement and expansion of ODA-related projects in conflict-affected area.
First of all, the objective of peacebuilding efforts is to achieve a restoration of sustainable peace. Therefore,there are multiple approaches in the peacebuilding since there are a number of actors working on this issue with their own distinctive peacebuilding philosophy. This is because the efforts of peacebuilding are called for comprehensive approach by donor coordination.
The existence of diverse peacebuilding approaches raises a puzzle of what the Japanese way of peacebuilding is. This is the main subject in this paper.
As mentioned above, ODA projects are mainly managed by JICA which has played central role in Japan’s peacebuilding efforts. In addition, JICA, being an implementing body of ODA projects of the government of Japan, is the first Japanese public institution to start to consider the peacebuilding possibilities. This article describes the historical changes of JICA’s peacebuilding efforts, based on the profile of Japan’s peacebuilding per se.
The essence of JICA’s peacebuilding in the early first decade of the 2000s is to understand peacebuilding as uncharted and isolated issue. However, JICA has altered this early stage stance on peacebuilding through the actual experience of conducting infrastructure reconstruction assistance basing on the principle of “Do no harm” in conflict-affected area, for example Timor-Leste and Afghanistan. During the course of these peacebuilding challenges, JICA has realized that peacebuilding efforts are fundamentally same as regular types of ODA projects. In short, this is an approach for peacebuilding which focuses on restoration and reconstruction of socioeconomic infrastructures as the backbone of peace.
Under the JICA’s initiative, Japanese way of peacebuilding, which put socioeconomic recovery into the core factor, has been already established in Japan’s peacebuilding policy formation. The Development Cooperation Charter, endorsed by the Cabinet in 2015, has recommended that Japan would work on peacebuilding activities with an idea to achieve the stable development through “quality growth”.
Thus, Japan’s new approach toward peacebuilding will also come on the scene through JICA’s challenges even in the current political situation, where the cabinet takes strong leadership based on the National Security Strategy.