Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Make WPS a Pillar of Japan’s Foreign Policy
CHINO Keiko / Freelance journalist

May 30, 2024
In Japan, the interest in WPS is growing. WPS is the acronym for Women, Peace and Security, deriving its name from the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (adopted unanimously by the United Nations Security Council in 2000), which placed Women in the context of Peace and Security for the first time.

WPS has a history of nearly a quarter of a century but regrettably has not earned high public recognition. If you type in WPS on a personal computer, your first hit is Wi-Fi Protected Setup.

The wind is shifting in a welcome direction. However, on the reverse side of the same coin is the worsening reality of the global security environment where conflicts proliferate and intensify. If you look at the devastation wreaked on Palestine and Gaza, the significance of WPS is abundantly clear.

Behind the heightening interest in Japan, a factor to be reckoned with is the appearance on the scene of Ms. Kamikawa Yoko as the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Foreign Minister Kamikawa has for some time taken an active interest in the significance of WPS in conflict prevention, reconstruction and peace-building, established the “WPS Parliamentarian Net JAPAN”, and organized study groups and international exchanges. Her active engagement is not simply because she is a woman foreign minister.

Within the Foreign Ministry, a task force was established to provide coordination across the ministry, and, in response to the enthusiasm of Foreign Minister Kamikawa, many senior officers participated in its first meeting last January.

The Ministry of Defense and the Self-Defense Forces also established the headquarters for promoting WPS last year. Further, WPS was included in the government’s Basic Policies on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform 2023, which serves as a basis for the Japanese budgetary process. Such advocacy has also influenced other ministries such as the Ministry of Justice, and the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

The non-government sector has also taken an active interest and has begun to act. Towards the end of last year, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation organized a seminar on WPS entitled “Why do we need women's perspectives?” with more than 160 participants including students and young people. The showcase event was the first public talk between the two female Foreign Ministers of Japan and Indonesia, namely Ms. Kamikawa and H.E. Ms. Retno Marsudi.

Foreign Minister Retno started with the introduction of how Indonesia is promoting WPS. For example, Indonesia supports women’s participation in UN Peacekeeping Operations and currently has 119 women peacekeepers. She also talked about the long-standing Japan-Indonesia cooperation in the training of peacekeepers. About the G20 Summit Meeting last year, of which Indonesia was the chair, she said that “the negotiation was nightmarishly tough due to the geo-political situation such as Ukraine, but we continued negotiating with tenacity and produced the declaration. The endurance of women is, if not better than, equally good as that of men.” This is an episode that is pertinent to the significance of WPS.

On May 29, a seminar entitled “Experiences from NATO and Japan – Women, Peace, and Security in the Defense Sector” was held at Rikkyo University on the occasion of the visit to Japan of the Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace, and Security of NATO, which has been actively promoting WPS.

WPS is not just limited to saving and protecting women from conflicts and human rights violations. It also highlights the necessity of introducing women’s perspectives on conflict prevention, reconstruction, and peacebuilding as well as the indispensability of women’s participation in these undertakings. These latter aspects are just as, if not more, important, as the former aspects.

As of May 2024, only 109 countries including Japan had adopted the National Action Alans on WPS. They included the G7 countries, 40 countries in Europe, and 32 countries in conflict-ridden Africa, but only as many as 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific.

Among Japan’s neighbors, China, North Korea, and Russia have not adopted the National Action Plans. Given that the Security Council Resolution 1325 on WPS was unanimously adopted, China and Russia, both permanent members of the Security Council, should be taking the lead, and their inaction can be said to be irresponsible. Among the ASEAN countries, only Indonesia and the Philippines have their National Action Plans. India is yet to have one. It is said, however, that, within ASEAN, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand are considering the possibility of having their National Action Plans.

Shouldn’t Japan try to take the lead in surmounting the hindrance and clearing the way for further promoting WPS in the Asia-Pacific? Japan has already adopted and is implementing its third National Action Plan (2023-2028). There continues to persist in the international community a stereotyped perception of backward-looking Japan on the issue of women. It will be all the more significant if Japan can consciously project the opposite, forward-looking message.

Japan actively promoted the concept of “human security”. It is time that Japan should work actively to make WPS a pillar that truly symbolizes its foreign policy.

CHINO Keiko is a freelance journalist.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

千野 境子 / フリーランスジャーナリスト

2024年 5月 30日
WPSへの関心が日本でも高まってきた。WPSとはWomen, Peace and Security(女性、平和、安全)の略で、平和と安全保障の文脈に「女性」を初めて関連付けた国連安全保障理事会の「WPSに関する決議1325号」(2000年に全会一致で採択)に由来する。

つまりもう四半世紀近い歴史があるわけだが、これ迄の認知度は残念ながらそれほど高くない。パソコンでWPSと入力すると、最初に出て来るのはWi-Fi Protected Setupの方だ。













一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Make WPS a Pillar of Japan’s Foreign Policy