A lot of problems in “Kaketsuke-Keigo” by the Self-Defense Forces in South Sudan

[ Original Published: February 5, 2016 / Hiroshi Taniyama, JVC’s President ]

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President Taniyama joined JVC in 1986 and has conducted activities in many local sites overseas. About the current issues around the world that should not be ignored, he is speaking specifically from a viewpoint of a NGO for international cooperation, which is familiar with the reality overseas.

(Hiroshi Taniyama, JVC’s president, had been assigned to reside in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Afghanistan for twelve years in total. Besides being the president of JVC, he is also the chairman of JANIC, one of the most influential NGO for international cooperation with the type of networking in Japan, and also a promoter of the “NGO Hisen Net”. He is playing an active role in advocacy by making use of his experiences from various local sites.)

There are several problems in Kaketsuke-Keigo in South Sudan, currently being debated at the Diet.

“Kaketsuke-Keigo” is a part of the security laws which were enacted last year. According to them, the assignments of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) had been broadly expanded. “Kaketsuke-Keigo” means that, if UN or Japanese NGO’s staff were involved in conflicts, the SDF would come to protect them. Namely, the SDF would intervene in conflict by force of arms.

First of all, we have to recognize the reality that the situation in South Sudan is actually conflict-ridden. The confrontation and conflict between the state forces and the anti-government ones have been developing in several places. Of course, the state forces are responding by force of arms. Under a situation like this, it is considerably doubtful whether “the Five Principles for PKOs”, that is the rule on the SDF’s participation in PKOs, would be kept. (These are the principles on the SDF’s participation in PKOs. These specify “Agreement on cease-fire between the parties involved in conflicts”, “Consent on dispatching PKOs by parties involved in conflicts”, and “Assurance of PKOs neutrality”, and that, if these three principles were not fulfilled, PKOs would retreat, and that they would limit the use of weapons to the minimum extent of necessity.) This issue has not been appropriately debated at the Diet.

If the SDF undertook “Kaketsuke-Keigo”, they would become a party involved in war. The government does not use the word of “the use of force”, but does “the use of weapons”. Why? Because it intends to make the presupposition that the opponent is not a party involved in conflicts. It says that, if an opponent, whom the SDF is using weapons against, is not a state or a quasi-state organization, the use of weapons is not the use of force, therefore it is not a breach of the Constitution.

It is definitely real that, if it undertook “Kaketsuke-Keigo”, Japan would become a party involved in conflicts. This would clearly be a breach of the Constitution.At the Diet, its members have not debated the situation in South Sudan in detail, but have been talking only on fictional assumptions. We have to recognize that the SDF would enter a dangerous situation, and that the instances of killing or being killed would occur.

Children at a refugee camp in South Sudan

Children at a refugee camp in South Sudan

JVC does not have its office in South Sudan, but they have provided assistance for education in refugee camps there. If the SDF became a party involved in conflicts, when a JVC’s staff went to a camp, the Japanese would probably be considered as a suitable target by armed forces. The laws were intended to protect Japanese, but, on the contrary, they would make Japanese, who were undertaking the humanitarian relief activities, exposed to risk.

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