In 2017, JVC continued advocacy activities about national security policies, by giving statements together with other networking organizations, on issues of the Conspiracy Law’s enacting and shrinking space for civil society. As advocacy with people struggling against land expropriation caused by free trade, JVC continuously adressed the issues of ProSAVANA, Japanese ODA programme in northern Mozambique. As to the TPP, JVC continued to advocate on the position of Japanese government after the US’s withdrawal.
Security Policy Advocacy
Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets
According to the discussion in the monthly meetings for “Japan NGO Action Network on the Security Law (NANSL)”, JVC along with other NGOs asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in July’s ODA Policy Council whether or not any activities of NGOs are classified as ‘specially designated secrets’. JVC also saw increased risk that NGO’s free activity might be restricted or NGOs themselves might voluntarily shrink, as the Conspiracy Law was enacted. So, JVC took the initiative to prepare for the transition of Security-Law-specific NANSL to “Japan NGO Action Network for Civic Space (NANCiS)” to deal with broader NGO issues for the space for civil society (NANCiS was founded in May 2018.)
Right of collective self-defense / Security-related bills
JVC kept covering the administration of “NGO No War Net” – the network started in 2016 with 77 NGOs who are against security-related bills. Concerning the issues of implementation of the laws in South Sudan, JVC actively made statements, organized talk sessions, delivered messages in the media, and supported public events held by the organizations participating in “NGO No War Net”. In December, JVC president, Taniyama, published “No War, Conversation and NGOs” as one of the authors/editors. In commemoration of this publication, Taniyama and others held the memorial symposium “Can NGOs change the world with ‘No War’?” in January.
Advocacy and Networking with People against Land Expropriation Caused by Free Trade
ProSAVANA (Program of Triangle Cooperation for Agricultural Development of the Tropical Savannah in Mozambique)
In response to policy recommendations by JVC and network NGOs since 2012, MOFA decided in March 2017 to stop part of the project, i.e. making the “master plan” of the program. In April, 11 residents of the targeted area made an objection against the programme, stating it violates the JICA guidelines for environmental and social considerations.
In November, the research report stated there was no violation of the guidelines, but in the meantime, it also proposed that mutual trust should be established between JICA and those who object against the program. In March 2018, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Taro Kono, gave “instructions” to emphasize the importance of “dialogue based on decision-making rules covering all participants including the opponents” and made it a condition for the support by ODA. MOFA also confirmed that this was indispensable before promoting the program, but later that same month, it was forcibly “restarted” despite Minister’s prior instructions. After the objection, any dialogue meeting with MOFA and JICA was not arranged in 2017. JVC has been making efforts to improve the situation through the ODA Policy Council and by making statements, petitions, open letter and so on. JVC also extended its advocacy beyond ProSAVANA. For example, we’ve started talks with the Ministry of Finance and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), as well as communication with the private sector so that thye take care of the damages on the local residents from the “Nacala Railway Development”, which is promoted by Japanese enterprises and financed by JBIC. From experience and for system improvement, JVC joined and gave opinions at the discussions on the review process of the JICA guidelines for environmental and social considerations, too.
Additionally, JVC had planned a joint survey in 2017 with local peasants as usual, but it has been suspended as the government of Mozambique did not issue visa and refuse the entry of JVC’s staff, Watanabe, the person in charge. This visa issue is still pending, and JVC keeps requesting the governments of Mozambique and Japan for permission.
The Japanese government initiated TPP11 without the US after their withdrawal from the TPP. “The National Executive Committee of Opinion Exchange Meetings on TPP between Citizens and the Government”, which was proposed by JVC, led the submission, in August, of the “Request of Disclosure of Information about the ‘Economic Partnership Agreement’ etc.” Related to this request, the committee also met the Cabinet’s Administrative Headquarters on TPP and MOFA. The committee requested disclosure of information about the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that were going on simultaneously.
ODA Policy Council
JVC’s President, Taniyama acted as the coordinator of NGOs in the “ODA Policy Council” that was established in 2002 as the dialogue meeting on ODA policy between NGOs and MOFA. JVC’s staff, Watanabe, also kept participating and proposed several agendas. JVC participated in discussion on agendas such as nondisclosure of information regarding how to support the military, antiterrorism activity, peace and security, and upgrading of the capabilities to secure marine safety. In addition, as a member of the People’s Forum on Cambodia, Japan, JVC proposed an agenda on the situations in Cambodia in the ODA Policy Council.
Main proposals and statements delivered in 2017
“Proposal for civil society’s participation in the peace-making process of Syria” and “Statement of opinions about the Japanese government’s position on the problems with the military intervention in Syria”
Objection to the “Conspiracy Law” that could suppress civil society (joint statement)
Military forces cannot bring peace in North- Eastern Asia (position paper)
“INGOs are deeply concerned about the US announcement about Jerusalem” (AIDA statement)
Unfair judgment methods and results regarding the protest filed with JICA by the Mozambican residents (Program to support master-planning on ProSAVANA: ProSAVANA-PD)
“ACBAR strongly condemns the attacks on NGOs in Jalalabad” (ACBAR statement)
Statement of objection against military attacks in Syria (Network for Peace in Syria statement)
[Source: JVC Annual Report 2017]Share This: