"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi on Her Upcoming Visit to Afghanistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran

[Place] Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, Tokyo
[Date] April 25, 2002
[Source] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]


Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

I am going to visit Afghanistan during Golden Week. While deplorable humanitarian tragedies in other regions of the world compete for our attention, we should not let the world's concern for the situation in Afghanistan taper off. We should remember the vow not to repeat the mistake made in 1989 after the withdrawal of Soviet forces when the world allowed itself to forget about Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, I am going to meet Chairman Karzai and talk with leaders of the Interim Authority of Afghanistan. I will discuss with them how Japan can further materialize our commitment to the Bonn agreement and the reconstruction of Afghanistan. I also intend to meet people actually engaged in fieldwork, in order to grasp for myself what needs to be done and what the obstacles are. At this crucial time, I would like to present to you the vision that I have for a brighter future in Afghanistan.

International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan

As you are all aware, Japan hosted and co-chaired the International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan from January 21 to 22 in Tokyo.

In responding to Chairman Karzai's call there, Japan and other members of the international community sent a message to the entire world that we are committed to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Demonstrating its commitment, Japan announced its own pledge to extend up to $500 million over the next two-and-a-half years for reconstruction efforts.

The international community recognized that the primary responsibility for the peace and development of Afghanistan lies with the Afghan people themselves and pledged contributions totaling over $4.5 billion in order to facilitate assistance for reconstruction.

Consolidation of Peace in Afghanistan

Reconstruction of Afghanistan poses an unprecedented experiment in the history of humankind. This is because the entire global community is being called upon to pool together whatever they can contribute to this one single purpose. When I say "the global community," I do not only mean governments but international organizations, NGOs and volunteers as well.

Our challenge is not only to resurrect the economy, but to establish a society; free, democratic, and proud of its cultural heritage-where men, women and children enjoy their life. In order for this to happen, reconstruction in the conventional sense is not enough.

What we need is "consolidation of peace." Consolidation of peace should consist of the following three components: namely, the peace process, domestic security, and reconstruction and humanitarian assistance. They are just like a tripod: "Consolidation of peace" would not stand with any one of the components missing.

I would like to explain the three legs of my tripod, one by one, in the rest of my speech.

Emergency Loya Jirga

Reconstruction is predicated upon the smooth progress of the peace process. Its next major chapter is the Emergency Loya Jirga. Japan's support for its holding constitutes the first leg of my tripod.

In mid-June the Emergency Loya Jirga will be convened at which 1,500 participants drawn from all parts of Afghan society will elect a Head of State and select the members of the Transitional Authority that will supersede the Interim Authority.

Success of the Emergency Loya Jirga is absolutely essential to establish a democracy and move toward a lasting peace in Afghanistan.

Motivated by a strong desire to see a successful outcome, we have decided to contribute $2.7 million for the procurement of necessary equipment for monitoring of the regional election process and transportation of the Emergency Loya Jirga Commission members and international observers. In addition, we are sending Japanese experts to prepare for the Emergency Loya Jirga process.

We are providing technical assistance and equipment to enable the Emergency Loya Jirga to be broadcast via television throughout Afghanistan. Along with this emergency assistance, we are also planning longer term assistance to provide TV broadcasting equipment, technology and facilities in order to upgrade their facilities. I consider free broadcasting media as an indispensable component for sustaining democracy in Afghanistan.

Domestic Security

The second leg of my tripod is domestic security. Domestic security is an urgent prerequisite for reconstruction activities.

I am examining the possibility of extending assistance for the reform of the civilian police force. Japan's assistance may include the provision of wireless communications equipment and vehicles, as well as rehabilitation of facilities.

I would also like to draw your attention to the importance of reintegration of approximately 700,000 former combatants. We must turn those people into productive members of society. Japan will take initiatives for providing alternative employment opportunities-viable economic alternatives to violence.

Over the years, poppy farming has been a big source of income. However, it is not only a curse to the international drug problem, but also a grave threat to the social and political stability of Afghanistan. We are encouraged by the strong determination shown by the Afghan Interim Administration to address the drug issue and applaud its recent decision to ban poppy farming. Japan will actively look at developing and identifying appropriate projects to eradicate it and build up a national counter-narcotics capacity in Afghanistan.

Landmines and unexploded ordnance infest over more than 800 square kilometers of Afghanistan and cause tremendous suffering, killing or wounding 150 to 300 men, women, and children every month. The clearance of landmines is, thus, an urgent imperative. Their elimination indeed is one of the largest symbols of Afghanistan's transition from war to peace. Japan decided to make a contribution of $19 million. Through a partnership arrangement with the UNDP, we are providing local NGOs with more than 100 trucks, 124 four-wheel-drive vehicles, and nearly 2,000 mine detectors. I am eager to see this equipment at work at one of the mine action sites during my stay there.

Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance

Consolidation of peace would not be complete without reconstruction and humanitarian assistance-the third leg of my tripod.

For the people of Afghanistan to ultimately realize their potential we need to help them to rebuild their local communities, develop their human resources, and eventually build up their infrastructure. Gender consideration is indispensable in each and every such undertaking. Women have been neglected so much for so long.

First and foremost, the Afghan people should not be placed in a situation where they are waiting for outside aid. They have to stand on their own feet to take part in the reconstruction of their own country. In order to provide "a little buying power" to survive and move to the next step, Japan is leading the Recovery and Employment Afghanistan Programme, known as REAP. This program provides temporary employment on public works to restore Kabul. It is expected to create 20,000 jobs for unskilled citizens. Japan is implementing this program in collaboration with the UNDP. Last week The New York Times reported from Kabul on the program and mentioned Afghan people "fanning out across the metropolis" to collect bricks to rebuild schools and roads.

We believe, from our own historical experience, both at the Meiji Restoration and the post-War period, that education is the cornerstone of development. Japan has extended substantial assistance to the "Back to School" program: about half of the required funding. Since March 23, the start of the new school year, 1.5 million Afghan children have been attending school. For many children, this is their first ever school year. This precious gift-the opportunity to learn-was made possible through our combined efforts with the Afghan Interim Authority, UNICEF, and NGOs.

Recently we invited Education Minister Amin to Japan. He told me about their urgent need to rebuild destroyed schools and print textbooks. We are planning to launch projects to rehabilitate school facilities, send education experts, and train their women teachers in Japan. At the invitation of Minister Amin, I am going to visit a school in Kabul to get a feel for what has to be done.

On the medical front, Japan has provided grant aid of about $6 million to UNICEF for the purchase of vaccines for measles and polio, injectors and cold chain equipment. Japan has also provided emergency grant aid of about $15 million for the procurement of essential medical equipment and medicines for clinics and hospitals. We are now preparing for the dispatch of experts and acceptance of trainees in the area of health and medical care.

Infrastructure development is, of course, essential in the longer term. For starters, Japan is exploring the possibility of establishing a public transportation system for Kabul's citizens.

Governments alone cannot consolidate peace. In fact, just before I came here, I had a constructive meeting with Japanese NGOs who are working hard for Afghanistan. We have seen a great number of individuals and NGOs, not only from Japan and other countries but also from Afghanistan itself, taking on initiatives from different angles. NGOs are an important component of our efforts, since they can manage services that governments often cannot deliver. I am proud to see many Japanese NGOs actively offering emergency humanitarian aid to the people in need in Afghanistan. I am determined to further strengthen the strategic relationship with NGOs.

Finally, in order to facilitate all those assistance projects, I am strengthening the function of the Japanese Embassy and JICA in Kabul.


Following Afghanistan, I intend to visit Iran. What is my agenda there? First, I would like to seek ways to cooperate further for Iran's constructive engagement in the international community, especially cooperation on Afghanistan. Iran played a key role to encourage the Afghan parties to agree on the Bonn agreement, and ensured the success of the Tokyo Conference. Iran's generous contribution is worth mentioning here. Iran, together with Pakistan, has given shelter to millions of Afghan refugees, and both states have long been involved in lending assistance to the Afghan people.

I will express Japan's strong support for Iran's reform, which President Khatami vigorously pursues. Reform is ongoing in wide-ranging areas throughout society, including political, economic, and social areas.

I should like to take the opportunity of this trip to discuss a wider set of issues. I will discuss the international community's concern about the proliferation and development of weapons of mass destruction. I will further discuss Iran's possible constructive role in the Middle East peace issue. We acknowledge Iran's positive attitude in such fields as the fight against narcotics and its support for the Bonn process on Afghanistan. On the other hand, the international community holds serious concerns about some of Iran's conduct. I hope frank dialogue will lead to Iran playing a more positive role in the international arena and lay the groundwork for further promoting our bilateral relations. Japan, with its long-standing relationship with Iran, is in a unique position to promote Iran's cooperative attitude.

I am also going to promote the friendship between Japan and Iran with particular emphasis on cultural exchange. We welcome holding cultural events to introduce Iran's culture to the Japanese people. As part of our efforts on the dialogue among civilizations, I would like to press ahead with intellectual exchanges between our two countries.


I would like to conclude my speech by coming back to Afghanistan. Afghanistan is standing at a critical juncture. During the period of internal turmoil, the people of Afghanistan saw members of their families killed or injured, their houses destroyed, their livelihoods and jobs lost. Many Afghans still suffer from famine, earthquakes, and other tragedies in the aftermath of the conflict.

As the Afghan people move forward in shaping their future, Japan, together with the world, will lend a helping hand.

A society in which men, women and children can develop their full potential and enjoy a happy life; That is what we all desire. That is what the Afghan people desire and deserve. I know in my heart that we can attain this dream. Through pursuing the tripod of the peace process, domestic security, and reconstruction and humanitarian assistance, in other words, through "consolidation of peace," I have no doubts that this dream will come true.

Thank you very much