July 21, 2006 Vol. 2, No. 10

Amb. Hill visited Japan
and met with Foreign Minister Aso
on July 10 to discuss the missile
launches by North Korea

Japan's Immediate Measures Against North Korea's Missle Launches


Release from the Embassy of Japan
(July 5, 2006)

On July 4, while the U.S. was celebrating Independence Day, North Korea fired six missiles. While the missiles fell into the Sea of Japan, this has been a cause of grave concern for the other members of the Six-Party Talks: Japan, the United States, China, South Korea and Russia. Christopher Hill, Head of U.S. delegation to the Six-Party Talks, immediately traveled to all countries for discussions, visiting Japan and meeting Foreign Minister Aso on July 10. The following is the Government of Japan's immediate measures announced on July 5, in reaction to the North Korea missiles:

(Japan's Measures Against North Korea's Missile Launches (July 5, 2006))


President Bush shakes hands
with Prime Minister Koizumi at the
conclusion of their joint press availability
in the East Room of the White House
(White House photo by Paul Morse)


Japan-U.S. Summit: Joint Statement Heralds 'Alliance of the New Century'


-Foreign Press Center Japan
(July 2, 2006)

On June 29 and 30, Prime Minister Koizumi visited the U.S. On the 29th, he held summit talks with President Bush at the White House and attended a joint press availability. On the following day, he and the President visited Graceland, Elvis Presley's estate in Memphis, Tenn. Below is a Japan Brief article summarizing the two leaders' discussion on the 29th, followed by the reaction of major Japanese newspapers:

(Japan Brief article by Foreign Press Center Japan (July 2, 2006))


The official arrival ceremony for
Prime Minister Koizumi (White House photo
by Paul Morse)

Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting: The Japan-U.S. Alliance of the New Century


The following is the text of the joint statement issued by Prime Minister Koizumi and President Bush on June 29, set off by a brief introduction:

(The Japan-U.S. Alliance of the New Century)


Amb. Komano speaking at JICC

Development and Conflict in the Context of Human Security


-Speech by Kinichi Komano,
Former Japanese Ambassador to Afghanistan, At the Washington Symposium of ATHGO International (July 6, 2006)

On July 6, Kinichi Komano, former Ambassador of Japan to Afghanistan and current fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, spoke at JICC about the development-security nexis (one cannot exist without the other) and how this dilemma can be dealt with in the case of Afghanistan's reconstruction. He also gave a lecture earlier that day at the World Bank, for the Washington Symposium of ATHGO International, a NGO that aims to train international professionals to become decision-makers and diplomats. The following is the text of his speech:

1. The world has changed

The UN is tasked with the responsibilities of maintaining and promoting world peace and development. Without peace and security, development and prosperity cannot happen nor be sustained. But for the latter to occur, the former cannot be strengthened nor even maintained. Hence, both should go in tandem.

After the Second World War, when the UN was established, the security situation in the world was quite different from that which we face now. In terms of the sources of threats, what was feared at that time were the wars between states that might escalate to the Third World War. Now, international terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, intra-state conflicts (failed states), organized crimes and global issues such as absolute poverty, health issues (HIV/AIDS, avian flu), global warming etc., are perceived as more probable sources of threats to world peace and stability. On the development side, the human kind as a whole now enjoys the greatest wealth ever, due to increased production capacity and productivity owing to a vast progress in science and technology, especially in information and communication. The biggest problem is, however, a lopsided distribution of wealth among individuals and states, and for so many of them, a lack of opportunities for development.

Behind all these phenomena, globalization looms with increasing interdependency among states and peoples as its main characteristic. Although the economy is the engine of this process, its implication is by far wider than the economic sphere. Vast, quick and frequent movement of not only goods and services but people and information is the most visible attribute of globalization. This necessitates a new look at the issues related to development and security.

2. Afghanistan's case is a typical product of globalization

Afghanistan has long been neglected as a part of economic globalization. Hence, no one cared about the people there. Afghans suffered from the military occupation of foreign troops, civil war and oppressive government for 23 years. A whole generation was lost and all infrastructures that existed in the country, both hard and soft, were either eroded or destroyed. According to the UNDP's human development index, Afghanistan was ranked almost at the bottom out of more than 170 countries at the time of the collapse of Taliban regime. But the international community didn't pay attention to her until the 9/11 incidents in US.

In a globalizing world, security and development are closely intertwined and affect each other. Afghanistan shows this clearly. A lack of security together with absolute poverty pushed people to flee the country as refugees (6 million out of the estimated 25 million population). The fundamentalist government (the Taliban) harbored the Al-Qaeda terrorists. Afghanistan has become the major source of drugs (89 % of the world production of heroine). Poppy is the only agricultural product in which Afghanistan has a comparative advantage. Organized crimes such as drug and human trafficking are associated with terrorists and warlords. In a nutshell, if the international community does not care about Afghanistan, she will come outward with scourges such as terrorism, drugs, etc. This is an undeniable reality in the era of globalization. Since 9/11, people have become aware of this as a matter of fact. Afghanistan is a typical failed state. Without reconstructing it, it would continue causing not only human sufferings to the Afghan people, but instability and insecurity to the region and the world too.

3. Three-pronged approach to the reconstruction of a failed state

How to reconstruct a failed state and where to start--thinking about this question will shed light on the security-development nexus in the globalization era.

For reconstructing a failed state, three clusters of issues should be addressed simultaneously: political process, security reform and development. These are intricately interrelated. Any phase of political process might tumble without security, security reform could not advance without political support and development would not happen nor be maintained without security and institutional frames.

Let's have a quick look at Afghanistan past and present. In Afghanistan, the political process progressed ahead of others. A constitution was adopted, and a president and a parliament were elected directly by the people. In the security sector reform, there are some achievements such as the formation of a new national army and disarmament of legal militias. However, the pace of progress in the reform of a national police and judicial system and counter-narcotics strategy is yet to pick up. Development in urban areas such as in Kabur and Kandahar are more than discernible. It is, however, to be expanded to rural areas. A long-term development strategy should be implemented for the Afghan economy to be able to stand on its own.

In four years and a half since the collapse of the Taliban regime, much work has been done, but there is much more to be done. It is now the time to change the focus in terms of allocation of energy and resources in favor of those issues and areas lagging behind, and to direct them towards the reform of a national police and judicial system, disarmament of illegal militias and rural development.

4. Contradiction between development and security-the biggest obstacle

Through the whole period of Afghanistan's reconstruction, it has turned out that security is the biggest problem. Since last year and especially this year, insurgencies attributed to the Taliban have increased not only in sheer number and size, but in intensity by introducing suicidal and roadside bombings as major tactics. While almost all people eventually abhorred the Taliban regime, what has caused the Taliban to re-emerge? One of the main reasons for this should be found in the fact that local people living in the areas of Taliban's influence tend to acquiesce or support them, because they don't receive nor even notice any benefit from the central government or the international community. For the latter (especially for aid organizations), these areas are too insecure to go and deliver services. This constitutes a vicious cycle.

How to break a vicious cycle between less security and less development is a critical key to the success in the reconstruction of a failed state. How could we convert it to a virtuous circle of more security and more development? It depends on whether the central government and the international community could grasp the hearts and minds of the people.

A unique trial is underway in Afghanistan; a deployment of teams consisting of troops and civilians like political and aid officers, aid experts and representatives of the Afghan government which are called Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT). They are deployed in different parts of the country outside Kabur. A PRT team, under the military protection of its troops, engages itself in supporting small-scale infrastructure projects, according to the requests of local community, while demonstrating the presence of the central government. There are two kinds of PRT, one led by the US, which covers the south and east of the country, and another led by NATO, which has gradually expanded its coverage from the north to the west and is now gradually spreading to the south.

The overall outcome of the PRT is a mixed one. In spite of its good intentions, it has two fundamental shortages. Its coverage is limited (just more than 20 teams all over the country) and since the kind of assistance they deliver is limited in number and scale, their assistance is not capable of, nor intended to be, laying a foundation of sustainable development of a rural community. However, since there is no alternative way to address this conundrum (vicious cycle) other than the PRTs, it should be continued on a trial and error basis for grasping the hearts and minds of the local people.

5. A down-to-earth approach-rural community development

85% of the population live in rural Afghanistan (there are 38 thousands rural communities all over the country) and people tend to live their lives as members of the community they belong to. Without a stable and thriving rural society, there would be no peaceful and flourishing Afghanistan. At the suggestion of Ms. Ogata, Japan undertook a rural community development program with a regional coverage (this is called the "Ogata Initiative"). The original idea was to support the sustainable resettlement of returnees, irrespective of their being refugees or internally displaced people (IDPs) in the places of their origin. In order for that to happen, (1) there should be no or least gap between humanitarian assistance and development assistance on one hand and (2) local people of the receiving communities should also be beneficiaries to the assistance program, otherwise competing each other for scarce resources available around them.

As time went by, the Afghan government launched some nationwide rural development programs. One example is the National Solidarity Program (NSP), in which the government first urges each rural community to form an autonomous consultative mechanism among its members, then asks them as a first decision-making to prioritize the request projects out of many disparate demands through the newly established consultative mechanism, and finally extends a block grant up to $50 thousand to each community, together with technical support for the implementation of projects. The World Bank is the major donor to this program, as well as Japan.

Compared to the PRT, the NSP is well funded (needless to say, taking into consideration the sheer number of villages and its vast dispersion, the funding for NSP is not enough, either), but can't escape from the same kind of shortages that the PRT has. Although a block grant of tens of thousands of dollars is a good start for demonstrating to the people that something is starting to happen, it is far short of supplying a foundation for the sustainable development of rural communities, even in the Afghan standard. Then what should we do?

6. Human security as a guiding principle in Afghanistan's reconstruction

Since there is a visionary issue behind the emphasis on a sustainable rural community development, I should touch upon "human security" as a concept evolved through the reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

"Human Security Now, Protecting and Empowering People" is the title of a report by the Commission of Human Security, co-chaired by Sadako Ogata, Ex-UN High Commissioner on Refugees, and Amartya Sen, Nobel Raureate in Economics. Mrs. Ogata, while leading the deliberation of the Commission in order to give a concrete form to human security, worked as the Special Representative of Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan in Afghanistan Reconstruction Assistance, which coincided with my tenure as Ambassador to Afghanistan. Reconstruction efforts on the ground in Afghanistan helped enrich the deliberation of the Commission, and theoretical work in the Commission was tested on the ground and translated into concrete projects in order to realize human security in Afghanistan.

Coming back to the question on how to lay a foundation for sustainable development of rural communities, two elements are of high relevance. First, rural communities should be encouraged to work together on a wider regional base, linking their projects with others to create a synergy, in hopes that in the future they will be united as a viable economic and social entity. Second, however successful the NSP will be on an individual community level, it could not sustain if certain elements beyond the power of individual communities would not be provided. Those are security, rule of law and national economic growth. Without security, development achievement cannot be maintained; without rule of law, people cannot pin hopes in the future; and without national economic growth, village economy cannot flourish. All these elements can be provided by a functioning government.

Therefore, community development for protecting and empowering people, which we call bottom-up approach, should be put at the center of the reconstruction strategy, together with a simultaneous implementation of focused state-institution building as the top-down approach for providing a firm ground of sustainable development of the rural community. It should be acknowledged that human security cannot be realized without establishing a functioning government. Therefore, realizing human security requires simultaneous approaches of both bottom-up and top-down.

7. Human security reinforces national security-a new perspective

The rural community development program was initiated as a practical means for supporting the resettlement of returnees to their homeland. It has turned out to be viable as a strategy for addressing other looming issues facing Afghanistan, namely, the reintegration of ex-combatants into civilian life and provision of the alternative livelihood of poppy-growing farmers.

Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program, an official naming of a program addressing the disarmament of militias, pursues two objectives: to replace militias with a national army as the only legitimate force in the country, and to utilize ex-combatants as human resources for reconstruction. In the meantime, it served as a means to create circumstances conductive to a fair and free election. Disarmament of militias under the command and control of the Ministry of Defense was completed a year ago, and their reintegration process is still going on. The success of the DDR program depends on whether ex-combatants would be reintegrated into their local community in a sustainable manner. The narcotics issue is rooted in the absolute poverty of the farmers. The provision of seeds and fertilizers would not suffice to support their livelihood.

In both cases, it is a thriving community which could absorb ex-combatants and support impoverished farmers on a sustainable basis. Thus protecting people through community development contributes to, if not solving but, alleviating the major problems Afghanistan faces: resettlement of refugees, disarmament and reintegration of militias and eradication of poppy cultivation. The bottom-up approach for a rural community development underpins not only the grass-roots governance but the solution of nationwide problems affecting the security and stability of the country. Human security reinforces the national security.

8. Long-term commitment with a clear vision on both sides

Afghanistan's reconstruction is still only halfway done. Reflecting upon our own experiences of post-war reconstruction in Japan, it is a time-consuming process. It took a decade and a half for the Japanese government to declare that the post-war era was over and for the Japanese people to restore self-confidence in their future. Sharing this understanding is critical, taking into consideration that the Taliban are all the more aware of the importance of a long-term perspective, claiming that the Coalition owns all the clocks and that we (the Taliban) have all the time.

A World Bank research shows that within five years after a peace agreement or the ceasefire of conflicts, half of the cases in the past decade have failed and reverted to a previous situation. The main reason is that while international attention culminates at the time of political agreement and starts declining as time goes by with the accompanying reduction of aid, the expectation of people from a peace dividend turns to disappointment, frustration and antagonism if it is not met within a reasonable timeframe. These two contradictory trends would cross a point where a fragile peace collapses, some time before five years. Afghanistan will not be an exception to this rule of thumb.

Last February, the international community and the Afghan government agreed to a long-term commitment ("Afghanistan Compact") with the detailed benchmarks and timelines on each program of three clusters of issues: security, governance (rule of law, human rights) and economic and social development. What is important for the success in Afghanistan's reconstruction is to implement in earnest these shared goals in the document. At the same time, it is of absolute necessity to have a clear vision for the long-term strategy. I argue that human security clearly shows the way people should be treated and how divergent programs should be sequenced in order to overcome the conflicts between security and development--hence, it should be embraced as the central guiding principle.

9. Concluding Remarks

Before concluding I should say that in the short history of Afghanistan's reconstruction, the most impressive moment was the voting day for the presidential election. In spite of the lengthy, hard work for its preparation, no one was sure about what would happen on the election day. The Taliban intimidated people not to vote, saying that since it was only to rubber stamp a puppet government of the West, voting was un-Islamic. The security situation was so precarious that anything could have happened. It was the people who brought success to the election by daring to vote, thus defying the threats of the Taliban, in hopes that they would not lose the last chance to express their expectation of peace and welfare in the future. 70% of eligible voters participated.

Reconstruction of Afghanistan should be directed towards responding to the people's expectation and encouraging their participation so that human security, together with national security, is realized. Human security can do that.


A traditional wagasa

Umbrellas: More than Protecting Yourself, Beauty and Convenience in the Rain


-By Shiori Okazaki
(Embassy of Japan)

On a rainy day, it's nice to curl up with a book, chat on the phone, or concentrate on housecleaning--anything as long as it is indoors. But when it's raining day after day, there is no choice but to go out and brave the weather with an umbrella.

June through July is known as the rainy season in Japan. With the exception of Hokkaido and some southern islands, all of Japan goes through a period where it rains day after day. It starts in the southern regions and climbs up north as Japan warms in temperature and officially enters the hot summer season.

As it only drizzles except for the very end of the season, most people do not need a raincoat or rain boots. An umbrella, however, is an essential. Here is a quick scan of umbrellas in Japan, ranging from traditional paper ones to those of vinyl or a frame using modern technology.

Wagasa

Wagasa are traditional Japanese umbrellas, made of washi (Japanese rice paper) glued on a frame of thin bamboo sticks. Originating in the Kamakura era (1192-1333), it flourished in the Edo era (1603-1867), used not only among the nobles but by commoners as well. Today, there are so few people who make it that it has become much rarer, appearing not in the streets on a rainy day but mostly on the stage in kabuki theatres or in historical films or television shows.

As can be assumed from the materials, wagasa are very fragile. They can be used as sun parasols or rain umbrellas, but oil is applied on the latter, unfortunately making it more susceptible to early damage.

Wagasa are therefore not recommended for daily use. It remains, however, a symbol of traditional Japanese beauty. If you would like to collect them for your own visual pleasure, some websites sell sets of miniature wagasa with which you can decorate your room.

For more information on wagasa, see: http://www.wa-wa.jp/default.php/cPath/0_30/language/en

Vinyl 100-yen See-Through Umbrellas

The 100-yen store in Japan, while similar in concept, has a reputation that is very different from the dollar store in the U.S. While the dollar store carries toys and decorations, and is known for selling items that is more funny than practical (Jay Leno's The Tonight Show has a weekly segment focusing on this topic), the 100-yen store's clientele ranges from frugal housewives and students who are broke to businessmen and young girls looking for a little cheap shopping near the train station. The 100-yen store's focus is on convenience and affordability, selling soap trays, brooms, leggings and sewing kits rather than dashboard hula dolls or small stuffed animals.

One merchandise that epitomizes this convenience is the 100-yen, vinyl see-through umbrella. Ranging in color from the unisex clear (caught-in-the-rain businessmen) to blue (running-home-from-school children) to pink and purple (on-the-way-home-from-manga-cafes high school girls), this umbrella is cheap and accessible. While the see-through factor adds to a coolness that allows you to see in all directions while being shielded from the rain, it is not the most fashionable. But because it is so ubiquitous, no one cares when they lose it. It is the temporary umbrella that people buy when they have forgotten their usual one; the umbrella that somebody always forgets to pick up at a restaurant or in a train. Likewise, when such an umbrella is left all by itself in a public location, it is often acceptable to pick it up for your personal use, because no one will miss it--it is likely that you yourself will someday leave it for someone else.

Modern Portable Umbrellas

The umbrella most commonly used by the Japanese today is the modern portable umbrella. It is, after all, the market that the Japanese are reputed to be the best at: small, easy to use, convenient, technological, and sometimes cute.

While the majority of portable umbrellas are not too different from those in the rest of the world, there are some that cannot be seen in places outside of Japan. There are some that have the head of an animal, like frogs or bunnies. Some have unsual shapes and sizes for the convenience of the user. Do you prefer to always carry an umbrella in your bag, regardless of the weather? Some are so small that their folded length is a mere 5.7 inches, and some weigh only 3.7 ounces. Do you hate fumbling with both hands to open the umbrella when you have a lot of luggage or are coming out a car? There are umbrellas that open and close with one push of a button. Have you braved a storm and had a flimsy umbrella flip inside out? There are those that are made of two layers so that the wind passes through. Perhaps in preparation for a blackout, some even have a small electric light on the handle.

Sun Parasols

Carrying an umbrella to shade yourself from the sun is a concept practically unheard of in the modern-day U.S. But in Japan, where whitening the skin free of spots and freckles is all the rage, the sun parasol is popular among middle-aged women.

When Japan was opening up to foreign countries at the beginning of the Meiji era (1868-1912) and trying to rapidly catch up with the western world, the sun parasol, used by European nobility and wealthy Americans, was a symbol of the modern era to many Japanese women. Carrying that tradition, sun parasols are usually made of elegant lace. Today, there are many umbrellas that are lacy but are also of water-repellant finish, so that they can be carried year-around to be used for both occasions. Some are even treated so that they block harmful UV rays, and yet others are made of material that blocks all light.

The next time you are in Shibuya, Tokyo on a rainy day, it may be a fun idea to head to one of the upper levels in a neighboring building, and look down at the large intersection near the Hachiko exit. This is one of the busiest areas in Tokyo--and you will see a swarm of colorful umbrellas crossing the street. The vinyl clear umbrellas, the solid neon- and basic color umbrellas, flower print, plaid, and polka-dot--all together they bloom under the falling water, and they make a view that is just as pretty as the June hydrangeas.