Restoring Iraq: The Japanese Approach: Sisira Edirippulige Comments on Japan's Role in Post-War Iraq Reconstruction
Edirippulige, Sisira, New Zealand International Review
With the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, the focus of international attention shifted to the issues of Iraq's post-war governance and reconstruction. The time had arrived for the Japanese government to consider its role in post-war Iraq too. The way that events unfolded, Japan was likely to play a bigger role than normal, going beyond its traditional limitation to paying America's war bills.
The shouldering of Washington's war expenses by Tokyo has become almost an essential part of the bilateral relations between the two countries. In the post-Cold War world Japan has paid $13 billion to cover expenses in the multinational effort during the Guff War--equal to 20 per cent of the war's cost. In the aftermath of the American war in Afghanistan to combat al-Qaeda and its host Taliban regime, Japan provided $120 million for refugee aid, plus $300 million for Pakistan as part of Japan's two-year assistance programme. In addition, Tokyo pledged some $375 million from its official development assistance budget for rehabilitation and reconstruction in Afghanistan. However, as members of the international community prepared to assist Iraq's rehabilitation and reconstruction, Japan was determined to go beyond its traditional chequebook diplomacy.
Even in the early stages of the Iraq War, Tokyo expressed its commitment to the post-war reconstruction of Iraq. As the war began to wind down, Japan became more enthusiastic about taking up a role in the postwar reconstruction and rehabilitation process. As Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi stated on 19 April, 'We have always been prepared to take an active role in the reconstruction of Iraq after the war was over. We are now moving towards implementing that policy'. (1) Tokyo reiterated its commitment to provide financial support 'to rebuild a country ruined by wars and tyranny' while considering drafting a new law to overcome existing obstacles to acting freely in the post-war Iraq reconstruction. (2)
Immediately after Saddam's regime fell, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi made a tri-nation visit to Europe. She met her counterparts in Britain, Germany and France in early April to rally international support for Iraq reconstruction. Japan has maintained that success in rebuilding Iraq will depend on international co-operation. Meanwhile at the G-7 finance ministers' meeting Japanese Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa pledged a quick and active role by Japan in humanitarian assistance, while emphasising the need to create an international framework for reconstruction efforts. In addition, during his visit to Baghdad in early May, Senior Vice Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi met the head of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), Jay Garner, and members of UN relief agencies and non-governmental organisations to discuss issues related to the rebuilding process. Finally, in his recent visit to the United States, Prime Minister Koizumi expressed his support and commitment to Iraq reconstruction and called on other nations to join the effort.
The Japanese government established an ad hoc task force, coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the Ministries of Finance and Economy, Trade and Industry, to study how Japan could effectively get involved in the reconstruction and rehabilitation process. (3) At the same time, Japan came up with its own policy framework known as the 'five point policy on post-war Iraq reconstruction'. The policy stipulates
* sufficient involvement of the United Nations in efforts in planning and carrying out humanitarian rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance in Iraq
* maintenance of Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity
* establishment of a new administration by the Iraqi people
* encouragement of non-governmental organisations and the private sector to take part in the rebuilding process
* Japan's continued and uninterrupted involvement. …