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A. Yamanaka: Human Development and Peace Building

Preventive Diplomacy/Conflict Resolution

In its simplest form, preventive diplomacy can be divided into, and be explained in, four stages:

  1. Creation of an environment of trust in the region
  2. Prevention of violent conflict from breaking out
  3. Prevention of conflict from expanding
  4. Prevention of the resumption of hostilities

From conflict prevention to the final phases where financial aid is required, Japan should aim to implement a comprehensive approach.  Japan should also consider to what degree it could effectively link: 1. Military conflicts, 2. Confrontation, 3. Peace negotiations and ceasefires, 4. Peace keeping, 5. Peace building, 6. Reconstruction,  and 7. Preventing the restart of conflicts, as part of a framework that encompasses peacekeeping operations and prevention activities.  This is the new face of peacekeeping operations.

Japan should propose this concept as a model for 21st century United Nations peacekeeping operations. It should also welcome the participation or the general involvement of countries in Asia. This would be consistent with Japan’s political interests, aimed at obtaining the trust of the international community.

Preventive Diplomacy Training Centre

Firstly, we in Japan hope to establish the first Asian Preventive Diplomacy Training Centre.  The Centre aims to invite young persons from all over Asia in order to assist them, along with their Japanese counterparts, in acquiring the know-how necessary for them to be able to sit at the negotiating table as parties to a conflict. We need to train our youth in the ways of conflict resolution.

As Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs in Japan I launched Human Development on Peace-Building in 2007. Half of the participants are Japanese and the other half are from Asian nation/states. They spend three months attending lectures at Hiroshima University, six months in an internship with a UN-related organization operating in a conflict spot, and three months attending a wrap-up in Japan. This year we have expanded to West Asia and the Middle East, as well as Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Central Asia.

From a slightly longer-term perspective, within 15 years or so, those who had been trained at the Centre would conceivably be working in positions of influence throughout the region.  This human network with its seeds sown by Japan would surely prove a useful and effective tool to prevent conflict from breaking out and be a base for peace and stability of Asia.

An Age of Balance

The 21st century is the age of balance. This struggle for balance is being waged on an international, state, and individual level, between a dichotomies of competing values. These are:

  1. Development vs. environmental protection
  2. Globalization vs. regionalization
  3. High-tech information vs. individual privacy
  4. Group orientation vs. individualism
  5. Work vs. leisure
  6. Materialism vs. spiritualism
  7. Male vs. female

And even military solutions vs. non-military alternatives


In 1997, when I was a member of Parliament, I met with Professor Kenneth Galbraith of Harvard University at his home in Boston. He said to me, “Akiko, there are three problems in the 21st century:

  1. The rich and the poor,
  2. Nuclear issues,
  3. Traditional discrimination such as race, religion, and gender."

When I met him in 1994 as a professor of intercultural studies, he said, “Akiko, the U.S. and Japan have succeeded in producing excellent products; however, it is doubtful if we have succeeded in producing truly happy people.”

And when I met him in 2001, sitting in a wheelchair, he said to me three times, “Akiko, Japan should stop following US, and establish your own identity!” He was 92 years old at that time. These words sound to me like his will.

In closing, I would like to quote Aristotle:

“It is more difficult to organize peace than to win a war; but the fruits of victory will be lost if the peace is not well organized.”