Landmine Monitor 2000

Government of Japan

There are some 110 million anti-personnel land mines buried in 68 countries, in particular post-conflict areas such as Cambodia, Bosnia, and Mozambique. These mines cause horrific injuries to ordinary citizens not only during war but after fighting has finished. This is a humanitarian problem that greatly hinders post-war recovery and development.

In June 1997, the Government of Japan signed the Protocol II as amended of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restriction on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Conventional Weapons). In December 1997, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Keizo Obuchi, attended the signing ceremony for the Ottawa Treaty and signed it. In September 1998, the Government of Japan ratified the Treaty and established the treaty-implementation law called the "Law on the Prohibition of the Manufacture of Anti-personnel Mines and the Regulation of the Possession of Anti-personnel Mines"

At the signing of the Ottawa Treaty, late Prime Minister Obuchi proposed the "Zero Victims Program" and stressed the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to the problem by implementing a universal and effective ban on anti-personnel mines and strengthening assistance for demining and victims. In this conflict, he announced a pledge of assistance of 10 billion yen for the five years from 1998.

In addition, simultaneously, the Government of Japan decided that the export of machinery and materials required for humanitarian demining activities would be an exception to the three principles of weapons exports which strictly prohibit weapons exports.

At the First Meeting of State Parties to the Ottawa Treaty held in Maputo, Mozambique on May 1999, Mr. Takemi, the then parliamentary State Secretary for Foreign Affairs who attended the meeting as the Japanese representative, stressed the need for; 1) the universal application of the Treaty; 2) the signing of the Protocol II to CCW as amended and moratorium on the export of anti-personnel mine by countries which are considered unlikely to sign the Treaty in the near future; and 3) early commencement of negotiations for a treaty that bans the international transfer of anti-personnel mines at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. He also explained Japan's intention to implement demining and provide assistance for victims based on the three principles of ownership, partnership, and human security and announced specific aid packages for Thailand, Chad, and Nicaragua. His statement was warmly welcomed.

At this same Meeting, it was agreed that countries would implement joint activities during the intersessional period until the Second Meeting in September 2000. The Government of Japan was elected as rapporteur for the Standing Committee of Experts on Victim Assistance established as part of these joint activities. Japan will become a co-chairman at the Second Meeting.

With regard to the destruction of stockpiled anti-personnel mines, one of the main obligations in the Ottawa Treaty, the Government of Japan will complete destruction of the approximately one million land mines which it holds by the end of February 2003 in full compliance with the provisions of the Treaty.

To secure transparency and to obtain the understanding of its citizens, the Government of Japan conducted public demonstration of the destruction work together, with a briefing meeting. The demonstration was attended by around 200 people including the then Prime Minister, Mr. Obuchi, Minister for Defense, the General of the Ground Defense Force, government officials, local citizen representatives, local leaders, and people from the NGO and media. It increased public understanding of how the Government of Japan would handle the destruction work.

After the Ottawa Treaty came into force, in view of the importance of obtaining its universal acceptance, the Government of Japan urged, in cooperation with Canada, non-ratifiers to ratify the Treaty as soon as possible and participate in the First Meeting of State Parties. Since then, the Government of Japan has been taking opportunities of international conferences and bilateral talks to call upon the non-ratifiers to accede to the Treaty and will continue to do so.