Fifth Intellectual Dialogue on Building Asia's Tomorrow | Tokyo Workshop

February 25–26, 2003
Tokyo, Japan

The Fifth Intellectual Dialogue on Asia’s Future, the last in the series, sought to clarify what human security projects would entail. An initial workshop was held in Bangkok on December 11–12, 2002, was designed to explore key indicators of human security and feasible methods of evaluation for human security projects. This follow-up workshop was held in Tokyo on February 26, 2003, and was attended by Human Security Commission members, politicians, NGO representatives, scholars, government officials, international organizations, and governmental development agencies of Southeast Asia and Japan.

February 25

International Symposium on Human Security organized by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

February 26

Session 1: Human Security—from Concept to Action

Tadashi Yamamoto, President, Japan Center for International Exchange

Message from the Commission

Surin Pitsuwan, Member of the Thailand Parliament; former Thai Foreign Minister
Lincoln Chen, Director, Center for Global Equity, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA

Response from Japan

Keizo Takemi, Member of the House of Councillors

Session 2: Agenda for Implementation—Exploring Approaches to Evaluation of Human Security Projects

Tadashi Yamamoto, President, Japan Center for International Exchange


Naruo Uehara, Professor, Division of International Health, Tohoku University School of Medicine

Session 3: Responses from Diverse Actors in Asia

Peter Geithner, Advisor, Asia Center, Harvard University

Session 4: Strategy for Action

Peter Geithner

This workshop, organized under the joint sponsorship of the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE), the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore, and the Japan Foundation, was an important step in realizing the Human Security Commission members’ goal for a global alliance on human security that will bring the concept into action. The parliamentarians; government officials; representatives from research institutes, NGOs, and aid agencies; academics: and individuals who participated in the workshop all have the capacity to shape such action. The participants were challenged to come up with ideas and to propose actions.

One issue to be explored during the workshop was evaluation of human security projects. The Japanese government is in the process of approving a 15 billion yen Human Security Grassroots Fund to support human security projects. The fund’s programmatic approaches need to reflect lessons from past experiences and identify important elements for evaluating past projects.

Session I: Human Security—from Concept to Action

Session I opened with an address by Surin Pitsuwan, a member of the Human Security Commission and a member of the Thai parliament. The first part of his talk focused on the constraints faced by government officials in their attempt to implement a human security agenda. He then moved on to areas in which the commission needs input and feedback from a broader group of academics, NGOs, and government officials.

The idea of human security has generated a lot of anxiety, particularly among those who hold on to the concepts of traditional security focused on the state. Because of the velocity of changes brought about by globalization, there are gaps, circumstances in which the concept of state security cannot take care of people in a timely manner. The inertia of bureaucracy, political differences, lack of resources, and sometimes the state itself are all parts of the problem in creating insecurity. In order to come up with an idea of human security, states’ built-in inertia and hesitancy must be taken into account.

At the public meeting on February 25, 2003, the commission members talked about the need for a global alliance that will place human security on the global security agenda. One responsibility of the alliance will be to anticipate human security problems that will follow governments’ actions, addressing more than just the security and interests of the state. It will need to prevent conflict and advance human rights, as the core of the human security agenda, and human development at same time. Societies will need to be transformed and introduced to new ideas and elements of human security.

Amartya Sen, one of the commission’s co-chairs, took up the development part of the commission. The best guarantor of human security is the quality of life for the people themselves. Lack of education, public health, and employment all lead to human insecurity. Under Dr. Sen’s guidance, the commission came up with recommendations in preparation for fuller participation of all human beings. In addition, marginalized communities and individuals who have been outside of the decision-making process need to be empowered. They have to be able to make choices in their lives and decisions about their own security.

For major development and government investment projects, human security impact assessment should be incorporated as a part of an agenda of investment analysis, in order to review the impact of these projects upon people.

The commission made the case that the human security framework needs to be promoted to all of the stakeholders around the world, developing a kind of culture of human security that is accepted as a natural part of the dialogue. The commission identified the following areas that need to be discussed and addressed in order to make implementation of a human security agenda possible in the real world:

  1. To create an alliance that controls domestic and international problems of small arms and crime
  2. To create normative regimes to supervise people who are on the move, including refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs), and trafficked people
  3. To establish a kind of transition fund toto take care of people before state or international agencies are able to step in and take action in situations immediately after conflicts and wars, such as Aceh and East Timor
  4. To reduce market barriers while ensuring that people have better prospects for livelihood through fair markets
  5. To create an alliance that will lead to universal primary health care and prevent unnecessary sickness and death
  6. To find a balance between incentive for research in order to come up with new drugs and the rights of the people who should be taken care of because their lives are threatened
  7. To realize basic education for all so that all people, including women and children in conflict, are empowered to take care of themselves and learn how to deal with the challenges they face every day
  8. To develop methods of teaching (including adult education) that respect diversity and mutual understanding among groups and communities

The next speaker of Session I was Lincoln Chen, a Human Security Commission member and director of the Center for Global Equity at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Chen compared the process of building a culture of human security to the Bruntland Commission’s coining of the concept of sustainable development. It is hoped that the commission members and all of the people who attended the public symposium and participated in the workshop will help to make “human security” as commonly accepted of a term as “sustainable development.” He recommended three characteristics of projects emerging from the Bruntland Commission that he hopes to see in upcoming human security projects: a value-based, people-centered approach; constituency mobilizing and energizing; and promotion of dialogue among different groups, including those who are concerned with state security, humanitarian action, and development.

The commission has offered a fresh invigoration of the people-centered approach to development. It identifies both gaps—such as crime and illness—and opportunities—such as knowledge, skills, and political will. Human security allows for both bottom-up and top-down approaches.

The next step, moving the concept of human security from theory to action, requires careful design, management, and evaluation of grassroots human security projects. We need to think both about what success would look like and on whose criteria we are defining success (e.g., government, philanthropy, the general public). Financing is important, but we also need strong investments from the people who will implement the projects. An important next step will be to design human security management tools to assist implementation and measurement, all of which should be designed to be participatory. While acknowledging that human security is a broad, ambitious, and sometimes vague concept, Dr. Chen voiced his support for Japanese Foreign Minister Kawaguchi’s comments that it is only through the activities that will follow the commission’s work that feedback can be given to the commission.

Next, Keizo Takemi, a member of Japan’s House of Councillors, offered Japan’s response to the commission’s draft report, by presenting the attached paper.

Next, Kaoru Ishikawa, director-general of the Multilateral Cooperation Department of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke about the grassroots human security fund to be created in Japanese fiscal year 2003. The motivation behind the fund’s creation was an attempt to give a name, a face, and dignity to every individual around the world. It is the ministry’s intention that the fund be used for joint actions among specialized agencies, NGOs, and other donor countries. One major goal of the fund is to disseminate the concept of human security. The media is important in this aspect, and the commission co-chairs were already speaking with the press at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club on the day of the workshop. The Japanese government also plans to try to use official international forums to talk about the concept of human security. In reaching out to the public, it might be useful to provide concrete examples. Mr. Ishikawa reminded the workshop participants that there have been many good conferences since 1945 that never resulted in any action. He warned that that should not happen in the case of the Human Security Commission because of the commitment that needs to be made to people around the world who suffer. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will create a task force involving various departments to coordinate activities under the grassroots human security fund and the Human Security Trust Fund.

One participant asked the commission members who were present at the workshop if the commission had prioritized any areas of human security. Dr. Surin replied that the top priority was providing safety and security to people in situations of conflict and emergency. During emergencies, refugees are faced with threats to their physical safety and survival, and the commission has recommended a transitional fund to provide for their immediate needs during emergency situations. Too often, there is not enough preparation and anticipation of emergencies so that resources for dealing with related human security threats are not in place in a timely manner. The commission recommended that such situation-specific funds be supported by states, the UN, and Brettton Woods Institutions.

Dr. Chen responded that although investment needs for human security would cover diverse sectors and a large amount would be required, people will prioritize things themselves.. The human security community needs to be prepared to respond to diverse and changing priorities. Mr. Yamamoto concurred, stating that there is the need for more dialogue that will examine needs in Asia from a more practical viewpoint.

A participant, speaking from his own experience with an NGO that goes into the field to suggest improvements in the way organizations are meeting the needs of human security, stated that there is a gap between the field level and the policy-making level. He suggested that there should be a shift of emphasis toward beneficiaries or toward the field level.

Another participant suggested that priority should be placed on people who are on the move. People usually move because of conflict. They move from or within countries with the lowest human development indicators. In those countries, the state security apparatuses are strong, but human security is weak. In countries where state security is paramount, to what extent can a grassroots human security fund empower local communities to confront or engage the state security apparatus? To what extent does the state protect the integrity of grassroots movements? Dr. Chen responded that it is precisely that tension that makes awareness raising important. Although states are hesitant, we may come up with a kind of guiding principle for addressing the needs of people on move through the process of raising awareness of the necessity for a human security approach.. Efforts will have to be made at all levels and all actors will have to come together.

Dr. Surin commented that it is important to address healing in post-conflict communities. The insecurity that results from major conflicts is not resolved on its own. Human security cannot be assured without healing efforts. In Aceh, for example, there needs to be healing within and among communities before the region moves onto reconstruction and development.

Session II: Agenda for Implementation—Exploring Approaches to Evaluation of Human Security Projects

In session II, Dr. Naruo Uehara, a professor in the Tohoku University School of Medicine’s Division of International Health, discussed evaluation of human security projects. He opened his presentation with a reference to people working at the World Trade Center who died on September 11, 2001, as well Afghan civilians who lost their lives in the US-led military campaign against Al Qaeda. Both of these groups of people died despite their non-involvement in US state policy or in Al Qaeda terrorist attacks. Dr. Uehara suggested that a human security agenda should supplement state security by compensating for human suffering that results from state failure, dealing with the problems that failed states create, and stepping in to situations in which the state is not able to help. He stated that human security project formation as well as its evaluation needs to be based upon credible evidence and strategies. Dr. Uehara emphasized the importance of humanbased solidarity in dealing with human security rather that nationality-based division.

Dr. Uehara then presented a slide show on project evaluation. (See attached paper).

Mr. Takemi commented that one important approach to human security is coordinated efforts among the UN, bilateral donors, and international and local NGOs. He also commented on the importance of evaluation in cases in which taxpayer money is being used to support projects. Since the Japanese government needs to be accountable to the tax payers, reflecting on evaluation is critical, even before the launching of the grassroots human security fund in April 2003.


Session III: Responses from Diverse Actors in Asia

Peter Geithner, an advisor to Harvard University’s Asia Center, opened session III with an appeal to the workshop participants for suggestions on how the concept of human security can be translated into action. The participants discussed a variety of topics that still need to be addressed in the development of the human security concept and offered suggestions of characteristics that should be developed in any human security projects. A summary of the discussion points follows.

Defining and disseminating the human security concept

The concept of human security is not new, but it is a somewhat difficult one to understand and still hasn’t gained wide acceptance, especially among scholars and practitioners in the more traditional security field. One participant suggested that it might be useful to think of a more practical definition, including such components as health security, economic security, political/administrative security, and natural resources and environmental security.

Advocacy for the human security concept needs to be directed at two groups of people: those who are willing to help people who are suffering and those who are on the ground who need help. People on the ground who are looking for ways to improve their own situations can strengthen the concept of human security, and they should have more opportunities to share their views with one another. Someone should organize a dialogue among various actors who are involved in human security activities. The actors on the ground should use that opportunity to look at gaps and develop priorities together.

Even when donors are prepared to support human security projects, local governments often resist such people-based development efforts. There needs to be more advocacy in developing countries to make them feel more comfortable with human security efforts. One method of gaining wide acceptance of the concept of human security is to link with existing track two processes that are trying to build bridges to the track one process. The ASEAN People’s Assembly, an assembly of people from the region, is a large group of civil society representatives that does not see themselves as being in opposition to their governments. They should be a venue for dissemination of the concept of human security. It was proposed that the ASEAN People’s Roundtable, held every year in Singapore with the support of the Canadian International Development Agency, as well as the ASEAN Institutes of Strategic and International Studies also be involved to monitor or promote dialogue on human security at the track two level.

The fact that NGOs operate across borders makes them more flexible and free from control. Networks have been developing throughout Asia, and those networks of people from different sectors will be critical in developing a human security agenda.

The traditional security agenda and the role of the state

The human security approach is often disregarded by those who take a more traditional, state-centered approach to security. They need to be convinced of the usefulness of people-centered security approaches and their intersection with state-centered security. In looking for the value added of the human security approach, it is useful to acknowledge the importance of people who have been involved in traditional security issues getting more involved in social development. A research project could be undertaken to show how state security and human security can interact in a win-win situation instead of a zero-sum game.

The United Nations stressed human-centered development, but many of the indicators are still state centered. For example, one of their goals is education, but the indicators center around numbers of schools and students. A human security approach would look instead at whether or not people are able to get jobs upon graduation.

It is important that individual countries’ aid agencies incorporate human security into their agendas more effectively. The major donors, such as the Japanese government, also need to send clear signals to developing countries that donors are placing high priority on human security. In doing so, the concept needs to be addressed in a way that is not perceived of as an imposition or as interference in the internal affairs of other countries. It might be more sensitive t in countries where NGOs are viewed as being in opposition to the government.

It is difficult, for example, to pressure individual countries for better treatment of their minorities because that is seen as interference. One participant suggested an international protocol on human security that will ensure the rights of minority groups in their own countries. International protocols in the field of environmental protection have succeeded at encouraging countries to change their practices. Not all countries will sign a protocol on the treatment of minorities, but it can be useful to have most countries agree to and sign one.

An organization in the Philippines, “Help Mindanao,” gave humanitarian assistance in Mindanao and then negotiated with the armed groups for a “sanctuary of peace” for people to return to their homes. Before being introduced to the concept of human security, their interventions focused on freedom from deprivation. Now, their focus is on freedom from violence, and they incorporate both community empowerment and peace and security into their activities. The question they have had to grapple with is how they are empowered to designate an area as a “sanctuary of peace.” In dealing with the peace and security component of their activities, the organization found that they would have to engage the government and their state security paradigm.

While the concept of human security represents a paradigm shift with more attention paid to people’s rather than states’ needs, it is important to focus not only on bottom-up processes but also on top-down processes. States are major stakeholders in human security. They carry responsibility and need to be integrated so that they provide as little opposition as possible to the human security agenda.

Without state support behind them, NGO efforts will be for naught, so it is crucial that NGOs and individuals work on changing the mindset of the state. They should seek multi-sectoral cooperation that will bring states into the process so that they will understand that they will not lose power through human security approaches. At least two stakeholders—the private sector including NGOs and local or central governments—should be responsible for each human security project. At the same time, a sense of equality should be developed among all of the stakeholders. If people don’t feel empowered to articulate and negotiate their interests, the process will not function well.

People-driven activities require that we let people out of our control and let them make their own moves. The new fund in Japan has three stakeholders: the donor, the grantees, and the target population. It would be easy for the process to be driven by one or both of the first two. If we are really pursuing a people-centered approach, the process needs to be driven by the people, with the donors and the grantees playing a supportive role.

Peacewinds Japan has been active in a primary health project in Northern Iraq. It is common for NGOs to address primary health concerns in countries where the central government provides secondary care. The problem is not in how to handle the people-centered portion but in how to handle cases that have been referred to the secondary level. Most of the difficult cases have to go through the capital, but the Kurds in Iraq are hesitant to go to Baghdad because of the danger involved. They are also not able to go to neighboring countries because of the difficulty of crossing national boundaries. That example raises the question of how a people-centered approach can deal with the state. There are many similar cases in which the bottom-up approach is working but the top-down approach is missing.

Participatory processes and local contexts

The Human Security Commission members have called for pro-active approaches to providing for human security around the world, while existing projects have been more reactive in nature. It is also important that human security projects are undertaken with a deeper understanding of local situations and needs. There are recent examples of poverty alleviation programs that have not achieved anything because poverty alleviation wasn’t what was needed by the local communities where the programs were being implemented.

Human security projects are complex and participatory in nature, so methodological approaches to participatory assessment need to be developed. Participatory processes need to achieve more than just providing legitimacy for projects. It is also important to engage local communities to make sure that the capacity to absorb new funding exists at the ground level. Local resources, such as traditional medicine, need to be used more effectively. Issues need to be looked at through the eyes of people who are living in these situations. There is a lot of talk about social justice, but too often people fail to look through the eyes of the people suffering injustices.

In the Philippines, Japanese ODA funded a small irrigation and road project as well as agrarian storage facilities, upon the request of the government, as a part of their agrarian reform efforts. In the former project, the target population participated in the planning stage, but this was not the case in the latter. The mid-term evaluation revealed that while the former project was successful, the latter project suffered from low utilization. Meetings were convened with community and NGO representatives to discover what was still needed in order for them to use the facilities. This case shows that people’s bottom-up participation is crucial in human security projects. A micro-finance loan program in Bangladesh demonstrated that people in rural communities know what they need. Together with NGOs, donors can contribute in various ways and donor agencies can share information they have on their own programs with other development partners around the world.

It is also important to keep in mind that there might be a lot of money in places like Japan, but there are few people who are engaged in service delivery. Priority should be placed on expanding NGOs’ capacities in Japan. The more we begin to address complex issues, the more we need professional staff.

The human security approach is holistic, but it also needs to be country and locality specific in order to keep resistance to a minimum. It is both cultural and national based, and that fact has to be considered seriously in implementation. There have been calls for clear criteria, but sometimes that might eliminate some valuable projects. The nature of the criteria should be softened so that projects respond to different countries’ situations, environments, and systems.

There is a useful model of a participatory project in Indonesia. It is an agro-forestry project that has included a lot of meetings among villages. If one village fails to produce their crops one season, another village will help them out. The project aims at building trust and mutual assistance.

Responsibility, donor issues, and resources

The concept of human security needs to be supplemented with the concept of human responsibility. We need to be aware of who is responsible for doing what at all levels. The word responsibility means more than just right. It means that everyone has to “pay” for human security.

Governments can play both positive and negative roles in the human security agenda. They might appear to be conservative, cautious, and strong headed because of the problem of accountability. Governments are always held responsible for new initiatives’ accountability, especially when taxpayers’ money is used. When projects fail, government officials need to take responsibility. If a mechanism can be found in which governments’ accountability requirements are reduced, governments could play a better role. There needs to be some kind of scheme in which responsibility for accountability is shared.

Governments need to change the way they look at ODA and lending, and human security approaches should be integrated into all projects. The Japanese government is able to pressure governments in the region. The Human Security Commission often is falsely perceived as being attached to the Japanese government, and perhaps this perception can be minimized if it is translated into multi-lateral arrangements with other countries’ ODA.

Japanese ODA often is perceived as being committed to Japanese investment overseas. More diverse criteria, not just economic but human security as well, needs to be considered. Even though many of Japan’s past aid projects have been bad for human security, it should use ODA now to assert human security. One approach would be to look for governments or ministries in the region that want to push the concept of human security and to enter into partnerships with them. That would be a way to show the world that human security is a priority for Japan.

The new funds that are being made available by the Japanese government for grassroots human security projects are small compared with Japan’s overall aid program. It may, however, play an important catalytic role in promoting human security consideration in larger projects supported by other forms of ODA or in identification of larger human security projects to be eventually funded by other ODA funds.

Usually, it isn’t until after a commission’s report is written and people have time to discuss what should be done that funds are released. This time Mr. Takemi jumped the gun and took the initiative to introduce the grassroots human security fund. This was to strengthen human securityrelated endeavors at the local level as quickly as possible.

Japan already has some experience supporting human security projects around the world. In Turkey, Japanese aid helped in rehabilitation after a large earthquake. Now, they are working on preventing negative impacts of future earthquakes. The preventive action reduces the potential cost to governments in future disasters. There was the suggestion that it might not be effective to put everything that needs to happen with human security into one fund. If the concept of human security needs to be accepted around the world, money needs to come from places other than the Japanese government. Resources from within communities themselves, from the private sector, NGOs, and national governments, should be sought.

Developing and developed countries have a lot of homework coming out of the Human Security Commission’s report. The vertical relationship between grantor and grantee is being abolished. Developed countries should not be forcing developing countries to do things in a certain way, but they should be changing themselves as well. This new approach should be a basis for future discussion and dialogue.

There is a danger of introducing the concept of human security in a way that it will take away resources for existing programs. Three approaches can be taken to deal with this tension:

  1. Human security approaches can be incorporated into existing programs.
  2. Funds can be dedicated to filling the gap between the emergency period and long-term development.
  3. The human security agenda can be used to implement innovative approaches that cannot be achieved through existing programs.
Emergency assistance and long-term development

The impending war in Iraq has raised concerns about the gap between emergency assistance and long-term development. There will be a lot of short-term resources to protect people during and immediately after the war. Individual NGOs are useful in providing the short-term assistance, but more planning and coordination are needed for long-term development. There is a question about how the shift will be made from emergency projects to long-term development. The introduction of development funds should overlap with the end of the emergency period so that there is no gap between the two. In order to deal with the situation flexibly, including funding recurrent costs while ensuring accountability of the funds given to NGOs or government, it was suggested that an independent organization that would give accreditation be engaged.

Cross-cutting issues

If human security looks at impacts on every citizen, it needs to integrate gender into the entire approach. Gender is not an isolated issue that looks only at women’s issues; the gender perspective focuses on the relationship between men and women. It is also important to remember that social and economic justice is a part of human security.

Proper environmental consideration will enhance human security.

Ensuring means of income is essential from the human security perspective.

The human security agenda needs to address issues of tolerance. Education is one area that can use a top-down approach to address this issue. We need to address the issue of hatred that is being developed in schools and look for ways to encourage cross-fertilization among the young. This isn’t usually considered an emergency issue, but it is a long-term simmering need that should be addressed with urgency. The mass media needs to be educated in terms of how they portray notions of war and differences among communities. One program could be to create a code of ethics for transnational media and offer awards for those who are successful at spreading unbiased information about different cultures.


Evaluation of existing human security projects is crucial to developing new priorities in the field. In thinking about action and evaluation, it is important to determine who is carrying out the action and for whom and to what purpose evaluation is undertaken. Action can be carried out with the involvement of any of five levels of stakeholders: people and communities; national organizations (such as NGOs, corporations, and public sector organizations); national governments; international organizations; and the United Nations. The different levels overlap by dealing with one or both of two orientations: protection and empowerment.

Because human security is based on multi-sectoral efforts, each project is integrated with other components. Evaluation should focus on programs rather than individual projects and should be results based. The Millennium Development Goals have health and education indicators for good governance.

While it is important to evaluate proposed projects, it is also important to evaluate for continuous improvement. Different communities and regions have different sets of definitions and indicators of success. We should agree on common goals, develop indicators, and then allow for flexibility in activities in different parts of the world. Calls for proposals should clarify the difference between evaluation to determine if things are being done right and evaluation to determine if the right things are being done.

Next steps

The workshop represented a first step in determining the kinds of activities that need to be taken in promoting a human security agenda around the world. The participants used the forum to suggest some next steps:

  • The costs of insecurity need to be calculated before solutions can be found. Insecurity should be mapped, with a focus not on what is feasible but on what is actually needed. Programs need to be implemented that start from the very beginning by providing services that are actually needed.
  • For evaluation of projects and programs, a mechanism needs to be developed to determine whether or not we are doing the right thing as opposed to whether or not we are doing things right.
  • Because resources are scarce, there needs to be a lot of work done on prioritizing efforts. Priorities at the regional or country level should be determined instead of general, global priorities.
  • There is the need to determine the value added of the concept of human security. The Commission’s recommendation of introducing cross-national social minimums and creating new opportunities for innovative win-win dialogue for confidence building between those involved in traditional security and those dealing with economic and social development, can be two cases in which there is value added, but we need to look at other aspects as well.
  • It was proposed that joint human security research by Japan and the Southeast Asian Global Development Network be conducted.
  • There needs to be planning around what percentage of resources should go into emergency “firefighting” activities and what percentage should go into planned, pro-active activities.
  • We need to start by stating goals. We should look at the outcomes that we would like to see and move from there to outputs and then strategies.
  • More planning needs to be done around the short-, medium-, and long-term outcomes. For example, some short-term interventions actually have longer-term outcomes.
  • Capacity building of research institutes and stakeholders involved in developing countries and in Japan in relation to human security is crucial. It is hoped that a part of the grassroots human security fund will be made available to support research and promote dialogue among stakeholders, based upon such research.
  • There have been calls for more dialogue. One clear conclusion is that more needs to be done by looking at different cases of failures and successes.

Takemi Keizo

Member of the House of Councillors

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, changes in social and political attitudes and shifting personal values have brought Japan to quite a complicated turning point. The nation remains sunk in a prolonged economic slump, and structural reforms to address the underlying political, economic, and social factors are making little progress. All this is spreading pessimism and malaise among the people.

Around the mid-1980s, when Japan had achieved a standard of living high enough to deliver affluence even in comparison with Western countries, we began to see a growing number of people, especially among the younger generation, who were no longer satisfied with the economic value of “catching up and passing” Western countries in pursuit of material affluence. They started taking an active part in activities that they themselves identified as having social value. In the 1990s, for example, the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake that devastated the Kobe area galvanized hundreds of thousands of volunteers. Going beyond national borders, this value shift also made possible the activities of Japanese nongovernmental organizations providing support to refugees during the Kosovo crisis.

Such people have begun to be released from the inferiority complex vis-á-vis the West fostered during the process of modernization, while their sense of superiority toward other Asian nations is being diluted as they bring about a new transnational mutual interest in such fields of subculture as film and music. Globalization, with its transnational flows of people, goods, money, and information, is steadily deepening the new social attitudes of these Japanese and broadening their sensibility so that they are more receptive to diverse cultures.

Young people with these new social attitudes and sensibility are our best hope to spearhead the new “tough pacifism” required of Japan. And they are members of the civil society that has begun to take form in Japan.

The kind of pacifism typified by antiwar feeling rooted in individuals’ experience of war is losing its strength as the older generation departs the scene. This pacifism, which led to the harmful “unilateral pacifism,” was supported by older Japanese who played a certain historical role after World War II. Apart from anything else, establishing a future-oriented tough pacifism responsive to the exigencies of the twenty-first century is Japan’s most important and substantive task if it is to become a nation trusted and appreciated by the international community.

The fact is, however, that the principles and policy concept underpinning this tough pacifism have not yet been intellectually refined on the basis of universal values. That is why I have looked to the Commission on Human Security to refine the thinking behind this tough pacifism and take the lead in investing it with authority. The commission’s final report points out that the negative aspects of globalization have become more severe and that the involuntary movement of peoples, such as refugees and internally displaced persons, arising from various conflicts has made it necessary to protect people from serious, wide-ranging threats to human life, livelihood, and dignity and to empower threatened people and communities by equipping them with the skills needed to stand on their own feet. In this way the report succeeds in imposing conceptual refinement and proposing specific policies. To keep this report from being a mere collection of words and enable the commission to fulfill its hoped-for role, we need to educate public opinion and undertake sustained initiatives to ensure that its proposals are reflected in government policy decisions in such areas as foreign affairs, security, and economic assistance.

Below I discuss the political significance to Japan of the commission’s activities and its final report.

  1. After the cold war the negative aspects of globalization became more serious. The need to prevent regional conflicts grew, while the problem of disparities in the benefits of development became more obvious. To help the international community resolve these shared problems Japan should make an intellectual contribution to the international community by means of the comprehensive policy concept and specific policy proposals articulated by the commission.
  2. By engaging actively in forming the policy concept of human security and implementing policies based on that concept, the Japanese government should demonstrate to the international community effectively its firm intent to continue to make an active international contribution through official development assistance and other means. The drastic ODA budget cuts necessitated by Japan’s financial circumstances make it all the more important to show a proactive posture qualitatively.
  3. By establishing distinctive principles and a policy framework based on universal values for international contributions through ODA policy, peace building, and so on, Japan will deepen the significance of the “international contribution with a human face” seen in the direct involvement of the nation and people.
  4. There are serious problems with Japan’s ODA policy decision-making process, including the harmful effects of the vertically segmented bureaucracy, inappropriate cooperation between policy-making and implementing bodies, and the limited policy-formulation function of such policy tools as grant assistance, loans, and technical cooperation. The government needs to encourage cooperation among relevant agencies and establish a policy-formulation function that makes overall coordination possible by elucidating policy objectives and putting in place a policy concept enabling the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive policy.
  5. Local administration of ODA is the trend of the donor community, but in Japan’s case this is obstructed by the presence in embassies of staff seconded from various central-government agencies, a practice that perpetuates the vertically segmented bureaucracy discussed above. A policy concept that encourages local ODA policy decision making invested with authority is necessary, along with the creation of a framework for cooperation between the public and private sectors that includes local and other NGOs.

Although the Japanese government has cut the ODA budget by 5.8 percent, it has also changed the name of Grant Assistance for Grassroots Projects (10 billion yen), a tool easy to use in addressing the field of human security, to Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects and has increased its budget to 15 billion yen. What is needed is efforts to utilize this budget effectively and bring to full fruition the political significance discussed above, with the community as the target and on the basis of a newly refined policy concept of human security.

Amara PongsapichDean of the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

Hideaki AsahiSenior Adviser, Japan Alliance for Humanitarian Demining Support (JHADS); on leave from Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Chalongphob SussangkarnPresident, Thailand Development Research Institute

Lincoln C. ChenMember, Commission on Human Security; Director, Center for Global Equity, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA

Chin Kin WahSenior Fellow, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

Francois FouinatExecutive Director, Commission on Human Security

Ma. Aurora Francisco-TolentinoExecutive Director, Asia Pacific Philanthropy Consortium, the Philippines

Yoshitaro FuwaSenior Research Associate, Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE)

Ernesto D. GarilaoProfessor, Center for Development Management, Asian Institute of Management, the Philippines

Peter F. GeithnerAdvisor, Asia Center, Harvard University, USA

Wakako HironakaMember, the House of Coucillors (Democratic Party of Japan), Japan

Mitsuko HoriuchiSpecial Regional Advisor on Gender Issues and Director, International Labour Organization (ILO), Japan

Susan HubbardProgram Director, Center for International Conflict Resolution, Columbia University, USA

Kiyoko IkegamiDirector, United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), Japan

Naoko IshiiDirector, Development Policy Division, International Bureau, Ministry of Finance, Japan

Kaoru IshikawaDirector-General, Multilateral Cooperation Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan

Jun’etsu KomatsuManaging Director, Asia Center, The Japan Foundation

Yoshihiko KonoSenior Executive Director, Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)

Yuki KuraokaAssociate Expert, Global Issues Division, Planning and Evaluation Department, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

Chimaki KurokawaSecretary General, Japan Platform

Hank LimDirector for Research, Singapore Institute of International Affairs; Associate Professor, Economics Department, National University of Singapore

Mochammad MaksumDirector, Center for Rural and Regional Development Studies; Associate Professor in Agroindustrial Economics, Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia

Takeo MatsuzawaDeputy Director General, Project Development Department, Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)

Edward NewmanAcademic Officer, Peace and Governance Programme, United Nations University

Tatsuo OhtaPresident, CEO, The Japan Association of Charitable Organizations

Yukie OsaDirector General and Secretary General, Association for Aid and Relief (AAR), Japan

Paiboon WattanasirithamChair, Development Support Consortium; Chair, Thai Fund Foundation; Director-General, Government Savings Bank

Kevin F. F. QuigleyPrincipal, Quigley & Associates, USA

Surin PitsuwanMember, Commission on Human Security; Member of the Thailand Parliament ; former Thai Foreign Minister

Abdi SuryaningatiVice Director, YAPPIKA (Indonesian Civil Society Alliance for Democracy), Indonesia

Kiyotaka TakahashiResearch and Policy Adviser, Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC)

Keizo TakemiMember, the House of Coucillors (Liberal Democratic Party), Japan

Keiichi TangoExecutive Director, Japan Bank for International Cooperation Institute (JBICI)

Hiroshi TomitaSecretary General, Japan Alliance for Humanitarian Demining Support (JHADS)

Naruo UeharaProfessor, Division of International Health, Department of Public Health, Tohoku University School of Medicine, Japan

Rika YamamotoChief, Program Unit, Peace Winds Japan

Tadashi YamamotoPresident, Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE)


Akiko MatsunobuChief, Marketing & PR Unit; Chief, Fair Trade Unit, Peace Winds Japan

Akiko NarumiStaff, Japan Alliance for Humanitarian Demining Support (JHADS)

Kumiko YatagaiAssociate Expert, Global Issues Division, Planning and Evaluation Department, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

Japan Foundation

Chiharu TakemotoDirector, Intellectual Exchange Division, Asia Center, Japan Foundation

Masako YamamotoIntellectual Exchange Division, Asia Center, Japan Foundation