OPINIONPeople Daily

Japan, Kenya partners in regional peacekeeping

Toshitsugu Uesawa

The 21st century is witnessing a rapid change in the global balance of power, along with the rapid pace of economic globalisation.

Transnational threats grounded on technological progress, including international terrorism and cyber-attacks are also increasingly being revealed to have great significance.

In the current world, no nation can maintain its own peace and security by itself. Nations which share the same values and whose leaders have the same aspirations for their people—peace and prosperity—need each other.

Japan, including its Self Defense Forces, has in this context contributed to the maximum extent possible to the efforts to maintain and restore international peace and security. We have, for example, been active in UN peacekeeping operations.

All this is consistent with the Nairobi Declaration which came at the end of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) held in Nairobi in 2016.

In the third pillar of the declaration, much emphasis is given to promoting social stability and peace-building; fighting terrorism and violent extremism; and maritime security.

TICAD is the key platform for engagement between Japan and African continent and is a partnership for prosperity and sustainable development.

The forum was initiated out of an awareness that long-standing challenges remain to be solved in sub-Saharan Africa, such as political unrest, severe economic disparities and poverty. At the same time, other challenges have emerged in recent years, such as maritime security and the rise of violent extremism.

These challenges have effects beyond national borders. So it is vital that sub-Saharan African countries overcome these difficulties and achieve stable growth.

Based on these convictions, Japan has contributed to UN peacekeeping operations under the policy of “proactive contribution to peace”.

Further, Japan has been conducting anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia by deploying a Maritime Self-Defence Force destroyer and patrol aircrafts.

Within Kenya, Japan has given support to a UNproject known as the “Africa Rapid Deployment of Engineering Capabilities (ARDEC)”. This is intended as a means for supporting swift implementation of peacekeeping operations.

ARDEC is implemented by the UN Department of Field Support and involves training which takes place in Kenya. It is aimed at instructing engineering personnel from the Defense Forces of various African nations such as Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, on operation of heavy equipment.

During the state visit to Kenya by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in 2016, President Uhuru Kenyatta welcomed Japan’s new security policy in support of peace and expressed his appreciation for Japan’s efforts.

President Uhuru further expressed the hope that through this policy Japan will engage more actively towards resolving conflicts in Africa, and also thanked Japan for its role in anti-piracy efforts off the coast of Somalia.

As the President underscored the importance Kenya attaches to the development of the  blue economy, Japan will support   Kenya’s efforts towards the sustainable development of the Blue Economy in a various way, including maritime security which is a vital aspect of development.

But of no less significance is the role that Kenya has played in Peace Keeping Operations.  Japan highly appreciates Kenya’s efforts which have been made in contributing towards the stabilisation of Somalia and South Sudan.

And to bridge the two continents of Asia and Africa, Japan desires to spread peace and prosperity throughout the region and indeed throughout the world. – Writer is Japan Ambassador to Kenya

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