30 November 2009

A Tokyo Conference Reaffirms Japan's Role in Afghanistan

*Click the title above to read the Japanese version of this release.

by Takahiro Katsumi and Vladimir Ionesco

(Tokyo 30 November)On 23-25 November, a three-day conference on Afghanistan was held at a hotel in Tokyo, Japan. Entitled "Roundtable Discussion on Peace and Reconciliation: Prospects for Shared Security in Afghanistan" the conference was co-hosted by World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP) Japanese Committee (page in Japanese only) and Japanese Parliamentarians for Shared Security (JPSS) with the cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

To ensure the safety of all participants as well as frank and free discussion, the conference was completely closed to the media and the public until the final day.

During the three-day event, participants from Afghanistan and other countries, such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and many more, engaged in a vibrant discussion on how to foster peace in Afghanistan. They included diplomats, military officers, academics, researchers, development specialists, and religious leaders from eighteen countries. The conclusions reached in the conference were compiled into a recommendation paper that was presented to the press on the final day.

Eight-point recommendation delivered to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister

Before the press conference took place, the Master of Ceremonies and Acting President of JPSS, Senator Tadashi Inuzuka (DPJ), and his delegation split into two units, which visited the Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry to deliver the conclusions of the conference; an eight-point recommendation written under the supervision of Amb. Francesc Vendrell, the Chairman of the Conference. To the delegation, Prime Minister Hatoyama was noted to have said the following when he received the document from Rev. Nichiko Niwano, President of WCRP Japanese Committee:

"Thank you for achieving what politics alone cannot."

WCRP President Nichiko Niwano delivering the recommendation to Prime Minister Hatoyama
Second delegation led by the Chairman delivering the recommendation to Foreign Minister Okada

The eight-point recommendation outlines the roles that each stakeholder should play in the promotion of reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan. The section that outlines the role of Japan reads as follows:

Japan’s Role: Since Japan enjoys an excellent reputation with Afghanistan and the immediate neighbours of Afghanistan, it is highly desirable that Japan play a key role within the international community in supporting the peace and reintegration programme led by the Afghan government. The participants welcomed measures for aid effectiveness that ensure transparency, accountability and more effective results that would enable the government of Japan to continue to provide support to the rebuilding of Afghanistan.

With inputs from Muslim participants and religious figures, the recommendation also outlines the role of Islamic states as follows:

Role of Islamic States: The participants called for increased cooperation among Islamic states to prevent the spread of radical groups that promote violence, and to advance the reform of madrassas and other efforts at de-radicalisation to help individuals or groups to break the cycle of violence (including the denouncing of suicide bombings and drug trafficking as un-Islamic practices). Therefore, it was proposed that WCRP facilitate gatherings of prominent Islamic scholars to engage Islamic teachings to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. The participants affirmed the importance of the good offices of His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, as requested by the Afghan Government, to utilize His Majesty’s influence as a political and religious leader to help the process of peace-building in Afghanistan.

In advocating these recommendations as well as six others in a truly international setting, the conference not only reaffirmed the importance of Japan's assistance efforts to foster peace in Afghanistan, but also fulfilled the purpose of creating a cohesive environment of trust among the participating countries and institutions.

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