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2009年11月11日 (水)

アフガン支援策 「小切手外交」に戻るのか

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 11, 2009)
Is govt returning to 'checkbook diplomacy'?
アフガン支援策 「小切手外交」に戻るのか(11月11日付・読売社説)

The administration led by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has drawn up measures to help reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

The administration has decided to extend civilian assistance worth 5 billion dollars (about 450 billion yen) over five years for such measures as job training for former Taliban militants and the provision of funds to pay the salaries of Afghan police officers. Calculated in terms of the aid provided per fiscal year, this sum represents about four times the average aid provided up until now.

However, the government stopped short of including the sending of Self-Defense Forces personnel in its measures.
The government is also planning to suspend the SDF's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean in January, when the law authorizing the mission expires.


No body bags please

Without SDF participation in antiterrorism activities related to Afghanistan, the government will inevitably face criticism that the country has once again resorted to the so-called checkbook diplomacy approach, in which it provides economic aid and investment but no security personnel.

Hatoyama is expected to explain the details of the aid program to U.S. President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to visit Japan later this week. The huge scale of the aid package is sure to win a certain level of recognition from the United States and European countries.

The 5 billion dollars assistance will be extended to the war-torn country in the form of grant aid or through international organizations. The public will want the government to give a satisfactorily detailed explanation of how the funds will be spent. It also will be important for the government to implement the aid package while verifying its effectiveness.

The government insists the international community should provide measures to back the people of Afghanistan's own efforts to bring stability to daily life in their nation.

To this end, the government plans to limit its personnel assistance to activities related directly to public welfare. It is also considering expanding the Japan International Cooperation Agency's agricultural training program in the country. Given the existing security situation in Afghanistan, however, it will be difficult to dramatically increase the number of JICA personnel dispatched to the nation.

As long as Afghanistan's military and police forces fail to operate with sufficient effectiveness, the International Security Assistance Force, which comprises 42 countries, including the United States and European nations, remains at the forefront of efforts to maintain security in the country.

When the U.N. Security Council decided last month to extend ISAF activities in Afghanistan, Japan, a UNSC nonpermanent member, supported the decision.

In drawing up the assistance measures for Afghanistan, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa sought the possibility of dispatching SDF personnel to the ISAF headquarters and providing airlift assistance by the Air Self-Defense Force.

Ichiro Ozawa, secretary general of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, has in the past indicated a willingness to send SDF officers to the ISAF.


Insufficient debate

However, the idea of using the SDF has already been shelved by the government without sufficient debate. Apparently, the DPJ has instead placed priority on maintaining its governing coalition with the Social Democratic Party, which is against any SDF dispatch overseas.

At the time of the Gulf War, the administration of then Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu decided not to send SDF officers to the region and instead provided only economic aid, drawing international criticism for Japan's checkbook diplomacy. The government should recall this bitter memory.

As the MSDF's refueling activity in the Indian Ocean has been highly evaluated by the international community, Japan will lose a lot of goodwill by ending the mission. What Hatoyama should do is to seek ways of continuing the mission.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 11, 2009)
(2009年11月11日01時10分  読売新聞)


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