Editorial: Japan’s role in empowering women for peace and national security

December 22 , 2020

A United Nations report issued in March 2019 identified more than 3,000 incidents in which women were sexually assaulted in 19 war-torn countries, including Afghanistan, Yemen, the Congo and Syria. The conclusion is clear: peace can never be fully realized without ensuring the security and empowerment of women. Komeito fully concurs.

As does the UN Security Council, which passed Resolution 1325 two decades ago that seeks to protect women from violence, resolve armed conflicts, negotiate peace, build postwar peace and empower women in greater participation in society. While 1325, known as the “WPS” resolution for women, peace and security, called on member-states to develop their own action plans to this end, just 86 out of the 193 have done so as of September 2020.

Japan, which developed its own action plan in 2015, has been working to get those countries that have yet to sign on to accept WPS. Take the case of Sri Lanka: While the government and insurgents agreed to a ceasefire ending the civil war in 2009, the country continues to lag behind implementation of measures to safeguard women from sexual violence. In September this year, Tokyo provided Sri Lanka with some ¥200 million in free assistance to back human resources development initiatives that will help enhance women’s participation in policymaking, among others.

Meanwhile, in post-conflict countries the Middle East and Africa, the Japanese government is supporting training programs for local law enforcement agencies and military forces in an effort to prevent sexual violence against women.

Obviously, the work is far from done. According to the UN, just 13% of negotiators taking part in peace talks in conflict areas were women in 2018. We expect the Japanese government to assume an even larger role in pushing forward WPS worldwide.