BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home   July news

"At this time we ask that you reexamine the proposal now being considered to send Self Defense Force troops to East Timor. ... In recent years the Japanese Government has eschewed forthright debate on the constitutionality of the Self Defense Forces and has instead sought to gain recognition-by-default of the SDF through having it participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations, in which context it is treated just like the armies of other countries. On the other hand, moves to set up a specialized organization, separate from the SDF, to deal with aspects of refugee relief, cease-fire and referendum observation in conflict areas have been pushed into the shadows where they have ground to a stop. For the government to act in this way is to jeopardize the rule of law that constitutes the very foundation of any democratic state; this is suicidal." Free East Timor Japan Coalition
See also:
Jul 16 KY: 2 Japan GSDF officials to visit E. Timor  News
Jun 30 JCCJP: Japanese church leaders oppose Japanese troops in East Timor  Position statement
1999 Gunn: Timor Loro Sae: 500 Years - Wartime Timor: 1942-45  Book extract
BD: Military and political aid to Indonesia - A collection of recent reports, articles and news
BD: Sexual & related Violence as a weapon of war - A collection of recent articles and news

Source: Akihisa Matsuno ak4a-mtn@asahi-net.or.jp

Free East Timor Japan Coalition presented the following letter to the Defense Agency on July 16, 2001.


Prime Minister KOIZUMI Junichiro

Defense Agency Director NAKATANI Gen

Minister of Foreign Affairs TANAKA Makiko
 

We, the Free East Timor Japan Coalition are a network that was established in 1987 to support a just settlement to the East Timor issue. At this time we ask that you reexamine the proposal now being considered to send Self Defense Force troops to East Timor.
 

Our reasons are as follow.
 

1. In the first place we cannot agree with the overseas dispatch of the Self Defense Force per se. There are other actions which Japan should be taking in the international arena, actions based on the pacifism which undergirds the law of this land.

In recent years the Japanese Government has eschewed forthright debate on the constitutionality of the Self Defense Forces and has instead sought to gain recognition-by-default of the SDF through having it participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations, in which context it is treated just like the armies of other countries. On the other hand, moves to set up a specialized organization, separate from the SDF, to deal with aspects of refugee relief, cease-fire and referendum observation in conflict areas have been pushed into the shadows where they have ground to a stop. For the government to act in this way is to jeopardize the rule of law that constitutes the very foundation of any democratic state; this is suicidal.

Meanwhile, a number of politicians have been trying to sell our people the idea that, in an increasingly conflict-ridden world, Japan, under its present Constitution, is living in a fools paradise and that for this country not to send its army to participate in UN peace-keeping operations is to condemn ourselves to second-class citizenship in the international community. We, however, believe that Japan should be proud to defend the peace of this country and the world, without resort to Japanese military force, in keeping with the demands of its present Constitution. What we are ashamed of is the lack of the necessary political will and strategy to do so; indeed, it is this neglect, we fear, that may impede international moves for peace.

As a matter of fact, the most telling example of a case where Japan failed to make the international contribution to peace that was expected of it is that of the military occupation and forced annexation of East Timor by Indonesia. From December 1975 the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolutions on the issue of East Timor eight times, and Japan voted against them every time. In the United Nations Human Rights Commission as well, Japan never once voted in favor of a resolution on East Timor.

Even in the 1990s the Japanese government's position was the same. In the wake of the November 1991 Santa Cruz massacre, when Indonesian troops opened fire on demonstrators, killing scores on the spot and then later killing survivors who were taken to the military hospital, the U.S. and some European countries reviewed relations with Indonesia, cutting military aid (weapon sales, financial aid, military training). At the time, the Defense Agency had accepted Indonesian officer candidate students for its Defense College, and our coalition petitioned for a review of this policy in light of Japan's own "Four ODA Principles", but the Defense Agency rejected any review, responding that it "didn't consider that there were any particular problems in Indonesia." Japan being the largest trade partner, investor and donor of economic aid to Indonesia, the country that invaded and forcibly annexed East Timor, the international community looked to this country to try to persuade Indonesia to consider the peace proposals being offered by the East Timor resistance forces. But Japan would not even make the attempt. In 1996 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Jose Ramos Horta, the special representative of the East Timor Council of National Resistance, CNRM, in recognition of CNRM's concrete peace proposals and its stance of working with the Catholic Church, human rights organizations and civil society in pursuit of a peaceful solution to the conflict. When Mr. Horta visited Japan, however, the Japanese Government refused to meet with him. In fact, immediately after this, then Prime Minister Hashimoto visited Jakarta and offered this snubbing of the Nobel laureate as his goodwill gift, a symbol of Japan's "loyalty" to Indonesia, as he put it!

Japan has always been concerned about protecting, not the lives of East Timorese, but Indonesian stability and Japan's economic interests. The government long ago forfeited any claim to independent analysis or a fair hand in its actions. This was made all too clear in the way that it applied the present PKO Cooperation Act in sending civilian police to the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) in 1999.
 

2. Next are our reasons for opposing the dispatch of SDF troops to East Timor in particular
 

(1) A lack of will and ability to identify the parties to the conflict

Dispatch of troops under the present PKO Cooperation Act requires the existence of a cease-fire agreement between the parties to the conflict and the parties' acceptance of the peace keeping operation. The Japanese Government, however, lacks both the will and the ability to identify who the parties to the conflict are.

First, let us recall how the Japanese Government determined the parties to the conflict when it sent the civilian police in 1999.

As incredible as it seems, Japan identified pro-independence and anti-independence East Timorese as the parties to the conflict and then claimed that the April 21 "Agreement", a maneuver cooked up by Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces Wiranto after the spate of terrorist attacks in Dili and the western sector of the territory, was a cease-fire agreement between the parties to the conflict! Wrong on both points.

For one, this "agreement" does not fulfill the conditions for a cease fire agreement. It merely states a cession of hostile acts by "both sides", with no mention of any schedule or method for disarming the sides, and makes no reference whatever to the Indonesian Armed Forces, which was by far the largest military organization in East Timor. It is indicative that Bishop Belo, the leader of the Catholic Church in East Timor, refused to sign this document.

The Government was also wrong with respect to the parties to the conflict. There is no internationally recognized expert in this field who would exclude the Indonesian Government and armed forces from the parties to the East Timor conflict. Furthermore, from the beginning of 1999 it was clear that the support of the Indonesian occupying forces (in the form of weapons, funding, military training, supplying of dope, etc.) was behind the heightened terrorist activities of the anti-independence militia forces. It should also be recalled that from 1983 the United Nations Secretary General, in keeping with UNGA resolution 37/30, facilitated consultations among '"all the parties directly concerned", those parties in the United Nations' view being Portugal, the country which had formerly exercised sovereignty over East Timor, and Indonesia, the occupying country. (Of course, our coalition held that the East Timorese should be included in the negotiations, and the United Nations itself subsequently convened "all-inclusive East Timorese dialogues", bringing together East Timorese of every persuasion.) These two countries held final talks from March to April, 1999 on the framework of a popular referendum. Clearly, the Indonesian Government is a party to the conflict.

Therefore, if the Japanese Government intended to faithfully apply the current PKO Cooperation Act, in 1999, when it sent the civilian police, it would have had to have had a "cease-fire agreement" between, above all, the Indonesian Government and Armed Forces, on the one hand, and CNRM (National Council of Maubere Resistance) and FALINTIL (East Timor national liberation army), on the other. If the Japanese Government had exerted itself to obtain a cease-fire and disarmament agreement from the two parties in the final stages of the UN-brokered negotiations on the framework for the popular referendum, or at the stage of deciding the post-referendum security framework, such moves might well have deterred the Indonesian Armed Forces and the militia from the violence which was unleashed on East Timor.

The involvement of Indonesia is not confined to the past. Ever since the violence after the popular referendum, Indonesian security officials have turned a blind eye to the violence by armed refugees (anti-independence militia) in West Timor and have let those suspected of crimes against humanity in 1999 (militia leaders) go scot-free, a pattern of negligence that may well have led to the murder of UNHCR staff in Atambua, West Timor in September of last year. This negligence has also doubtless encouraged the incursions and attacks carried out in East Timor by the militia based in Indonesian territory. And even after East Timor becomes independent, the threat of involvement, either direct or indirect, by the Indonesian military and police remains. Therefore as long as the Japanese Government does not recognize Indonesia as a party to the conflict, one must conclude that it simply doesn't have what it takes to assume the burden of peace and security for East Timor.
 

(2) The failure of this proposed SDF dispatch to fulfill the stipulations in Article 3 of the PKO Cooperation Act

Under Article 3 of the PKO Cooperation Act, it is necessary to have a cease-fire between the parties to the conflict and an agreement to maintain it, as well as an agreement by these parties to the PKO activities. This derives from the principle of pacifism that Japan adheres to, and requires Japan to be strictly neutral, even in the context of activities under the UN flag.

The parties to the conflict in this present case of proposed SDF involvement would be the government of an independent East Timor and the organizations of armed, pro-integration Timorese in West Timor. That the Indonesian Armed Forces will be in back of the latter is only to be expected. The two sides have not concluded a cease-fire agreement. And the latter of the two has not accepted the PKO activities.

The same Article 3 further stipulates that these agreements are not required in cases where there is no outbreak of armed conflict. The Defense Agency is now stating that "it is difficult in East Timor to determine at present the parties to the conflict." Of course a situation where there is not an armed conflict differs from a situation where it is not possible to determine the parties to an armed conflict. If you take the position that an agreement is not necessary, you must be prepared to state that there are no outbreaks of armed conflict. The reality, however, is one of incursions by militia across the border and other occurrences of armed conflict.

In the case of this proposed dispatch of SDF troops, the Japanese Government has no intention whatever of identifying the parties to the conflict or of even clarifying what would constitute a cease-fire agreement or an agreement to accept PKO activities. This is a very serious issue. Article 3 is not just a pointless impediment. If the Japanese Government were to conscientiously apply Article 3 in the present case, it would have to work to get the anti-independence militia umbrella organization (UNTAS) and the Indonesian Government to conclude a peace treaty with the government of an independent East Timor. A political effort along these lines would indeed contribute greatly to guaranteeing East Timor's security. Furthermore, rushing off to dispatch the Self Defense Force while not taking on this mediation would also jeopardize the security of the SDF personnel as well.
 

(3) The cost of dispatching the SDF

Defense Agency Chief Nakatani has stated that he will "dispatch (the SDF) when the country is independent and settled down." In effect this is saying that the SDF will be dispatched when assistance in terms of defense is practically no longer necessary.

The Japanese Government sent three civilian police to UNAMET (United Nations Mission in East Timor) with the stipulation that they be assigned to UNAMET headquarters. When the situation on the ground deteriorated after the referendum, these three civilian police broke their contract with the UN before police from any other country and returned to Japan. Since then Japan has not sent a single civilian police to East Timor. Civilian police from around the world are fulfilling various functions under the transitional administration, and Japan too is surely called upon to contribute in this way. Yet to the call for contributions of this nature, Japan does not respond.

The enormous budget that would be spent on this proposed dispatch should be used for the rebuilding of East Timor. It would be of far greater benefit to the people of East Timor if the money were spent on things like safe water, medical care, food security, setting up of a legal system, and development of human resources instead of on an army that will only get there when "things have settled down." Japan has already given a large amount of aid to East Timor, but there is still an enormous amount to be done to rebuild the country. Assisting democratization in Indonesia and the strengthening of the civilian control of its military (reduction of the armed forces, retraining and employment assistance for ex-soldiers, dismantling of military controlled businesses) would also greatly help to guarantee the security of East Timor.

At a time when Japan is saddled with a big deficit, spending huge sums on an SDF dispatch which is hardly necessary cannot be justified. And certainly for the Koizumi government, which has pledged itself to rebuilding the economy, it runs counter to what the public is being told.
 

(4) Japan's war responsibility toward Portuguese Timor

In World War II the Japanese army occupied Portuguese Timor (East Timor) for three and a half years but has never paid compensation, or even apologized, for the great sacrifice this entailed for the people. Women who were victims of the Japanese military's system of sexual slavery, for instance, are still carrying the wounds, left festering, from that occupation. For a country that has yet to compensate for the crimes its military committed in the past to send its army there again now is not a very humanly decent thing to do.
 

For the above reasons, we strongly appeal to you to reconsider the dispatch of Self Defense Forces to East Timor.
 

July 16, 2001

Free East Timor Japan Coalition

Includes:
Sapporo East Timor Association
Sendai East Timor Group
Tokyo East Timor Association
East Timor Aid-Shinshu
Nagoya YWCA East Timor Issues Group
Osaka East Timor Association
Okayama Group to Listen to the Voice of East Timor
Zentsuji East Timor Solidarity Group
Kure YWCA
Shimonoseki East Timor Group
Oita Group to Look at the Relation between Asia and Japan
Nagasaki East Timor Solidarity Group
Japan Catholic Peace and Justice Conference


Note: The Free East Timor! Japan Coalition functioned as the first secretariat of the International Federation for East Timor, which was established in 1991 and accredited with the United Nations Office of Public Information. The International Federation for East Timor had extensive information on the situation in the territory as well as moves by the various countries concerned, presented proposals for building a framework for peace through international efforts at United Nations meetings and selected, trained and sent the largest number of international observers to the UN-conducted popular referendum in 1999.


Free East Timor! Japan Coalition page (in Japanese)
http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~ak4a-mtn/

Timor Lorosae Information Page (in Japanese)
http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~gc9n-tkhs/
# LH Bulletin Japanese version is available, except for 2-2 and 2-5.


See also:

Jul 16 KY: 2 Japan GSDF officials to visit E. Timor  News added July 17
"Two Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) officials will shortly visit East Timor to collect information on the state of security in the territory, Japan’s Defense Agency said Monday. ... The two are also expected to gather information about PKO in East Timor, given agency chief Gen Nakatani’s desire to study plans to dispatch personnel of the Self-Defense Forces in the event of new PKO there." Kyodo

Jun 30 JCCJP: Japanese church leaders oppose Japanese troops in East Timor  Position statement added July 10
"Most Japanese people want Japan to contribute to world peace first and foremost by strictly adhering to its war-renouncing “peace constitution.” ... The present government plan to send the SDF to join a peace keeping operation in East is directly opposed to theses, the fervently held wishes of our people. Furthermore, this newly planned dispatch of Japanese troops to East Timor is particularly callous in light of the Government’s refusal to this day to fully acknowledge, apologize for, or compensate the army’s sex slaves and other victims of Japan’s occupation of East Timor during the Pacific War." Japanese Catholic Council for Justice and Peace

Feb 12 Xanana: Symposium on “Reconciliation, Tolerance, Human Rights and Elections”  Speech added Feb 15
"We believe that after the rebellion of the Manufahi, the Timorese People, obviously still divided by kingdoms, lived an era of a better relationship among themselves until the period before the Japanese invasion. The Japanese invasion, from 1942 to 1945, was another test to the courage of the Timorese people which concurrently managed to live with the invaders while maintaining a determination to fight its presence. I am from the generation post-Japanese invasion. From this period until the Indonesian invasion 30 years went by." President Xanana

Dec 10 2000 KY: ETimor: 2 ex-sex slaves break silence at NGO tribunal  Added Dec 11
"Two East Timorese women broke over half a century of silence Sunday and told of their ordeals as sex slaves of the Imperial Japanese Army at a mock tribunal to try the Japanese government over its responsibility for the recruitment of so-called ''comfort women'' before and during World War II." Kyodo

Dec 8 2000 DPA: Women demand apology & compensation for War-time Japanese mistreatment  Added Dec 9
"The Japanese government, which failed to respond to the tribunal's invitation to participate in the event, continues to deny any legal responsibility for the suffering of the former comfort women. Sexual violence committed by the Japanese Imperial Army was hardly touched by the 1946-1948 International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo, set up by the Allied Forces after the war." Deutsche Presse-Agentur

1999 Gunn: Timor Loro Sae: 500 Years - Wartime Timor: 1942-45  Book extract added July 10
"Many Timorese including liurai paid with their lives [at the hands of Japanese military 1942-45] either for standing neutral or for alleged support of Australian guerrillas. ... The number of Timorese who died during the war is impossible to calculate with precision but is of the order of 40-70,000 out of a total prewar population of around 450,000. The disruption to native agriculture and the breakdown of prewar society stemming from the harsh system of food collection and corvees imposed by the Japanese inevitably led to famine and other hardships, including debilitating disease. ... The issues of Japanese wartime compensation including the claims of so-called "comfort women" or sexual slavery in Timor first became public in 1997 but only in the Macau media where it was taken up by Jose Ramos-Horta speaking on behalf of the Timorese people." Geoffrey C. Gunn, author, Timor Loro Sae: 500 Years

Sept 27 1999 Noam Chomsky: East Timor Retrospective - An overview and lessons  Analysis added Dec 28
"The story does not begin in 1975. East Timor had not been overlooked by the planners of the postwar world. The territory should be granted independence, Roosevelt's senior adviser Sumner Welles mused, but "it would certainly take a thousand years." With an awe-inspiring display of courage and fortitude, the people of East Timor have struggled to confound that cynical prediction, enduring monstrous disasters. Perhaps 50,000 lost their lives protecting a small contingent of Australian commandoes fighting the Japanese; their heroism may have saved Australia from Japanese invasion. A third of the population were victims of the first years of the 1975 Indonesian invasion, many more since." Noam Chomsky

BD: War Crimes & Crimes Against Humanity - A collection of recent press releases, petitions, articles and news

BD: Military and political aid to Indonesia - A collection of recent reports, articles and news

BD: Sexual & related Violence as a weapon of war - A collection of recent articles and news

BD: Reconstruction and 'Aid & Development' - A collection of recent press releases, reports, and articles

BD: Financing Reconstruction in East Timor / Fundu Ba Rekonstrusaun Timor Loro Sa’e / Bantu uang: Rékonstruksi- A collection of recent reports and articles


BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home   July news
Website: http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood  Email: wildwood@pcug.org.au
Postal address: BACK DOOR GPO Box 59 Canberra City ACT 2601 Australia
Receive FREE weekly email Web-updates: email wildwood@pcug.org.au and include the words "Subscribe BACK DOOR" in the message header. more info