Atul Khare, U.N. undersecretary general for field support, recently visited Tokyo to attend a preparatory meeting for a U.N. peacekeeping defense ministerial conference scheduled for November in Canada. In an interview with The Japan News, Khare discussed Japan’s engagement in U.N. peacekeeping missions.
This is the 25th year of Japan’s participation in peacekeeping, starting from 1992, when Japan adopted its peacekeeping law. I think with the efforts of successive prime ministers of Japan, and the successive ministers of defense and ministers of foreign affairs, Japanese participation in peacekeeping has been very important, very critical, and a force for improvement of peace and security in the world.
So far, about 12,500 Japanese [Self-Defense Forces personnel and others] have served abroad in U.N. peacekeeping operations, starting from Cambodia, then Mozambique, then Golan Heights, East Timor and South Sudan. And I think in all these places the contributions of Japanese officers have been excellent.
And these engineers do very good work in repairing roads and repairing bridges, making new roads, making new bridges, making camps for people to stay — and they have been of very high quality.
In fact, the battalion withdrawn from South Sudan made extremely good roads. Without these roads, you cannot do peacekeeping, [which requires traveling] from one place to another.
I evaluate the professionalism, dedication and commitment of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces as perhaps one of the best in the world. I also want to say that they are extremely well disciplined. The command and control is very good. Out of the 12,500 members deployed in 25 years, there was not even one case of indiscipline. Zero cases. The discipline of Japanese [SDF personnel] is something to be praised, and [something] other countries can learn from.
Peacekeeping is a question of partnership between different countries who are deployed together, and of course the U.N., which is supporting all these different countries in their deployment. Now, when different countries are deployed together, obviously we have to come to the help of each other.