Japan as a Champion of Human Security

Tomoko Suzuki

For over a decade, Japan has been a vocal champion of the human security approach. This brief paper looks back to its genesis and how the human security approach persisted as a pillar of Japan’s foreign policy in spite of recent political turmoil characterized by rapid changes in the leadership at the highest level of the government. It was 1998 when then-Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi, who later became Prime Minister, introduced the concept of human security in his policy speeches. Since then, Japan has had nine Prime Ministers, and experienced major regime change from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in 2009. In other areas, there have been some shifts in government policy commensurate with the regime change. However, Japanese government has continued to promote mainstreaming of the concept of human security throughout this political merry-go-round. To understand this persisting commitment, it is useful to analyze the reasons from three perspectives: historical background, personal beliefs of political leaders, and the institutionalization of the concept at the UN and in the Official Development Assistance (ODA) policy.