Japan adopted its most recent National Action Plan (NAP) in 2019 for the period of 2019-2022. The NAP was developed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in coordination with civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), in particular with women’s groups, and experts in the evaluation committee, which monitored and evaluated the first NAP, adopted in 2015 for the period 2015-2018. The 2019 NAP does not differ drastically from the 2015, rather it focused on smoothing out redundancies. Structural changes will be reserved for the following NAP based on the experience of implementation.
The 2015 and 2019 NAPs approach the implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda both domestically and internationally, including reviewing the Japanese government’s policies and initiatives concerning assistance in the field of conflict prevention and peacebuilding from a gender perspective. The NAP addresses disarmament by highlighting the gendered impact of small arms and light weapons as well as gender-sensitive arms control measures. The NAP’s objectives are organized under four overarching goals that align with the primary pillars of UNSCR 1325: participation; conflict prevention; protection; and humanitarian and reconstruction. Each specific goal under the pillars is accompanied by a set of actions and indicators; however, the 2019 NAP still does not have a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation framework despite setting a goal to develop one in the 2015 NAP, nor does it have an allocated budget.
Japan has not been involved in armed conflict since the end of World War II, as it adopted a military neutrality policy, which is enshrined in its constitution, that rejects the use of arms as a means to settle international disputes. Nevertheless, the country does have a military force, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF), and has witnessed sporadic, albeit unsuccessful, efforts to revise the pacifist constitution. Additionally, in 2019, Japan was among the top 10 countries with the highest military expenditure. In the current moment, Japan continues to have political tension with North Korea over the latter’s nuclear programme and with China and South Korea over disputed territory and Japan’s past wartime actions, including its colonial legacy and the sexual slavery of women, euphemistically refered to as “comfort women,” in occupied territories.
Japan is a contributor to humanitarian aid, including as a contributing donor to the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, a global partnership that works to empower women in conflict zones and humanitarian crises. Japan is also a partner of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies, a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to mitigate and provide accountability for gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies. In 2019, Japan was the UN Women’s fourteenth-largest regular resources contributor with USD 3.39 million and the seventh-largest total government contributor with USD 17.65 million.
At the multilateral level, Japan most recently served as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the period 2016-2017. In Japan’s constitution, renounce war and “desire peace for all time”, with the core principle of fundamental human rights, equality under the law and individual dignity. It also has ‘the essential equality of the sexes in family life’ (p 2). In 1999, Japan enacted the Basic Act for a Gender Equal Society and established the Basic Plan for Gender Equality, which it promotes in tandem with its NAP, with the goal of gender equality a top priority for the 21st century.
Global Gender Gap Index 2020
121 out of 153
Arms Trade Treaty Ratified
Military expenditure (2019)
$47.6 billion USD
Explore Japan's National Action Plan
The 2019-2022 NAP was developed by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The second NAP reflected recommendations from the evaluation committee (a group of experts), and representatives from civil society and NGOs.
Implementation of the NAP will be carried out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Japan International Cooperation Agency; the Reconstruction Agency; Fire and Disaster Management Agency; National Police Agency; Japan Coast Guard; Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; sections of the cabinet office (Gender Equality Bureau, Secretariat of the International Peace Cooperation Headquarters, and Disaster Management).
Civil society will be supported in implementation, but the NAP does not specify any direct involvement.
NAP monitoring and evaluation
Japan’s NAP does not specify specific bodies for monitoring and evaluation, rather it stipulates ‘All relevant ministries and agencies’ (p. 37-39). It also does not specify which actors will develop the monitoring and evaluation framework.
The implementation period for Japan’s NAP is three years (2019-2022).
The NAP is organized into four overarching goals that reflect the pillars of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the WPS agenda more broadly (p. 8).
Participation: Ensuring the equal and meaningful participation of women in all stages in the field of peace and security (including humanitarian relief, defense, diplomatic policies, and peacebuilding processes) with the goal of achieving gender mainstreaming, including introducing gender equality perspectives within decision-making at the national level.
Conflict prevention: Promoting women’s participation and their active and leading roles in all processes of prevention, management, and resolution of conflicts and in decision-making; strengthening a gender equal perspective.
Protection: Protect various aid recipients including women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence and other human rights infringements during or after situations of conflict or humanitarian crisis; provide protection and assistance to survivors of this violence.
Humanitarian relief, recovery and reconstruction assistance: Provide humanitarian relief, recovery and reconstruction assistance which reflect the special needs of women and girls; promote women’s empowerment and ensure women’s equal participation within aid assistance providers.
The NAP breaks each of the four overarching goals into a subset of goals. Each goal within these subsets are assigned specific actions (p. 9-36).
For example, Goal 3 under the ‘Conflict Prevention’ pillar, is ‘Promote women’s participation in conflict resolution, and assist them to take leadership and play active roles, and reflect gender perspective in peace negotiations’ (p. 16). The two actions include
- Train women with advanced conflict resolution skills (negotiation, mediation and arbitration)
- Examine and study cases where women significantly contributed to conflict resolution, and extract lessons learned and success factors.
For each action set out under the subset of goals, a set of indicators and the relevant agencies and departments for implementation are listed (p. 9-36).
For example, the indicators and relevant agencies under Goal 3 under the ‘Conflict Prevention’ pillar (‘Promote women’s participation in conflict resolution, and assist them to take leadership and play active roles, and reflect gender perspective in peace negotiations’) are:
- Train women with advanced conflict resolution skills (negotiation, mediation and arbitration). Indicator: Status of women’s participation in training for enhancing conflict resolution skills provided at educational institutions in Japan and abroad. Agencies of implementation: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
- Examine and study cases where women significantly contributed to conflict resolution, and extract lessons learned and success factors. Indicator: Implementation status of case studies on conflict resolution and women. Agencies of implementation: MOFA and JICA.
The monitoring report of the implementation status of the Plan will be compiled by the government of Japan, based on the report of the evaluation committee, which will produce an evaluation report every two years.
The actions set out aim to build a framework to effectively and regularly monitor, evaluate, and review the implementation of the NAP. The government will review NAP after four years.
No budget has been indicated in the NAP.
The NAP addresses disarmament by committing to the integration of gender perspectives in small arms and light weapons (SALW) control measures and recognizes the gendered impacts of illegal trade of SALW s in increasing the risk of SGBV in situations of conflict and/or humanitarian crisis. The NAP sets out to strengthen regulations on the illegal trade of SALW, including through the status of UN resolutions and the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
Civil society requested participation in the development of Japan’s NAP once the Government announced its formulation. Thirty-nine NGOs gathered together to ensure transparent and participatory drafting process and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the request and included them during the process. Civil society established the Civil Society Working Group (CSWG) to represent civil society and maintain dialogue with the government. Also, the government established a “Small Group” comprised of representatives of the Civil Society Working Group (CSWG), academics and relevant government offices.
WILPF Japan is member of the the Civil Society Working Group (CSWG) on the Japanese NAP and as such actively contributed with other civil society members in development of the Japanese NAP. WILPF contributed to making comments and developing suggestions of the civil society group to the government.
The development of the NAP was led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The CSWG consists of 17 member organizations and 65 individual members. The organizations at the CSWG included: 1325 NAP Network Hokkaido, 1355 NAP Network Kyushu, Action to Eliminate Gender Discriminatory Remarks by Public Officials, Alliance of Feminist Representatives (AFER), Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Center (AJWRC), Global Campaign for Peace Education Japan, International Women's Year Liaison Group, I Women's Council, Japan Association for Refugees, Japan Association of International Women's Rights, Japan NGO Network for CEDAW (JNNC), JOICFP, National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs of JAPAN, Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace, Women‘s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Japan, Women's Network for East Japan Disaster, and Women’s Net for the Japanese Constitution.
Specific government departments are named as actors in the implementation: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA); Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); Secretariat of the International Peace Cooperation Headquarters, Cabinet Office; Ministry of Defense (MOD); Gender Equality Bureau; Reconstruction Agency; Fire and Disaster Management Agency; National Police Agency (NPA); Ministry of Justice (MOJ); Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).
NAP Monitoring and Evaluation
The Japanese NAP created the Evaluation Committee which consists of experienced experts on the Women, Peace and Security field (including representatives of civil society and NGOs) and which will participate with the appointed government agencies to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Japanese NAP.
The Department of Foreign Affairs will lead the Monitoring Group that will be responsible for monitoring progress of UNSCR 1325 implementation. The Monitoring group will also have representatives from all the relevant institutions mentioned above and will establish The Monitoring Working Group consisting of focal points of all relevant ministries and agencies. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Gender Mainstreaming Division, Foreign Policy Bureau) serves as the secretariat of the Working Group.
The Japanese NAP does not refer to a specific timeframe. However, it previews a revision three years after released, i.e. 2018. Thus, the NAP covers the period 2015 - 2018.
The Japanese National Action Plan is organized by 5 Pillars that closely relate to UNSCR 1325:
- Conflict prevention;
- Humanitarian and reconstruction assistance.
Since the issue of participation relates to all other pillars, the details for women’s participation are classified within each of these fields.
Each Pillar has its major goal and it is then broken down into (sub) goals. For example, Pillar 1 - "Participation" contains the following main goal:
- To ensure equal participation of women in all stages in the field of peace and security with the aim of achieving gender mainstreaming in this field.
Then, the pillar contains the following (sub) goals:
- Ensure women play an active role in decision making concerning the prevention of occurrence and recurrence of conflicts and ensure that women’s perspectives are reflected in such processes.
- Increase women’s participation in peacebuilding processes.
- Reflect consideration for women’s perspectives in decision making concerning humanitarian and reconstruction assistance.Women can play an active role in this field.
- Introduce the gender equality perspective in decision making in Japan concerning foreign and security policies, and increase women’s participation in these field including in decision making.
Each specific goal in each Pillar, outlines a set of actions and indicators. For example, for Pillar 2 - "Conflict Prevention", the first goal is to “Encourage women to participate in conflict prevention and introduce the gender equality perspective in the early warning and early response mechanism”. The NAP gives the following actions:
- Introduce statistics and analysis methods which consider gender issues in analysis of conflicts
- Give consideration to gender issues in collecting, verifying and analyzing information on possible conflicts
- Promote women’s participation in the early warning and early response mechanism
- Promote women’s participation in confidence-building activities
Japan’s NAP includes a set of indicators for each action. For example, under Pillar 3 (“Protection”) ‘s first action and goal 1- "Strengthen a system to provide comprehensive support to victims of gender-based violence and ensure thorough reporting", they include 2 indicators:
- Status of establishment of a system for communication with organizations dealing with gender-based violence when utilizing existing Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) concerning gender-based violence including PKOs and other peacebuilding activities and emergency humanitarian assistance activities as well as status of responses to gender-based violence.
- Status of assistance for NGOs that provide support for victims of gender-based violence,such as through providing shelters.
Monitoring and Evaluation
The monitoring and evaluation process consists on sharing various experiences of implementing entities. The two main actors that involved in this process are: (I) the Monitoring Working Group, which includes representatives of ministries and agencies, and (II) the Evaluation Committee, which consists of experienced experts, including representatives of civil society and NGOs, with sufficient knowledge and experience in the field of Women, Peace, and Security will closely coordinate.
The NAP also includes 3 main goals regarding the monitoring and evaluation process, as well as the action needed in order to achieve them. The three main goals are:
Develop a framework for appropriately monitoring the implementation status of the NAP.
Develop a framework for appropriately evaluating the implementation status of the NAP.
Preview the NAP appropriately for its revision three years later.
The Japanese National Action Plan does not include an allocated or estimated budget. No indicators or actions are included that formulate fundraising strategies, detail what level of funding is required for which specific activities, or what accountability mechanisms will ensure funding is raised and used in implementing the NAP.
Unlike many other National Action Plans, the Japanese text includes goals to address the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process from a gender perspective as well as measures to prevent and address Gender-Based Violence.
Firstly, the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process is addressed under Pillars 3 “Protection” and 4 “Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance”.
- Regarding Pillar 3, goal 5 claims to “offer support for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) in or after a conflict and for Security Sector Reform (SSR) including judicial system reform”. It thereafter includes four actions to support the goal, including the introduction of a perspective of the protection of women and girls in efforts for disarmament of former soldiers (including child soldiers) after a conflict.
- Regarding Pillar 4, goal 4 claims to provide “humanitarian and reconstruction assistance give top priority to the resolution of focal issues, such as support projects for healthcare, education, agriculture, infrastructure development, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and judicial systems etc. that are directly linked to human security. In that process, strengthen assistance in fields especially needed by women and girls, etc”. Specifically, Action 7 is titled Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) - Security Sector Reform (SSR), and claims to “Give due consideration to the needs of women and girls in DDR of former soldiers (including child soldiers) after a conflict; Incorporate the gender equality perspective in projects to assist their reintegration after discharge.”
Secondly, the NAP includes measures related to small arms. It considers the control of small arms with a gender perspective essential and establishes an indicator that informs the status of gender issues in dealing with small arms control. Furthermore, it aims to strengthen international regulations on illegal trade of small arms incorporating the gender equality perspective, including the UN resolutions on small arms as well as the Arms Trade Treaty.