Japan adopted its first National Action Plan (NAP) in 2015 for the period 2015-2018. The NAP was developed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in coordination with civil society, non-governmental organizations, and experts, including Zainab Hawa Bangura, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. The NAP approaches the implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda both domestically and internationally, including reviewing from a gender perspective the Japanese government’s policies and initiatives concerning assistance in the field of conflict prevention and peacebuilding. 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 NAP does not have a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation framework or 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.
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
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
Japanese’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.
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.