23 July 2007

Senator Featured in French "Liberation" Article (English)

Liberation features Senator Inuzuka as
"Samurai in Pursuit of the Responsibility to Protect"

Before the closing of the last General Session of the Diet in July, Senator Inuzuka had an interview with Mr. Michel Teman, a freelance reporter from Rapporteurs Sans Frontières (RSF). The following is a full English translation of his article that was posted on the online version of the Libération, a major French newspaper.


A Japanese Samurai in Pursuit of the Responsibility to Protect

Japan’s Senator Inuzuka, a Kouchner's admirer pursues a more humanitarian policy

9 July 2007, Libération

Michel Teman

"At last, " said the Senator. "At last, Japan will become state party to the International Criminal Court!" Democrat Senator Tadashi Inuzuka's voice echoed in his office 318 at the Member of the House of Councillors office in Tokyo.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the newly established international court in the Hague that prosecute genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. There are 104 states that are party to the Court.

"This is the culmination of all the efforts put in for the past seven years by me and other dedicated people. This is also a historic moment for Japan."

With the aid of multitude of people, from Foreign Ministry officials and non-governmental organizations, Inuzuka was able to win approval to ratify the ICC treaty. But according to an anonymous junior officer in the Diet, the approval was in fact “not something that was won,” because none of the fellow lawmakers even knew what ICC is when Inuzuka first urged that Japan should ratify the ICC Statute in the Diet. In other words, it wasn’t an issue at all in the first place.

At 52, Senator Inuzuka can only be characterized as being the “break-the-mold” type for a lawmaker. He speaks fluent English, and even French because his wife is French. During election, he tours around universities giving American-style lectures and communicate with his constituents through the Internet blogs. His attire also stands out. In the Diet, he seldom wears a tie. His preference is a Mao collar suite.

Raised in Nagasaki, Inuzuka was not born to a family of politicians. Instead, he represented the common people. His folks made a living out of fisheries. The path diverges for young Inuzuka when he entered a college in the United States for an MBA. He then started his own business. Ten years before he run for Senator, Inuzuka had a restaurant in Tokyo and a hotel in Hawaii.

The turning point was January 17, 1995, the day of the Kobe earthquake. The poor management and response at the site disgruntled him when the region faced a death toll of 6,400 people with more than 40,000 injured. That was when he met the people from Médecins sans Fronti
ères (MSF: Doctors without Borders) and Médecins du Monde (MDM: Doctors of the World)

”They were my heroes. They work to help others, under extreme conditions, risking their own well-being with little finance.”

Along with Gaël Austin, a consultancy owner in Tokyo, Inuzuka helps establish the Japanese chapter of the MDM. While some people in Tokyo aspire to become “a military power that can contribute to world peace", Inuzuka aspires to become the world’s first “moral power”.

True Cooperation
Inuzuka’s mentor is not the old Samurai teachings but the new head of French diplomacy and former doctor, Bernard Kouchner। His name never ceases to come out of Inuzuka’s mouth. Like Kouchner, Inuzuka advocates for the values of Responsibility to Protect versus states that fail to protect its own people. “Japan must realize the value of intervening in affairs that none do,” he said. “Japan should widen its horizon. Although it is perfectly understandable to be concerned of the abduction issue with the North Koreans that occurred in the early 80’s, the Japanese people should not forget that there are over million North Koreans who are dying of starvation or that more than 40,000 children are being abducted yearly in India. The Japanese people should be considered about what goes on within its borders but outside too, that there are people suffering outside our borders.”

His conviction was certified when he visited Sudan’s Darfur in 2006.

”In the Kalma Refugee Camp, I witnessed the sight of pain and agony that I’ve never seen before. That's when I thought that there is something Japan can do about it. That we can work with the UN and NGOs to do a better job. Japan’s simply lousy when it comes to development assistance. But we have our achievements. We’ve become an economic power from the ashes of 1945. We have our experience. But we should not stop here. Japan should take a more proactive step. Creating a new economic, social, and humanitarian norm is one such step. Checkbook diplomacy is thing of a past. It isn’t sufficient anymore.”

So Inuzuka came up with a concrete plan toward this in the Diet. He proposed the establishment of a new “Human Security Centre” to train peace workers to be dispatched to war-torn regions or to tackle starvation. The Upper House Special Committee on Official Development Assistance recently adopted this proposal.

”It is indeed difficult to eradicate all causes of conflicts. But we can always help the victims of those conflicts.”

© Libération

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