Dear friends of the
Our next Open Letter has been delivered to the Japanese Government and Foreign Ministry on 29 August 2003.
Please join us to send your demand/protest to the Japanese Foreign Ministry!
To Foreign Minister Ms Junko Kawaguchi
11-1, Shiba-Kouen 2-chome
Signers of the Open Letter to the Japanese Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister
29 August 2003
To Prime Minister Mr. Junichiro Koizumi
Foreign Minister Ms Junko Kawaguchi
We demand the fair treatment of Western Sahara on the occasion of the TICAD III (Tokyo International Conference of African Development)
To our open letter about the problem of Western Sahara on the occasion of the Tokyo International Conference of African Development (TICAD III) dated 12 May 2003 (Abbr.: Open Letter) you didn't answer yourself, but you arranged a reply letter by the chief of the second section for the Middle East and Africa at the Foreign Ministry. It is true that the chief of the second section for the Middle East and Africa is one of the persons in charge for the TICAD, but he doesn't exercise jurisdiction over Morocco and Western Sahara. Therefore he is not a proper person to give a responsible answer. We must say that your attitude is quite insincere and indicates ignorance of the fact that the problem of Western Sahara is a serious international dispute and a most grave violation of human rights.
Also the contents of the reply we received don't answer our questions. Therefore considering the actual situation we demand as follows.
Our open letter and your answer (the reply we received) have been already translated into several languages and published in the homepages of diverse organisations supporting Western Sahara.
We emphasise that all persons in the World, who are concerned about Western Sahara (MPs of the European Parliament among them, as you know), are observing the reaction of the Japanese Government.
Of course we will also release this letter and your next answer.
The main subject of the TICAD is "the African Ownership". Western Sahara is a regular member of the African Union (AU) and the New Partnership of African Development (NEPAD) that are exercising this ownership. Therefore we demand that as a legitimate right Western Sahara be invited to the TICAD.
The reply letter we received announces as the attitude of the Japanese Government: "We have been hoping that the problem of Western Sahara would be settled quickly and peacefully through negotiations between the parties concerned. Therefore we have been supporting the intermediation by the secretary-general of the UN." (the fourth paragraph of the reply letter). But such a passive attitude is quite insufficient. In order to help the UN peace plan, which aims for a fair settlement of the dispute in accordance with the principle of self-determination, to succeed, we demand that the Japanese Government utilizes the occasion of the TICAD correctly and actively.
Detailed Explanations of our demands
About the first demand
The explanation for not inviting Western Sahara to the TICAD in the fifth paragraph of the reply letter cannot be any proper answer to the first of our questions. This is because we didn't ask about the comprehension of the Japanese Government of the legality of the SADR, but about its comprehension of the position of the African countries toward the Western Sahara dispute.
In "TICAD III (its meaning and purpose)", that is published in the homepage of the Foreign Ministry, the importance of the ownership of African countries is repeatedly emphasised. Especially as far as the NEPAD is concerned, the supporting of the NEPAD is regarded as the central theme of the TICAD, saying "the NEPAD is an own initiative of the African countries for their self-development with the same policy as the TICAD. Therefore at the TICAD III it should be widely discussed how we can achieve the success of the NEPAD through the TICAD process, gathering the support of the international community"
Also in the recently published brochure of the Foreign Ministry "Japan and Africa" a great deal of space is devoted to the NEPAD and the AU (pp. 12-13).
A sentence in this part says "the AU is the biggest regional organisation in the world with 53 member countries of Africa." As we have already pointed out in our open letter, the SADR is one of these member countries. However, the NEPAD is also regarded as a program of the AU. Consequently the SADR is also regarded as one of the NEPAD members. All these facts can be confirmed in the official homepages of the AU and the NEPAD.
In this context the SADR is obviously "one of the countries concerned with the cause of African development" (the last sentence of the fifth paragraph of the reply letter). If supporting the ownership of the African countries is really the main purpose of the TICAD, it should be a natural consequence to invite the SADR to the TICAD. We consider that this invitation can be also helpful in "establishing peace" and in discussing the refugee problem.
About the second demand
The second question of our open letter asks why Morocco has been invited. But the reply letter only says: "On the other hand Morocco is one of the countries concerned with the cause of African development. Therefore we have invited it to the TICAD III." (the final sentences of the fifth paragraph). This argument only indicates an incomprehension of our question and ignorance about the gravity of Morocco's illegal military occupation of Western Sahara.
In "TICAD III (its meaning and purpose)" in the homepage of the Foreign Ministry " it is emphasised that "basis of development = establishment of peace" is one of "the most important fields of development". Also in the above mentioned "Japan and Africa" it is spelled out that Japan has been making efforts for "establishing peace" as one of the most important elements of co-operation with Africa. If this is true, the invitation of Morocco should be against the real purpose of the TICAD. Morocco has been illegally occupying a country with an armed force in spite of many recommendations of the UN organisations and the International Court of Justice, forcing the legitimate people to live in refugee camps and violating their human rights. In this way Morocco has been threatening the "establishment of peace" not only in the Maghreb countries but also in whole Africa. Therefore it is entirely incomprehensible that the invitation of Morocco is only "mentioned" as if it were quite normal.
In the seventh paragraph of "the Action Plan of G8" it is stated expressly: "We will never co-operate with such a country that ignores the human rights and the dignity of human beings". Will the Japanese government violate its own pledge?
If it should be impossible to invite the SADR, that is a legitimate member of the African community, to the TICAD III, "held on the initiative of our government", because "the problem has not been settled yet", consequently Morocco should not be invited either. Furthermore, Morocco is not affiliated either with the AU nor the NEPAD.
But if the Japanese government really has an intention to make efforts through the TICAD to "establish the peace", it should invite both the SADR and Morocco to the TICAD III and press Morocco to co-operate sincerely with the UN for the settlement of peace. If the Japanese government really advocates the real leadership of the UN, it should take the fact very seriously that all of the resolutions by the UNGA and the UNSC assert a settlement in accordance with the principle of self-determination. If only Morocco will be invited to the TICAD III that will be held on the initiative of the Japanese government in spite of the unsettled dispute, it can only be understood that the Japanese government expressly supports Morocco.
Since 1991 Japan has been a non-permanent member of the UNSC on two occasions for four years. Further, the first planned year of a referendum (1992) and the year of the Houston Agreement (1997), that reconfirmed the settlement plan, fell during the membership years of Japan. These were the quite important years for the settlement plan. Therefore Japan is highly responsible for promoting the settlement plan. Though Japan is not a member of the UNSC at this moment, as the second sponsor of the UN it should be in the position to promote the settlement plan actively at open forums of the UNSC or at the UNGA.