As part of its commitment to contribute to international peace and stability, Japan hosted a major conference on the reconstruction of Southeastern Europe a region plagued by continuing ethnic violence and civil strife since the end of the 1999 Serbia-Kosovo conflict (see JEI Report No. 14B, April 7, 2000). Participants in the May 15-16 gathering in Tokyo discussed ways to promote a stable political environment, to "redeem and establish human dignity" and to foster the development of a market economy. In attendance were delegates from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia and Romania as well as Hungary, Slovenia and Turkey. Officials from such international organizations as the United Nations and representatives of the major economic powers also participated in the meetings.
In a speech to the delegates, Foreign Minister Yohei Kono emphasized Japan's commitment to the region, noting that it has pledged aid totaling $227 million. Tatsuo Arima, the senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs official who chaired the meetings, highlighted other contributions and suggested additional ways to assist the Balkan recovery effort. In particular, he said that equipment donated by Japan would be used to restore Kosovo's public broadcasting system, which is expected to play an important role in the elections scheduled for this fall. Mr. Arima also proposed holding seminars on education, child welfare and the protection of cultural heritage in cooperation with the U.N. Human Security Fund, the U.N. Children's Fund and the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Most importantly, Tokyo promised to bring the ideas generated at the conference and its other findings to the table at the upcoming summit of the leaders of the Group of Seven industrial nations plus Russia. The government, as host of the event, is keen to promote Japan's role as a good global citizen. One way Tokyo may achieve this is by pointing to its financial and diplomatic assistance on behalf of Southeastern Europe.