The ICRC in Japan
The ICRC’s Tokyo office focuses on enhancing humanitarian debate in Tokyo, contributing towards Japan's foreign policy on humanitarian issues and seeking political and financial support from the Japanese government. It works closely with the Japanese Red Cross Society on public relations, to promote the teaching of humanitarian law and recruit Japanese delegates for the ICRC’s international operations.
ICRC activities in Japan date back to World War I when the organization visited Austrian, German, Hungarian and Turkish prisoners of war in Japan and Siberia. During World War II, the ICRC established a delegation in Japan (in 1942), visited prisoner of war camps and helped the victims of the atomic bomb blast in Hiroshima.
After a 60-year gap, the ICRC opened a Tokyo office in February 2009 as Japan became a key donor, with the ICRC as one of the beneficiaries.
What is the ICRC doing in Tokyo?
Helping people understand humanitarian work
Disaster relief is well-known in Japan, humanitarian assistance during conflict and violence less so. The ICRC is raising interest by facilitating media coverage of its operations, holding symposia, workshops and discussions on humanitarian topics and providing input to think tanks. Subjects include crisis management, staff security, human security, protection and international humanitarian law.
Fostering relationships with key ministries
The ICRC works closely with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), enabling Japan to maintain and strengthen its indispensable and highly valued political and financial support to the ICRC. Japan is now one of our largest donors, ranking sixth in 2011 and 2012. MoFA currently chairs the ICRC Donor Support Group (DSG).
The ICRC and MoFA regularly exchange views on humanitarian issues and contexts of mutual interest.
The ICRC works with the Ministry of Defence on such issues as the interpretation and implementation of humanitarian law regarding prisoners of war, peacekeeping operations and humanitarian assistance. Support has taken the form of briefings, simulations and seminars. The ICRC also sponsors the participation of Japanese military officers in IHL events.
Recruiting more Japanese delegates
As of November 2012, 13 Japanese staff were working with the ICRC around the world. The ICRC is aiming to increase their number through recruitment seminars, cooperation with MoFA, presentations to universities, participation in recruitment fairs and online advertisements. The ICRC mission in Tokyo conducts pre-selection interviews in Japan before referring candidates to ICRC HQ in Geneva.
Working with the Japanese Red Cross Society
The JRCS contributes financially to the ICRC and regularly provides personnel for ICRC field missions. The JRCS and the ICRC also work together on communication materials and events. The JRCS is currently implementing “Exploring Humanitarian Law” programmes aimed at inculcating respect for humanitarian values amongst secondary school pupils.