We strongly oppose the Official Security Assistance (OSA), a military aid that denies Japan’s non-military principles in international cooperation

ISHIDA JULY 28, 2023
[Original issued by NGO No War Network (June 6, 2023); Translated by A. Turner/K. Takemura]

On the 5th of April, the Japanese government announced the implementation of Official Security Assistance (OSA), a means of providing defense and military equipment to the armed forces of like-minded countries. Set out in the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and Defense Build-Up Program (hereafter “Three Security Documents”) all released in December 2022, OSA represents a major shift in Japan’s international cooperation strategy.

The NGO No War Network was founded in 2002 in opposition to the Iraq War. As civil society actors who are conducting international cooperation activities, we have since raised our voices in opposition of security legislation aiming to deliver Japan military capability.

We strongly oppose the introduction of OSA for the following reasons.

1. The abandonment of our non-military principles and loss of trust as a peace-loving nation

Since the Second World War, Japan has built its path as a peace-loving nation as according to Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. The Development Cooperation Charter, which delineates the principles of Official Development Assistance (ODA), stipulates Japan’s non-military principles with regards to international cooperation, prohibiting any aid that could serve militaries or facilitate warfare.

Some conferences were held in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) where a host of NGOs conveyed their opposition to OSA on the basis of its violation of Japan’s non-military principles. In response, MOFA repeatedly claimed that OSA is not tied to the same non?military principles that guide ODA as it exists as a completely different framework.

No matter how MOFA insists that OSA is different from ODA, in the eyes of partner countries aid is aid, and the fact that Japan is now becoming a country capable of supplying weapons does not change. Until now, Japan’s pacifist manner of international cooperation has stood as the foundation of the world’s trust and sense of security in Japan. This has served as a strength to us as Japanese NGOs while operating in foreign countries. To introduce OSA would be to destroy that trust. The weapons that Japan supplies will come to be used in international and civil conflicts, and if that leads to death, we will have played a part.

2. The contribution to the great power struggle and escalation of international tensions

The purpose of OSA has been stated to “strengthen the deterrence capability of like-minded countries”. The government has been vague as to who “like-minded countries” refers to, however, upon observing the selection of the Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Fiji in 2023, it becomes clear to see Japan’s intention to encircle China. Contrary to assertions that “OSA is restricted to the areas that are unlikely to be directly related to international conflicts” (answers by the government in the Diet), OSA is military aid intended to confront China. At this moment, OSA is planned to support the implementation and development of satellite systems and maritime policing, but with the erosion of the “Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology” as signalled in the “Three Security Documents”, the supply of weaponry with lethal force such as fighter jets and tanks becomes possible.

The countries of the Global South, including ASEAN countries, are largely trying to establish a distance between themselves and the power struggle between the US and China. The US and militarily allied Japan, in recognizing them as “like-minded countries”, drag these states into the US-China struggle for hegemony, resultantly aggravating international tensions and fragmentation. Additionally, to provide military aid to countries such as the Philippines, where severe human rights abuses have been reported to be committed by the military and police, implicates Japan in their prolonging.

What we as NGOs have learned from our experience in areas affected by the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, is that force cannot bring peace. Rather than contributing to competitions for power in the name of “strengthening deterrence capabilities” and creating a reliance on military power, we must find ways to develop our diplomacy to emphasize mutual understanding and harmony with all countries and distribute aid that addresses the societal and economic causes of conflict.

3. Aid in support of the Japanese military complex

In a move to recreate Japan as a country capable of war, the ban on military exports was lifted in 2014 when the “Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology” was set out. As of yet, exports of completed arms has been limited to one case in the Philippines. The “Three Security Documents” stated Japan’s intention to strengthen its military industry, and it is not hard to believe that the goals of OSA align with that aim. The details as to how OSA will be implemented have yet to be made clear, but the explanation offered by MOFA has suggested that the partner countries will be supplied with equipment from the Japanese military industry as funded by the Japanese government. This is to say that the government will be spending the Japanese people’s taxes on the purchase of defense equipment, which until now had no domestic sales channels other than the Self-Defense Forces and had low profit margins, to support foreign militaries.

The strengthening of the military industry directly leads to militarization. Moreover, the weapons produced by Japanese companies under OSA funding are likely to be used in conflicts across the world. To believe that the use of aid for this purpose is highly objectionable.

4. No debate and no supervision

Just as the government approved the “Three Security Documents” at a Cabinet meeting last December, the decision to implement OSA was that of the National Security Committee, going without debate in the National Diet. This enormous shift in the foundations of Japan’s security strategy was decided without the consultation of even the Diet.

We expect relaxation of the “Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology” which limits the extent and sort of equipment that OSA can offer, but even this lies strictly in the hands of the National Cabinet without the need for Diet approval.

In addition, although the policy regarding the rollout of OSA clearly sets out “information disclosure” and “reviews and monitoring” as methods to maintain the “preservation of transparency and reasonable use”, there is no mention as to how this will be carried out and who will be responsible. If the resources that Japan provides to their partner countries under OSA are used outside of the bounds of their purpose or transferred to other countries, it cannot be denied that Japan would have contributed to conflict. In these cases, the partner country may restrict the disclosure of information based on military confidentiality, and there is no way to ensure that reasonable use and transparency will indeed be maintained.

We call for the Japanese government to repeal its decision to implement OSA so that Japan may continue its international cooperation on the basis of pacifism and in pursuit of international harmony. We also call for the Japanese government to collaborate with NGOs and civil society in prioritizing aid that promotes peace through societal and economic development.

We, NGO No War Network, will make our opposition to this proposal known. We call on others raising voices for this cause to unite.

NGO NO WAR NETWORK 2015 Mission Statement

As a group of concerned citizens and NGOs promoting international cooperation and exchange, we stand together in opposition to the security bills that are currently being debated in the Japanese Diet, and the attempt to make Japan a country that can go to war. We have seen for ourselves the reality of how the mechanisms of war, along with the despair and backlash that come from people being robbed of their natural human rights, create a hotbed for terrorism. Given the various examples that exist around the world, we are certain that being freed from poverty and hunger, and the enjoyment of natural human rights is what leads to peaceful and safe societies. In order to achieve this, however, we must increase our efforts to engage in dialogue instead of conflict. Dialogue among nations will continue to be difficult as long as unequal relationships between different countries remain, but we have learned first-hand that dialogue between citizens and between neighboring regions is nevertheless possible. It is precisely because mutual trust exists that societies in which people live together in peace can be built. As the NGO NO WAR NETWORK, we believe that peace cannot be created through force, and are using our platform as NGOs to call out to all citizens. Our aim is to create a widespread network of people joined together in this aim.

On July 4, 2002, we created our first NGO NO WAR NETWORK. The original NGOs that gathered were those which felt a sense of crisis in the face of the post-9/11 “War on Terror” and ensuing limits on civil liberties in the name of anti-terrorism that took the world by storm. At the time, the US was proceeding with its preparation for the war in Iraq, and emergency legislation was being deliberated in the Japanese Diet. The NGO Network released statements calling for “True Peace and Security” and in opposition to the Iraq war. In addition, we hosted various events, coordinating peace demonstrations, and providing information about the foreign war on terror. The NGO Network was eventually dissolved, but in the face of the current international situation and Japan’s rapidly developing policies that will lead the country to war, we felt we could not stand idly by. Thus, the no warfare movement was reestablished, incorporating the spirit of the original NGO NO WAR NETWORK.

We are a group of NGOs that partake in cross-border cooperative efforts to solve problems related to poverty, the environment, human rights, and various conflicts, regardless of the specific interests of individual countries. We question the ways in which economic policies and political legislation contributes to the silencing of the voices of those who are impoverished due to war and continue to be oppressed. We have also created a space to develop international cooperation and learning that encourages prosperity for all, allowing for people to live in harmony with their own beliefs and values. We take very seriously the declaration made in the Japanese Constitution and Article 9 to achieve a peaceful existence for all through non-military means. As NGOs that stand in solidarity with efforts to achieve an internationally cooperative civil society, we hope to call on citizens and the government to oppose both war in general as well as the pro-war legislation, joining in a movement that is spreading to different political and societal sectors of Japan. Instead of remaining silent now and regretting it in the future, we wish to join with others who share our concerns and to keep working to achieve our mission, no matter how small or insignificant our actions may seem.


Japan deeply scarred other Asian countries as the perpetrators in past wars. We in Japan have also experienced the tragedies of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings as well as the Battle of Okinawa. Ultimately, the victims of all of these wars were always the common citizens. This is especially true in Okinawa, where many people committed mass suicide to follow the order they were given of “death rather than capture”. They were killed not by the war with the USA but rather by the Japanese war machine.

Learning from these experiences, the Japanese Peace Constitution vowed never again to cause war, and settle international disputes without the use of force. This Peace Constitution and pacifist philosophy could have been unique assets of Japan, used to contribute to peace in the world. However, we neglected to make use of this asset and work to truly create peace. We must use our platform as NGOs from the standpoint of common citizens to once again address the issue of creating peace while following anti-warfare principles. These efforts cannot be left solely to the government.

Around the world, the number of citizens’ voices calling for peace and justice is growing. We must join with these movements and tenaciously work to change our increasingly militaristic and violent world. It is in order to do this that we are raising our voices and opposing the security bills that the Abe Administration is currently trying to force through the Diet. Matters of security and peace should not be entrusted to governments and the United Nations alone. We aim to create a net of peaceful coexistence, cooperation and exchange that goes beyond borders, and establish an alternative to the current national security that both truly protects and is created by the common citizen.