Subject: Stop Accepting Indonesian Soldiers in the Defense Academy
Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 08:45:33 -0500
From: Akihisa Matsuno <ak4a-mtn@asahi-net.or.jp>

Free East Timor Japan Coalition Release Stop Accepting Indonesian Soldiers in the Defense Academy

March 2, 1999

Today on March 2, 1999, Free East Timor Japan Coalition lodged a protest with the Defense Agency against its policy to accept six Indonesian soldiers in the Defense Academy. It requested the Defense Agency to cancell the acceptance. The six soldiers were already enrolled in September last year.

A number of members of the Tokyo East Timor Association on behalf of the Coalition together with Senator Yasuko Takemura (Democrat, Diet Members Forum on East Timor) visited the Defense Agency today and met with Director of Division of Personnel and Education Iwao Takashima.

The Defense Agency every year accepts a number of military students from overseas at the Defense Academy. From Indonesia, it had accepted only two, one in 1968 and the other in 1992. But in 1998 the number suddenly increased to six. The Coalition sees this policy as against the world trend in which Indonesian soldiers have been increasingly excluded from benefitting from government's assistance programs. The example is the cut in IMET of the US.

Director Iwao Takashima explained that the acceptance of foreign military students is decided with considerations of the general foreign policy of the government, and that the nomination of six Indonesian soldiers came from the Japanese embassy in Jakarta through the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo to the Defense Agency. The whole scholarship program is intended to promote mutual understanding as a confidence building measure.

Last year, one Defense Agency official explained to Rep. Seiichi Kaneta (Diet Members Forum on East Timor) that the Agency did not see Indonesia having problems from a human rights point of view.

The Coalition members insisted that the Indonesian Armed Forces had not examined their conduct and not taken responsibility for many human rights violations, and that therefore it would be a misleading message that they still could get foreign government's assistance to study.

The Coalition members also complained that the level of the Defense Agency's knowledge on the Indonesian military and Indonesia's situation in general was too low and asked it to study more about Indonesia.

Now a signature campaign against the acceptance of six Indonesian soldiers at the Defense Academy is going on and the result will be handed over to the Diet soon.

The decision on whether Japan will accept Indonesian military students for the coming academic year will be made in June or July. The Japanese academic year begins in April and ends in March, but Indonesian soldiers are enrolled in September.

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