Report of Photo Exhibition "Women in Mine Action: Celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty"

Women working in mine action all over the world

Fifteen years have elapsed since “the Mine Ban Treaty” (the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction) came into effect in 1999. AAR Japan, a member organization of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), contributed to the formulation of the treaty; it held a photo exhibition between December 17th and 19th, 2014 at the Kensei Kinenkan in Tokyo, showing the current situation of mine action in countries like Afghanistan and Sudan, which are contaminated with landmines, as well as efforts to deal with mine issues by Japan and other international communities.

One of the photo panels provided by AAR: Afghan girls watching a movie about mine/UXO (unexploded ordnances) issues and support for mine victims (Kabul, Afghanistan, March 2013)
The theme of the exhibition was “Women in Mine Action”, which was also the theme of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action 2014 (April 4th). The exhibition focused on women in anti-mine actions. Around 40 photos were exhibited, including those exhibited at the United Nations Office in Geneva in the spring of 2014 that gained a great deal of popularity, as well as those taken at AAR operation sites. The following items were also exhibited: records of the Japanese government’s efforts to formulate the treaty, deactivated landmines, teaching materials used in mine risk education, and protective suits necessary for mine clearance.

The exhibition was held for only a three-day session, but as many as 200 people visited. (December 18th, 2014)
Many elementary school students also visited the exhibition. (December 19th, 2014)

Previous and current mine issues

On December 18th, the Ceremony of Photo Exhibition was held with guests from the following bodies in attendance: the Japanese Diet Member’s League for a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Landmines, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA), embassies, United Nations Information Centre, Japan, as well as concerned public and private donors.

Opening remarks by AAR President, Yukie OSA, who was involved in the formulation and negotiations for universalization of the treaty as a member of ICBL coordination committee, described the purpose of the event. Mr. Kenji KOSAKA, President of the Diet Member’s League for a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Landmines, followed with his speech. This league, consisting of all-party Diet members, has been contributing to mine action as a political group since its establishment in 1997. Looking back on his experience at Asahikasei Factory in Shin Asahi-cho (present Takashima City), Shiga Prefecture, Mr. KOSAKA mentioned that in 2000 he pressed the switch to detonate the first of the one million landmines held by Japan with then Prime Minister Keizou OBUCHI and AAR Chairperson Fusako YANASE (Secretary General at that time), and that he detonated the last one three years later. He stated that he would like to continue making efforts to resolve mine issues in cooperation with those present at the event.

Mr. Kenji KOSAKA making a speech as a representative of the Diet Members' League for a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Landmines (December 18th, 2014)
Mr. Shinsuke SUGIYAMA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, took the rostrum next. In Japan, with the 1998 ratification and subsequent conclusion of the Mine Ban Treaty, the government removed all stockpiled landmines except those used for research and training exercises, and has provided a large amount of financial and technical support through various projects to resolve the issues in other countries. He delivered a congratulatory address that touched on the history of formulating the treaty, the current state of mine issues in the world, the Japanese government’s efforts to deal with mine issues, and the significance of the exhibition held on the 15th anniversary of the treaty.

After the guests had looked around the photo exhibition, Chiaki FURUKAWA, who is in charge of mine action at the AAR Tokyo Office, reported on AAR’s previous and current efforts against landmines.

Approximately 200 people visited the exhibition over the three days. We would like to continue to tackle mine issues in various parts of the world and to promote educational activities at home and abroad, with the support from you.

The ceremony was attended by the ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Japan of the following countries: Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, El Salvador, Estonia, Honduras, Nicaragua, South Africa, Venezuela, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, as well as other embassy representatives from Angola, Australia, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Greece, India, Kenya, Thailand, and the European Union. Ribbon cutting ceremony by the ambassadors and executive officers of the League: President Kenji KOSAKA, Vice President Katsuya OKADA, and Adviser Natsuo YAMAGUCHI (December 18th, 2014)
Several staff members of Salesforce.com Co., Ltd who have helped us arrange the exhibition hall (December 17th, 2014)
※ This photo exhibition was made possible through the support of the Diet Members' League for a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Landmines and MOFA, as well as with the assistance of UN Information Centre, Japan, and Salesforce.com Foundation. Several staff members of Salesforce.com Co., Ltd were also involved in volunteer activities to prepare the display at the venue. We are extremely grateful for their support and assistance.

Natsuki MATSUMOTO, AAR Tokyo Office
Since April 2012, MATSUMOTO has been in charge of the public information and public awareness activities at AAR Tokyo Office. MATSUMOTO worked in the UN human rights agency as an intern while she was at graduate school, and has been with AAR Japan since graduation. (Profile as of the date of the article)
Japanese-English translation by Ms. Yuko Kawano
English editing by Ms. Rachael Lea Rhine 

The article on this page has been translated by volunteers as part of the AAR Volunteer Programme. Their generous contributions allow us to spread our activities and ideas globally, through an ever-growing selection of our reports from the field.