Update: Tokio launch 2017 update ‘Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions’ report

On Tuesday May 23, the 2017 update of the report ‘Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions’ was launched in Tokyo (Japan) with a press conference. The CMC, PAX, and the Japanese Campaign to Ban Landmines (JCBL) also met with representatives of members of the Japanese Parliament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government Pension Investment Fund to exchange on the findings of the report.

The full press conference can be viewed on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUx6z43QSHc

At the press conference, hosted at the Japanese Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo, Firoz Alizada of the CMC explained the unacceptable consequences caused by cluster munitions: “Cluster munitions can’t  distinguish between a civilian or a military target. Anyone within the strike area of a cluster bomb is likely to be injured or killed, and when cluster munitions are used in populated areas, civilians always fall victim”. For example, over 80% of casualties caused by cluster munitions in Yemen were civilians. The inhumane nature of cluster munitions are the reason they have been banned by most countries through the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).

As the report shows, financial institutions still invest in companies that produce cluster bombs. These investments contribute to the continued production of cluster bombs. In the report ‘Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions’, PAX and the CMC aim to name and shame those financial institutions that invest in producers of cluster munitions and praise the institutions and States that have taken position to stop investments in these weapons producers.

At the press conference, the findings of the 2017 update of the report were presented. The report shows that in the last 4 years, 166 financial institutions invested US$31 billion in 6 companies involved in the production of cluster bombs. This is an increase of US$3 billion compared to the 2016 report.

Even countries that are party to the CCM, still host financial institutions that invest in cluster munitions producers. Amongst the 15 of these financial institutions listed in the report, 4 are from Japan. That is why PAX and the CMC called also specifically on the Japanese government and Japanese financial institutions to start taking their responsibility: “if we decided to ban cluster bombs, why would we allow investments in the companies that produce these banned weapons?” said Maaike Beenes, program officer at PAX.

CMC, PAX and JCBL in front of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) offices in Tokyo. MUFG is one of the Japanese financial institutions that still invest in producers of cluster bombs.

The Japanese Government Pension Investment Fund also invests in cluster bomb producers. As a government pension fund from a country that has joined the international ban in cluster bomb, it is especially important that the GPIF ends these investments. The JCBL, CMC and PAX met with representatives of the GPIF, urging them to end the investments in cluster bomb producers.

The JCBL, CMC and PAX also met with representatives of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to urge the Japanese government to start playing a leading role in ending investments in cluster bomb producers, not only by making it possible that GPIF no longer continues these investments, but also by adopting national legislation prohibiting such investments altogether. It should also work towards increasing the universalisation of the CCM in its own region: although Japan itself joined the CCM already in 2008, its neighbours China and South Korea remain outside of the treaty, and continue to produce and stockpile cluster munitions. Japan has a responsibility to encourage its neighbours to join the treaty banning those weapons.

Members of Parliament can also play an important role in ending investments in cluster bomb producers, by encouraging their government to adopt national legislation prohibiting those investments, or by proposing legislation themselves. At a meeting at Japan’s Diet, the Parliament, several of its members indicated their conviction that investments by Japanese financial institutions in cluster bomb producers should end.

We hope that the focus on the Asian region that was generated by the launch in Japan will continue to have a positive effect, as well as supporting the JCBL in encouraging Japan to start playing a leading role on this issue.

The launch of the report was covered among others by Thomson ReutersMainichi newspaper and Abema TV. More media coverage of the launch is compiled here.

The full 2017 update of the report ‘Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions, a shared responsibility’ can be downloaded here.