Foreign Minister's Major Speeches and Articles "A Path for the Future of Japan's Foreign Policy"

This is a translation of the article "A path for the Future of Japan's Foreign Policy" from the January 1995 issue of the Gaiko Forum, a monthly magazine on foreign policy affairs published by Sekai-no Ugoki-sha
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Yohei Kono

5 Jan. 1995

I. Introduction: The meaning of 1995

As the Foreign Minister of Japan, I greeted the new year withan enormous sense of responsibility. As the 50th anniversaryof the end of the war, 1995 will mark the beginning of a newera for Japan, as it envisions its future based on anexamination of the past. It is also an extremely importantyear for Japan in conducting its foreign policy, because itwill be hosting the APEC Leaders' Meeting. However, whatmakes me feel the magnitude of my responsibilities is myawareness that this is an extremely significant period in thehistory of Japan's foreign policy.

Needless to say, the environment surrounding Japan's foreignpolicy has undergone structural changes in recent years. Forthe last 50 years, the underlying framework of internationalrelations has been the East-West Cold War, with the UnitedStates having been the leading power on one side.

Several years have already passed since the Cold War endedwith the collapse of the former Soviet Union. In Asia, whereJapan is situated, the end of the Cold War has not resulted inan immediate, dramatic transformation of internationalrelations. This is attributable to a lack of a collectivesecurity structure in the region equivalent to Europe's NATOand Warsaw Pact, as well as factors which are not directlyrelated to the East-West conflict: the presence of thePeople's Republic of China and of North Korea, which did notform a unified front with the former Soviet Union.

However, we are no longer in an era when the United States andRussia, which played a dominant role in managing theinternational order, decide their actions based on Cold Warthinking. During the Cold War period, Japan relied on itsidentity as a member of the Western bloc as one of its guidingprinciples in determining its actions on the political andsecurity dimensions. However, this conceptual principle whichdefined the Western bloc in confrontation with the Easternbloc has lost its validity, and has caused a highlysignificant change in Japan's foreign policy. To be sure, itis highly likely that countries which made up the Westernbloc, such as the United States, the countries of Europe andJapan will take concerted and unified actions. However, theirdecisions regarding individual international issues will bebased on their own national interest, not on the mere identityof each country as a member of the West.

Sea changes are also taking place on the internationaleconomic front, as the era of the overwhelmingly powerful U.S.economy and the strong dollar is gone. The relative declineof the U.S. economy and the dynamic economic developmentcentering on the East Asian region, with prospects for furthereconomic growth, have significantly redrawn the internationaleconomic map. Economies of advanced democracies have beenundergoing slow growth, and there is a prominent move towardsmarket expansion by creating free-trade areas such as the EUand NAFTA.

Although the Japanese economy is no longer expected to recordthe high growth rate which was achieved in the past, externaleconomic conflicts caused by Japan's huge current accountsurplus shows no signs of being ameliorated. While it isincreasingly important among the advanced democracies tocoordinate their economic policies through such fora as theG-7, there is a growing view that we have entered an era whennations pit their economic interests and those of their regionin competition against one another. At the same time, with anincreasingly borderless economy, issues which havetraditionally been considered solely domestic matters have nowcome to be the target of international discussions.

What, then, are the implications of such fundamentalinternational changes for Japan's foreign policy.

Firstly, there is a need for Japan to further enhance soundbilateral relations with other nations to create relations ofgenuine trust across the spectrum of exchanges at variouslevels. Further, the end of the Cold War has enabled Japan toexpand its foreign policy options. No longer will Japan makeforeign policy decisions based merely on its identity as a"member of the West." This also means that, in order to makethe right decisions on foreign policy issues, Japan needs tofirmly establish values and principles in assessing its ownnational interest. Such values and principles need to becultivated by the Japanese themselves.

The recent political changes in Japan, I believe, willfacilitate the establishment of such values and principles offoreign policy. In order for a nation to develop a solidforeign policy, it is essential to gain domestic consensus onits basic diplomatic and security policies. In Japan, as isdemonstrated by parliamentary debates, ideological conflictsat home have prevented Japan from forming a consensus on itsbasic foreign policy. Fortunately, political changes in Japanhave enabled realistic discussion in the Diet on foreignpolicy, thus creating an international and domesticenvironment for Japan to deepen broad-based domestic consensuson foreign policy and security policy.

II. The ideals of Japan's foreign policy

In such circumstances, what are the fundamental values whichform the basis of Japan's foreign policy? What are theprinciples which guide Japan in realizing such fundamentalvalues in the real world? It is my belief that in the courseof history, democracy, freedom and respect for basic humanrights have been universal values which have laid the basisfor peace and prosperity and the foundation for idealpolitical, economic and social systems. There could bedifferences in realizing these fundamental values reflectingthe history and culture of each nation. Nevertheless, I amaware that the values mentioned above are increasingly seen asuniversal values on the international front.

Since the end of the war, Japan has built its current peaceand prosperity upon these universal ideals, which are clearlystated in its Constitution, as well as upon peacefuldiplomacy. At the same time, it should be kept in mind thatthe peace and prosperity which Japan currently enjoys couldnot have been realized by Japan alone, but have been enabledby its mutually dependent relations with its neighbors, alliesand the rest of the international community. Many of thesecountries share these fundamental values with Japan, and arestriving to achieve peace and prosperity. Among them are theformer socialist countries, which have gone through drasticpolitical reform and are aiming at social and economictransition based on these fundamental values. Further, anumber of the developing countries which strive for nation-building are gradually basing their societies on thesefundamental values. For global peace and security, thesemoves, I believe, have helped expand the basis for cooperationbetween Japan and these countries.

In order to attain Japan's foreign policy objective, which isundoubtedly the pursuit of its own national interests, thereis the need to build an international environment andrelations which are favorable for Japan. There is also theneed to uphold its peaceful diplomacy based on its ownfundamental values, and to make its economic and socialsystems more open to the international community, whilefurther striving to make the lives of its people better andmore secure. Further, it is imperative for Japan to work withother nations to help promote international endeavors towardglobal peace and prosperity, thereby ensuring mutuallyprosperous relations.

In September 1994, in my statement at the 49th Session of theUnited Nations General Assembly, I mentioned, "Reflecting withremorse upon the Second World War, Japan has never waveredfrom its commitment to contribute to world peace andprosperity. Japan does not, nor will it, resort to the use offorce prohibited by its Constitution. ... At the same time,Japan is determined to enhance its contributions to efforts onglobal issues in economic and social areas." I also stressedJapan's intention to continue to cooperate actively in U.N.peace-keeping operations. These commitments and the policydirections manifested in my remarks are in no way based on thenarrow belief that Japan must extend cooperation for globalpeace and prosperity merely for the sake of raising itsinternational standing. This is because we believe itnecessary for Japan to promote cooperation with theinternational community as well as individual countries, basedon such fundamental values as democracy, freedom and respectfor human rights. Ultimately, it is in Japan's own intereststo achieve such a policy objective.

Having outlined the fundamental values, I would like topromote foreign policy measures in line with such fundamentalvalues. From this point of view, it will be increasinglyimportant for Japan to deal with the following priority areas.

First is the promotion of cooperation for the strengthening ofa foundation for democracy from the medium- and long-termviewpoints. Japan has traditionally devoted its overseas aid,through bilateral assistance and international organizations,to removing the roots of social instability and conflict aswell as to stabilizing and improving the lives of the peoplein developing countries. Japan, as the largest foreign aiddonor, should also strengthen assistance for the creation ofdemocratic systems in developing countries and countries in aperiod of transition. Furthermore, in view of the increasingtrend toward the borderless international environment and thegrowing role of cross-border activities of corporations andother non-governmental organizations, it is extremelyimportant for Japan to make its own efforts, as well as toenhance its assistance to foreign countries, to furtherencourage cultural and other exchanges by private and non-profit sectors toward better mutual understanding.

It should be noted that Japan's ODA Charter states, "Fullattention should be paid to trends in recipient countries'military expenditures, their development and production ofmass destruction weapons ... efforts for promotingdemocratization and introduction of a market-orientedeconomy." Japan should positively apply such principles inimplementing its overseas assistance. It is necessary, inthis regard, to take account of the trends in individualrecipient countries when deciding its assistance, since thereare some cases in which it is not realistic in the short termto link aid directly with specific policies by the recipients. Further, I regard the withdrawal of assistance as a lastresort and consider it more appropriate to make use ofassistance in a manner that will further encourage recipientcountries if they introduce favorable policies. In the caseof Myanmar, for instance, I intend to respond positively inthe field of aid to visible change toward democracy.

Second is the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.

There is no doubt that the proliferation of weapons of massdestruction and the excessive accumulation of conventionalweapons constitute a major threat to global peace, even in theaftermath of the end of the East-West Cold War. Japan hasendeavored to advance disarmament and non-proliferation,maintaining its non-nuclear policies and policy of notexporting arms. We must uphold this stance. As forconventional weapons, Japan recently took the initiative,together with the EC, of establishing the U.N. Register ofConventional Arms. In the field of nuclear disarmament, Japansubmitted to the United Nations General Assembly in November1994 a draft resolution calling for nuclear disarmament withthe objective of the elimination of nuclear weapons, which wasadopted by an overwhelming majority, without opposition. Thisinitiative reflects my determination that Japan must play aleading role on disarmament, and that conflict between nuclearweapon States and the non-aligned countries on disarmamentissues ought to be reconciled.

This year is an extremely important year for solidifying thenuclear non-proliferation regime and further advancing nucleardisarmament, and I am determined to promote Japan's initiativefor the sake of disarmament. For instance, it is imperativeto achieve the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at the NPT Review and ExtensionConference, which is to be held in spring 1995. It is alsonecessary to strive for the early conclusion of negotiationson the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Japan also intends toaddress the issue of how to remove a large number of landminesexisting in countries which promote democratic nation-building, such as Cambodia.

The third area of priority is peace-keeping operations. Sincethe International Peace Cooperation Law was enacted in 1992,Japan has dispatched the Self-Defense Forces to Cambodia,Mozambique and Zaire. Although the international community isstill searching for ideal modalities for global security inthe post-Cold War era, there is an increasing number ofrequests for Japan's participation in United Nations Peace-keeping Operations and its assistance for refugees that can beconsidered within the framework of Japan's International PeaceCooperation Law.

From my viewpoint, the dispatch of Japanese personnel shouldbe pursued in a positive manner, when Japan's participation isregarded as most effective, in accordance with theInternational Peace Cooperation Law, and with fullconsideration to the safety of the personnel.

I have thus discussed fundamental values as the basis forJapan's foreign policy, along with the foreign policypriorities that must be pursued in accordance with thesevalues. Here, in order to realize these values, we mustreaffirm the major pillars of Japan's foreign policy.

III. The major pillars of Japan's foreign policy

Throughout the postwar period, bilateral relations with theUnited States have formed the cornerstone of Japan's foreignpolicy. I believe that Japan-U.S. relations will remain so inspite of drastic changes in the post-Cold War internationalclimate as well as in the nature of Japan-U.S. relationshipfor the following reasons.

Firstly, both nations have constitutions which share suchbasic values as democracy, freedom and the respect for basichuman rights. Japan and the United States are alliesprecisely because we share the same basic systems ofgovernance, as well as these fundamental values.

Secondly, in order to ensure the stability of the Asia-Pacificregion in the post-Cold War era, it is desirable that theUnited States maintain its presence in this region, therebycontributing to the stability in the region. I believe thatmany Asian nations feel reassured to see Japan and the UnitedStates share the Security Treaty as a basis for theirbilateral ties. In fact, the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangementsare a source of stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

At the same time, it is necessary for both Japan and theUnited States to make sustained efforts to maintain the goodrelations between the two countries. Various forms offriction between Japan and the United States reflect a changein the relative economic power of the two countries, as wellas changes in the way in which our peoples view each other. It is undeniably true that the expansion of Japan's economicpower has caused some sense of threat and the image of Japanas a peculiar country in the United States. These factors,coupled with Japan's trade surplus with the United States,have contributed to the bilateral economic conflicts. Consequently, there has grown some antipathy to Japan in theUnited States as well as a sense of dislike toward the UnitedStates in Japan with regard to strong demands from the United States.

However, there is no question that the Japan-U.S. economicrelations have essentially brought economic benefit to both ofour countries. What is most needed for the two countries inenhancing their economic ties toward the future is to makesure that the peoples of both of our countries appreciate thebenefit of those relations. Towards that end, I believe itnecessary to make utmost efforts to resolve the disputesthrough extensive dialogue and measures in accordance withfree trade rules.

It was from this viewpoint that I myself worked in overnightsessions negotiating with U.S. Trade Representative MickeyKantor to reach mutually satisfactory agreements on thepriority areas of the Japan-United States Framework Talks. While there is a need for both Japan and the United States tomake efforts so that these agreements will bear concreteresults, what is most needed on the part of Japan is todrastically deregulate its economy and thereby achieve a trulytransparent, competitive and open market. To these ends,Japan needs to further promote private-sector exchanges, toimprove access to our respective markets, and to furtherharmonize the Japanese economy with the world economy.

Based on trust and on stable security and economic relations,I intend to expand the scope of Japan's partnership with theUnited States in order to realize Japan's foreign policyobjectives, which I described earlier. Steady progress hasbeen made on bilateral cooperation on such global issues asthe environment, population and AIDS. Furthermore, I amdetermined to advance cooperation with the United States onassistance to create a foundation for democracy, ondisarmament and non-proliferation, and on United NationsPeace-keeping Operations.

As the coordinates for Japan's foreign policy, I envisionthree concentric circles, the innermost one forming the Japan-U.S. relationship and bilateral relations of cooperation withsuch neighboring countries as the People's Republic of Chinaand the Republic of Korea, the second one representingcooperation in the whole Asia-Pacific region and the final onewhich stands for global cooperation centered on the G-7 andthe United Nations. As for the circle of the Asia-Pacific, anoutline of a circle has vaguely manifested itself, centeringon APEC. Similarly, with respect to the concentric circle ofglobal cooperation, discussions have been underway to enhancethe functions of the G-7 and the United Nations. I believethat Japan should make use of its bilateral relations with theUnited States, China and others to enhance cooperation underthe framework of the two concentric circles corresponding toregional and global cooperation.

It is my belief that Japan should become a permanent member ofthe United Nations Security Council, in order to solidifyglobal cooperation as a major pillar of Japan's foreignpolicy. The United Nations Security Council has the primaryresponsibility for international peace and security, and isthe only organization which can make decisions with bindingforce. Further, in the maintenance of international order, itis not the overwhelming military might of some countries thatis playing a major role, but concerted international actiontowards such destabilizing factors as nuclear proliferationand various conflicts which threaten peace. Therefore, it isinappropriate that a country like Japan, which is playing aprominent role in such international cooperation, is notpermanently engaged in the United Nations Security Council,which makes decisions regarding concerted internationalaction. Such a view has also been expressed by many othercountries, including Japan's neighbors in Asia. In order forJapan to realize the values mentioned earlier in theinternational arena, it is desirable that the path topermanent membership in the United Nations Security Council beopened.

There is some concern that, if Japan becomes a permanentmember of the United Nations Security Council, Japan will beforced to meet military obligations which Japan does not wish. I stated clearly in my last speech to the United NationsGeneral Assembly that there were some military actions whichJapan could not take. If the international community regardsJapan as unqualified to be a permanent member of the UnitedNations Security Council because of such constraints, then wewould accept it. However, actions each permanent member ofthe Security Council will take are determined by itself, anddefinitely not imposed by the international community. Therefore, it is the view of the government that Japan willdetermine its actions in accordance with its own ideals.

IV. Towards prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region

As for the three pillars of Japan's foreign policy, there isan urgent need to strengthen its relations with the Asia-Pacific region. For one reason, it is in the enormouseconomic interests of the region as a whole to create an openmarket and to facilitate foreign investment in the region,which has abundant potential. Further, as regionalcooperation within the Asia-Pacific advances, it will lead tothe creation of a firm foundation for mutual benefit amongJapan and its important partners: the United States, thePeople's Republic of China, the Republic of Korea and others.

There are many challenges facing Japan as it promotes regionalcooperation in the Asia-Pacific. First of all, the Asia-Pacific region is characterized by diversity in levels ofeconomic development, government regime, culture and history.

Secondly, there are such countries in this region as the U.S.,China and Japan which possess significant military, politicalor economic influences. These countries are intertwined withone another through a history of complex relations amongthemselves as well as with other nations in this region. Therefore, there is a need to promote cooperation in the Asia-Pacific prudently and gradually, to see to it that suchcooperation does not result in the domination of the smallercountries by the larger.

Furthermore, we must not forget reflection on the past. Inthis context, it is extremely important that Japan execute thePeace, Friendship and Exchange Initiative and resolve otherindividual war-related issues in accordance with the statementby Prime Minister Murayama in the summer of 1994, whicharticulates Japan's external policy regarding the 50thanniversary of the war's end. These war-related issues are nolonger merely diplomatic issues; rather, they are issues inwhich Japan must come to terms with its past. By meeting sucha challenge on its own initiative, Japan will be able tofurther enhance mutual confidence with other Asian neighbors.

Economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific, centering on APEC,has entered a new stage. At the Economic Leaders' Meetingheld in Indonesia in the autumn of 1994, the followingdeclaration was made: "We agree to adopt the long-term goalsof free and open trade and investment in Asia-Pacific." Asfor the pace of implementation, the declaration stated thatAPEC members will achieve "the goal of free and open trade andinvestment no later than the year 2010 for the developedeconomies and no later than the year 2020 for the developingeconomies." APEC seems to be faced with challenges as itproceeds with the liberalization of trade and investment. However, if APEC countries work together for such specificgoals, they will create a great momentum for cooperation inthe Asia-Pacific region. It is also important for APEC todeal with development cooperation. As a chair country of theAPEC Meetings in Osaka in 1995, Japan must make its utmostefforts to mark the first concrete step toward achieving thesegoals.

Furthermore, there are two clear political challenges facingJapan in the Asia-Pacific region.

First, it is imperative to normalize the abnormal relationsremaining in this region. Needless to say, we must strive topromote the relaxation of tension on the Korean Peninsula andSouth-North dialogue. I believe that we should enhance ourefforts to improve relations between Japan and North Korea,along with the promotion of North-South dialogue andimprovements in U.S.-North Korean relations. While keeping aneye on the progress in the implementation by North Korea ofthe Agreed Framework regarding nuclear questions, I would liketo call for the resumption of the Japan-North Koreanormalization talks, which, I believe, will benefit bothcountries.

Moreover, I believe that from the perspective of Asia-Pacificcooperation, it is extremely regrettable that Japan-Russianrelations have not yet been fully normalized. The fullnormalization of Japan-Russian relations will create a greatthrust for regional cooperation in all political, economic andsecurity fields in the Asia-Pacific. Regarding theterritorial issue between the two countries, we already havethe Tokyo Declaration as a firm basis. I am determined thatthe issue can be resolved if both countries approach thenegotiations with a firm political will to conclude a peacetreaty.

The second political challenge is enhancement of the dialogueand framework for regional security which encompasses suchissues as arms control and disarmament. It is important tofoster dialogue at the ASEAN Regional Forum with a view toenhancing a sense of mutual reassurance. In addition, it isimperative to invigorate regionwide dialogue on the issue ofextension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and onconcluding an agreement on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treatyat an early stage. Further, in connection with the issue ofnuclear non-proliferation, the U.S.-North Korea AgreedFramework shines a ray of light into the future of regionalsecurity. I believe that the process of implementing thisAgreed Framework can have a particular significance forregional security. Needless to say, North Korea mustimplement the agreement with sincerity. At the same time,there is a need to forge a framework for internationalcooperation among the countries concerned, including Russia,China and other G-7 member countries, under the leadership ofJapan, the U.S. and the Republic of Korea in order to dealwith such issues as cooperation for North Korea's transitionto light-water reactors, disposal of fuel rods and dismantlingof existing nuclear-related facilities. Such cooperation,which will take more than ten years, is expected to bringabout a stable framework for dealing with specific securityissues in this region. I believe that Japan should extendutmost cooperation under such a framework.

Finally, I would like to stress the importance of intellectualexchange. In Europe, the European Union has made tangibleprogress towards European integration based on the MaastrichtTreaty, but such a trend was not created overnight. In fact,over the course of decades, politicians, bureaucrats, businesspeople, journalists as well as students in Europe have beenengaged in intellectual exchanges on a vision for the futureof Europe. In the Asia-Pacific, as well, we should expandintellectual and personnel exchanges on a wide range of fieldsand levels with an eye to the future of the Asia-Pacific. TheGovernment of Japan will begin to execute the Peace,Friendship and Exchange Initiative this year, with a budgetaryallocation of 100 billion yen over the next ten years. We expectthis initiative to make substantial contributions to suchintellectual and personnel exchanges. In order to realize thebright future which, I believe, awaits the Asia-Pacific, Japanmust conduct a creative foreign policy based on clear visionand directions.

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