Japan's efforts in the global agenda
-Implementing "Full Cast Diplomacy" and expanding the frontiers of international cooperation-
Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba

(At National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), February 28, 2012)


  • (photo) Foreign Minister Gemba delivering a speech at GRIPS -1
  • (photo) Foreign Minister Gemba delivering a speech at GRIPS -2

1. Introduction

I am delighted to have this opportunity to make a speech today at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS).

Since my appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, I have been doing my best to promote results-oriented, "substantial diplomacy" to maximize Japan's national interests. Accordingly, in December 2011 I presented a diplomatic policy speech focusing on the Asia-Pacific region, explaining how I intend to lead diplomatic activities to achieve the further prosperity of Japan. The gist of the speech was as follows:

  • To maximize Japan's national interests, Japan needs to create a prosperous and stable order in the Asia-Pacific region based on shared democratic values.
  • Then, Japan needs to minimize risks and maximize growth opportunities in the region, which requires open and multilayered networks in the Asia-Pacific region on the basis of an enhanced and expanded Japan-US alliance, which is a public good in the region; and
  • Finally, Japan should also place greater emphasis on network diplomacy, while deepening cooperation with China and other Asia-Pacific nations.

The security environment surrounding Japan is becoming increasingly severe. It is essential for Japan to strive for achieving stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region by securing appropriate defense capabilities of its own and enhancing the Japan-U.S. alliance as the linchpin of its foreign policy and security. Japan needs to support the U.S. Forces in Japan, which are indispensable for this effort , so that they can fulfill their roles in this region stably. From this perspective, it is imperative to promote necessary measures one by one to reduce the burden on Okinawa. As you may be aware, Japan and the U.S. have started consultations on delinking the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps from Okinawa to Guam and the resulting land returns south of Kadena from progress on the relocation of the Futenma Air Station. A Deputy Director-General level consultation was held yesterday and today and I think it has just ended. For this consultation, I instructed the officials in charge to discuss proactively how the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan contributes especially to the security of Japan, and how it influences their deterrence in Asia-Pacific region. I intend to actively conduct consultations on this matter with the U.S. to come up with a conclusion which will lead to mitigating the burden on Okinawa as expeditiously as possible, while maintaining the deterrence in the region. While the security environment is changing, in addition, I believe that Japan and the U.S. should continue to consistently deliberate from a broad perspective how the two countries share the roles in addressing regional and global issues.

I am here today to deliver a speech on the theme of Japan's efforts in the global agenda. I will explain why Japan's nationwide involvement is essential to build a peaceful and prosperous world, without which Japan cannot thrive or prosper. I will also explain the areas of international cooperation which have expanded into new fields.

First, I would like to emphasize the necessity of nationwide involvement. To maximize its own national interests, a country must strive to serve the interests of the global community, instead of limiting its attention to its own interests. While every country needs to play its part to this end, I think that partnerships with emerging nations are particularly important, given their increasing international presence, which in recent years has been backed by rapid economic growth. In January, I visited Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other countries. While actively seeking possible collaboration with these new partners where needed, Japan should make a contribution in solving global issues through the combination of its soft and hard power capabilities, including financial strength and conceptual power. To this end, I think that Japan should take collective diplomatic action by involving local governments, large companies, small and medium-sized enterprises, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and all other related parties.

Let me outline the new areas of international cooperation. The advancement of science and technology has allowed humanity to engage in activities over wider areas, thus requiring broader international cooperation in such areas as the oceans, outer space, and cyberspace. Measures regarding these emerging areas are a new diplomatic challenge.

2. Priorities of global cooperative efforts

With this background, Japan will focus on the following four priorities in its international cooperation efforts.

(1) Creating an international society where every citizen can realize his or her full potential (human security)

The first priority is human security. Traditionally, Japanese people have long cherished the values of placing great importance on individuals and shedding light on all people. Such values are reflected in the universal healthcare insurance system and the compulsory education system provided to all eligible children, which are two great achievements of which Japan can be proud.

The concept of human security calls for the protection of individuals' lives and dignity and the attainment of their full potential as prerequisites for national and societal development. Japan has been promoting this concept in the international community as a pillar of its diplomacy . The concept has been gaining wider acceptance as a basic principle in the international community, as evidenced by the adoption of a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in 2010 on human security. This is a good example of Japan's excellence in conceptual development.

To illustrate how the concept of human security is translated into specific actions, I would like to talk about Japan's continuous support for Myanmar. I have heard that the Ambassador from Myanmar is present here today. Currently, the Japanese government is prepared to provide a total of five billion yen as assistance for disaster prevention and healthcare. Japan will continue to support the country and collaborate with NGOs, aiming to improve civilian sectors such as healthcare and education as well as promoting the well-being of ethnic minorities in Myanmar.

During my visit to Myanmar last December, I found that the country's ongoing efforts toward democratization and national reconciliation were truly real. Since then, positive movements have rapidly proceeded in Myanmar, such as the release of many political prisoners and proactive implementation of ceasefire agreements between the government and ethnic minority groups. I strongly hope that Myanmar will hold its by-election on April 1 in a free and fair manner and will respect the results.

In order to further accelerate this positive momentum in Myanmar, extensive infrastructure development is indispensable. To this end, ODA loans need to be resumed and it is therefore necessary to pave the way for a comprehensive solution to the issue of Myanmar's debt to the international community. Japan will play a leading role in the international community to achieve sustainable development, democratization, and national reconciliation of Myanmar.

The Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting scheduled to be held in Tokyo on April 21 will provide a good opportunity to discuss these matters with President U Thein Sein of Myanmar. I have therefore instructed my staffs to study the review of existing assistance policy for Myanmar with a view to restarting extensive support, including yen loans.

(2) Strengthening global resilience to disasters (resilient society)

From its experience in the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, Japan became acutely aware of the importance of disaster-risk reduction. Japan has a long history of fighting natural disasters and overcoming many challenges. However, natural disasters have been causing increasingly serious damage around the world in recent years. Estimates suggest that every year more than 200 million people worldwide are affected by natural disasters, with developing countries accounting for 90% of the death toll. As evidenced by the floods in Thailand last year, emerging countries, which are enjoying strong economic growth, are not immune from such danger. Japan can make a great contribution to making the world more resilient to natural disasters, thus creating a resilient society. This is the second priority area.

To facilitate stronger international cooperation in this field, I will hold an international conference in the disaster-stricken Tohoku region this summer to share the experience and knowledge of Japan. To build on the outcome of the conference, Japan proposes to host the third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015. Japan will take a leading role to mainstream disaster risk reduction in international cooperation activities.

(3) Support for post-conflict efforts (nation-building and human resource development toward peacebuilding)

The third priority is nation-building and human resource development for peacebuilding in post-conflict nations. Those countries need not only ceasefire monitoring but also better government including establishing the rule of law and democracy-based social systems. Furthermore, it is vital to develop appropriate a socioeconomic infrastructure in order to prevent the people from falling back into conflict. In fact, long-term peacebuilding in post-conflict areas has been one of the most important mandate tasks of the UN peace keeping operations (PKO) in recent years. Japan has long focused on nation-building and human resource developmentthrough its overseas development assistance (ODA). Going forward, I would like to ensure that Japan will play an even more active role in long-term nation-building efforts through its cooperation in UN PKO. Japanese government is discussing among related ministries and agencies to identify how Japan could better cooperate in this area and whether revision of the relevant laws would be needed or not. The discussion is based on the findings of the Study Group on Japan's Future Cooperation in Peacekeeping Operations chaired by Senior Vice Minister of the Cabinet Office, SHOZO AZUMA at that time.

There are two countries that I have been focusing on. The first is South Sudan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense collaborated to dispatch engineering units of Self- Defense Forces to the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan. We will promote coordination between the SDF's activities in South Sudan and ODA projects, while contributing to the sustainable economic development of South Sudan and its neighboring countries.

The second country is Afghanistan. To prevent the country from slipping back into a haven for terrorists, Japan has worked with the international community to support Afghan-led nation-building efforts, focusing on security, reintegration, and development. To date, Japan's assistance has led to the reintegration of some 60,000 former soldiers into society in cooperation with the international community, the provision of study assistance to a total of over 700,000 students, and the construction of main roads totaling 700 kilometers.

I visited Kabul in January this year and met with President Hamid Karzai to discuss the agenda of a ministerial level conference to be held in Tokyo in July of this year. Based on that discussion, I would like to take a leading role in the conference to set priorities for development programs, discuss international assistance of prioritized programs, and deliberate on regional economic cooperation between Afghanistan and neighboring countries.

(4) Promotion of global green growth (rule-making for the transition to a green economy and low-carbon society)

The fourth priority is promoting "green growth" across the world. This year, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) will take place in June, at which international negotiations on a global framework for post-Kyoto Protocol will begin. I will work to ensure that Japan leads the international community's green innovations by promoting stronger partnerships between the government and the private sector. Specifically, based on "Japan's Vision and Actions toward Low-Carbon Growth and a Climate-Resilient World" announced in COP17 held last December in Durban, South Africa, Japan will help shift to a low-carbon society and build new market mechanisms in closer collaboration with emerging countries which are experiencing rapid economic growth and developing countries which will develop hereafter.

In this context, Japan will promote regional cooperation to complement post-Kyoto negotiations. With regard to East Asia, in particular, Japan will host an international conference in Tokyo in April 2012 as a concrete effort to realize "East Asia Low-Carbon Growth Partnership" to take on the vision. Japan intends to discuss concrete cooperation to achieve low-carbon growth in respective countries as well as the direction for forming flexible cross-border networks between public and private sector.

As to bilateral initiatives, Japan will discuss with relevant nations, including Indonesia and other emerging countries, the launching of the Bilateral Offset Credit Mechanism, in which Japan can use credits earned from providing energy-efficient technologies to other countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as a part of international greenhouse gases mitigation efforts of each country. I intend to make this initiative a win-win relationship where and host countries will be able to improve their environmental performance and Japanese companies will deploy their environmental business.


The fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) to be held in Yokohama in June 2012 will be a forum where we advance the above-mentioned initiatives in a comprehensive manner. Japan launched the TICAD process in 1993, when major donor nations were experiencing "aid fatigue." I believe, Japan has played a leading role in development of Africa since then, laying the groundwork for the recent economic boom in Africa. I hope to visit Morocco this May, if the Diet approves, to preside over the next TICAD Ministerial Follow-up Meeting.

With abundant natural resources such as oil and rare earth minerals, Africa has been marked an annual average growth of 5.5% in recent years, which has rekindled Japanese companies' interest in the region as the next economic frontier after Asia. For example, South Africa, representing some 30% of the GNP of Sub-Sahara Africa, is becoming an attractive market for Japanese companies. Japan's exports of manufactured goods to the country in 2010 increased by 50 percent from the previous year. Bearing in mind that involvement in this rapidly growing region offers a significant opportunity to Japan itself as well, Japan should engage in international cooperation in Africa by making the most of its capabilities and resources.

On the other hand, it is also true that many people in Africa remain left behind amid the region's economic growth. At the next TICAD meeting, I will work to ensure that Africa develops in such a way that will benefit a wider range of people in the region, drawing on the insights and passion of Japanese corporations, NGOs, and other parties. I believe that if Japan succeeds in providing additional momentum for growth in Africa, it will earn greater trust in the region as well as grow its own economy by benefiting from African growth.

3. Japan's nationwide involvement in the promotion of international cooperation

To promote the international cooperation that I have mentioned so far, Japan needs to involve all related parties nationwide, and so must strengthen both its financial resources and manpower.

(1) Finances

As to financial resources, ODA is without doubt an important and main financial resource for Japan's international cooperation activities. Since my appointment, I have strived to secure a sufficient ODA budget to help overcome Japan's inward-looking tendency. As a result, the Foreign Ministry's initial ODA budget for fiscal 2012 saw an increase of the budget for grant assistance, thus reversing the recent trend toward declining ODA budgets, which have decreased by half in the past 14 years. I have also actively sought to utilize private-sector funding through various funds and investments. The Japanese government has just started an innovative financial arrangement for a polio eradication project in Pakistan by using a combination of yen loans and funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We have created a scheme, where the Foundation assumes debt repayment in proportion of the accomplishment the government of Pakistan makes.

(2) Manpower

As I mentioned at the start of my speech, addressing today's global issues requires the involvement of the whole of Japan, meaning the participation of a wide variety of people in diverse fields. Japan's strengths will be able to function most effectively when its national government, local governments, NGOs, small- and medium-sized companies, and individuals, etc. unite toward international cooperation. In other words, Japan should implement diplomacy with the involvement of all parties concerned, which I would call "Full Cast Diplomacy", with various individuals and organizations all doing their respective part in international cooperation.

I am optimistic because I believe that Japanese people have the attitude and skills required to make a great contribution to international cooperation.

One Japanese NGO member is called an "angel of support" by Turkish people. While she was working to provide post-earthquake assistance in Turkey with her colleague, she was severely injured by strong aftershocks. Soon after receiving medical treatment, she returned to Turkey to continue helping the local people. When I visited Afghanistan, I was also greatly impressed to see Japanese NGO specialists there working hard to improve local public health while dealing with severe conditions.

In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, huge numbers of people went to Tohoku to work as volunteers. I think this is due to the dedication of Japanese people to helping others, in whatever small way possible. Do you know that there were more terakoya schools, which were ubiquitous all over Japan in the Edo period, than there are intermediate schools today in Japan. It is especially astonishing in view of the fact that the population at that time was a fraction of the present population. Terakoya were not established using tax money or some equivalent at that time. Rather, Buddhist monks and local notables in each region assembled the children and taught them. Indeed, Japan has a long tradition of citizen-led public activities.

I have been advocating for the past 5 or 6 years that Japan should take an approach of "kasshi houkou." This is a phrase that I coined from a well-known saying "messhi houkou" or "sacrifice yourself for the public good." It calls for using your resources and capabilities, rather than sacrificing yourself, to enrich society.

Based on this belief, when I was in charge of NPO-related reform in my capacity as Minister of State for Special Missions, I dramatically changed the systems to contribute to non-profit organizations. Today many NGO-members are attending. Therefore many of you must already know it. Specific changes made include easing the accreditation standards for certified NPOs. An NPO can now become a certified NPO and thereby receive favorable tax treatment if it can collect a 3,000 yen donation from each of 100 people. In addition, as a result of reforms that I led to radically change Japan's donation culture, people who make contributions to certified NPOs can now select either a tax credit or traditional tax deduction. I hope this reform will help Japan's collective initiatives in international cooperation in the future.

(i) Stronger partnerships with NGOs

In addition to reforming the domestic system, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been strengthening partnerships with NGOs working for international cooperation through increased engagement. Such efforts in recent years reflect the ministry's recognition of the importance of such organizations as essential partners for Japan's visible international assistance. In the course of that process, two unsolved challenges were identified: the first one is to strengthen support for developing expertise and building the organizational capabilities of NGOs and the other is to improve NGOs' fund-raising capabilities to ensure self-sustaining growth.

To address these challenges, I have initiated the following three measures: First, I have secured a new budget of 500 million yen to help NGOs improve their own organizations and structures. This is a significant increase in spending for NGOs' management and administration expenses. The NGO-related budget has increased to 5.5 billion yen in fiscal 2012 from 2.9 billion yen in fiscal 2009.

Second, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs collaborated with National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) to start a new doctoral program in January of this year, which is designed to train future leaders of NGOs, international organizations, and others in the field of development cooperation.

Efforts to develop this program has won support from Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) and I have heard that scholarships for talented students in this program will be established with an initial endowment of 700 million yen.

In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will actively work to improve the financial health of NGOs engaged in international cooperation. The ministry will run a campaign to encourage donations to NGOs working for international cooperation in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and other NGOs. Speaking of overall financial contributions, donations in the U.S.A. amount to 24 trillion yen annually, while they amount to only 1 trillion yen in Japan. To change the donation culture in Japan, I intend to mobilize all available resources of the MOFA, while consulting with NGOs working for international cooperation.

(ii) Stronger partnerships with small- and medium-sized companies

In addition to NGOs, we place much importance on private companies. Japan's technical and technological excellence is a product of the wisdom, innovative ideas, and relentless efforts of Japanese companies. However, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with outstanding technical skills often find it difficult to enter international markets due to their limited financial and human resources, low name recognition, and other obstacles.

To address that their challenges, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided to start matchmaking between Japanese SMEs' technical capabilities and market needs in developing countries. Expanding the base of various industries in developing countries will improve investment environment and economic development there. This new policy of supporting the growth of developing countries while simultaneously helping SMEs expand overseas activities will be of benefit to both parties.

To implement the policy, I have instructed our officials to set up a task force within the ministry for supporting SMEs.

(iii) Partnerships with local governments

Local governments are also an important player in international cooperation activities. Many prefectural and municipal governments in Japan have been actively engaged in this field in recent years and are highly praised by the international community. In addition to conducting traditional friendship-building activities, they are vigorously exchanging information about local industries and technical capabilities with international counterparts. They are also promoting local products, tourist attractions, and other attractive features to the world. As you can see, local governments have an important role to play in Japan's diplomatic activities.

For instance, many local governments contribute to the development of global human resources by using their regional strengths. They accept technical trainees from developing and emerging countries every year in the fields of public health, environmental conservation, medical and healthcare, education, and disaster management, among others, through JICA's grassroots technical cooperation and training programs. Such activities utilizing on-the-ground local expertise are an indispensable element of Japan's international cooperation initiatives.

4. New areas of international cooperation

The world today is facing new challenges. As a leading solution provider in the world, Japan should take forward-looking action to address these issues.

I am keen to focus on the new areas of the oceans, outer space, and cyberspace, which are emerging as new challenges to the global community. Japan should play a leading role in solving problems in these new areas, while envisaging their future development.

I cannot emphasize too much the importance of the oceans. Japan is a maritime nation and cannot prosper without the sea. The ocean surrounding Japan is also a public good of the Asia-Pacific region and is closely related to the growth of the region. I have been working on diplomatic efforts on maritime issues since taking office. At the East Asia Summit in November 2011, Japan made a proposal to reaffirm basic maritime rules and initiate discussion to promote regional cooperation regarding maritime issues and obtained the understanding of related countries. To ensure meaningful discussions on these issues, a coordination process is currently under way among the nations involved to achieve a broader participation in the next ASEAN Maritime Forum meeting this year, inviting EAS member countries.

I intend to strategically use ODA and other appropriate schemes to address maritime issues, which are also important for national security. Specifically, I will promote measures to defend the security of sea lanes and to improve maritime security of coastal developing countries, including the provision of patrol boats to fight piracy and terrorism at sea. The new guidelines for overseas transfer of defense equipment, etc. will contribute to these efforts.

The second new area of international cooperation is outer space. Recently, outer space has become remarkably congested, and you might often hear the news of "space debris" or destruction of satellites. The diplomatic and security significance of outer space has been increasing in recent years. Japan's outer space diplomacy has three major pillars. The first is to promote efforts to establish international norms. As I previously noted, Japan will actively participate in discussions with the United States, the European Union, and Australia on drawing up an international code of conduct. For instance, Dr. Yasushi Horikawa, Technical Counselor of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), will serve as the Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) from June this year. I, myself, served as the Minister for Space Policy in the past. Japan will be actively involved in discussion to set guidelines for securing long-term sustainability of outer space activities. The second pillar is to promote further international cooperation on outer space. In this field, from a development perspective, I intend to actively support emerging countries in particular, through ODA projects, in addressing disaster management, climate change, and other global challenges. Between Japan and the United States, negotiations on a Japan-US Outer Space Framework Agreement have just started, which aims to facilitate civilian and commercial cooperation between the two countries. This process was initiated based on my discussion with Secretary Clinton last September in which we both agreed to launch our negotiation. The third pillar is to advance outer space policies as part of national security measures. Japan will conduct further discussion with the United States on space security cooperation, such as space situational awareness, a satellite navigation system, space-based maritime domain awareness and the utilization of dual-use sensors. As the Japanese government is planning to review the existing apparatus of government agencies dealing with space policies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will play an active role in that process. To this end, we will establish a "Division for Promotion of Space Diplomacy" within the ministry in the near future.

Regarding cyberspace, another new area of international cooperation, there is an urgent need to draw up and introduce policies to strengthen cyber security in a timely manner. Cross-border cooperation is vital in this area in order to create international rules, crack down on cyber crime, and create a cyberspace that contributes to socioeconomic development. As a member of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (GGE), Japan is actively working with other countries by utilizing the ambassadorial-level task force on cyberspace policies launched recently in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

5. Conclusion

I have briefly described Japan's vision for its global cooperation. Whenever I meet with leaders of other countries, I feel Japan is trusted by the rest of the world. I think this trust has been steadily built up by each and every Japanese citizen. A survey shows that nearly 70% of Japanese people want to be of use to society, and there is international recognition of our genuine goodwill. I am determined to continue to assist the willingness of Japanese people.

In closing, I would like to emphasize again that it is the people of Japan, including NGO staff, local government officials, managers of small and medium-sized enterprises and other companies, media staff, scholars, experts in various areas, who are the global human resources of future. I sincerely urge each one of you to exercise more power. I have been pursuing diplomacy with all parties concerned, so that various organizations and individuals collaborate and generate synergy effects, which I call "Full Cast Diplomacy." I think that implementing this form of diplomacy requires public understanding and support from across the country, and I will continue to work toward that end.

I would like to discuss the importance of public diplomacy on another occasion.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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