What is APEC for Japan?

January 2003

1. The Importance of APEC for Japan

Economic relations between Japan and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region have become extremely significant. For example, the economies of the APEC region account for nearly three-quarters of Japan's trade (74% of exports and 69% of imports in 2001). Also, 41.34% of direct investment from Japan goes to the APEC region in 2001. There are approximately 840 thousand Japanese living overseas; of them, about 570 thousand persons, or 68.4%, are living in the APEC region (as of 2001).

In order to achieve the further development of the Japanese economy, it is necessary to deepen cooperative relations with the APEC region. In particular, amid the tremendous advance of cooperation in various parts of the world, it is necessary to promote economic cooperation in various fields in the Asia-Pacific region. In this process, the arrangement of separate consultations by members in the region would take a lot of time and energy, but it is possible to promote cooperation in an efficient manner by bringing those members together in the APEC forum for that purpose.

The consultation at one venue with major players in the Asia-Pacific region, which are crucial to Japan's economic relations, has been increasingly important in the promotion of regional cooperation. Even more importantly, APEC advocates open regional cooperation. This means placing importance on global-scale cooperation and promoting regional cooperation in a manner that supports this cooperation, thereby preventing regional divisions in the world.

In particular, it is very important that leaders get together once a year, ministers meet more than once a year, and administrative officials meet several times a year regularly to promote cooperation. Frequent and close discussions among the leaders of the region in this way exert a positive impact not only on economic relations but also on political relations.

2. The Japanese Government's Efforts Relating to APEC

Since APEC engages in wide-ranging cooperation in the economic field, almost all ministries and agencies in the Japanese government participate in related activities.

In the field of trade, there is trade in goods and trade in services. Trade in goods involves such ministries as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. In addition to these ministries, trade in services also involves many ministries such as the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (transportation, tourist services), the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications (telecommunications services), and the Ministry of Justice (legal services). As the service industry accounts for an increasingly large share in the APEC economies, the importance of cooperation in the field of services is expected to increase.

In the field of economic and technical cooperation (ECOTECH), the Foreign Ministry plays a central role, in cooperation with other sectoral ministries and agencies.

The Cabinet Office participates in discussions on macro-economic prospects.

In APEC, meetings of ministers in the various fields and official-level meetings are convened whenever required. The ministries and agencies concerned take part in these meetings in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry. (Trade, financial affairs, education, environment, small and medium-sized enterprises, telecommunications and information, transportation, science and technology cooperation, energy, human resources development, the role of women and the ocean)

For example, cooperation relating to the role of women is a new and important field; the Bureau for Gender Equality of the Cabinet Office takes part.

The terrorist attacks in the United States in September 2001 led to much discussion in APEC, too. Various ministries and agencies are involved in antiterrorist work in APEC, with the Foreign Ministry playing a coordinating role for the whole.

It is also important for APEC activities to enable businesspersons to travel freely in the region. The Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Justice, and others are cooperating in this response.

The Japanese Government frequently holds consultations with the Japanese ABAC members.

The budget for supporting these APEC activities comes from three ministries - the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Finance.

Preparations for the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting, which is held in the fall of every year, are made by the Foreign Ministry in cooperation with other related ministries and agencies. In addition, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry participate in the APEC Ministerial meeting held prior to the summit.

Since such issues as the expansion of APEC's membership require not only economic considerations but also comprehensive judgment, the Foreign Ministry prepares policy options for decision.

From the Economic Leaders Meeting at the top to the many working-level meetings below, the Japanese government's policy is built on the general agreement among all the related ministries and agencies. The Foreign Ministry plays the central role in formulating this consensus.

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