Policy Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso to the 166th Session of the Diet
January 26, 2007
At the beginning of the 166th session of the Diet, I would like to speak about Japan's diplomatic policy.
Today, Japanese diplomacy has gained a new pillar.
Throughout the post-World War II period, three pillars have supported our diplomatic policy: the Japan-U.S. alliance, international cooperation, and taking our neighbouring Asian nations seriously.
The addition of a fourth pillar will give further clarity to our country's future course.
Diplomacy aims to promote the interests and welfare of a people, while envisioning the distant future. Diplomacy is synonymous with tireless efforts to create a suitable global environment to achieve these objectives. Yet, diplomacy must also minimize possible crises.
To pursue those goals fundamental to diplomacy, I would say it is essential for Japan to establish the fourth pillar, that is to create the "Arc of Freedom and Prosperity."
More than a decade has passed since the end of the Cold War. This time has seen, along the outer rim of the Eurasian Continent, the emergence of a series of countries that have started upon, or are now about to set out on, the road to freedom and democracy. Along that arc, we want to spread freedom. We wish to do our part to create a prosperous and stable region where such universal values as democracy, respect for basic human rights, the market economy and the rule of law, take root.
These values we cherish are not foreign-born products. Rather, they are the values that we have come to truly own through, or despite, many ups and downs in Japan's modern and contemporary history. These values that are universal to all human society are indeed the values of our own also.
I believe that Japan as an advanced democracy has a responsibility to apply and practise these values in diplomacy, and contribute to the realization of the principle of "human security" that we have been advocating.
Many countries along the "Arc of Freedom and Prosperity" have already started, or are now about to embark on a long journey toward democratization. Japan wishes to be an escort runner, side by side with these countries in their journey. We will engage in this undertaking hand in hand with others who share our values and aspirations, such as the United States, Australia, India, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other nations of Europe, as well as the United Nations and various other international organizations. My recent visit to the countries of Central and South Eastern Europe was based on this very concept.
(Japan-United States alliance for the world and for Asia)
The relationship with our ally the United States, with which we have in common universal values and strategic interests, is the linchpin of Japan's diplomacy.
We have acted in close partnership with the United States in responding to various challenges facing the international community, such as nuclear development in North Korea and Iran, the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Fight against Terrorism.
The Japan-U.S. alliance constitutes one of the cornerstones of security that supports the universal pursuit of peace and happiness through economic prosperity and democracy. We must now act to give content to the Japan-US alliance that will enable us to say that this alliance is "for the world and for Asia."
Last year, North Korea launched ballistic missiles. Next, it announced that it had conducted a nuclear test. The events of the past year clearly reminded us once again that the security environment surrounding Japan remains extremely unstable.
Now is the time for us to further enhance the credibility of the Japan-U.S. security arrangements. We will further strengthen and accelerate Japan-U.S. security and defense cooperation in such areas as ballistic-missile defense. We will also continue to move forward on the reorganization of U.S. military forces in Japan. This will require the solution of a difficult simultaneous equation that involves maintaining deterrence while reducing the burden placed on local residents in Okinawa and elsewhere. We are committed to steady implementation in the year ahead.
In the area of Japan-U.S. economic relations, we will continue to develop mutually-benefitting relations that the importance of our two economies deserves.
(Strengthening relations with neighboring countries)
Turning to our neighboring countries, we must take note of the increasingly close economic ties that we now have with China. This is borne out by the fact that more than 10,000 people a day, over 4 million people per year, are travelling between the two countries. This year again, we will tighten up this close connection of politics and economy. We will develop a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests.
Japan and the Republic of Korea are the closest neighbors. As important democracies, the two nations share basic values. Mindful of the importance of this bond, we will make efforts to develop a future-oriented relationship with the ROK.
Common strategic interests bind Japan and Australia as partners which have cooperated over a broad range of political, security and economic issues. This year, we will launch negotiations for the Japan and Australia Economic Partnership Agreement. We will pursue this goal fully taking into consideration the sensitivities of people in our own agricultural and other industries. We will strengthen bilateral security relations and promote the trilateral strategic dialogue between Japan, Australia and the United States.
We look to our relations with India with great expectation. In the year ahead, we will bolster bilateral cooperation by moving forward on negotiations for an economic partnership agreement. At the same time, we will support the democratization and peace building of other South Asian countries.
Stability in Asia can not be secured unless the ASEAN countries are prosperous, with democracy firmly rooted. Some of them want us Japan to run together. We will assist those ASEAN countries in building peace and democracy. We are prepared to contribute to the stabilization and strengthening of ASEAN through economic cooperation and partnership.
The second East Asia Summit was held in Cebu on January 15. This provided us with an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to various common challenges of the region, such as energy security and the importance of youth exchange.
Russia is an important neighbor. We will seek to further develop our relations with them, in accordance with the "Japan-Russia Action Plan". At the same time, regarding the outstanding issue of the Northern Territories, we are committed to the basic policy of resolution of the issue of the attribution of the Four Islands and the conclusion of a peace treaty, and we will tenaciously continue negotiations with Russia, on the basis of agreements concluded and documents signed to date between our two countries, in the pursuit of a resolution acceptable to both sides.
With regard to North Korea, under the unshakable policy of "dialogue and pressure," we will tenaciously face up to North Korea for the comprehensive resolution of outstanding issues, including the abduction, nuclear and missile issues.
There can be no normalization of relations between Japan and North Korea without the resolution of the abduction issue. Furthermore, Japan absolutely cannot accept North Korea's nuclear development. In order to extract a sincere response from North Korea on these issues, it is important for Japan to be united with the international community in exerting continued pressure. This requires the steady implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718. Needless to say, however, we will keep the door open for dialogue.
(Strengthening relations with other regions)
I would like to touch on Japan's relations with other regions and countries.
Peace and stability in the Middle East, on which Japan depends for 90 percent of its petroleum imports, is an essential requirement for the security of the entire world and for Japan's energy security.
In Iraq, where the activities of the Air Self-Defense Force continue, top priority must be given to the restoration of security. Japan will not spare any effort to assist Iraq through ODA and other means. Japan considers it a clear obligation to be actively engaged in the assistance provided to Iraq by the international community.
In Afghanistan, together with efforts to improve order and stability, progress needs to be made in social and economic reconstruction and development assistance. For the success of these undertakings, it is essential that all illegal armed groups be dissolved. We ask ourselves: What can Japan do to build peace in Afghanistan? Our actions are being closely watched by our NATO friends. Let me state that Japan is not at all thinking of slackening our commitment to peace in Afghanistan.
International efforts to eliminate and control the threat presented by terrorism are still ongoing in Afghanistan and the surrounding areas. Japan will continue its cooperation in these efforts including the assistance activities of the Maritime Self-Defense Force based on the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law.
Iran's nuclear development undermines the international nuclear non-proliferation framework and can jeopardize stability throughout the Middle East. Along with the nuclear development of North Korea, the gravity of this problem can in no way be understated. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1737 is a united expression of the concerns of the international community over Iran's nuclear development.
Japan stands as one of the few countries in the world that have earned the trust of both Israel and the Arab countries. Taking advantage of this position, Japan must contribute to the realization of peace between Israel and the Palestinians and to their co-existence and co-prosperity. The "Corridor for Peace and Prosperity" proposed by Japan provides a concept for the development of the Jordan Valley through regional cooperation. We will endeavor to bring the materialization of this idea one step closer. I should add here that Japan will continue to support the efforts of President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority who strives for peace through dialogue.
Japan relies on the Gulf countries for more than 70 percent of its oil import from the world. The importance of the Gulf countries is clear, and in the years ahead, we will work toward further strengthening our ties with this region and make efforts aimed at concluding a Free Trade Agreement at an early date. We will pay special attention to promoting mutual investments, in particular, in the energy field.
The continent of Africa remains challenged by the problems of conflicts, poverty and infectious diseases. Fourteen years ago, Japan organized the Tokyo International Conference on African Development and, since then, has transformed this into a continuous process. What should be done to promote the spirit of self-endeavor and ownership? We believe that the African challenge can be boiled down to this question. Next year, Japan will host the fourth TICAD. There can be no stability or prosperity in the world unless the problems of Africa are solved. Returning to this basic spirit of TICAD, Japan will lend its further support to the efforts and initiatives undertaken by African countries themselves for poverty reduction through economic development and the consolidation of peace.
In Latin America and the Caribbean region, in recent years, we have seen the rise of a number of administrations putting importance on achieving societal as well as economic development. This reflects a situation where the economic gap between the rich and the poor remains unsolved. We deem it important to advise, and cooperate with where necessary, the nations concerned, so that people in the region can achieve more balanced socio-economic development. We must continue to engage in dialogue and cooperation also for the maintenance and strengthening of the region's freedom and democracy.
(Challenges facing the international community)
Now, I would like to present to you the following request so that Japan can play its expected role in helping establish the "rule of law" in the international community. I ask the Diet in the present session to approve the accession to the relevant treaty in that will enable Japan to join the International Criminal Court. I would also like to state that we will seek to utilize the various international courts or tribunals for the peaceful settlement of disputes.
Humanity today faces a series of challenges that include regional conflicts, terrorism, organized crime, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, destruction of the global environment, and the threat of infectious diseases. We cannot afford to leave any of these problems unattended. Japan must be a country that sets an example in taking the initiatives, to cope with these difficult and grave problems.
Reform of the United Nations is an extremely pressing issue so as for the international community to tackle its challenges effectively. Comprehensive reform, including that of the Security Council, is needed, and we commit ourselves to pursuing these reforms. I believe the importance of engaging the Security Council was brought home to the citizens of Japan by the experiences of last year when Japan, as a member of the Security Council, played a leading role in the adoption of resolutions on North Korea. Japan will consider new proposals in pursuit of permanent membership in the Security Council, and engage in close consultation on this matter with other countries including major powers.
The work of peacebuilding constitutes a principal pillar of Japan's international cooperation. Beginning in the coming fiscal year, we will begin our efforts to train experts, both from Japan and from the rest of Asia, to work in the front lines of peacebuilding.
In April this year, the first preparatory committee for the 2010 Review Conference on Non Proliferation Treaty will be held under the chairmanship of the Japanese ambassador in Vienna. Needless to say, we will participate actively in the process to meet our important responsibilities. As the only country which has suffered atomic bombings, involvement in maintaining and strengthening the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime has stood as one of the missions that Japan has taken upon itself over the span of many decades. Our commitment to this mission remains as fresh and energetic as ever.
How best should our country henceforth continue to shoulder the task, which we must indeed keep on shouldering, to play an active role in the pursuit of world peace? We must extensively discuss every aspect of it so that we can establish the necessary framework for conducting such cooperation.
(Strengthening the free trade regime and the international economic system)
Next, I would like to briefly touch on other points such as economic and development assistance.
It is important for the growth of Japan's economy and that of the world to promote free trade and to enhance the multilateral trading framework. We will actively work with the other WTO members for the early conclusion of the WTO Doha Round negotiations. Our aim will be to achieve a balanced agreement that covers not only agriculture but extends to such areas as market access for industrial goods and services.
Together with the WTO, EPAs and FTAs are of increasing importance. In this area, we will seek to negotiate and conclude agreements with due speed and will thereby further strengthen our economic relations with the countries concerned.
Japan will continue to lend its support to international initiatives for the protection and strengthening of intellectual property rights.
To ensure stable access to energy and natural resources over the medium to long term, Japan will endeavor to diversify the countries from which it imports energy resources as well as its energy mix through building stronger ties with Russia and the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, Central Asia and the Caucasus, Central and South America, and Africa. We will also contribute to the prevention of global warming through cooperation with those countries concerned in the development of bio-fuels and other renewables, as well as the application of energy-conservation technologies.
(Strategic implementation of ODA)
ODA constitutes an important means for Japan's diplomacy. We will implement our ODA even more strategically in order to fulfill our responsibilities as a member of the international community and also to ensure Japan's own prosperity. We will make good use of ODA also for the formation of the "Arc of Freedom and Prosperity".
Based on the concept of "human security," Japan will continue to play a leadership role to resolve global challenges, including the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals for which all the international community is working together, countermeasures against infectious diseases and environmental problems including climate change, and peacebuilding.
We will also make good use of ODA to promote the development of the trade and investment climate, the development of the legal framework, democratization and the transition to market economy in recipient countries. Furthermore, in the area of resources and energy, it is important that ODA promotes measures such as energy conservation. Japan will also strengthen its cooperation and dialogue with the so-called "emerging donors."
Last year saw the establishment of the Overseas Economic Cooperation Council. Under the new system created to strengthen the policy planning functions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and further implement ODA proactively, we will work with related government ministries and agencies, the business community and NGOs to effectively carry out "all-Japan" ODA efforts.
We will also be working to achieve our various international pledges, including the increase of Japan's ODA volume by $10 billion in aggregate and the doubling of ODA to Africa.
As I promised in my address to the session of the Diet last year, I have endeavoured, as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, to express in clearer terms the will and at times the dreams of Japan's diplomacy.
"Proactive diplomacy" has nothing to do with boastfulness or arrogance. What we need to do, first and foremost, is to strengthen our capacities for gathering and analyzing information. What is important is to be able to induce other countries to listen to Japan. If the use of pop culture or various sub-cultures can be useful in this process, we certainly should make the most of them. We must respond to the desire of people in the world to learn the Japanese language. We must also keep abreast of the current dynamic changes in the media.
(Enhancing diplomatic might)
Last year, I received many expressions of support from members of the ruling parties and others concerning the need to enhance our diplomatic capacity. I take this opportunity to convey my heartfelt gratitude for this support. Ever mindful of the responsibilities that devolve upon me, I will continue to endeavor to respond to the expectations of the people.
Has the Ministry of Foreign Affairs been equipped with appropriate organizational arrangements, and the number of personnel capable of meeting its obligations? Our most urgent task must be to make up for anything that may be lacking.
At the same time, I will say to the fellow members of my ministry that we must never cease to hold ourselves accountable to public scrutiny.
I close my policy speech by reiterating this matter and humbly turn to the people asking for their understanding and support.
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