Policy Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura to the 169th Session of the Diet
January 18, 2008
As we convene the 169th session of the Diet, I would like to address you with regard to Japan's basic foreign policies.
Creating a Peaceful World
In my policy speech at the ordinary diet session in 1999, I stated that, having seen the end of the Cold War, the international community was poised to herald the dawn of the new century, yet there would be no easy path to a peaceful and stable world that we seek.
Here we now stand, nine years later, witnessing favorable developments on the one hand, including stability and prosperity in Asian nations, movement towards regional cooperation and economic integration in the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe. On the other hand, the world continues to confront numerous challenges, including issues concerning North Korea, international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missiles, climate change and other environmental issues, and African development issues.
Without realizing the international peace and prosperity, it would be difficult to attain the happiness of the Japanese people and Japan's own peace and prosperity, which are Japan's national interests. The international peace and prosperity is by no means a given. It can be realized only through the unremitting efforts of every state. Japan should not be passive in bringing about this peace and prosperity.
As Prime Minister Fukuda mentioned in his policy speech, Japan places maintenance of the solid Japan-U.S. Alliance and international cooperation at the cornerstone of its foreign policy, and Japan will work proactively as "Peace Fostering Nation" to foster peace and development in the international society, cooperating closely with neighboring countries, including China and the Republic of Korea, as well as with the United Nations and others.
Japan has until now been working towards the realization of peace and prosperity around the world through its ODA, as well as through its active participation in peacekeeping operations and other international peace activities.
Moreover, in the current fiscal year Japan launched a pilot program to foster human resources for peacebuilding. Japan also currently holds the chairmanship of the United Nations PPeacebuilding Commission. In addition, we have decided to extend assistance to PKO centres in Africa with a view to enhancing their peacekeeping capacities.
In order to create a peaceful world, Japan will be redoubling its efforts to advance these activities.
In the Diet session just ended, the Replenishment Support Special Measures Law was enacted, enabling Japan to once again show its determination to continue to fulfill its responsibilities in the international efforts of "fight against terrorism." Furthermore, Japan will continue its assistance to advance the stability and reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq, which are issues of great importance to the international community.
At the same time, I consider it is essential to prepare a general legal framework, regarding specific activities of Japan's international peace cooperation, from the perspective of promoting prompt and flexible cooperation. We will consider what types of international peace cooperation Japan should take on in the future as we further deepen our discussions for the purpose of creating a peaceful world.
Leadership at the Hokkaido Toyako Summit and TICAD IV
This year, as the chair of the G8 Summit, Japan will host the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. I myself will be serving as the chair of both the Foreign Ministers Meeting to be held in Kyoto and the Development Ministers Meeting.
As globalization advances, global challenges that any one country cannot solve alone have become increasingly important, and there is a need for even greater cooperation among the major powers in the global economy as well.
In these meetings Japan will play a leading role and send out a forward-looking message with regard to critical issues, namely environment and climate change, development and Africa, the world economy, and political issues including non-proliferation. The Government of Japan will make concerted efforts towards success in these meetings.
In addition, Japan will convene the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) in Yokohama in May of this year. In keeping with the conference's main theme of "Towards a Vibrant Africa," Japan will take a leading role in tackling such issues for Africa as boosting economic growth, ensuring human security, and environment/climate issues. I made a visit to Tanzania at the beginning of this year with this firmly in mind.
This year, hosting such important meetings as G8 summit and TICAD IV will provide Japan an excellent opportunity. It goes well beyond the mere fact that in the same year we will be hosting both the G8 Summit, which we chair every eight years, and TICAD, held every five years.
Japan has been playing an active role in enhancing the peace and stability of the globe. Adding to this, this year, with Japan as both the chair of the G8 and the host country of TICAD, it is expected that Japan is to uphold our significant international responsibilities by orchestrating the diplomatic efforts of various countries towards global peace and stability.
Japan will demonstrate leadership for the creation of a peaceful world in order to take full advantage of this opportunity that we have here in 2008, developing more fully as "Peace Fostering Nation" that enjoys trust from international society.
The Japan-U.S. Alliance is the cornerstone of Japan's foreign policy. We will further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance and cooperate closely with the United States in a wide range of fields, including politics, security, and economics.
We will strengthen Japan-U.S. security and defense cooperation. We will steadily implement the realignment of U.S. Forces in Japan, based on the idea of maintaining deterrence and reducing burdens on local communities, while listening to the earnest voices of the local communities.
Furthermore, we will strengthen the Japan-U.S. exchanges, including intellectual exchanges, grass root exchanges, and Japanese language education in the United States, which provide the foundation for the Japan-U.S. relations and also lead to a future deepening of the Japan-U.S. Alliance.
Strengthening of Relations with Neighboring Countries
Touching on our relations with neighboring countries now, it is indispensable for the security and the prosperity of Japan that the Asian region be enriched, stable, and open.
With China, we will establish a "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests" and contribute together to the peace, stability, and prosperity of the globe. Prime Minister Fukuda and I each had the occasion to visit China last month, and President HU Jintao plans to visit Japan this year around the time when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.
This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China as well as the Japan-China Youth Exchange Friendship Year, and Japan will further strengthen Japan-China relations by continuing to build up dialogues and exchanges across a broad array of fields while making efforts to resolve outstanding issues.
The Republic of Korea is an important neighbor for Japan. Both countries are sharing the fundamental values, such as freedom, democracy, basic human rights and market economy, and facing common challenges, including the North Korean issues. Japan will further enhance its future-oriented relations with the Republic of Korea under the new administration of President-elect Lee Myung-bak.
Resolution of the issues concerning North Korea is of critical importance to the national security of Japan and a necessity for peace and stability in Asia. Through the Six-Party Talks and bilateral talks with North Korea, Japan will make all possible efforts to comprehensively resolve outstanding issues, including the abduction, nuclear, and missile issues, to settle the issues of unfortunate past, and to normalize relations with North Korea as early as possible.
With our important neighbor Russia, we will advance negotiations with a strong determination to produce developments towards resolution of the issue of the Northern Territories. At the same time, in accordance with the "Japan-Russia Action Plan," we will continue to pursue the development of relations in a wide range of fields, with an aim of creating a "strategic partnership" through active cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, including in Far East Russia and Eastern Siberia.
The solidarity of ASEAN and its prosperity are important driving forces for stability and prosperity in the East Asian region as a whole. Recently, negotiations were successfully concluded on the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP) Agreement. We are working towards an early entry into force of this Agreement. In addition, in order to enhance development and prosperity in ASEAN, Japan will be strongly supporting ASEAN integration efforts by narrowing the intraregional gap through Mekong region development and by assisting human resources development.
We will also continue to strengthen our relations with India and Australia across a broad range of areas, including security and negotiations on economic partnership agreements.
We will continue to promote cooperation, including the trilateral strategic dialogue among Japan, Australia and the United States.
Furthermore, with a view to building an East Asian community in the future, Japan, working with the other countries of Asia, will actively tackle issues common to the region, making use of the East Asia Summit and other such frameworks.
At the East Asia Summit held this past November, Prime Minister Fukuda put forth Japan's initiative for environmental cooperation in order to bring about a "sustainable society" in East Asia. In the months and years to come we will be working steadily to make this a reality.
Furthermore, Japan will continue to advance trilateral cooperation among Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea in the area of the environment and other fields.
Strengthening of Relations with Other Regions
Turning now to other regions, Japan will work closely with European countries, most notably with the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands, which celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year. We shall also foster the cooperative relationships with the European Union and NATO that we have cultivated thus far.
In addition Japan will be building up its relations with the Baltic States as well as the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and South Asia by means of dialogues and assistance to promote democratization and the transition to market economy.
Peace and stability in the Middle East, from which Japan imports approximately 90% of its crude oil consumption, is an indispensable condition for the stability of the world as a whole as well as for the energy security of Japan. Japan will seek to establish multi-layered relations, which are not limited to its demand for natural resources, with various Middle Eastern countries.
Japan welcomes the results of the Annapolis conference as a major step for advancing the Middle East peace process and will continue to contribute to the realization of peace in the Middle East. Above all, as Japan's initiative for the concept of the "Corridor for Peace and Prosperity" is highly appreciated by both Israelis and Palestinians, Japan will make continuous and steady efforts to produce tangible results on the ground.
Japan will moreover fortify its relationships with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) further and work towards the early conclusion of an FTA as well as an increase in mutual investments in the field of energy.
At the same time, Japan will work in close cooperation with the international community for a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue.
Japan will also further fortify its ties with Brazil, particularly in this year of the 100th anniversary of Japanese immigration, and the whole nations in the Latin America and the Caribbean region, who have been enjoying more significant economic presence and more influential voice in the international arena.
Common Challenges for International Community
Next I would like to address common challenges that international community faces. The issue of climate change is one that requires urgent, concerted efforts by all humankind.
At the thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP13 of the UNFCCC), agreement was reached, in line with Japan's proposal, to create a negotiations platform in which all major emitting countries can participate. In this way Japan contributed concretely to the formulation of the Bali Action Plan.
It is necessary for Japan to undertake earnest efforts leading to the global emissions reductions. Japan will take the initiative in the Hokkaido Toyako Summit and other fora, working towards the creation of a meaningful framework by all major emitting countries and formulating a financial mechanism to provide assistance for developing countries.
Inextricably linked to the issue of climate change is that of energy security. In order to ensure stable access to energy and natural resources over the medium to long term, Japan will pursue diversification of both the countries from which we import and our energy mix. In addition, Japan will fortify measures to secure the safety of its transportation routes through bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
Japan will also work in cooperation with the international community towards the enhancement of energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies and energy-conserving technologies in emerging countries. We will also advance nuclear cooperation, while ensuring of nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear safety, and nuclear security as an essential prerequisite.
Considering the serious situation of infectious diseases and maternal and child health in the developing world, global health issues are also ones that we must actively confront. Through such fora as TICAD IV and the Hokkaido Toyako Summit, Japan, drawing from its own experiences, intends to formulate a framework for action shared by the international community.
Furthermore, as the only nation ever to have suffered nuclear devastation, Japan will work to maintain and strengthen the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime based on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, in order to maintain and enhance the peace and stability of international society.
Official Development Assistance
With respect to Official Development Assistance, cooperation towards the stability and development of developing countries also advances Japan's own interests and constitute a critical issue for Japanese diplomacy. We will actively engage in such assistance, on the basis of the perspective of human security.
International community is working in concert towards the resolution of global issues as well as the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
We will fulfill our international responsibilities fitting to Japan to address such issues as poverty eradication, infectious diseases and other health issues, education, water and sanitation, and disaster reduction and disaster management, including the attainment of our pledge to international society that we would increase our ODA volume by US$10 billion. In October of this year, the New JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) will be established, enabling the integrated implementation of technical cooperation, loan assistance, and grant assistance. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will take advantage of this opportunity to increase its efforts to promote international cooperation reflecting Japan's foreign policy. We will also further enhance the effectiveness of our assistance through cooperation with NGOs and the private sector.
In the area of official development assistance, Japan will be further pursuing "selection and concentration" and promoting improvements in quality. We will make active use of ODA to ensure stable access to energy and natural resources, democratization and shifts to market economies, assistance for legal and judicial system development, and support for improvement of environments for trade and investment.
Reform of the United Nations Security Council
An early realization of the reform of the United Nations Security Council, which plays an important role in maintaining international peace and stability, is an imminent issue.
In order for Japan to be able to contribute further to international society, Japan will make every effort bring about an early reform of the Security Council at the earliest possible time and also pursue permanent membership in the Security Council.
Strengthening of International Economic Frameworks and the "Rule of Law" in International Society
In addition, the strengthening of the multilateral trading systems constitutes a vital interest for Japan.
The World Trade Organization's Doha Round negotiations have reached a critically important juncture, regarding whether agreement can be reached on the modalities for, inter alia, the reduction of agricultural and non-agricultural tariffs. In working for the early conclusion of the Doha Round negotiations, Japan will continue to engage actively in the negotiations, with the government undertaking in unison all possible efforts to achieve a balanced outcome of negotiations.
We will continue to provide support for international initiatives to protect and strengthen intellectual property rights.
Furthermore, it is necessary to have the "rule of law" established within the international community in order to bring about the peace and prosperity of international society. Japan is making active contribution in this field through various measures including utilization of international judicial systems.
Strengthening Public Diplomacy and Exchanges with Other Countries
In my remarks thus far I have overviewed Japan's foreign policies, including notably our efforts to create a peaceful world. Increasing other countries' trust and understanding of Japan contributes to the smooth advancement of our diplomatic policies. For this reason, Japan will continue to engage in the strategic and proactive public diplomacy regarding Japan's points of appeal and Japan's foreign policies. We will also endeavor to increase the number of students of the Japanese language and to promote intellectual exchanges and other exchanges at the people-to-people level.
Ensuring the Safety of Japanese Nationals Overseas
At the same time, various incidents involving Japanese nationals have occurred overseas, such as the kidnapping of a Japanese citizen in Iran. We will continue to make every possible effort to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals overseas while also providing appropriate assistance to the many Japanese nationals engaged in activities all around the world so that they can feel assured in smoothly exercising their full abilities.
Strengthening Japan's diplomatic infrastructure
Last but not least, to respond appropriately to the numerous diplomatic issues and promote efforts to create a peaceful world, it is vital for Japan to strengthen its information gathering and analysis capabilities as well as its systems for protecting information and counter-intelligence, and thus Japan will be continuing its efforts in these areas.
Furthermore, major improvements in Japan's diplomatic infrastructure, including its diplomatic missions and staffing, will be critically important. We will aggressively pursue this agenda while winning the support of the Japanese people.
As Japan develops a more robust diplomacy, the understanding and support of the Japanese people and of the honorable members of the Diet will be indispensable. I would like to close my policy speech today by emphasizing that once more.
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