(Provisional Translation)

photo (Foreign Minister Nakasone)

Policy Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Hirofumi Nakasone
to the 171st Session of the Diet

January 28, 2009

Basic Orientation of Japan's Foreign Policy

I would like to speak about the basic orientation of Japan's foreign policy.

Japan's diplomacy aims at ensuring national interests, namely the security and prosperity of our country and the lives and property of the Japanese people. The peace and prosperity of the world are essential towards that end, and Japan has great responsibility also in bringing them about. The international community is now facing a serious economic crisis. Moreover, we continue to face a host of challenges that must be addressed immediately, such as international terrorism, an unending stream of regional conflicts, and the urgent issue of climate change. I believe that now is the time for Japan to state its views clearly on various issues and pursue proactive diplomacy. I will do my utmost in order to advance strategic diplomacy that is well-tailored to these changing times.

Last year, Japan hosted the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit and the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV), yielding significant outcomes towards the resolution of common challenges the international community is facing. For the next two years, the international community has high expectations for Japan's role as a member of the United Nations Security Council. Looking at the current state of the world, the path we must walk down will be anything but smooth. If Japan is to pursue its own prosperity and hopes to "occupy an honored place in an international society," we must have the mettle to tackle the many current challenges working together as a nation.

This year, the propositions with which Japanese diplomacy has charged itself are, first, reinforcing the Japan-US alliance and advancing cooperative relations with neighboring nations; second, achieving stability in the international situation as we deepen our cooperation with countries with which we share fundamental values; third, utilizing Japan's experience and wisdom as we assert leadership towards the challenges faced in common by humankind. I will now address those three points.

The United States of America

The Japan-US alliance is the linchpin of Japanese foreign policy and, at the same time, the foundation of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. This January 20th, President Barack Obama, for whom the American people have extremely high hopes, took office as the new President of the United States, advocating "a new era of responsibility." He has stated a number of times that he will continue to assert international leadership in the area of foreign policy and contribute to the peace and stability of the world. Japan will forge a close cooperative relationship by making candid and specific proposals based on a strong sense of mutual trust with the new administration. In such a close cooperative relationship, we will tackle challenges together and reinforce the Japan-US alliance while making efforts towards the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the world. As part of this, I will steadily implement the realignment of the US Forces in Japan so as to maintain the deterrence of the alliance while reducing burdens on local communities such as Okinawa, and Japan will firmly maintain the Japan-US Security Arrangements.

Moreover, in order to realize the peace and prosperity of the world, I will closely cooperate with the new administration to tackle global issues, such as issues in finance and the world economy, the fight against terrorism, climate change, energy, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and African development.

Strengthening Japan's Relations with Neighboring Countries in Asia

As an Asian country, Japan must maintain regional peace and stability together with other nations of Asia and the Pacific, thus achieving prosperity and development.

In December 2008, Japan hosted the first independently convened Japan-China- Republic of Korea Trilateral Summit in Fukuoka, and a significant agreement was achieved to promote cooperation in various areas. Advancing partnership and cooperation among Japan, China and the Republic of Korea is important for the future development of the Asian region. This summit was extremely significant for the leaders of the three countries to build personal relationships of trust, despite individual issues existing among the three countries. I will make efforts to ensure frequent exchanges of views with those two countries, not only at the head of state and government level but also at the foreign minister level.

Japan has been holding ongoing high-level exchanges with China, including dialogues between the leaders. Japan continues to promote the building of a "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests" with China while appropriately addressing individual areas of concern, such as resource development in the East China Sea and food safety. Japan intends to contribute together with China to the peace and stability of Asia and the world.

On January 11 and 12, Prime Minister Aso visited the Republic of Korea as part of "shuttle summit diplomacy." As the two leaders confirmed during their summit talks, we are determined to go beyond the bilateral level to forge a wide-ranging cooperative relationship within the international community, towards building a future-oriented "matured partnership."

As for North Korea, we will continue to make efforts in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration as we seek to normalize relations with North Korea through comprehensively resolving outstanding issues of concern with North Korea, including the abduction, the nuclear and the missile issues, and settling the unfortunate past.

Japan will continue to earnestly work to reach agreement at an early date on a robust framework on verification and advance the denuclearization process in the Six-Party Talks, while at the same time making efforts so that a full investigation into the North Korean abduction issue will be commenced anew at an early date so as to achieve an outcome which includes the return of all surviving abductees to Japan.

As for Russia, an important neighboring country, in order to build a relationship as important partners in the Asia-Pacific region, I will advance the negotiations towards the final settlement of the Northern Territories issue with our strong political will, including at the Foreign Minister level, in accordance with the outcome of the Japan-Russia summit meeting held in November 2008. Moreover, we will be promoting cooperation across wide ranging fields, including cooperation in Far East Russia and Eastern Siberia.

With India and Australia, countries with which we share fundamental values, we will advance our relations in various areas, including security and economic partnerships.

Japan will strengthen our relationships with the countries of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in a wide variety of fields, making use of this year's Mekong-Japan Exchange Year and efforts toward multilayered economic partnerships. In addition, Japan will strongly support ASEAN integration and development.

Amidst the current worldwide financial and economic turbulence, it is important for the countries of Asia to contribute to the global economy as a center of growth open to the world. Utilizing frameworks such as APEC and the East Asia Summit, Japan will engage in concerted efforts together with other Asian nations towards the region's economic stability and development.

Through the Fifth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting between Japan and the Members of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), to be held in Hokkaido in May this year, we will enhance our assistance to the efforts of Pacific Island Countries to resolve various issues, including climate change, and strengthen our partnerships with them.

Sharing Fundamental Values and Cooperation towards Peace and Stability

Japan will act in partnership with countries with which it shares fundamental values while cooperating towards peace and stability in regions outside of Asia as well.

We will strengthen our partnerships with European nations as well as with the European Union (EU), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and other organizations, with whom we share fundamental values. In addition, we will continue to be engaged in dialogues and cooperation with countries promoting democracy and the shift to a market economy, such as the Baltic states and countries in Central and South Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus, and South Asia.

The peace and stability of the Middle East region, from which Japan imports approximately 90% of its crude oil, are critical conditions for the stability of the world as a whole, as well as for the energy security of Japan. With the countries of the Middle East, we will strengthen our multi-layered relations, moving beyond relationships focused on resources.

Japan deplores the large number of civilian casualties that occurred as a result of the recent deteriorating situation in and around the Gaza Strip. Japan welcomes the declarations of a ceasefire by both Israel and Palestinian militants. It is important that this lead to a permanent ceasefire. For that purpose, Japan will continue to consult closely with relevant parties and will implement assistance programs in order to improve the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, including the US$10 million package already announced. On that basis, Japan will make its utmost efforts to contribute to the advancement of the Middle East Peace Process through such an initiative as the "Corridor for Peace and Prosperity."

Recently the Japan Self-Defense Forces completed their missions in Iraq after their almost five-year-long activities. Their activities have been highly and widely appreciated by Iraq and other countries as well as the United Nations. I also would like to convey my sincere appreciation to each member of the Self-Defense Forces for fulfilling their duties with a sense of responsibility under severe working conditions. Japan will continue making efforts so that the results of Japan's reconstruction assistance provided thus far will take root, while aiming at fostering a broader and long-term friendly relationship with Iraq.

Japan will work in close cooperation with the international community for a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue while urging Iran to accept resolutions, based on our traditional friendly relationship.
Japan will also enhance its relations with Brazil, Mexico, and the other countries of Latin America and the Caribbean region, which have had an increasing economic presence as well as more influence in the international arena. As part of this, Japan will host the Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC), thereby taking a leading role in reinforcing the cooperation between Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.

International Cooperation That Utilizes Japan's Knowledge

Next, I would like to take up several points about issues regarding which Japan should utilize its experiences and expertise to demonstrate international leadership.

World Economy

Above all, overcoming the current financial and economic crisis is an urgent issue for Japan and the rest of the international community. At the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy in November last year, Prime Minister Aso presented concrete proposals based on Japan's experiences and urged solidarity among the countries.

It is necessary to ensure the stability of the world economy and prevent recurrence of the crisis by halting the deterioration of the real economy as rapidly as possible and preventing countries from moving towards protectionism. Japan will be actively working to tackle these issues in cooperation with other countries at the second Summit, to be held in London in April, and other fora.

Japan will also work actively towards the early conclusion of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round negotiations, as well as on negotiations of economic partnership agreements and investment agreements, and utilization of these agreements. We will also continue to focus on international measures to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights.

Furthermore, in order to maintain stable access to energy and natural resources over the medium and long terms, Japan will reinforce its ties with major energy producing countries as it diversifies both the countries from which it imports and its energy mix. We will make use of bilateral and multilateral cooperation to reinforce security measures in our sea lanes as well. Moreover, in light of the recent tight global food supply-demand situation, we will also be undertaking concrete policies that will further enhance our food security.

Environment and Climate Change Issues

Conservation of the global environment is our responsibility for future generations. In particular, with regard to climate change, we are to reach agreement on a post-2012 framework at the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP15) to be convened at the end of this year, and thus this year international negotiations will be underway intensively. Japan will continue to take a leadership role, working towards the establishment of an effective framework in which all major economies participate in a responsible manner, on the basis of the outcomes of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit and COP14. In addition, we will actively cooperate with developing countries in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and responding to adverse impacts of climate change.

Furthermore, Japan will utilize its knowledge and its technologies to engage in cooperation with the international community towards enhanced energy efficiency, the use of renewable energies and energy conservation technologies in emerging economies. Alongside this, we will promote nuclear cooperation, with the insurance of nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear safety, and nuclear security as key prerequisites.

Disarmament, Non-proliferation, and Science

I visited Norway last month and signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. This Convention is epoch-making as it prohibits cluster munitions, which cause humanitarian concerns. Japan intends to contribute actively to facilitate international cooperation concerning cluster munitions including victim assistance.

In addition, as the sole country to have suffered the devastating effects of atomic bombings, Japan will take the lead in practical and concrete efforts towards the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons. Japan will work intensively with the countries concerned for the success of "the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons" (NPT), including through the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament.

Furthermore, Japan will promote international cooperation and efforts such as in the field of space, making use of its advanced science and technology.

Countermeasures against Terrorism and Piracy

Terrorism is a challenge towards our free and open society, and eradication of terrorism is in Japan's own national interest. There were many victims, including Japanese nationals, from the recent terrorist attacks that took place in Mumbai, India. I extend once again my sincere condolences to the victims and their bereaved families.

In addition to replenishment activities in the Indian Ocean as countermeasures to terrorism, Japan has been undertaking a broad range of assistance to Afghanistan, including medical care and education, for security and economic reconstruction so that it does not once again become a hotbed of terrorism. Japan will enhance its assistance measures further, including the dispatch of Japanese civilian personnel to Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan. Furthermore, Japan will provide assistance for the efforts by the government of Pakistan, a front state in the fight against terrorism, to eradicate terrorism and stabilize its economy.

For Japan as a maritime state and a trading nation, ensuring safe maritime navigation and maritime security is an extremely important issue that directly affects the existence and the prosperity of the nation. The current rapid increase and frequency of acts of piracy in sea lanes is a situation of great concern. Countermeasures against piracy are a truly urgent issue from the perspective of ensuring safe maritime navigation and, most importantly, protecting the lives of Japanese nationals and their property. We will urgently take measures starting from what we can do now, while considering new legislation.

International Peace Cooperation

Grounded in the belief that the peace and stability of the international community make it possible for Japan to further its national interests, Japan intends to proactively expand its participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations (PKO) and other international peace activities.

As a member of the United Nations Security Council for the next two years, Japan will play an active and constructive role. At the same time, in order to enhance effectiveness of the United Nations, we must realize early reform of Security Council, including Japan's permanent membership. Japan is determined to take an active part in the intergovernmental negotiations that are to begin in February this year.

Official Development Assistance

The active use of official development assistance (ODA), which is one of the most important diplomatic means, in order to support capacity development and nation-building in developing countries as well as to contribute to meet global challenges, serves Japan's own national interests. We will make even greater efforts to implement strategic international cooperation.

We will steadily implement the measures for assistance committed at TICAD IV and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. Based on the concept of human security, we will actively contribute towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in developing countries including those in Africa, providing assistance in such areas as poverty reduction, education, health, and water and sanitation. At the same time, Japan will also use its ODA actively to provide support for accelerating economic growth in developing countries and economic interactions between Japan and those countries through assisting areas such as a transition to a market economy, establishment of legal institutions, and improvement of trade and investment climates, in addition to the consolidation of peace, democratization and good governance.

We are reinforcing our collaboration with both non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private-sector business community and working to increase further the effectiveness of aid by implementing ODA effectively and efficiently and by promoting further improvements in quality.

Strengthening Public Diplomacy and Exchanges with Other Countries

Increasing the understanding and trust that other countries have in the basic orientation of Japan's foreign policy, such as in the policy areas I have just discussed, contributes to the smooth advancement of our foreign policy. For this reason, Japan will undertake dynamic public diplomacy. In addition, Japan will strategically engage in public relations regarding points of cultural appeal, from traditional culture to pop culture, while promoting the Japanese language and intellectual exchanges as well. In addition to proactively providing assistance with the bidding activities that will bring about the holding of the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2016, we will further promote exchanges in the area of sports.

Strengthening Japan's Diplomatic Infrastructure

Last but not least, I would like to emphasize the importance of strengthening Japan's diplomatic infrastructure. To respond swiftly to the numerous diplomatic challenges and to protect appropriately the lives and property of Japanese nationals overseas, it is vital to improve its diplomatic infrastructure, including diplomatic missions and staffing, as well as information gathering and protection, in ways reflecting the demand. We will develop Japan's diplomatic foundations and further enhance Japan's diplomatic capacity winning the support of the Japanese people.


I have visited a large number of countries and interacted with the people of each of those countries since before I began my tenure as Foreign Minister and up to the present day. What I have felt in common in all my travels is that, in every country, regardless of a country's size, people love their own country and hold pride in it. Our Constitution proclaims, "We desire to occupy an honored place in an international society." I believe that in just that way, it is important to be trusted and respected by other countries and to build a nation of which Japan's citizens can be proud.

As I stated at the beginning of my remarks, diplomacy aims at ensuring Japan's national interests, namely the security and prosperity of Japan and the lives and property of the Japanese people. I believe that diplomacy also means maintaining the nation's honor and prestige and ensuring that citizens can hold pride in their nation.

Japan's science and technology capabilities, its human resources, and its history of overcoming numerous difficulties are all points of pride on the world stage. Now, as the international community faces a growing number of challenges, Japan is pursuing proactive diplomacy. I firmly believe that Japan's proactive diplomacy and its accomplishments in the international society will lead to the Japanese people gaining confidence and pride in their own nation. I believe that the ruling and opposition parties should pursue our diplomatic goals fully in concert, as diplomacy transcends party interests. I therefore ask for the support and cooperation of the Japanese people and of the honorable members of the Diet, transcending party lines.

Back to Index