Speeches by the Foreign Minister

January 24, 2014
At the beginning of the 186th session of the Diet, I wish to outline my thinking on the basic orientation of Japan’s foreign policy.


Expectations of the international community toward Japan have positively grown in the past year. Over the course of visiting countries around the world as Minister for Foreign Affairs, I have strongly sensed the steady spread of international support for Japan’s stance of upholding not only freedom, democracy, and basic human rights but also the rule of law and of earnestly endeavoring for peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region as well as worldwide, including the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean .

Meanwhile, the security environment surrounding Japan has become increasingly severe. This year, I will continue to strongly promote our foreign policy, which is centered on the three pillars of strengthening the Japan-U.S. Alliance, deepening our cooperative relations with neighboring countries, and strengthening economic diplomacy as a means to promoting the revitalization of the Japanese economy. In so doing, I will do my utmost to further Japan’s national interests. I will also redouble my efforts to promote the interests of the world as a whole by contributing to global issues.

In 2015, we will be marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, which Japan has consistently upheld in the postwar decades, have become deeply ingrained among the Japanese people and have come to form the bedrock of the nation. Although recognition of history has been a subject of debate with neighboring countries, the Japanese Government’s recognition of history remains unchanged. Japan will firmly stay its path as a peace-loving nation. I intend to continue providing explanations of this basic position to our neighbors thoroughly and sincerely.

Not just for Japan but also internationally, 2015 will be a major landmark year in various areas, including development agenda, climate change, disarmament, and disaster reduction. Japan will make the best use of its diplomatic capacity to contribute even more proactively to peace, stability and prosperity worldwide as a “Proactive Contributor to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation. With the National Security Council (NSC) serving as a control tower, and based on the National Security Strategy (NSS), we will promote the policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” and powerfully show the presence of Japanese diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region and the international community.

Three Pillars of Japan’s Foreign Policy

Over the past year, as we engaged in diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the world map, we have worked to strengthen our relations with countries of ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific region, as well as Russia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Africa. Given the increasingly severe security environment in the Asia-Pacific region, the importance of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, the linchpin of Japan’s diplomacy, is further growing. Since the inauguration of the Abe Administration, we have made tangible achievements through frequent mutual VIP visits between Japan and the United States. As the first pillar of Japan’s foreign policy, we will continue to strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance in all areas.

In the area of national security, in accordance with the outcome of the meeting of the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (SCC) convened last year, Japan will firmly promote cooperation in security and defense including through the revising the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation and further strengthen the deterrence. We will proceed with the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan in accordance with the existing bilateral agreements and make our greatest efforts to reduce the impact on Okinawa with the policy of “doing everything we can.” In regard to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma, in particular, we will work toward its earliest possible relocation based on the recognition that eliminating risks associated with the MCAS Futenma is crucially important.

The second pillar of Japan’s foreign policy consists of deepening its cooperative relations with neighboring countries.

For over 40 years since the normalization of diplomatic relations, Japan and China have endeavored to strengthen ties as neighbors in all areas. China’s peaceful development is beneficial to, and an opportunity for, Japan. Its relations with China constitute one of Japan’s most important bilateral relations, and the two countries share responsibilities for peace and stability in the region and in the international community. For the benefit of both countries and of the region, we will work to improve bilateral relations by reaffirming the basic principles of “Mutually Beneficial Relationship Based on Common Strategic Interests”. Meanwhile, Japan continues to call for transparency in China’s military buildup, as well as continues to deal firmly but in a calm manner with China’s attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo by coercive measures, such as Chinese government vessels intruding into Japanese territorial waters off the coast of the Senkaku Islands and its establishment of the “East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone,” with determination to defend resolutely Japan’s territorial land, sea, and airspace.

Strengthening ties with the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan’s most important neighbor, is essential to the shared interest of ensuring peace and prosperity in the region and it is a priority for the Abe Administration. Japan will continue to deepen communication with the ROK at various levels. Japan will deal with problems calmly, and make steady efforts toward building a future-oriented and multilayered cooperative relationship for the 50th anniversary of the normalization of relations between Japan and the ROK in 2015, from a broader perspective, respecting one another. Japan will also further strengthen its economic ties with the ROK through such measures as promotion of bilateral trade and investment and cooperation between Japanese and the ROK’s companies in third countries. On Takeshima, which is an inherent part of the territory of Japan, Japan will continue to make steady efforts by clearly conveying it’s position.

In 2013, Japan-ASEAN relations took a leap forward, as we celebrated the 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. Prime Minister Abe visited all of the ASEAN member states, and I myself met with the foreign ministers of every ASEAN member state. In December, Japan successfully hosted the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit Meeting in Tokyo. Building on these outcomes, we will further strengthen our cooperative ties with Myanmar, which holds the ASEAN chair this year, and other ASEAN member states. Furthermore, Japan will reinforce our cooperative ties with such countries as India and Australia in various areas including security and economy, and also strengthen our relations with Mongolia and the Pacific Island Countries. In addition to relations with these neighboring countries, Japan will promote cooperative ties with countries in Europe, including Spain and France, which are the first two countries I visited in 2014, as well as with Latin America and the Caribbean, making active use of frameworks of dialogues with these regions.

In April last year, Prime Minister Abe made the official visit to Russia for the first time in 10 years as Japanese Prime Minister. Four bilateral summit meetings, starting with the above, were held in 6 months. In addition, two countries held their first-ever joint conference between defense and foreign ministers in November. Through these efforts, we were able to enhance overall Japan-Russia relations and to give momentum to and chart a course for future directions. With a view to further developing our relations as partners in the Asia-Pacific region, we will work on developing cooperation in all areas, including security and economic relations, by promoting political dialogues at, above all, summit level. Although there still remains a wide gap between the positions of Japan and Russia concerning the issue of the Northern Territories, the main pending issue, Japan will persistently engage in negotiations in order to resolve the issue of the attribution of the four islands and conclude a peace treaty with Russia.

With regard to the situation in North Korea, Japan will continue to gather and analyze information and prepare for every possible eventuality. North Korea’s continued nuclear and missile development poses a grave threat to peace and security in the region and in the international community as a whole. In coordination with countries concerned, Japan will continue to strongly urge North Korea to take concrete actions based on the United Nations Security Council resolutions and the Six-Party Talks Joint Statement. Under its policy of “dialogue and pressure,” and in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, Japan will continue to work toward the comprehensive resolution of outstanding issues of concern, such as the abductions, nuclear, and missile issues. With the cooperation of the international community, Japan will make the greatest effort toward a complete resolution of the abductions issue under the current administration based on the position that the normalization of the relations with North Korea can never be achieved without the resolution of this issue.

The third pillar of Japan’s foreign policy is strengthening economic diplomacy as a means to promoting the revitalization of the Japanese economy.

Under the Headquarters for the Promotion of Japanese Business Support, which I launched to head at the end of last year, we will redouble our support for the overseas expansion of Japanese enterprises, including top-level sales efforts. Japan will also promote the exportation of infrastructure systems utilizing official development assistance (ODA). We will continue to strengthen measures for the safety of Japanese nationals and companies overseas. Meanwhile, Japan will strategically and swiftly promote high-level economic partnerships that contribute to its national interests and continue to work toward an early conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. We will also focus our efforts on promoting Japanese products overseas and taking measures against harmful rumors.

To ensure stable supplies of energy, mineral, and food resources, Japan will strengthen its resources diplomacy.

Japan will actively take part in developing and implementing international economic rules in such frameworks as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the G8, and the G20. As it commemorates 50th Anniversary as a Member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) this year, Japan will fulfill its role as the Chair of the Ministerial Council Meeting.

Further Contributing to Global Issues

Japan will further contribute to global issues as a “Proactive Contributor to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation.

First, as the only country to have suffered atomic bombings in war, Japan will contribute to maintaining and strengthening the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime for which the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) constitutes the basis. It will also take the initiative in international efforts to seek “a world free of nuclear weapons” through realistic and practical undertakings. In this context, Japan will host the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) Ministerial Meeting in Hiroshima this coming April. Moreover, Japan will continue our efforts to strengthen nuclear safety worldwide.

On Iran’s nuclear issue, Japan will cooperate with the international community toward the formation and implementation of a final agreement for its comprehensive solution and continue to reach out to Iran based on the long-lasting friendship between the two countries.

Secondly, realizing a “society in which women shine” is a global challenge. The supportive measures that Japan announced at the United Nations General Assembly in September last year have been highly appreciated by the international community. Japan will enhance cooperation with the international community and its assistance to developing countries in order to satisfactorily draw out the power of women and vitalize the international community. Japan is also developing “National Action Plan” regarding Women, Peace and Security in cooperation with members of civil society.

As the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (The Hague Convention) will be entering into force for Japan soon, we will work for its appropriate implementation.

In 2014, which marks the 60th anniversary of Japan’s ODA, Japan will implement its ODA more strategically than ever from the standpoint of “Proactive Contribution to Peace.” Japan will aim to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and work toward the formulation of an effective post-2015 development agenda with human security as a guiding principle. In particular, we will promote universal health coverage (UHC) based on our Strategy on Global Health Diplomacy. Japan has offered assistance for the typhoon damage that the Philippines suffered last year in such forms as the dispatch of Japanese Self-Defense Forces units at the largest scale in history. Japan will promote international cooperation in the areas of disaster relief and disaster reduction with an eye to the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, which will be held in Sendai City in March 2015.

With the Proactive Diplomatic Strategy for Countering Global Warming, Japan will take the lead in international discussions toward the establishment of a new international framework on climate change, effectively harnessing Japan’s assistance to developing countries and other measures.

The importance of Africa is growing in the international community. Based on Prime Minister Abe’s tour of Africa, we will aim to develop a win-win relationship with the region by steadily implementing the assistance package announced at the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) held last year.

Japan will play a leading role toward the development of “Open and Stable Seas” and assurance of freedom of flight over the high seas. We will strengthen measures against international terrorism, as well as organized crime, and promote the development of international code of conduct toward consolidation of the rule of law in outer space and cyberspace.

Japan will further contribute to United Nations peacekeeping operations (PKO) in the Republic of South Sudan and elsewhere and promote peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities by such means as the dispatch of personnel and human resources development.

Japan will make the greatest possible contribution to improving the situation in Syria by way of efforts through the Geneva II conference that I attended, humanitarian assistance and cooperation toward the destruction of chemical weapons. With regard to Afghanistan, Japan will steadily implement the hitherto announced support measures.

On the Middle East peace process, Japan will support peace talks through the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity Initiative” and other means.

Looking ahead to the upcoming 70th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations next year, Japan will make every effort toward the election for the non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in 2015. Japan wishes to reform the Security Council as soon as possible, so that Japan can contribute as a permanent member. Japan will also work for the increase and the promotion of Japanese staff members working at the United Nations and other international organizations.

Making Japan's Voice Heard and Enhancing Comprehensive Diplomatic Capacity

To further enhance Japan’s presence in the international community and broaden recognition of Japan as a trustworthy nation, Japan will strategically state Japan’s position and way of thinking to the world. Moreover, Japan will seek to further enhance Japan’s soft power by introducing Japanese culture including Japanese cuisine overseas, people-to-people exchanges among the youth and other members of society, and promotion of the Japanese language abroad.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan last year was the highest ever, surpassing the Government’s goal of 10 million. Japan will promote itself as a tourism-oriented country through such measures as relaxsing visa requirements.

For the success of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will make every possible effort including the steady implementation of its program for contributing to the world through sport.

To deal with these diverse diplomatic issues appropriately, Japan will continue to strengthen its comprehensive diplomatic capacity, including its systems for the implementation of foreign policy.


Japan’s postwar path as a peace-loving nation has won genuine appreciation and respect in the international community. While firmly upholding this path, Japan will spare no effort in making unique contributions toward the realization of a peaceful and prosperous world as a “Proactive Contributor to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation. I am confident that doing so will further deepen understanding of Japan’s position and further solidify the international community’s trust in Japan. I will continue to focus my energies on pursuing policies aimed at protecting Japan and realizing peace and prosperity in the world.

I ask for the cooperation of all Diet members and for the understanding and cooperation of the Japanese people.
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