Speeches by the Foreign Minister

January 22, 2016
At the 190th session of the Diet, I wish to outline my thinking on the basic orientation of Japan's foreign policy.


This year is an extremely important year for Japan's foreign policy, bringing with it great responsibility. As the president of the G7, in particular, Japan will be hosting the Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Hiroshima in April and the Ise-Shima Summit in May. We will address issues befitting the G7 countries, which share such fundamental values as freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and human rights, and send out solid messages to the international community.

Japan will also have a number of other valuable opportunities in 2016 to lead discussions in the international community. It will be serving as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for two years beginning in January and will chair the Japan–China–Republic of Korea (ROK) Trilateral Summit. The Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) will take place in Africa for the first time.

Making full use of these valuable opportunities, we will contribute to the resolution of global issues in the international community, as well as protecting and promoting Japan's national interests. Finally, to further enhance our presence in the international community, we will continue to engage in strategic diplomacy.

The Three Pillars of Japan's Foreign Policy

Building on the achievements thus far, we will continue to engage in efforts focused on the three pillars of Japan's foreign policy: strengthening the Japan-U.S. Alliance, enhancing our relations with neighboring countries, and strengthening economic diplomacy as means of driving the growth of the Japanese economy.

The first pillar is strengthening the Japan-U.S. Alliance.

The Japan-U.S. Alliance, the linchpin of Japan's diplomacy, is more robust than ever before. On the occasion of Prime Minister Abe's visit to the United States in April 2015, the two leaders affirmed that the alliance would continue to play a leading role in ensuring peace and stability in the region and the world. At the summit meeting in November, the two leaders shared the view to build a network to realize peace and prosperity in the region, with the Japan-U.S. Alliance as the linchpin.

The new Guidelines and the Legislation for Peace and Security will help to further strengthening the deterrence of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. We will promote efforts under them. To eliminate risks associated with Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma while maintaining the deterrence of U.S. forces, the government will work toward its earliest possible relocation to Henoko. Japan and the United States concluded Agreement to Supplement the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement on Environment Stewardship in September 2015 and issued Japan-U.S. joint press release on an early return and joint use of facilities and areas in Okinawa. We will also continue to make our utmost efforts to reduce the impact on Okinawa.

The second pillar is enhancing relations with neighboring countries.

In November 2015, the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit was held for the first time in three and a half years, marking the full normalization of the trilateral cooperation process. In keeping with this progress, we will work to achieve concrete results at the Trilateral Summit that Japan will be hosting this year as its chair.

Relations with China constitute one of Japan's most important bilateral relationships. The two countries share responsibility for the peace and stability of the region and of the international community. Japan-China relations are improving as a whole, following a series of summit and foreign ministers' meetings held in 2015. We will continue to engage in dialogue and cooperation in various areas and endeavor to further promote "Mutually beneficial relations based on common strategic interests."

Meanwhile, in the East China Sea, China continues intrusions into Japanese territorial waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands and unilateral development of natural resources. Japan will continue to take a resolute and calm approach to the situation while firmly maintaining its position.

Relations with the ROK, our most important neighbor, are of vital importance. Based on instructions from the leaders of both countries to accelerate consultations toward an early resolution of the issue of comfort women, which were given at the Japan-ROK summit meeting held in 2015 for the first time in three and a half years, the foreign ministers confirmed at their meeting in December that the issue of comfort women is resolved finally and irreversibly. We will steadily implement the agreement and move toward developing a new era of future-oriented Japan-ROK relations.

On Takeshima, which is an inherent part of the territory of Japan, we will continue to make steady efforts by clearly conveying its position.

With regard to North Korea, under the 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. The nuclear test by the DPRK is totally unacceptable to Japan. As a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, we will coordinate with the international community to include effective and powerful measures in a new Security Council resolution, while also taking measures of our own in a firm and resolute manner.

We remain steadfast in our policy of making utmost efforts on the abductions issue, as one of the most important issues for the Abe administration. Japan will not close the door for dialogue toward the resolution of the issue. We are determined to put every effort into realizing the return of all abductees at the earliest possible date and fulfilling their long-cherished wish to reunite them with their families.

With regard to the issue of the Northern Territories, the main matter of concern between Japan and Russia, my visit to Russia in 2015 marked the resumption of negotiations toward the conclusion of a peace treaty. This year, we are resolved to promote Japan-Russia relations as a whole in a manner that serves the national interests of Japan. We will redouble our efforts on the negotiations toward the conclusion of a peace treaty with Russia through the resolution of the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands, as well as proactively engage in political dialogue with Russia through various occasions.

Toward a peaceful resolution to the situation in Ukraine, moreover, Japan will play an active role in its capacity as president of the G7, while valuing solidarity with the G7 and other fora.

A more integrated, prosperous, and stable ASEAN is extremely important for peace and stability throughout the region. Japan will continue to support efforts for promoting further integration of ASEAN. We will also seek to further deepen our relations with individual ASEAN member states and continue offering our cooperation, including contributions to peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Japan will deepen its ties with India based on the Special Strategic Global Partnership, and with other Southwest Asian countries.

With regard to Australia, Japan enjoys the special relationship based on common values and strategic interests, and we will further enhance our cooperative ties as well as cooperation among Japan, Australia, and the United States. Japan will also further promote cooperation with Oceanian countries including the Pacific island countries.

We will further strengthen our relations with European countries, with which we share fundamental values, while utilizing such frameworks as the European Union and NATO. In particular, we will promote cooperation with the United Kingdom and France in the areas of security and defense. The countries of Central Asia represent a strategically important region for stability in Eurasia, and we will further expand our cooperative ties with them in a variety of areas. In light of the Rio Olympics being held this year, we will expand exchanges and cooperation with Latin American and Caribbean countries in various areas.

The third pillar of Japan's foreign policy is promoting economic diplomacy as a means of driving the growth of the Japanese economy.

I have personally engaged in "top-level sales" efforts in countries including Cuba and Iran and have also hosted receptions and other events at the Iikura Guest House to convey the charm of Japan's regions to the world. To tap into growing demand in overseas markets, we will vigorously advance joint initiatives between the public and private sectors, including supporting the overseas activities of Japanese enterprises and promoting exports of infrastructure systems as well as Japanese products through Official Development Assistance (ODA) and investment agreements. In particular, we will further promote infrastructure investment primarily in Asia through the "Partnership for Quality Infrastructure."

Promotion of economic partnerships constitutes one of the pillars of the government's Growth Strategy. Japan took a leadership with the United States in reaching an agreement in principle on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, and we are aiming for the Agreement to be signed and entered into force at an early date. This agreement also provides us momentum to energetically push forward other economic partnership agreements.

Further Contributing to the Resolution of Global Issues

For two years beginning this year, which marks the 60th anniversary of Japan's accession to the United Nations, Japan will be serving as a non-permanent member of the Security Council for the 11th time, the most frequent among all Member States. Through this opportunity, Japan will enhance its cooperation with the United Nations and implement its policy of "Proactive Contribution to Peace" by leading the discussion on global peace and prosperity and conveying Japan's views to the world. Japan will actively contribute to a wide range of issues by cooperating with United Nations peacekeeping operations and other initiatives. We will also endeavor to increase the number of Japanese staff in international organizations.

Working with India, Germany, and Brazil, Japan will play a leading role in promoting Security Council reform, with an eye to ensuring that the United Nations can better reflect the realities of the international community and address issues more effectively at hand.

Making use of such fora as the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting to be held in Hiroshima next April, Japan, as the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings in war, will call for cooperation between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states and lead the discussions on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation to realize a world free of nuclear weapons.

Prevention of nuclear terrorism is an important issue for global security. To prevent acts of nuclear terrorism, we will proactively contribute to strengthening nuclear security in the Asia region and the world.

Japan will steadily implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With human security as a guiding principle, we will promote initiatives in such fields as health, women, and education and will work for the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction.

Realizing a "society where women shine" is one of the priority issues of the Abe administration. We will continue making every effort to promote agenda related to women on various occasions, including the World Assembly for Women (WAW!).

Based on the Development Cooperation Charter, we will proactively and strategically utilize ODA through joint efforts by the public and private sectors in order to contribute to the peace, stability, and prosperity of the international community and thereby secure Japan's national interests.

In the area of climate change, we welcome the Paris Agreement, which was adopted at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21), as a framework with participation from all countries for the first time in history. We will strive to help this historic agreement lead the way to advancing worldwide actions for tackling climate change.

Under the leadership of the Science and Technology Advisor, whom I appointed in September 2015, we will promote science and technology diplomacy by utilizing its superior science and technology in various aspects of its foreign policy, including security, global issues, and international cooperation.

Regarding the sustainable use of living marine resources, including cetacean, we will make further efforts to gain the understanding and support of the international community.

The public and private sectors will work together to further strengthen Japan's partnership with Africa through TICAD VI, the first TICAD to be held in Africa.

The security environment in the Asia-Pacific region has become increasingly severe. Moreover, the importance of maritime security has rapidly grown over the past year. With the awareness that no country can maintain its own peace and security alone, we have pursued peace, stability, and prosperity in Japan, the region, and the world by promoting Proactive Contribution to Peace based on the principle of international cooperation. At the 189th session of the Diet, the Legislation for Peace and Security was approved as a means of putting into practice this Proactive Contribution to Peace. Japan will continue to secure the lives and peaceful livelihood of its people and further contribute to the peace, stability, and prosperity of the region and the world.

Many countries have expressed serious concern over all unilateral actions observed in the South China Sea to change the status quo and raise tensions, including large-scale and rapid land reclamations, construction of outposts, and their use for military purposes. These actions cannot be recognized as faits accomplis. To consolidate the rule of law at sea, Japan, as president of the G7, will work in coordination with related countries toward maintaining and developing "Open and Stable Seas" based on the "Three Principles on the Rule of Law at Sea."

Despicable acts of terrorism that rob the lives of innocent civilians, including the series of terror attacks that occurred in Paris in 2015, are challenges to peace and prosperity, common values for all humanity. The government will make concerted efforts to strengthen its measures against international terrorism, including through the activities of the Counter Terrorism Unit that was established within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in December 2015, and do its utmost to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals both in Japan and overseas. Working in cooperation with the international community, the government will step up its efforts to counter terrorism and the underlying violent extremism.

For stability in the Middle East region, Japan, in cooperation with the international community, will call on all parties to practice self-restraint and to strive to bring the situation under control through dialogue. Japan supports the progress of the political process for Syria and will do its best to help improve the situation primarily through humanitarian assistance cooperating with other countries. We will urge countries in the region to play constructive roles and will provide as much assistance as possible in non-military ways. Japan supports the final agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue. We will work with the international community to strengthen the international nuclear nonproliferation regime and contribute to peace and stability in the Middle East region.

We will do our utmost to ensure the safety of sea lanes by engaging in antipiracy measures off the coast of Somalia, and in the Gulf of Aden, and in Asia. We will also work to realize and reinforce the rule of law in outer space and cyberspace. With regard to new opportunities and challenges in the Arctic, Japan will make active contributions.

Enhancing Comprehensive Diplomatic Capacity and Strategic Dissemination of Information

With the aim of materializing an apparatus for executing foreign policy comparable to other major countries, we will continue to bolster our comprehensive diplomatic capacity, by expanding and strengthening our overseas missions and further enhancing the competitiveness of our diplomatic staff. In order to enhance Japan's presence in the international community, we will strategically convey Japan's basic policies and its diverse attractiveness, while strongly developing the basis of well-informed people on Japan.


Bonds between individuals are key to diplomacy. Valuing and preserving the bonds and relations of trust that I have developed with my foreign minister counterparts and other leaders of countries around the world, I will continue to commit myself to ensuring Japan's national interests by steadily garnering positive results on the diplomatic issues we face today.

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

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