Speeches by the Foreign Minister

January 17, 2022

At the 208th session of the Diet, allow me to outline Japan's foreign policy.

(Opening a New Frontier of Japanese Diplomacy with Three Determinations Amid Epoch-Making Changes)
At present, the international community is confronted with epoch-making changes. The change in the balance of power in the international community is accelerating and is becoming more and more complex, and the security environment surrounding Japan is also becoming increasingly severe and uncertain.

In this situation, universal values, such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and the international order, which have until now underpinned the peace and prosperity of the international community, have been exposed to serious challenges. Moreover, due to the advent of innovative technologies, the scope of security is rapidly broadening, as indicated by the emergence of various challenges that extend across the economic and security fields.

At the same time, we must not halt efforts to address global challenges, including climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, disarmament and nonproliferation. To support the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic among others, we must expand the free and fair economic order, and develop rules and an international order adapted to a new era, including in the digital area.

From those perspectives and based on the world's trust in Japan that has been fostered through the efforts of past generations of the Japanese people, we will open a new frontier of Japanese diplomacy with a balanced and stable posture with high level of readiness, underpinned by three determinations; the determination to fully defend universal values, the determination to fully safeguard the peace and stability of Japan, and the determination to contribute to the humankind and take on a leadership role in the international community.

(Dealing with the Increasingly Severe Security Environment)
First, we will strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance. The Japan-U.S. Alliance is the cornerstone of the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region and the linchpin of Japan’s foreign policy and security. Under the Kishida cabinet, we will continue to strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance's deterrence and response capabilities, as was affirmed with Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin at the recent Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (Japan-U.S. "2+2"). To do so, it is also necessary to fundamentally reinforce Japan's own defense capabilities. Under the strong bond of trust between Japan and the United States, we will engage in close collaboration and cooperation in addressing challenges such as ensuring the peace and security of Japan, realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific," combatting the COVID-19 pandemic and responding to climate change. Meanwhile, we will make our utmost efforts to mitigate impacts on local communities and ensure stable stationing of the U.S. Forces in Japan through such measures as the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko as soon as possible.

In order to deal with the severe security environment surrounding Japan, I will also devote efforts to revising the National Security Strategy in cooperation with relevant ministers.

(Promoting Efforts to Realize a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific")
Next, we will realize a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific." This vision, which is about ensuring the peace and prosperity of the entire Indo-Pacific region and, by extension, the entire world, by establishing a free and open order based on the rule of law in the region, has now drawn broad support in the international community. We will further promote the efforts to realize a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific" in cooperation with allies and partner countries, including the United States, Australia, India, ASEAN and Europe, while making the most of cooperation among Quad (Japan, the United States, Australia, India) and others.

(Relationships with Neighboring Countries and North Korea)
As for Japan's relationships with its neighboring countries, we will make proactive efforts to develop stable relationships while dealing with difficult issues squarely and resolutely.

There are various concerns between Japan and China, as they are neighboring countries. Any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea, including the waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands, are entirely unacceptable. Japan will continue to take a calm yet resolute approach to the situation. Regarding the issues concerning the South China Sea, Japan will continue to strongly oppose any actions that would increase tensions and emphasize the importance of peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, not by force or coercion. Furthermore, the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is important. The Government of Japan also expresses serious concerns about the situation in Hong Kong and the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. At the same time, the Japan-China relationship is important not only for the two countries, but for the peace and prosperity of the region and the international community. As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China relations, we aim to build a "constructive and stable relationship" with China by firmly maintaining and asserting our position and strongly requesting China’s responsible actions, while at the same time cooperating on matters of common interest.

The Republic of Korea (ROK) is an important neighboring country. Japan-ROK and Japan-U.S.-ROK coordination including in dealing with North Korea are indispensable for the stability of the region. Japan-ROK relations are in an extremely difficult situation due to issues, including the issue of former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula and the issue of comfort women. However, the situation should not be left as it is. Keeping promises between countries is the foundation of relations between countries. Based on Japan's principled positions, the Government of Japan will continue to strongly urge the ROK to take appropriate actions to restore sound Japan-ROK relations. Takeshima is an inherent part of the territory of Japan both in light of historical facts and based on international law. Japan will deal with the issue in a resolute manner based on this consistent position.

Regarding the relationship with Russia, Japan will develop the overall bilateral relations across a broad range of fields, such as politics, economy and culture, including the issue of concluding a peace treaty, in a way that contributes to Japan’s national interest. In order to resolve the Northern Territories issue, which is the greatest concern between Japan and Russia, it is necessary to continue close dialogues between the two leaders and foreign ministers. Under the policy of concluding a peace treaty through the resolution of the territorial issue, without leaving the issue to the next generations, we will firmly work on the peace treaty negotiations based on the various agreements between the two countries so far, including the exchanges at the Summit Meeting in Singapore in 2018. We will also strive to make steady progress in implementing humanitarian measures for the former residents of the Four Northern Islands and in working out further details of the joint economic activities on those islands.

With regard to North Korea, Japan seeks to normalize its relations with North Korea in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, through comprehensively resolving the outstanding issues of concern, such as the abductions, and nuclear and missile issues, as well as settling the unfortunate past. While ensuring the full implementation of the relevant United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions by the international community, we will continue to work towards the complete denuclearization of North Korea in close coordination with the U.S and the ROK and cooperation with the international community. As for the abductions issue which is a top priority for the administration, we will make utmost efforts to realize the return home of all abductees at the earliest possible date.

(Regional Diplomacy)
We will implement regional diplomacy based on the trust cultivated through Japanese diplomatic efforts.

Stronger ties between Japan and ASEAN are important for the stability and prosperity of the entire region. Japan will promote concrete cooperation that contributes to the enhancement of the fundamental principles shared between a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific" and the "ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific", with a view to further elevating the Japan-ASEAN relations as we will mark the 50th year of Japan-ASEAN Friendship and Cooperation next year. Regarding Myanmar, Japan will make efforts to break the deadlock of the situation in the country in coordination with the international community.

The year 2022 is designated as “Japan-Southwest Asia Exchange Year”. In this milestone year, Japan will further deepen exchanges with Southwest Asian countries.

Japan is determined to make contributions towards easing tensions and stabilizing the situation in the Middle East region through various diplomatic efforts by taking advantage of its traditional friendly relationships with Middle East countries as well as its robust alliance with the U.S. As for the situation in Afghanistan, Japan will continue to provide necessary support for the departure of Afghan people related to Japan, and also continue efforts to ensure stability, through humanitarian assistance, including for neighboring countries, and engagement with the Taliban, among other efforts. We will also continue to thoroughly implement measures to ensure the safety of navigation in the waters in the Middle East region, which is a main supplier of energy in the world.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has had a considerable socio-economic impact on Africa, now is the time for the international community to work together. Through the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8), which will be held this year, Japan will strongly support African-led development and set out a pathway for African development, looking ahead to the post-COVID-19 era. Japan will also further strengthen its relationships with countries which are partners in efforts to maintain and strengthen the international order based on the rule of law and which are also economically important, including Latin America and the Caribbean countries as well as Central Asian and Caucasian countries with which it is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

(Expanding a Free and Fair Economic Order)
Japan will lead international efforts toward expanding a free and fair economic order.

As economic security is one of the top priority issues for the Kishida cabinet, all government organizations are working together to address this issue. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, too, will make proactive contributions in this respect, including strengthening collaboration with like-minded allies and partners and developing rules that address new challenges, while taking into account the viewpoints of international law.

Amid the spread of protectionist movements across the world, Japan has demonstrated leadership as a flagbearer of free trade and strived to maintain and strengthen the rules-based multilateral trading system. Japan will continue efforts to maintain the high standard of the TPP11 Agreement and ensure the full implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement. At the same time, Japan will initiate WTO reform and exercise stronger initiative within the APEC as well.

We will also continue to make proactive efforts to ensure a stable supply of energy and mineral resources and support Japanese companies in their business expansion overseas. Regarding import restrictions on Japanese food products, the restrictions have been lifted or eased in many countries and regions, and all government organizations are working together toward the lifting of the restrictions in all countries and regions. We will continue to strive toward the successful holding of the Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan.

In the digital area of growing importance in the post-COVID-19, Japan will play the central role, while cooperating with relevant countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in international rule-making, including WTO Joint Statement Initiatives on Electronic Commerce, to realize the concept of Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT). In addition, as the cyberspace threat is growing, Japan will promote the implementation of effective countermeasures against cybercrimes and the rule of law in cyberspace. As for outer space as well, Japan will promote international rule-making and cooperation in order to ensure the sustainable and stable use of outer space in collaboration with the United States and like-minded countries.

(Addressing Global Issues)
Guided by the principle of human security, Japan will demonstrate leadership in addressing global issues and increase its presence in the international community.

Through proactive and strategic use of official development assistance (ODA), Japan will accelerate efforts to address global issues, including the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to realize a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific." As part of these efforts, we will promote the implementation of the “G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment.”

To contain the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan will continue to provide assistance to ensure equitable access to vaccines, diagnostic and therapeutics for all, including developing countries. We will strengthen global preparedness and responses to future pandemics and work to achieve a more resilient, equitable and sustainable universal health coverage.

On climate change, Japan will continue to vigorously promote efforts to realize net-zero by 2050 in light of the results of the COP26 negotiations. At the same time, Japan will lead the international community in efforts toward realizing a decarbonized society through its contributions to steady implementation of the Paris Agreement by each Party.

Japan will also proactively address various issues that must be resolved to achieve the SDGs, including marine plastic litter, biodiversity conservation, refugees and displaced persons, counter-terrorism, and the promotion of gender equality.

Protection of human rights, which is a universal value, is the basic responsibility of all countries, regardless of differences in the method of attaining this goal and their political system. While speaking out firmly against serious violation of human rights, Japan has been encouraging, through dialogues and cooperation, efforts of countries that are trying to make improvements. By making use of the cumulative results of such Japan’s unique contributions, we will promote our human rights diplomacy in light of the current international situation.

As for the United Nations, the Security Council must be reformed so that the council can reflect the realities of the world today, including Japan’s entry as a permanent member. We will work to launch concrete negotiations toward carrying out the reform and make every possible effort to ensure that Japan will be elected as a non-permanent member of the Security Council in this year's election. Japan will also contribute to UN peacekeeping operations (PKOs) and other UN peacebuilding initiatives and strive to increase the number of competent Japanese nationals working at international organizations.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is the cornerstone of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. While it is regrettable that the NPT Review Conference has been postponed, Japan believes that it is important that this Conference takes place as early as possible and achieves a meaningful outcome. Japan continues to steadily make every effort toward realizing a world without nuclear weapons.

(Strengthening Comprehensive Diplomatic Capacity)
These are Japan's policies in the key foreign policy areas. To exercise diplomacy with a balanced and stable posture with high level of readiness, it is essential to consolidate foreign policy implementation structure, including staffing, financial basis and digital transformation (DX). As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic persist, we will also continue to make every possible effort to ensure the implementation of border measures and the safety of Japanese nationals overseas. At the same time, in order to obtain the international community's understanding on and support for Japan's policies, initiatives and positions, we will vigorously engage in communications in a strategic manner and strive to cultivate those who are interested and well-versed in Japan and to strengthen cooperation with communities of Japanese immigrants and their descendants.

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

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