Speeches by the Foreign Minister
Tokyo Regional Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Committee,
The Trilateral Commission
Special Session Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Hayashi
"For Peace and Prosperity in the Asia-Pacific Beyond the Great Historical Transformation."
Mr. Niinami Takeshi, Chair of the Asia-Pacific Committee of the Trilateral Commission,
H.E. Ambassador Barry Desker, Vice-Chair of the Asia Pacific Committee,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to welcome you all to Tokyo on the occasion of the first regional meeting of the Asia-Pacific Committee of the Trilateral Commission since 2017. I would like to commend the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE) for their efforts in organizing this meeting.
1. A major turning point in history: the end of the post-Cold War era
I understand that it has been three years since the Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting was held face-to-face. During this period of time, in addition to the spread of COVID-19, the very reason preventing this meeting from being held in person, Russia launched an aggression against Ukraine this February, which has completely changed the world’s state of affairs. Not only have Russia's outrageous actions shaken the very foundation of the international order, but unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force continue in the East and the South China Seas. The extremely high frequency of North Korea’s missile launches, including an ICBM class ballistic missile that fell in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone last Friday, has given us no choice but to confront a challenging security environment in East Asia. Similarly, matters of national security in the economic sphere have become a real challenge for both businesses and people’s livelihood, as the vulnerability of supply chains and the risk of economic coercion have become apparent.
These changes are shaking the “normal” we have enjoyed up to now: freedom, the rule of law, and a peaceful, safe life. This tectonic shift in the international community is exactly a major turning point in history - a marking of the end of the post-Cold War era. How can Japan lead the Asia-Pacific region to peace and prosperity in this difficult era - one that contrasts with the euphoria that followed the end of the Cold War? Today, I would like to discuss Japan’s strategies and determination to achieve this goal.
Before discussing this period of transition, let us first look back at what the last 30 years of the post-Cold War era have been like for the Asia-Pacific.
The Asia-Pacific region’s GDP, which was $5.15 trillion in 1990, increased about seven-fold to $34.97 trillion by 2021. The region’s share of the world economy has also grown from 22.6% to 36.4%, confirming that the region has been a global growth engine in the post-Cold War era. In tandem with economic growth, the region’s presence in international politics has also increased. It is not a mere coincidence that two of the major economies in the region, Indonesia and India, are holding the G20 Presidency this year and next year.
The foundation for the Asia-Pacific region’s leap to a leading role in the world was a free and open international order based on the rule of law. Disputes between nations, whether over territory or economic interests, are resolved not by force, but according to law and rules. This order has brought about fairness, transparency, and predictability. Under the law, both large and small countries are equal. On this foundation, we have built the prosperity we enjoy today through a series of efforts to harmonize the unique strengths of the Asia-Pacific region - its diversity - with growth.
Unfortunately, there is now brazen opposition as of late, which moves away from rule-based order outright. In this context, how will we meet the challenge to this shared foundation of peace and prosperity? All of us are called upon to show our wisdom and resolve.
Japan believes that what is important now is the “rule of law” based on the principles of international law as a guiding principle in these uncertain times. We must not allow “rule by force” anywhere in the world. And we must not allow arbitrary interpretations of the international law in favor of a particular country. Seventy-seven years ago, our predecessors rallied under the UN Charter to overcome rule by force, and since then have tirelessly worked to establish principles for the international community.
One of the fundamental document that should be kept in mind is the 1970 “Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.” Prime Minister Kishida, in his statement at the General Debate of the UN General Assembly in September, listed the following three principles which are derived from this declaration.
- First, break away from “rule by force” and pursue "rule of law" through observing international law in good faith;
- Second, in this regard, do not allow any attempts to change the status quo of territories and areas by force or coercion; and
- Third, cooperate with one another against serious violations of the principles of the UN Charter.
The rule of law is especially important for vulnerable nations.
In times of uncertainty, we need to go back to the basics. This means that the entire international community must return to this consensus, and adhere to it in good faith, under the rule of law.
Japan will serve as a non-permanent member of the Security Council from January next year, and will act to strengthen the rule of law as the basis of order for peace and prosperity in the international community. As a first step, in upcoming January, when Japan assumes the presidency of the Security Council, we are considering hosting an open debate in NY that focuses on “rule of law”. Japan hopes to fulfill its role as the president to make 2023 the year in which nations unite against “rule by force.”
2. Free and Open Indo-Pacific
Let us now turn to the Asia-Pacific region. This region has driven global development in the post-Cold War era and will continue to be the most dynamic region in the future. At the same time, however, it is a region of instability, with many countries possessing powerful military forces and facing threats such as terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and natural disasters.
For the sake of peace and prosperity in the region, it is important that we invite the involvement of as many countries as possible in maintaining and strengthening an order based on the rule of law. The flagship example, if I may, of this effort is a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” or FOIP.
A Pacific and Indian Ocean that is free, open, and governed by rules - this vision proposed by Japan in 2016 is now not confined to the region, but supported by various countries, many of which having announced related initiatives.
The United States reiterated the promotion of FOIP as a regional strategy in its National Security Strategy released last month. The leaders and foreign ministers of the QUAD, Japan, the U.S., Australia, and India, have confirmed that they will promote practical cooperation in a wide range of fields toward its realization. And ASEAN, the keystone of the realization of FOIP, has “ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific,” or AOIP, which shares essential principles with FOIP. ASEAN and Japan are promoting cooperation that contributes to the realization of FOIP and the AOIP. We will further accelerate our cooperation in the coming year, which will mark the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. The Republic of Korea has also announced its own Indo-Pacific strategy. Canada is preparing for a launch of its Indo-Pacific strategy as well. We will further strengthen our cooperation with partners in Europe, NATO, Oceania, and Latin America and the Caribbean among others.
Thus, while the importance of FOIP rises to an unprecedented level, Japan will push forward FOIP’s new developments, as we hold the G7 Presidency next year, and as an advocate of this vision. To this end, we are further accelerating our efforts, strengthening our diplomatic initiatives by expanding ODA, and other means. Such measures are taken in an all-Japan approach, including efforts taken from a new angle.
Specifically, we will announce a new FOIP plan by next spring, with emphasis on areas such as maritime law enforcement, cyber security, digital, green economy, and economic security.
3. Free and Fair Economic Order
Challenges to the international order have also arisen in the economic sphere. Despite the lessons learned from the lead-up to World War II, the postwar world economy was divided into two camps. The breaking down of the barrier between those two camps, and the world integrating in free trade, were among the most remarkable aspects of the events that took place 30 years ago. Under the WTO established at the same period, and the development of the FTA and EPA network since the 2000s, the multilateral trading system has evolved. The Asia-Pacific region has been the driving force and the largest beneficiary of this development.
On the other hand, unbridled globalization under the neoliberal mindset has created negative impacts at various levels. Addressing domestic challenges posed by globalization, many countries, including Japan, have been working to resolve the widening poverty and inequality. In the sphere of the multilateral trading system, security issues that cannot be addressed within the conventional framework have emerged, such as the vulnerability of supply chains revealed by COVID-19, and the risks posed by advanced technologies such as AI and quantum technology. Furthermore, we are facing challenges such as food and energy crises due to Russia’s aggression, and coercion that takes advantage of economic dependence.
We must respond to these economic security challenges while safeguarding the free and fair economic order that is the foundation of our development and prosperity today.
As we hold the G7 Presidency next year, Japan is ready to lead various discussions, and economic security is one of the key issues. In order to maintain a free and fair economic order in the face of the new reality of the global economy, striking the right balance between free trade and security is an unavoidable issue.
As you are aware, Japan passed the Economic Security Promotion Act in May. Based on this Act Japan will work to harmonize its systems with those of its partners, further strengthening cooperation, and actively working to formulate international norms to address new challenges. In particular, with the U.S., we are discussing diplomacy, security, and the economy as a whole through the newly launched Economic “2+2.” We will further strengthen cooperation on common issues.
At the same time, Japan will continue to promote free trade under the new realities of the global economy, maintain the high standards of the CPTPP, work to ensure full implementation of the RCEP Agreement, and lead WTO reform. I confirmed with WTO Director-General Okonjo-Iweala, who visited Japan last month, that we will work together to build a free and open economic order and formulate rules that are consistent with the current state of the international community.
Japan will continue to call for the return of the U.S. to the TPP at the earliest possible timing as it bears great strategic importance. At the same time, we will aim for concrete outcomes in efforts such as the IPEF, an important framework for maintaining and strengthening the economic order in the Indo-Pacific region.
In order for the Asia-Pacific region to remain the world’s engine of growth in the new era, Japan will lead efforts to maintain and strengthen a free and fair economic order that meets new challenges.
4. Asia Pacific in a New Era
The three decades since the end of the Cold War have not been a smooth road for the Asia-Pacific region, but we must not forget that today’s growth and prosperity have been achieved through the stability that a free and open order based on the rule of law brings. We must once again realize that we are not only the beneficiaries of this order, but also its bearers.
The strength of the Asia-Pacific region is its diversity, and its respect for diversity. At the same time, it is also our asset that we have regional cooperation that responds to challenges to our peace and prosperity together, hand in hand.
Japan has consistently followed the path of a peace-loving nation since the end of World War II. And as a member of the Asia-Pacific region, Japan has pursued a fine-tuned diplomacy that addresses the situations unique to each country of this region. I believe that the accumulation of such efforts by our predecessors is the basis of trust in Japan and the source of expectations for Japan under the current international circumstances. At this time of great historical change, Japan will maintain this stance and work to uphold the international order based on the rule of law so that the countries of the Asia-Pacific region can continue on the path of peace and prosperity together.