Speeches by the Foreign Minister

January 23, 2023

 As we hold the 211th session of the Diet, allow me to outline Japan's foreign policy.

(Japan’s foreign policy at a major turning point in history)
 The world is now at a turning point in history. The free and open international order based on the rule of law, which supported peace and prosperity in the post-Cold War era, is facing serious challenges due to historical changes in the balance of power and intensifying geopolitical competition.
 Russia's aggression against Ukraine continues to shake the very foundations of the international order. The series of Russian actions, including the illegal "annexation" of parts of Ukraine and the killing of innocent civilians, are inexcusable violations of international law. As the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings during wartime, Japan absolutely cannot accept Russia’s nuclear threat. Russia should never use nuclear weapons under any circumstances.
 The security of Europe and the Indo-Pacific region can no longer be discussed separately. With a strong determination to reject any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force in any region, Japan will continue to work closely with the international community, including the G7, and strongly impose sanctions against Russia while providing assistance for Ukraine vigorously.
 North Korea has intensified its nuclear and missile activities. Last year, North Korea launched ballistic missiles and other missiles with an unprecedented frequency and in an unprecedented manner. There are also moves toward a nuclear test. These series of actions pose not only a threat to Japan's national security, but also a clear and serious challenge to the international community, which is totally unacceptable. Japan will continue to coordinate closely with the U.S. bilaterally and the U.S. and the Republic of Korea (ROK) trilaterally, including in the UN Security Council.
 China is increasing its influence on the international community in various aspects, including politics, economics, and military affairs, and is raising a variety of difficult issues. Japan will encourage China to fulfill its responsibilities as a major power in accordance with the rules of the international community.
 In addition to these challenges, there are increasingly urgent issues that require cooperation of the international community by overcoming differences in values and conflicts of interest.
 Under these circumstances, I will continue to develop Japanese diplomacy with the following three forms of determination at the heart and by maintaining a balanced and stable posture with high responsiveness: (1) the determination to fully uphold universal values, (2) the determination to fully defend Japan's peace and security, and (3) the determination to lead the international community in facing global issues.
(Maintaining and strengthening a free and open international order based on the rule of law)
 First, as the Presidency of the G7 and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, we will further promote efforts to uphold the free and open international order based on the rule of law.
 It is the G7 that has responded most effectively to the crisis in Ukraine through close cooperation. At the G7 Hiroshima Summit under the Japanese Presidency this year, we will demonstrate strongly the G7’s determination to firmly reject any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force or the threat or use of nuclear weapons, and to uphold the international order based on the rule of law. At the same time, we will take the lead in addressing such challenges as the global economy including energy and food security, regional affairs including Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, economic security, and global issues including climate change, global health, and development. Last year I myself participated in G7 Foreign Ministers' meetings 11 times. This year, I will promote even closer cooperation among the G7 countries through such events as the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Karuizawa, Nagano, which I will chair. We will also put weight on cooperation with India, which holds the G20 presidency. 
 We have also significantly strengthened cooperation among Japan, Australia, India, and the U.S. (Quad). While demonstrating our determination not to allow unilateral changes to the status quo by force in any region, we will promote practical cooperation in a wide range of areas to realize a "free and open Indo-Pacific" or FOIP.
 FOIP based on the rule of law is getting more and more important. Japan will enhance coordination to realize FOIP, with partners such as ASEAN, Europe, Oceania, Latin America and the Caribbean and others, in addition to the QUAD, along with promoting the formulation of a new FOIP plan to strengthen diplomatic efforts. In particular, as we commemorates the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, we will set out a vision for the future ASEAN-Japan relations with ASEAN on the occasion of the Commemorative Summit to be held in Tokyo around December.
 The crisis brought about by the upheaval of the international order is not a "someone else’s problem" for any country or region of the world. Russia’s aggression is causing a serious impact on the Middle East, Africa, and other regions through soaring food and energy prices. We must also look at the issue of attempts to divide the world by disseminating disinformation. I myself have been strengthening dialogue with a wide range of countries including through TICAD 8 last August, the 9th Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the "Central Asia + Japan" Dialogue in Tokyo at the end of the last year, and my recent visit to Latin America. As Japan, based on the fine-tuned regional diplomacy that we have established with countries in all regions, we will continue our efforts to share the importance of order based on the rule of law and to maintain and strengthen it together for the stability of the regional and international community.
 Russia’s aggression against Ukraine also threatens multilateralism. In light of this situation, I chaired the UN Security Council Open Debate on the "Rule of Law" in New York, calling on the Member States to unite for the rule of law as the international community faces a complex crisis.
 As the UN and the Security Council are facing a time of trial, we will proactively contribute to enabling the Security Council to fulfill its expected role through close communication with other Member States. In addition, it is imperative to strengthen the functions of the UN in order to return to the spirit and principles of the UN Charter and restore confidence in the UN. We need action, not discussion for the sake of discussion, toward Security Council reform. We will continue to make efforts for early progress through close communication among the G4 (Japan, Germany, India, and Brazil) as well as with relevant countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and African countries. We will also continue to contribute to UN peacekeeping operations (PKOs) and other UN peacebuilding initiatives.
 A rules-based free and fair economic order is the foundation of growth and prosperity not only for Japan but for the world. We will continue to exercise our leadership as a flag-bearer for free trade, working to maintain the high standards of the CPTPP and ensure the full implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, as well as leading WTO reform. In the digital sector, we will also play a central role in international rule-making, including WTO e-commerce trade, so that the "DFFT”, Data Free Flow with Trust, can be realized. On the IPEF, an important framework for maintaining and strengthening the economic order in the Indo-Pacific region, we will contribute to the creation of a new framework in close cooperation with IPEF partners.
 We will also make a proactive effort to support Japanese companies in their business expansion overseas and all government organizations are working together toward the lifting of the import restrictions on Japanese food products in all countries and regions. We will continue to strive toward the successful holding of the Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan.
(Dealing with Security Challenges)
 Japan is facing the most severe and complex security environment since at the end of World War II.
 The first element of comprehensive national power for Japan’s national security is diplomatic capabilities. We will work to fundamentally reinforce our foreign policy implementation structure. Under the new National Security Strategy, we will develop a strong diplomacy backed by a fundamental reinforcement of defense capabilities, prevent crises before they occur, and proactively create a peaceful and stable international environment. At the same time, defense capabilities, which expresses Japan's will and ability to defend itself, cannot be replaced by other means. We will continue to contribute to the debate on the fundamental strengthening of Japan's own defense capability.
 In addition, in order to promote economic security, we will work proactively to further strengthen cooperation with like-minded countries and formulate international norms to address new challenges.
 At the same time, we will further deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance, which is the cornerstone of Japan's foreign and security policy. Prime Minister Kishida recently visited Washington D.C. for the first time since assuming office. He took his time to hold a Japan-U.S. summit meeting with President Biden and issued the Joint Statement of the U.S. and Japan. I myself accompanied the Prime Minister and also hold the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (SCC) with Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin along with Defense Minister Hamada.
 Through a series of meetings with the United States, we have confirmed that unilateral changes to the status quo by force in any region is unacceptable. The potential of the Indo-Pacific region, which is strategically most important for Japan and the United States, must be linked to its stability and prosperity.
 To this end, Japan and the United States will work together to strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Alliance, taking into account the evolving roles and missions of the Alliance. In doing so, we will focus on further enhancing bilateral coordination through the Alliance Coordination Mechanism, allied efforts in peacetime, deepening cooperation between Japan and the U.S. for the effective operation of Japan's counterstrike capabilities, cooperation in the field of space, cyber, and information security, technology cooperation to ensure that the Alliance maintains its competitive edge, and joint investments in emerging technologies, etc. We will also continue our efforts to ensure that U.S. extended deterrence remains credible and resilient. In addition, we will further optimize the posture of U.S. forces in Japan, as well as make every effort to mitigate impacts on local communities through efforts such as the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma to Henoko as soon as possible while maintaining the stable presence of U.S. forces in Japan.
 Through the Economic "2+2," launched last year, we will discuss diplomacy, security, and the economy as a whole, and further strengthen cooperation on issues common to both countries, such as economic security and the maintaining and strengthening of a rule-based economic order.
 Cooperation in this area with European countries, the EU and NATO is also being strengthened. Last year, Prime Minister Kishida became the first Prime Minister of Japan to attend a NATO summit and I became the first Foreign Minister of Japan to attend a Foreign Minister's meeting. In December, we announced an agreement on the joint development of the next-generation fighter aircraft among the three countries of Japan, the UK, and Italy, and in this month, we signed a Japan-UK Reciprocal Access Agreement. Cooperation with European countries in the field of defense is also progressing. We will continue to promote concrete cooperation toward engagement by European countries, the EU and NATO to the Indo Pacific.
 Regarding nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, we will continue to promote realistic and practical efforts toward a world without nuclear weapons in line with the "Hiroshima Action Plan" proposed by Prime Minister Kishida last August, based on the foundation of trust with our ally, the United States. In this regard, we will continue our efforts to foster the momentum of the international community toward a world without nuclear weapons including through the meetings of the International Group of Eminent Persons (IGEP) and also deepen discussions with G7 members and others so that we can send a powerful message at the G7 Hiroshima Summit.
(Diplomacy with neighboring countries)
 In order to maintain peace and security in Japan and the region, we will build stable relations with our neighboring countries, while dealing head-on with difficult issues.
 While there are various possibilities between Japan and China, there are also a number of challenges and concerns, such as China’s unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force in the East and South China Seas, including the waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands, and a series of military activities by China around Taiwan, in particular the launch of ballistic missiles into the seas adjacent to Japan including into its Exclusive Economic Zones. Peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is also important. The Government of Japan also has serious concerns about the situation in Hong Kong and the human rights situation in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. At the same time, both Japan and China have a great responsibility for the peace and prosperity of the region and the international community. Japan will firmly maintain and assert our position and strongly request China’s responsible actions, while at the same time continue dialogue including on the concerns and cooperate on matters of common interest. It is important that both Japan and China accelerate their efforts to build a "constructive and stable relationship.”
 The Republic of Korea (ROK) is an important neighboring country with which Japan should cooperate in dealing with various issues of the international community. With the response to North Korea and other issues in mind, there is no question as to the importance of enhancing Japan-ROK and Japan-U.S.-ROK strategic coordination, including in the area of security.  It is necessary to restore and further advance sound Japan-ROK relations, based on the platform on which the friendly and cooperative bilateral relations have been built since the normalization of diplomatic relations. Building on the results of the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting held last November, Japan will continue to communicate closely with the ROK government, including between Foreign Ministry Park and myself 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 relations with Russia, we will respond in a manner that protects Japan's national interests. Japan-Russia relations are in a difficult situation due to Russia's aggression against Ukraine, and we are not in a situation to talk about the prospects for peace treaty negotiations, but Japan will firmly maintain its policy of concluding a peace treaty through the resolution of the territorial issue. In addition, the resumption of Four-Island exchange program and the others including the Visits to the Graves, is one of the highest priorities in Japan-Russia relations in the future.
 Regarding North Korea, Japan seeks to normalize its relations through comprehensively resolving the outstanding issues of concerns, such as the abductions, nuclear and missile issues, as well as settlement of the unfortunate past. The abductions issue, which is a top priority for the administration, is a humanitarian issue with a time constraint. There is no time to lose before we resolve the abductions issue. We will boldly take every possible action to realize the return of all abductees at the earliest possible date.
(Dealing with the Common Challenges of Humanity)
 In order for the international order that we defend to be credible to the peoples of the world, we must take the lead in addressing the common challenges of humankind. Developing countries, which constitute the majority of the international community, find it difficult to foresee stable development in the face of increasingly complex international circumstances and worsening global challenges. Against this backdrop, we will accelerate our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and realize the principles of the FOIP through the strategic and effective use of ODA, one of the most important tools of diplomacy, by further expanding and enhancing it based on the principle of human security in the new era. To this end, we will revise the Development Cooperation Charter around the first half of this year.
 In response to the soaring food prices caused by Russia's aggression against Ukraine, we will work to support affected vulnerable countries through cooperation with international organizations and like-minded countries, including through the TICAD process.
 Climate changes is a common challenge to all humankind and a critical issue that the international community collectively needs to address. In light of the situation in Ukraine, balancing our climate action with the need to strengthen energy security has become an important issue. Building on the outcomes of COP27 held last November, we will continue to address climate change issues and call for further action by all Parties, including efforts in emissions reduction in line with the 1.5 degrees Cercius goal.
 Global health is an important issue that directly affects not only people's health but also the economy, society, and national security. Based on the lessons learnt from COVID-19, we will take the lead in strengthening global health architecture that contribute to enhancing prevention, preparedness and response (PPR) to future health crises as well as addressing global health challenges set back by COVID-19, toward the achievement of universal health coverage (UHC).
 Japan will also proactively address various issues that must be resolved to achieve the SDGs, including plastic pollution, biodiversity conservation, the escalating humanitarian crisis, refugees and displaced persons, terrorism and violent extremism, and the promotion of gender equality.
 In order to protect human rights, which is a fundamental value, we will promote our human rights diplomacy, by speaking out firmly against serious violations of human rights and encouraging efforts of countries that are trying to make improvements through dialogue and cooperation.
In order to steadily achieve concrete results on the above issues, it is essential to ensure a flexible foreign policy implementation structure and to improve the working environment and the livelihood of our overseas staff members who are at the forefront of diplomatic activities. Therefore, we will work to improve various allowance affected by foreign exchange rates and rising cost of living. Furthermore, we will work to fundamentally strengthen our staffing, financial basis including further expansion of ODA, foreign policy implementation structure including digital transformation (DX), and engagement in strategic communication, as well as to increase the number of Japanese nationals working at international organizations, to cultivate those who are interested and well-versed in Japan and to strengthen cooperation with communities of Japanese immigrants and their descendants. In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will also play a steadfast role towards the inscription of the "Sado Island Gold Mines" on the World Heritage List. With the renewed international exchange activity that has accompanied the relaxation of border measures, we will continue to take all possible measures to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals overseas.
 I sincerely ask for the kind understanding and cooperation of all Diet members and the people of Japan.
Back to Speeches by the Foreign Minister