Speeches by the Foreign Minister
Keynote Speech by Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs on the occasion of the 4th Tokyo Global Dialogue
Developing a Fine-Tuned Japanese Diplomacy for a New Era
Mr. OKA Motoyuki, Chairman of the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA),
Mr. SASAE Kenichiro, President of the JIIA,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would first like to congratulate you all on the 4th Tokyo Global Dialogue held by the JIIA, one of the leading diplomatic and security think tanks in Japan, which received the “2020 Think Tank of the Year” award. It is my great pleasure and honour to give an opening speech in front of the distinguished international audiences here today, following my video message last year.
At the outset, I would like to touch upon the ballistic missile launches by North Korea. North Korea launched an ICBM-class ballistic missile last Saturday and ballistic missiles this morning. North Korea’s intensified nuclear and missile activities including its repeated launches of ballistic missiles with an unprecedented frequency and in unprecedented manners pose a grave and imminent threat to Japan’s national security. Such activities threaten the peace and security of the region and the international community. It is totally unacceptable for Japan.
On the 18th, the day of the launch of the ICBM-class ballistic missile, at the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Munich, I myself strongly condemned this launch, and confirmed cooperation among the G7 members in dealing with North Korea. I also held a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with U.S. Secretary of State William J. Blinken and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin, and reaffirmed that we will continue to work closely together bilaterally and trilaterally among Japan, the U.S. and the ROK.
Furthermore, Japan has requested to hold on public meeting of the Security Council on North Korea, which is now under coordination. While ensuring the full implementation of the relevant UNSC resolutions by the international community, we will continue to work towards the complete denuclearization of North Korea, cooperating with the international community.
1 The Current Crisis
In my video message last year, I stressed how the world is at a new historical turning point since the end of the Cold War. One year later, with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine shaking the very foundation of the international order, the end of the post-Cold War era is clear for all to see.
This is entirely coincidental, but the state of the international order after World War II is strangely in line with Japanese eras. The late Showa period coincided with the Cold War period when the world was divided between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The Heisei period then coincided with the post-Cold War period. And now, as we live in the Reiwa period, the shape of the new era following the post-Cold War era is still not in sight.
One thing is clear, however: the challenges we face today are evolving rapidly, increasing in their complexity, and becoming more interconnected at a rate never before experienced by humankind.
For example, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has led to a variety of problems, not to mention its own seriousness. Aggression, which violates sovereignty and territorial integrity, is a violation of the fundamental principles of international law, including the UN Charter, and is a blatant challenge to the international order based on the rule of law. At the same time, it is accompanied by other far-reaching challenges such as the global food and energy crisis, the threat of nuclear weapons, and the abuse of emerging technologies such as cyber-attacks and the spread of disinformation. And what is worse, this situation is making it difficult for the international community to work together to address challenges such as climate change, infectious diseases, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, terrorism and conflict that continue to threaten people’s security.
All of these problems are serious and difficult. But what makes today’s situation even worse is the fact that these problems are intricately interrelated and intertwined in a complex manner.
At this difficult turning point in history, the collective wisdom and efforts of humankind through dialogue and cooperation among the international community are necessary. So today, I would like to talk about the specifics of the challenges that lie ahead of us, and the way in which Japan, through its diplomacy, should respond to them.
2 Complex and Intertwined Challenges
(1) Legacy of the Post-Cold War Era
Now, before examining the nature of our current challenges, let us first look back at what the post-Cold War period was like.
The greatest legacy of the post-Cold War era is the free and open international order based on the rule of law, and that the international community, especially developing countries, achieved dramatic development under this order.
Disputes between nations, whether over territory or economic interests, must be resolved by rules and laws, not by force. Fairness, transparency, and predictability must be guaranteed under this order. Such a trend toward international cooperation had been enhanced during the three decades of the post-Cold War era. The world was not able to eliminate every armed conflict, but we should not underestimate the fact that the international community continued to exert efforts to resolve regional conflicts through dialogue.
According to World Bank statistics, the GDP of high-income countries has more than tripled over the past 30 years, while the GDP of middle- and low-income countries has grown by about 10 times. Their share of the global economy has increased from 16.5% to 37.8%.
During the post-Cold War period, we also witnessed innovative emerging technologies. The development of digital technologies such as the Internet and information devices has accelerated the expansion of global connectivity. The free flow of information and rapid online transactions are an integral part of our economy and society today.
(2) Challenges We Face
While the post-Cold War period saw such positive developments and achievements, it is also true that various issues have since come to light.
The international order based on the rule of law, which was the basis for the growth of the international community, has been challenged in the last decade by unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force and coercion by newly gained powers. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has been fundamentally shaking this order. The United Nations Security Council, which is responsible for maintaining international peace and security, has not been effective in responding to this situation.
Furthermore, even though globalization based on liberal economies has reduced disparities among nations, some countries, such as Least Developed Countries, have not fully benefited from this trend. In developed countries, domestic disparities and poverty have rather widened, and people’s anxiety and dissatisfaction have caused political and social divisions.
In addition, economic security has emerged as a new challenge. The vulnerability of global supply chains became evident in the midst of the pandemic. Some countries do not hesitate to take coercive actions against other countries by leveraging economic dependence and their huge markets. The challenge we face from the theft of intellectual property and sensitive technology has also become evident.
Moreover, debt problems caused by opaque and unfair development finance cast a shadow over the future of developing economies.
Abuse of emerging technologies is also a serious threat. Cyber-attacks are not limited to wartime. Attacks on critical infrastructure, interference in other countries’ elections, ransom demands, and theft of sensitive information are also taking place even in peacetime, with the involvement of government agencies. The spread of disinformation via social networking services also risks disrupting elections, which are the foundation of democracy, and the policy-making process, including foreign policy.
Global issues such as climate change and energy security have become increasingly apparent. Even as the importance of ensuring energy security has been reaffirmed by the aggression against Ukraine, the 2050 Net-Zero goal must be pursued. In today’s globalized world, problems that humanity has repeatedly faced, such as infectious diseases like COVID-19, terrorism, and conflicts, are also expanding at an unprecedented rate, spreading their effects beyond national borders, and becoming intricately interrelated with other challenges.
Here, taking into account the abovementioned challenges, I would like to emphasize once again that all of these challenges we face should be resolved through multilateral cooperation based on dialogue, and under the order based on the rule of law. This is a lesson learned from the failure of humanity in the last century, when distrust of multilateralism and economic blocs based on self-centered mentalities eventually led to the last world war.
The international community must continue its efforts in reforming the UN to address the dysfunction of the Security Council; in creating new rules in addition to maintaining existing rules to address new challenges; and in resolving global issues through negotiations and the setting of international goals. All of these are based on the principle of the rule of law. We must not allow attempts to alter the existing order to suit their own purposes through force or coercion, or to divide the international community with false narratives.
3 Japanese Diplomacy Opening a New Era
In the year of 2023, as a new era dawns with its daunting challenges, Japan is charged with leading the international community as the Presidency of the G7 and as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. In this context, I would like to outline the fundamental ideas and development of Japanese diplomacy that will usher in a new era.
(1) The Fundamental Idea of Japanese Diplomacy
I mentioned that the challenges we face are characterized by their complex interconnectedness, and that they cannot be resolved without dialogue and cooperation among all the countries of the world acting as responsible parties. Through my dialogues with various counterparts since I assumed the position of Foreign Minister in November 2021, I have come to reaffirm that it is precisely at this difficult time that Japan should take the lead in conducting a fine-tuned diplomacy which I think is a strong point of Japanese diplomacy.
This approach to our diplomacy is, in fact, deeply rooted in Japan’s history and experience. Since ancient times, Asia has nurtured a variety of values based on diverse religions and cultures, such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, and Islam. Japan has cultivated a spirit of tolerance common to these various values, and fostered respect for diversity. After abandoning our national isolation policy and opening up the country, Japan achieved modernization through dialogue with the West. Following Japan’s defeat in World War II, we proceeded our reconstruction with the support of the international community, and as Japan became an advanced nation, it made its corresponding efforts to contribute to the world as a bearer of the international order.
Japanese diplomacy, nurtured in this historical context, respects the diversity of society, culture, and history of the other countries, and attaches importance to inclusiveness through dialogue. In dialogue, we seek to find common challenges and provide support that is truly needed, while respecting the positions of other countries. We believe that this kind of steady diplomacy will further strengthen the free and open international order based on the rule of law.
This approach to Japanese diplomacy is not an invention of our current era, but rather a concept that has been developed by our predecessors over the course of time. At the same time, I believe that it is a way of thinking that is required in this new era of international society, where we find it difficult to converge on a single set of values.
(2) Outlook of Japanese Diplomacy
So what kind of diplomacy will Japan pursue this year as the G7 Presidency holder and as a non-permanent member of the Security Council? Here, I would like to focus on three points.
The first is to uphold the international order based on the rule of law, which is the foundation of our foreign policy. Last month, I chaired the UN Security Council Ministerial Open Debate on the rule of law in New York. At this debate, which was attended by 77 members, the largest number in the past year, I received support from many countries for my call for “uniting for the rule of law”. The United Nations is a universal international organization that has upheld multilateralism since the end of World War II. Instead of lamenting the dysfunction of the Security Council, we should turn this sense of crisis into momentum to gather our wisdom on strengthening the UN’s functions, including Security Council reform.
Last week, at the first G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting under the Japanese Presidency in Munich, we reiterated the G7’s firm commitment to uphold the international order based on the rule of law. Together with all like-minded countries, we will continue to defend this rule-based order.
The second is our response to global challenges. In order to counter the challenges of the new era as already mentioned, we are currently working on revising the Development Cooperation Charter, which is expected to be released in the first half of this year. In addition, as the holder of the G7 Presidency, Japan will take the lead in addressing global issues such as energy and food security, climate change, health, and development, and we will also cooperate with India as the holder of the G20 Presidency.
Third, we must realize a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”, or FOIP. At the Munich Security Conference last week, I called for the promotion of FOIP as a vision that will lead the Indo-Pacific region, which is at the center of a historic shift in the balance of power, to peace, stability and prosperity in these difficult times. A free and prosperous Indo-Pacific will lead to world peace and prosperity. As with ASEAN, which is the keystone for the realization of FOIP, we will set out a new vision for ASEAN-Japan relations around December, commemorating the historic 50th year of friendship and cooperation.
Through a fine-tuned diplomacy that emphasizes diversity and inclusiveness, we will lead an international order based on dialogue and cooperation that transcends differences of region and value, and conflicts of interest.
In the midst of serious tangled international crises, including the situation in Ukraine, cooperation beyond individual interests is becoming increasingly difficult. We hear voices of concern about the fragmentation of the international community.
However, in the stormy seas of this new era, where all challenges are intricately intertwined, all nations that wish for the peace and prosperity of humanity are in the same boat. It is only when each rower demonstrates its ability and rows the ship in unison with the same breath that we will be able to overcome our common difficulties.
What is required of us now is to defend the rule of law, not the rule by force. We must coexist and prosper together in a spirit of dialogue and cooperation in an inclusive manner that leaves no one behind, and respect the diversity of the members of the international community. In this sense, I believe that this meeting, which bears the name “Global Dialogue”, is an increasingly meaningful initiative for the coming era. The Japanese government is determined to take the helm in maintaining and strengthening a free and open international order based on the rule of law through our fine-tuned diplomacy, and in finding the way of resolving the challenges of the new era.
Thank you for your attention.