Speeches by the Foreign Minister
Foreign Policy Speech by Foreign Minister Kamikawa to the 213th Session of the Diet
Before delivering my remarks, I would like to pay tribute to the victims of the 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake and express my deepest condolences to their bereaved families as well as my sincere sympathy to all those injured and affected by the disaster. We have received numerous messages of sympathy and offers of support from overseas, and would like to express our gratitude to the countries, regions and international organizations concerned.
As we hold the 213th session of the Diet, allow me to outline Japan's foreign policy.
Overview of the international situation
The world is now at a turning point in history. I strongly feel this every day.
The free and open international order based on the Rule of Law is facing serious challenges due to Russia's ongoing aggression against Ukraine. In addition, while the diversification of the international community is progressing due to the growing presence of developing and emerging countries, the so-called "Global South”, there are many issues which need to be addressed beyond borders and values.
Taking into consideration the results of the G7 presidency last year which is highly appreciated from international community, Japan will maintain and strengthen its advocacy of a free and open international order based on the rule of law so that all people can enjoy peace and prosperity, and pursue diplomacy to realize a safe and secure world where "human dignity" is protected, based on the central premise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): "Leave no one behind.”
I will continue to conduct diplomacy based on the following basic policies: firmly protecting Japan's national interests, enhancing Japan's presence in the world, listening to the voices of the people, and conducting diplomacy that is understood and supported by the people.
Foreign Visits at the Beginning of the Year, WPS Initiatives
Earlier this year, I visited Europe, North America and Türkiye. I confirmed Japan’s cooperation with each country and the international courts concerned on such issues as maintaining and strengthening a free and open international order based on the Rule of Law, support for Ukraine, addressing the situation in the Middle East, the promotion of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) initiative and the Arctic as well as the oceans.
In particular, I have strongly promoted and emphasized the importance of the WPS as one of our major foreign policies. We have established a taskforce within the Ministry and will continue to promote WPS using all the tools at our disposal.
Response to the situation in the Middle East
The situation in the Middle East continues to be uncertain. We again unequivocally condemn the terror attacks by Hamas and others, and at the same time, we are seriously concerned about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. I have involved myself in responding to the situation in order to improve the humanitarian situation, calm it down as soon as possible, and prevent the conflict from spreading to neighboring areas.
Last November, I visited the region prior to the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting and strived to issue the G7 Foreign Ministers' Statement. To enable the Security Council to fulfill its responsibilities, we worked vigorously for the adoption of the Security Council Resolution 2712 focusing on the protection of children in the Gaza Strip and the Security Council Resolution 2720 on scaling up and monitoring aid to the Gaza Strip.
Japan will continue to work to improve the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip through means including assistance to international organizations.
In addition, in order to prevent a recurrence of the tragedy we are witnessing, it is time that Japan actively contributes to the realization of a "two-state solution”, which Japan has consistently supported, in cooperation with the United States and the other countries concerned.
Promoting the Rule of Law
The Rule of Law is the foundation of peace and prosperity. During my recent visit to the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, I reiterated Japan’s support for the role they play. We will continue to comprehensively pursue a diplomacy for strengthening the rule of law in the international community based on dialogue and cooperation.
Promotion of FOIP, cooperation with allies and like-minded countries
The realization of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) is one of the top priorities of Japanese diplomacy. Based on this vision, we will work with our allies and like-minded countries to expand our cooperation.
The stability and prosperity of ASEAN is extremely important for Japan and the entire Indo-Pacific region. We will steadily implement the new vision for cooperation and the broad range of concrete cooperation that was set forth at the Commemorative Summit for the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation last December, and further strengthen our relations.
As for Japan-Australia-India-U.S.(Quad), in chairing the Foreign Ministers' Meeting this year, we will further promote practical cooperation which truly benefits the countries of the region toward the realization of FOIP.
Based on the outcome of the Japan-U.S.-ROK Summit at Camp David in August last year and other meetings, we will further promote cooperation among Japan, the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK).
Furthermore, since the security of the Euro-Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific are inseparable, we will also strengthen cooperation with European countries, the EU, and NATO.
Response to Aggression against Ukraine
Russia's aggression against Ukraine is an outrageous act that shakes the very foundations of the international order. This month, I visited Ukraine and saw with my own eyes the fresh scars of the aggression. I was once again convinced that unilateral change to the status quo by force cannot be accepted. Threats by Russia of nuclear weapon use, let alone use of nuclear weapons by Russia, are inadmissible.
We will continue to strongly promote sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine in cooperation with the international community to stop Russia’s aggression as soon as possible and to achieve a just and lasting peace in Ukraine.
We will promote efforts for recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine in the unity of the public and private sectors. Based on the results of the visit of representatives of the Japanese business sector last November and other activities, we will accelerate coordination toward the Japan-Ukraine Conference for Promotion of Economic Reconstruction scheduled next month.
Efforts to Protect Japan and the Region
As Japan faces the most severe and complex security environment since the end of WWII, we will protect Japan's territory, territorial waters and airspace, as well as the lives and property of its citizens through diplomacy.
Japan's own efforts
The National Security Strategy identifies diplomatic capabilities as the prime element in forging Japan's overall national security. While linking diplomatic capabilities and defense capabilities, Japan will organically and effectively link its strong economy, advanced technological capabilities, and the various aspects of its soft power, such as rich culture, to pursue a comprehensive diplomatic and security policy.
In addition, we will steadily carry out our Official Security Assistance (OSA) and actively work to promote cybersecurity and economic security.
In response to international information warfare in the cognitive domain through information manipulation, including spread of disinformation, we will collect and analyze information from various perspectives and lead to a timely and appropriate dissemination, while building and strengthening our information security infrastructure.
Further strengthening of the Japan-U.S. Alliance
The Japan-U.S. Alliance is the cornerstone of Japan's diplomacy and security, and the foundation for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
We will make efforts to further strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, to sustain and strengthen the credibility and resilience of extended deterrence, and to further optimize the posture of U.S. forces in Japan.
We will also 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.
We will also expand and deepen Japan-U.S. cooperation in the economic field from a strategic perspective, including based on the discussions at the second ministerial meeting of the Economic "2+2" last November.
Exploring new frontiers of economic diplomacy
In order to demonstrate Japan’s presence to the world with our strong and flexible economic power, we will develop new frontiers in economic diplomacy, emphasizing public-private partnerships and involving all stakeholders including startups.
First of all, it is important to work toward the maintenance and expansion of a rules-based free and fair economic order.
There are many issues to be addressed, including WTO reform to further strengthen the multilateral trading system, maintaining and strengthening the high standards of the CPTPP, ensuring transparent implementation of the RCEP agreement, achieving sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the region through IPEF, and international rule-making in the areas involving new challenges, including AI and Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT).
In particular, this year marks the 60th anniversary since Japan joined the OECD, and in chairing the Ministerial Meeting in May, we will show our strong leadership.
Furthermore, economic security is also one of the important pillars of diplomacy in the new era. We will further strengthen our efforts on supply chain resilience and addressing economic coercion by further strengthening cooperation with our ally and like-minded countries, utilizing ODA, and cooperating closely between the public and private sectors.
The Japanese economy must incorporate the growth of developing and emerging countries, the so-called "Global South". Japan will promote fine-tuned and strategic economic diplomacy, taking into account the challenges and characteristics of the various regions.
In addition, we live in an era in which it is necessary to aim for linkage and integration between social and environmental sustainability and the economy. Japan will direct its efforts to realizing a virtuous circle: through the active promotion of SDGs by the corporate side, Japan will realize economic growth in a way that benefits society.
To this end, under the Development Cooperation Charter, we will implement the Co-creation for Common Agenda Initiative and ODA that mobilizes private-sector funds to achieve high-quality growth in developing countries, which will at the same time lead to Japan's growth. In addition, in actively encouraging Japanese companies to expand their overseas operations, increase exports of Japanese food products, and promote direct investment in Japan, our diplomatic missions abroad will provide strong backup for Japanese companies, including improving the local investment environment, and will strongly promote investment in Japan. Furthermore, in order to expand the possibilities for corporate activities, we will promote cooperation between Japanese and foreign companies in third countries.
We will work vigorously for the success of Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan and the International Horticultural Expo 2027.
Regarding the safety of the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea, we will maintain close coordination with the IAEA, and provide sincere explanation both domestically and internationally, based on scientific evidence in a highly transparent manner.
Relations with neighboring countries, etc.
In order to maintain peace and prosperity in Japan and the region, we will build stable relations with our neighboring countries, while dealing head-on with difficult issues.
Following the Japan-China summit meeting last November, I also held a Japan-China foreign ministerial meeting with Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
While there are various potentials for improved ties between Japan and China, there are also many 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 around our country, including those coordinated with Russia. Peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is also important. The Government of Japan also expresses serious concerns about the human rights situation in China and the situation in Hong Kong.
At the same time, both Japan and China have a significant responsibility for the peace and prosperity of the region and the international community. While comprehensively promoting a "Mutually Beneficial Relationship Based on Common Strategic Interests", Japan will firmly maintain and assert our position and strongly request China to act responsibly, while at the same time continue to engage in dialogue including that on areas of concern and cooperate on matters of common interest. It is important that both Japan and China make efforts to build a "constructive and stable relationship”.
In this context, we will continue to call for the immediate lifting of import restrictions by China on Japanese food products.
Japan will continue to communicate closely with the Republic of Korea (ROK), an important neighboring country, at various levels in order to broaden coordination and cooperation in a wider range of fields and to work together as partners to pave the way for a new era of the Japan-ROK bilateral relations.
Given the severe security environment in the Indo-Pacific, close cooperation between the two countries is necessary now more than ever. As Japan-ROK relations get back on track and continue to improve, we will also further enhance coordination on global issues.
Takeshima is an inherent territory of Japan 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.
From a broad perspective, Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Cooperation is important for regional and global peace and prosperity. Based on the discussions at the Foreign Ministers' Meeting last November, we will support the efforts of the Presidency to hold a Trilateral Summit at the earliest convenient time.
With regard to Russia, we will respond in a manner that protects Japan's national interests. Japan-Russia relations remains to be in a difficult situation due to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, but Japan will firmly maintain its policy of concluding a peace treaty through the resolution of the Northern Territories issue. At the same time, we will appropriately deal with issues that need to be addressed by Japan and Russia as neighbors, such as those related to fishing and other economic activities as well as maritime safety, from the perspective of what is in Japan's national interests in the overall diplomacy of our country.
In addition, the resumption of the Four-Island exchange program and the others is one of the highest priorities in Japan-Russia relations. We will continue to strongly urge the resumption of such programs, with particular emphasis now on the Visits to the Graves.
North Korea has made clear its intention to further intensify its nuclear and missile activities. The launch of ballistic missiles, which is also a violation of UN Security Council resolutions, and other provocative actions are totally unacceptable. We are also seriously concerned about the military cooperation that is being strengthened between Russia and North Korea. Japan will continue to closely coordinate with the international community, including between Japan and the U.S. as well as among Japan, the U.S., and the ROK in addressing these issues.
Regarding 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, nuclear and missile issues, as well as settlement of the unfortunate past.
In particular, with the aging of the families of abductees, the abductions issue is a humanitarian and time sensitive issue with no time to spare. We will boldly take every possible action to realize the return of all abductees at the earliest possible date.
Cooperation for Global Issues
We are faced with a host of global issues, including climate change, the environment, food and energy, global health, population, refugees and the sustainable use of the oceans.
It is becoming increasingly important for the United Nations to fulfill its primary role in addressing these challenges. We will lead the effort to strengthen the UN, including reform of the Security Council. In March, Japan will assume the presidency of the Security Council, and we would like to engage in active discussions with other countries on important issues facing the international community.
In September, the UN Summit of the Future will take place. That will be an occasion to return to the starting point of "human dignity" and for participants to forge "human-centered international cooperation" based on the principle of human security. We will also actively contribute to international efforts to comprehensively achieve the SDGs by the year 2030. In addition, we will promote efforts to enable Japanese nationals to play even more active roles as staff members in international organizations.
As this year marks the "70th anniversary of Japan’s International Cooperation”, we would like to take this opportunity to actively communicate the significance of and prospects for ODA, one of our most important diplomatic tools, to deepen public understanding.
At the same time, we will actively promote the realization of a world without nuclear weapons, our human rights diplomacy, peacebuilding, and measures against terrorism and transnational organized crime.
In particular, with regard to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, we will continue and strengthen our realistic and practical efforts by implementing measures one by one under the "Hiroshima Action Plan”.
New Possibilities for Japanese Diplomacy
In addition to these efforts, I would like to open up new possibilities for Japanese diplomacy.
As we live in an era when cooperation between nations becomes challenging, we will promote initiatives involving various stakeholders including youth such as junior high and high school students, beyond national, regional, gender and other barriers. We will also strengthen our activities within Japan, where we will link our discussions with ambassadors based here to our overall diplomacy. We will continue to emphasize "outreach diplomacy" efforts such as these.
Furthermore, we will actively utilize our soft power, such as the appeal of Japanese culture and our science and technology.
We will further promote understanding and strategic communication concerning Japan, including through the "Partnership to Co-create a Future with the Next Generation: WA Project 2.0” announced at the Commemorative Summit for the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. We will continue to play a steadfast role towards the inscription of the " Sado Island Gold Mine” on the World Heritage List, while engaging in in-depth discussions with the relevant countries.
Furthermore, we will strengthen our ties with Nikkei communities around the world.
The key to diplomacy is people, and in order to achieve steady results in the activities just mentioned, it is essential to strengthen our foreign policy implementation structure.
We will take steps to improve the working environment and the livelihood of our overseas staff members, strengthen our personnel structure, improve our financial basis, promote digital transformation (DX) and workstyle reforms, and fundamentally enhance our diplomatic and consular implementation structure.
In preparation for an emergency, we will promote the strengthening of diplomatic missions overseas and enhance their readiness to respond to crises, including the protection of Japanese nationals, in a timely and agile manner, including personnel structure.
This year, critical elections are scheduled to be held in various parts of the world, and the international situation will enter a critical phase. Against this backdrop, Japan will host important international meetings such as the 10th Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting and the TICAD Ministerial Meeting. We will also strengthen our ties with the Latin American and the Caribbean countries including Brazil hosting the G20 and Peru hosting APEC in 2024.
I have come to realize that the trust and expectations from the international community toward Japan, which we have built as a peace-loving nation for nearly eighty years since the end of World War II, are extremely high.
In order to live up to such trust and expectations, I will continue to challenge myself this year while listening to the voices of the people and gaining their understanding and support.
I sincerely ask for the kind understanding and cooperation of all Diet members and the people of Japan.