Speeches by the Foreign Minister
Speech by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
Expanding “Networks of Solidarity”
-Japanese Diplomacy together with Latin America and the Caribbean-
Brazilian Diplomats, Representatives of Diplomatic Corps in Brazil,
I am Hayashi Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan.
I am delighted to be able to visit Brazil this time to make a fresh start with the new Lula Administration, which has just started on January 1st.
I am also honored to be given an opportunity to meet and talk with you today at the prestigious Rio Branco Institute, which has produced so many great Brazilian diplomats.
For me, Latin America and the Caribbean is a very familiar place. When I was a university student, I traveled around this region including Brazil. When I worked for a Japanese company before becoming a politician, I went on a business trip to the region and in Brazil I travelled from Porto Alegre to Vera Cruz, which is near the Argentine border. I was deeply impressed by the vibrant atmosphere and cheerful people. When I was Minister for Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, I developed warm relationship with my counterparts from your region in various bilateral meetings and international conferences such as G20.
I am now visiting Mexico, Ecuador, and Argentina, along with Brazil. You may question why I chose Latin America as my first destination in 2023, when Japan holds the G7 presidency, as a foreign minister. The answer is simply because I was attracted by the political and economic potential of this region. As I will explain later, I am convinced that this region will further demonstrate its potential and become more and more important in the international community. I am also convinced that the relationship between Japan and Latin America and the Caribbean will deepen further.
Today, I would like to talk about how we should work together in solidarity and to expand "networks of solidarity” together with countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, and especially with Brazil which is one of our most important partners in this region, the countries with which we share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
1 Current International Situation
First, I would like to share with you my perception of the current international situation.
In his essay, “The End of History,” published in 1989, the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama exalted the triumph of liberal democracy as the final form of political system. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the declaration of the end of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union in that year seemed to confirm this Fukuyama's statement. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the end of the Cold War was preceded by the transition from military to civilian rule in many countries in the 1980s. It was a time when people's freedom was being restored and democratic societies were recovering.
In the post-Cold War world, the United States has upheld a free, open, and stable international order based on the rule of law through its overwhelming political, economic, and military power. At the same time, the political and economic rise of emerging countries including China has made a change in the balance of power. Today, it can be said that the age in which the United States alone supports the stability and prosperity of the international community has come to an end, and the international community has entered an age of interstate competition.
The end of the Cold War was a triumph of fundamental values and principles such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. In the three decades since then, the world has been striving for the coexistence and prosperity and has enjoyed the fruits of globalization, which is underpinned by rules and norms, for both developing and developed countries.
However, at this moment, we are facing a reality in which the rules and norms that have brought us a prosperous life are being seriously challenged. And attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force or intimidation are being conducted without any hesitation. We are now at a crossroads in history.
On February 24 last year, Russia launched an aggression against Ukraine and is even threatening to use nuclear weapons. This outrage by the permanent member of the Security Council, which has primary responsibility for international peace and security, shakes the very foundation of the international order that the international community, including Latin America and the Caribbean, has built over the past century with hard work and great sacrifice. Russia's aggression has also had a serious impact on the world's food and energy supplies, causing global problems such as price hikes and supply chain disruptions.
The world is also facing a challenging economic and social environment. Cross-border issues, such as climate change and infectious disease crisis, are becoming more apparent. Therefore, cooperation is needed more than ever before by overcoming the differences in values and conflicts of interest in the international community. At the same time, dissatisfaction with the negative aspects of globalization, such as widening inequality and poverty, has swayed the rules-based multilateral trade system which has contributed to global economic growth. The dissatisfaction with the globalization has accelerated the trend towards protectionism. In addition, we are also concerned about opaque and unfair development finance that is not consistent with international rules as well as illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
2 Diplomacy together with Latin America and the Caribbean: Expanding the "Networks of Solidarity”
As I mentioned earlier, the international community is now at a turning point in history, as the 30 year long post-Cold War period comes to an end, advancing to the next era. We are at the fork in the road to choose: whether we are going to repeat the mistakes of the previous century, which resulted in the unprecedented devastations of war and prolonged divisions, or we are going to continue to pursue peace, stability, and prosperity with the spirit of cooperation and multilateralism. That is exactly why I would really like to work together with you, with the people of Latin America and the Caribbean countries, to expand "networks of solidarity", and walk together towards a better future.
(1) "Network of Solidarity to Uphold the Rule of Law"
In my view, one of "networks of solidarity" is a "network of solidarity to uphold the rule of law”. Since I took office as Foreign Minister, in the face of new reality of the world as I have just described, I have been insisting to the international community that it is truly necessary to protect the international order based on the rule of law, which has been the foundation of global peace and prosperity. It is our responsibility for future generations to expand such network in which we play a leading role in global issues by upholding fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, and human rights under an international order based on the rule of law.
Latin American and the Caribbean countries, which have long been friends of Japan and share fundamental values that transcend geographical distance, are important partners in expanding this network. I look forward to working together with rule-oriented Latin American and the Caribbean countries when we review the global governance based on the rule of law. As I mentioned earlier, we are now facing significant risk of falling into the law of the jungle. What we should do now is to reflect on why the current international system could not stop the Russian aggression. Based on this reflection, it is imperative for us to review the current framework or global governance to ensure that such outrage will never be allowed again.
The United Nations has played a central role in maintaining and strengthening the international order. The UN is founded on the principle of sovereign equality of its member states, and it works for the benefit of the whole international community. Moreover, the UN exists to realize the rule of law based on international law, never allowing "rule by force", while listening to the voices of all member states. To this end, the international community must return to the vision and principles of the UN Charter. The UN must be reformed and strengthened, and it must compensate for its limitations, while maintaining its universality and legitimacy. It is important to strengthen the functions of the UN as a whole, including, of course, Security Council reform and further utilization of the UN General Assembly.
Japan serves as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for two years from this month. After my visit to Latin America, I will chair an open debate on the “rule of law” in the UN Security Council in New York. I hope that Brazil and Ecuador, which are also non-permanent members of the Council, will attend the meeting. Let’s work together to make 2023 a year in which countries unite under the key words, "the vision and principles of the UN Charter" and "the rule of law.”
Latin American and the Caribbean has won their freedom and independence through long and great struggles. For this reason, I believe that the people of Latin America and the Caribbean are fully aware of the importance of being free and achieving a just society based on the rule of law. As a proof of this, in most of Latin American and the Caribbean countries, despite various challenges, peaceful changes of government have been achieved through transparent and democratic elections, and due process has been respected.
In addition, Latin America and the Caribbean is currently one of the most peaceful regions in the world, which is a result of strenuous diplomatic efforts, such as the creation of various regional organizations, regional agreements, and the settlements of borders with neighboring countries.
In particular, the Tlatelolco Treaty, the world's first treaty to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone, to which all 33 Latin American and the Caribbean countries are parties, has been faithfully abided by all member states since its entry into force in 1968. This fact demonstrates a strong desire of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean for the rule of law. The international community has much to learn from the Latin American and the Caribbean people, who have respected multilateralism and the rule of law, and have achieved peaceful solutions of disputes through dialogue.
Many Latin American and the Caribbean countries raised their voices in strong condemnation of Russia's aggression against Ukraine. The voting attitude at the United Nations showed that an overwhelming number of Latin American and the Caribbean countries said "No" to Russia's aggression, compared to other regions in the world. This is very encouraging, and I would like to show my respect for that.
It is thus evident, in Latin America and the Caribbean, an international order based on the rule of law is widely supported and people are feeling it is beneficial and important. We expect you will continue to raise your voice from this region. And together, let us expand the "network of solidarity to uphold the rule of law" further to the world.
(2) "Network of Solidarity to Protect the Earth"
Next, I would like to emphasize "network of solidarity to protect the earth" to address global challenges that transcend national borders. Globalization, which has brought prosperity to the world, has also produced various contradictions and challenges. While achieving economic growth, it has also increased inequality and poverty, reduced the size of the middle class, and placed a greater burden on the global environment. In Japan, under Prime Minister Kishida’s administration, efforts are underway to realize an inclusive and sustainable society through a "new form of capitalism" based on a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution. Rather than competing for a piece of pie we have at the moment, our goal is to achieve both growth and distribution by expanding the pie through a long-term investment, research and development, and human resources development.
Latin America and the Caribbean has various problems such as income disparity, poverty, and environment. Japan would like to continue to cooperate by standing by the people who are facing various challenges. For example, Japan has cooperated with Brazil to transform vast areas of the Cerrado, once called "barren land," into a rich granary. Japan has also been involved in efforts to conserve forests in the Amazon using satellites.
This region also includes Caribbean countries that have vulnerabilities unique to island nations as well as countries that have both suffered earthquakes and tsunami. Also, there are countries with health systems in need of improvement. We will use our advanced technologies. We will strengthen our efforts based on the principle of human security to overcome various challenges. We will cooperate with flexibility taking into account the unique circumstances and needs of each recipient including so-called ODA graduate countries and middle-income countries without focusing solely on per capita income level as criteria for cooperation.
It is also important to achieve sustainable economic growth in this region surrounding the Pacific Ocean and to establish a free and fair economic order. Japan has taken a leadership role for free trade. The WTO is at the core of the multilateral trading system, though it currently faces challenges. We must now continue to reform the WTO to ensure that it fully performs its functions that meet demands of today. Furthermore, in cooperation with the CPTPP members, Japan is committed to upholding the spirit and principles of the CPTPP, which are incompatible with unfair trade practices and economic coercion. Japan is also committed to maintaining its high standards.
At the same time, we need to strengthen the international economic order to deal with economic coercion and other behaviors that infringe sovereignty and interests of states and its people. It is important for the international community to speak out against acts inconsistent with international rules such as IUU fishing, and to share know-hows on how to counter them. By March of this year, Japan will invite government officials from Brazil and other Latin American countries who engage in maritime security or fisheries to Japan for the training on countermeasures against IUU fishing.
(3) "Network of Solidarity to Grow Together”
Third, I would like to raise the importance of "growing together" in the face of the reality in which international community is being divided by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russian aggression against Ukraine. Above all, resilience of supply chain has never been more important. It is extremely important to know if your counterpart is truly trustworthy and can maintain a stable relationship to do business with. Latin America and the Caribbean is a stable region with shared values, and it is also seen as one of the most important regions in the world for its mineral, energy, and food resources.
Latin America and the Caribbean is a region that deserves attention not only for its mineral resources such as copper and lithium, which are important for achieving a decarbonized society, but also for its renewable energy sources such as hydropower, wind and solar power. In addition, Latin America and the Caribbean possesses high food production capacity, and therefore, plays an important role in food security. Diversification of sources of resources is a top priority for Japan in order to prepare for various possible crises, and we will continue to strengthen our relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean through public and private cooperation.
We will also take various measures to encourage more Japanese companies to expand business in Latin America and the Caribbean, which has a robust middle class and excellent human resources. At the same time, we can work together to achieve economic growth and correct disparities. Digital Transformation or so called DX and Green Transformation or so called GX can be major business opportunities in the future. DX can contribute to narrowing the educational and medical disparities and can also be an important pillar of economic growth that contributes to improving production efficiency. GX can bring about drastic reforms in energy, all types of industries and ultimately the economy and society as a whole towards achieving the 2050 carbon neutral goal. We hope to revitalize trade and investment in a variety of fields between Japan and Latin America and the Caribbean in the future including GX and DX.
In expanding "networks of solidarity" I stated, we must not forget the presence of Japanese immigrants and their descendants, or Nikkei, in Latin America and the Caribbean. The world's largest population of approximately 2.3 million people of Nikkei is a symbol of the ties between Japan and Latin America and the Caribbean. Also, the second and third generation of Nikkei and their families who have crossed the ocean to move in Japan and support Japanese industry must not be forgotten. The Japanese government is firmly committed to supporting and working together with Nikkei community.
In closing, in front of the diplomats, future diplomats and others involved in diplomacy in one way or another who have kindly gathered here today, I would like to highlight once again the following.
We should maintain and strengthen the international order based on the rule of law which our predecessors have achieved. We should also defend the world peace and prosperity and rebuild the governance of international community by building up the power by “solidarity” with like-minded countries. These are the most important tasks in creating the new era.
Baron Rio Branco, the great Brazilian diplomat whom this institute is named after, once said, "Above all, keep constant faith in the power of law. Win the care and affection of all our neighbors by common sense, selflessness, and love of justice. And renounce any intervention in the lives of these people. This, I am convinced, is what Brazil should be in the future." These are words of more than 100 years ago, but for all of us who are living this age, his words resonate within us quite vividly.
As I have said, Latin America and the Caribbean is a long-time friend of Japan with whom we share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, and human rights. You are partners that we can trust with all our hearts. On the other hand, of course, we can’t agree on everything. At times, we may argue on various issues. But one thing is for sure. As Baron Rio Branco so wisely stated, we can resolve any issue if we respect the rule of law, by having common sense and love for the people of other countries.
Now that the very foundations of the international order are threatened, let us, Japan and Latin America and the Caribbean, work together to rebuild a more peaceful and prosperous world by expanding a triad of network of solidarity, namely “Networks of Solidarity to Uphold the Rule of Law, to Protect the Earth, and to Grow Together.”