BASIC TASKS OF
JAPAN'S FOREIGN POLICY
- Diplomacy Positively Contributing
to World Peace and Prosperity -
Having recovered from the devastation and miserable defeat of World War II, Japan has become one of the leading industrialized countries. The nation today enjoys an era of peace which has lasted for nearly 40 years and a standard of living higher than ever before. This achievement is testimony to the hardworking character of the Japanese people, and it would not have been possible without the favorable international environment of the postwar period. World peace and prosperity and free economic exchange are indispensable if resource-poor Japan is to continue to prosper, and it is the basic task of Japan's foreign policy to maintain and further these conditions.
Today, however, there exist international tensions which have the potential to threaten world peace, and the world economy is afflicted with many difficulties. These problems are challenges facing the international community as it seeks world peace and prosperity, and continuous international endeavors have been made to overcome them.
Japan has now established itself as a stable democracy with the second largest economy in the Free World, accounting for about 10 percent of the Free World's gross national product. This growing political and economic importance in the global community makes it increasingly impossible for Japan to simply react to world events as they occur and to reap the benefits of others' labor. The world is increasingly expecting Japan to play a more positive role in contributing to world peace and prosperity through greater economic cooperation. As an international state, Japan must conduct a positive foreign policy responsive to the expectations of the international community.
This diplomacy must be carried out in line with Japan's basic position as a member of the Free World and as a country in the Asia-Pacific region.
1. Japan's Baste Position
(1) Foreign Policy as a Free and Democratic Nation
Japan chose to be a free and democratic nation following its tragic experiences in World War II. Liberal democracy is now firmly rooted in Japan, and the Japanese people enjoy freedom, peace, and prosperity. In today's international situation, however, tensions continue to exist such as in East-West relations, and the situation surrounding Japan remains harsh. Free economic exchange, which forms the basis of the prosperity of Japan as well as the rest of the world, is hobbled by such difficulties as protectionist tendencies and accumulated debt problems. Given this situation, it is crucial that Japan strengthen its political and economic solidarity and cooperation with those countries that share its fundamental values of freedom and democracy and the free-market economy. Following the Williamsburg Summit's demonstration of the solidarity among these countries, the London Summit of June 1984 adopted a Declaration on Democratic Values reaffirming this solidarity.
While Japan has close cooperative relations with all of the other free and democratic countries, those with the United States are the cornerstone of its foreign policy, and the security arrangements with the United States form the basis of Japan's national security. On this basis, Japan has been striving to improve its own defense capability within the self-defense framework permitted under the Constitution and in accordance with its basic defense policy while upholding the three non-nuclear principles. Relations with the United States are not only essential to Japan's security but are wide-ranging as well, also including the fields of politics, economics, science and technology, and culture, and making it important to maintain and further this cooperative relationship.
No country, however, can ensure its security by military means alone. For a democratic country, in particular, it is essential that the people have the will to defend the nation and that they support and cooperate with the Government. Some consider this to be a weakness of democratic systems, but history has proven that, when a democratic society truly recognizes the need to defend itself and the people and the Government work as one, it can mobilize a strength surpassed by none. Hence, it is crucial to deepen the people's understanding of the international situation facing Japan and to secure a broad consensus on domestic and foreign policies through the free and democratic process.
(2) Foreign Policy as an Asia-Pacific Nation
Geographically located in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan shares a historical and cultural heritage with its neighbors and enjoys close political and economic relations with them. There can be no peace and prosperity for Japan without stability and prosperity in the region. In humble recognition of the complex sentiments toward Japan held in some quarters of certain countries in the region as a result of wartime experiences, Japan must further endeavor to contribute positively to the stability and prosperity of the region and to strengthen its friendship and cooperation with these countries.
In recent years, reference has often been heard to "the coming of the Pacific Age" or the shift "from the age of the Atlantic to the age of the Pacific." Indeed, Japan and many countries on the Pacific Rim have achieved dynamic economic growth, and the region, rich in natural resources, is pregnant with potential for development. Japan should endeavor to help realize this potential, contribute to the development of the region, and thus make the Pacific an ocean of genuine peace and prosperity. From this perspective, Japan welcomes the fact that ideas of Pacific cooperation have been pursued in various circles and forums. In promoting these concepts concerning the future of the Pacific, it is important not to fall into exclusionism. With its diverse richness in terms of political systems, stages of economic development, and historical and cultural background, the region should seek loose and open cooperation and solidarity as a free and open group of nations. Cooperation with the Atlantic region, with which it is interdependent, is essential for the development of the Pacific region. Both regions should work together for their own prosperity and world prosperity.
Japan's primary diplomatic effort in the Asia-Pacific region is to ease and settle regional tensions and disputes. With regard to China, Japan's relations have never been better. Friendship and cooperation between the two countries are vital to peace and stability in Asia and should be maintained over the long term. On the Korean Peninsula, the situation continues tense in part because of such events as the downing of the Korean Airlines (KAL) jetliner and the Rangoon incident. Japan intends to continue its efforts for the creation of a climate conducive to the resumption of dialogue between South and North, while maintaining its close relationship with the Republic of Korea. As for the Cambodian problem, Japan made a three-point proposal on how it would cooperate for the settlement of this problem at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Conference with the Dialogue Partners held in July this year. The proposal is in accordance with Japan's policy of supporting the efforts of the ASEAN countries with a view to facilitating a comprehensive political settlement of the problem.
Second, Japan should contribute commensurate with its national strength to the economic development of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region. It is of particular importance that Japan cooperate with the nation-building efforts by its neighbors -- including specifically the Republic of Korea, China, the ASEAN countries, and the island countries of the Pacific. Even as economic recovery centered in the major advanced countries has been taking hold, an adverse situation persists in many of the developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Japan must show understanding of the economic difficulties facing these countries and assist them in their nation-building and human resource development efforts.
Third, the promotion of exchanges and mutual understanding between peoples is important to generating and consolidating firm grass-roots support for Japan's friendships with the other countries of the region. Personal exchange, which forms the foundation for mutual understanding, should be further promoted through cultural exchange, exchange of students, technical cooperation, and other means.
2. Japan's Diplomatic Efforts for Peace and Prosperity
Working from the basic position stated above, Japan must positively tackle such current foreign policy issues as peace and disarmament, sound development of the world economy, and stable development for the developing countries.
(1) Efforts for Peace and Disarmament -- Promotion of Dialogue
The Declaration on Democratic Values adopted at the London Summit manifested respect for the rights of citizens and the belief of the participating nations in the democratic system, and confirmed the need for peace with freedom and justice. However, the present international situation remains inimical to the pursuit of peace. East-West relations have cooled as a result of the Soviet Union's persistent military build-up, the situation in Afghanistan and other areas, and the Soviet suspension of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) and Strategic Arms Reductions Talks (START) negotiations. In recognition of the reality that the two superpowers are pitted against each other with enormous stockpiles of nuclear weapons, it is all the more essential for world peace and stability in these difficult times that the Free-World nations, while making their views clear to the Soviets, patiently strive to maintain and strengthen the dialogue needed to build stable East-West relations. While recognizing the role of deterrence based on the balance of power in the maintenance of world peace, Japan intends to continue to call for the promotion of dialogue and negotiation centered on arms control between the United States and the Soviet Union.
At the Geneva Conference on Disarmament in June this year, Foreign Minister Abe-called for an early resumption of arms control and disarmament negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union and appealed for the maintenance and strengthening of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime. He also proposed a realistic approach leading step-by-step to a comprehensive nuclear test ban and called for the early realization of a treaty banning chemical weapons. In so doing, Foreign Minister Abe expressed Japan's firm determination to work for peace and disarmament.
The persistent Soviet military build-up in the Far East is one cause of the harsh climate in the area surrounding Japan. Relations between Japan and the Soviet Union are strained, reflecting not only this build-up but also the current tension in East-West relations and the unresolved question of the Northern Territories. While contributing to the stability in the Far East by maintaining the minimum necessary deterrent capability in cooperation with the United States, Japan must, however, persevere in its efforts to promote dialogue at various levels with its important neighbor the Soviet Union, to resolve the territorial issue in accord with the fervent wishes of all the people, and to conclude a peace treaty so as to put Japanese-Soviet relations on a stable basis. Japan must likewise continue its efforts to further dialogue and mutual understanding with all other countries, including those whose domestic systems or circumstances differ from its own.
Currently, there exist conflicts or tensions in several regions, including the Middle East (in particular the Gulf region), the Korean Peninsula, Indochina, Southern Africa, and Central America. Although these conflicts and tensions have so far remained regional in scope, there is a constant danger that they might develop into direct confrontations involving the two superpowers. Untiring efforts should be made to prevent any escalation of the conflicts and to settle them peacefully. Regarding the Iran-Iraq conflict, Japan maintains political dialogue with both Iran and Iraq without being partial to either side and, while urging both parties to strive to prevent the conflict's escalation, has endeavored to create a climate conducive to its early settlement by peaceful means. The maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is vital to the peace and stability of East Asia, including Japan. While strongly condemning acts of terrorism such as the Rangoon incident, Japan strives to foster a climate for the resumption of substantial dialogue between South and North and the realization of lasting peace and stability on the Peninsula. Concerning the Cambodian problem, a major cause of instability in Indochina, Japan has announced a concrete proposal to facilitate its resolution.
Unceasing efforts are necessary to bring about and maintain peace. In today's increasingly interdependent world, the first step for Japan to take in protecting its security and prosperity is to make every effort to create a peaceful international environment. This demands comprehensive policies, including political efforts for the settlement of conflicts and the relaxation of tensions, cooperation in the peace-keeping operations of the United Nations, promotion of arms control and disarmament, support for the maintenance and strengthening of the free trade system and the sustained non-inflationary growth of the world economy, assistance for the stability and development of the developing countries, and establishment of effective means for securing vital resources such as energy and food in peace time and in emergencies.
The advent of the advanced information society consequent upon the remarkable progress of science and technology in recent years necessitates new approaches in foreign policy and defense. In free societies, a tremendous volume of information and opinion is freely exchanged, yet in other societies the flow of information is extremely restricted. It is increasingly important that Japan acquire sufficient and accurate information in a prompt and appropriate manner and make correct assessments or judgments based upon that information. In this sense, one of Japan's major diplomatic tasks is that of becoming an "advanced information state" possessing sound information collection and assessment capabilities. At the same time, it is also important that Japanese foreign policy make concerted efforts to correct misunderstandings of Japan abroad and to elicit more accurate understanding about the realities in Japan and its policy intentions.
(2) Contribution to the Sound Medium- and Long-Term Development of the World Economy
In the world economy, recovery centered in the major industrialized countries has been progressing steadily, which shows that these countries' efforts to attain sustained non-inflationary economic growth have succeeded. However, the pace of economic recovery differs from country to country, and the solution of such structural problems as high unemployment, structural budgetary deficits, and slow adjustment of the industrial structure is a medium- and long-term task facing the advanced economies. Social flexibility and political resolve are musts in undertaking this task. Meanwhile, stubborn protectionist tendencies threaten the expansion of world trade.
Under these circumstances, the first priority in ensuring the sound development of the world economy is to maintain and strengthen the free trade system. Japan has therefore proposed the starting of a New Round of multilateral trade negotiations following the Tokyo Round. At the London Summit, the need for and importance of a New Round was confirmed, and it was agreed to consult with partners in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) with a view to seeking an early start. This confirmation was possible because the other participating countries at the Summit supported Japan's basic stance that a New Round should be promoted to roll back protectionism and to attain sustained world economic growth through the expansion of world trade.
It is also important that every country conduct balanced economic management. Japan has not only followed an economic management policy centered on domestic demand but has also decided upon and implemented five packages of market-opening measures since 1981. These are part of Japan's efforts to maintain harmonious external economic relations and to contribute to the development of the world economy, and it is imperative that Japan continue to emphasize the well-balanced management of economic policies.
It is also imperative that vigorous efforts be made to cope with structural problems in order to promote the medium- and long-term development of the world economy. This question has been studied in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and it is significant that the Economic Declaration adopted by the heads of state or government participating in the London Summit emphasized the importance of keeping public expenditures within proper limits, removing rigidities in the labor market, and building economies in response to changes in demand and technology. Since technological innovation is often a factor supporting economic efficiency and vitalization, efforts must be made to enhance science and technology and to promote social adaptation to technological change. On the other hand, however, a new problem has emerged in the field of science and technology, especially advanced technology: a widening gap has appeared in the levels of high-tech development, not only between industrialized and pre-industrial countries but even among industrialized countries.
Another urgent issue is the accumulated debt problem, which has put many developing countries in economic difficulty and threatens the sound development of the world economy. While a solution must be sought primarily by the debtor countries themselves through their self-help efforts, the industrialized countries should assist them in collaboration with appropriate international institutions and private creditors. Japan recognizes this and is actively seeking to resolve this problem.
(3) Cooperation for the Stabilization and Development of the Developing Countries
The positive effects of world economic recovery have yet to be felt in all of the developing countries. In Africa, many countries still suffer serious food arises. Many of the developing countries are troubled with accumulated debts.
Political stability and economic development in the developing countries are essential to world peace and prosperity. In view of the fact that most of the ongoing conflicts in the world today are in the developing regions, it is particularly evident that cooperation for achieving stability and development in the developing countries is conducive to regional stability and therefore contributes to world peace and stability.
With the deepening of international interdependence, Japan's economic interdependence with other countries has been growing. Japan is perhaps the advanced industrialized country most dependent upon other countries both in trade and in resource procurement. Japan must cooperate in the development of the developing countries, not only for humanitarian reasons but also for the sake of the entire global community. Such cooperation is also in Japan's own national interests in the sense that world peace is prerequisite to Japanese prosperity and stability.
Japan's cooperation with the developing countries should be extended through various means on a comprehensive basis. One means is the strengthening and expansion of Official Development Assistance (ODA). Japan's ODA in 1983 totalled $3.76 billion, which is quantitatively quite a significant sum. However, Japan still lags behind the United States and West European countries in terms of the percentage of gross national product (GNP) spent on ODA and in its share of grants to total ODA. Japan must continue its efforts to strengthen its ODA by fulfilling its medium-term target of doubling ODA and endeavor as best it can to improve the quality of this assistance and to ensure its effective and efficient implementation. Not only ODA but other assistance as well should be extended to the developing countries' self-help efforts to expand their exports to Japan. It is hence important that Japan continue its effort with regard to market-opening measures for products from the developing countries. Private direct investment, which does not imply any additional debt burden, also has a significant role to play in strengthening the developing countries' economic foundations and export capabilities. In this connection, it is hoped that the developing countries will further improve the environment for receiving investment.
Working in the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and other forums dealing with the North-South problem, Japan has been actively participating in discussions which seek solutions to such problems as commodity price stability, trade, structural adjustment, accumulated debts, and currency and finance.
In April this year, Tokyo was the site for the fortieth session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). Japan is devoted to making further efforts for the solution of Asia-Pacific problems in cooperation with other countries.
Respect for humanity is an important element in all of Japan's diplomatic efforts. In stark contrast to the peace and prosperity Japan enjoys today, there has recently been an enormous outflow of refugees in such areas as Indochina and Afghanistan. In Africa, the problem of refugees from wars and internal disturbances has been exacerbated by an unprecedented drought which has caused serious hunger and starvation for some 150 million people. The threat to humanity is just as great as in any war. These refugees desparately need emergency food supplies and other humanitarian aid. Furthermore, because of the tangled causes of the problems and the importance of preventing their prolongation, fundamental measures must be taken in cooperation with other countries and international organizations. The government of Japan has been seeking actively to cope with these problems by supporting proposals put forth by the United Nations for comprehensive measures concerning the African food crisis and by extending food aid and technical assistance. At the same time, the government has called on the private sector for its support and cooperation. A growing number of private organizations have been involved in assistance activities, and it is hoped that the various sectors of society will continue to promote such international cooperation.
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