Chapter I. Basic Tasks for Japanese Foreign Policy: Effecting a Historic Transformation and Contributing to a Better World
Japan's international environment is today growing increasingly harsh with the economic friction arising against a background of Japan's huge external account imbalances, particularly the unprecedentedly strident trade and other issues with the United States.
At the same time, the world economy now faces various difficulties such as massive imbalances in the main trading countries' current accounts, the growing tendency to resort to protectionism, sharp currency fluctuation and mounting debt problems, and it is no exaggeration to say that the present world economic order's very foundations could well be seriously threatened.
Japan's Trade Surpluses with the U.S. and EC
In the political sphere, while there has been some progress seen in East-West relations centering on the arms control and disarmament negotiations, it is impossible to predict the long-term outlook for the relationship and no solution is yet in sight for the many persistent regional conflicts.
Given this harsh and constantly changing international climate, Japan has an especially important role to play in the international community. To date, Japan has developed rather smoothly in a favorable international environment centered on the free-trade system, yet it is now impossible to maintain that international order without coordination and untiring efforts on the part of all countries. It is thus important that Japan, taking the long-term perspective and respecting international coordination, work to contribute positively to world peace and prosperity through playing an important and responsible, role as a standard-bearer sustaining the international order. Japan is truly at a major turning point in its history, and never before has the Japanese posture been watched so closely as it is today.
2. Changes in the International Community and the Evolving Japanese Role
The first imperative is that Japan more accurately understand the present international situation and the changes that are taking place in the underlying historical currents.
While the United States and the Soviet Union continue to be major presences by virtue of their massive military might, Japan, Western Europe, China, and other countries are also becoming increasingly important in today's highly interdependent international community. In the economic field, there has been a relative decline in the U.S. position from the immediate-postwar era when it was the dominant economic power and was able to contribute to shaping and maintaining the international order, and both the free-trade system and the international monetary system based upon the dollar as the key currency are entering new phases.
Yet even as the international community is becoming more fluid, the United States is still clearly playing the leading international role politically and economically. Nevertheless, if we are to facilitate the maintenance of the international order and ensure continued world peace and prosperity, it is increasingly important that the leading democracies fulfill their international responsibilities and roles and that international dialogue and policy coordination be strengthened.
There is no denying the importance of military might in ensuring security, but economic, scientific and technological, and social and cultural factors are becoming more and more important in international relations. Indicative of this trend, the United States, the Soviet Union, and other leading countries are working hard to strengthen their competitiveness and to revitalize their economies and making strenuous efforts for scientific and technological development.
Within this historical current and looking ahead to the future, it may be suggested that Japan should keep the following roles, for example, in mind if it is to achieve balanced development in the political, economic, cultural, and other spheres and to make a constructive contribution to the international community.
First, seeking to ensure its own security and firmly adhering to its position as a nation committed to peace, determined not to become such a military power as might pose a threat to other nations, Japan should play an even greater political role in contributing to world peace and stability from the global perspective.
Second, positively carrying out its responsibilities and playing its proper role, Japan should take full advantage of its own economic vitality for the maintenance and development of the international economic order and should contribute to the sound development of the world economy as a whole through enhanced economic cooperation for the resolution of the North-South problem.
Third, with the emphasis on culture, academic studies, and science and technology, Japan should, along with promoting international exchanges, work for the solution of environmental, medical and health care, food and nutrition, and other problems common to all mankind and contribute to the creation of a new civilization.
Fourth, treasuring such universal values and good faith and humanism, Japan should, while fully respecting other countries' positions, seek to win the trust of all countries.
3. Basic Positions in Japan's Foreign Policy
It goes without saying that foreign policy has a crucial part to play in seeking to fulfill the above-mentioned roles for a better future.
Realizing that Japan is both a member of free and democratic world and an Asia-Pacific nation, Japan's basic foreign policy positions are grounded in the dual effort to ensure its own security and prosperity and to contribute to world peace and prosperity.
(1) Diplomacy as a Free and Democratic Nation
Japan could not have achieved its present peace and prosperity without solidarity and cooperation with the other countries sharing those basic values of freedom and democracy that Japan adopted after the war, and the awareness of its position as a member of the free and democratic world is basic to Japan's foreign policy.
Of the relations with the other free and democratic countries, those with the United States grounded in the Japan-U.S. security arrangements are the cornerstone of Japanese foreign policy. The relations between Japan and the United States have been steadily strengthened throughout the postwar period, and despite recent economic friction of unprecedented severity, the two countries are cooperating closely to solve these problems in the awareness that economic issues must not be allowed to damage the generally good relationship. Prime Minister Nakasone's official visit to the United States in April/ May 1987 further advanced this mutual cooperation. The relationship between the two countries today transcends that of purely bilateral nature and has developed into a global partnership. It is imperative that Japan seek to maintain and strengthen these cooperative relations with the United States and contribute to the international community at large.
The nations of Western Europe are today showing renewed vigor with advancing integration, and Japan's relations with these countries are becoming still closer not only in the economic field but also in political, cultural, scientific and technological, and a wide range of other areas. While these countries have taken an increasingly harsh line toward Japan over economic friction, it is important that Japan both seek to conduct global economic policies that consider European concerns and work to develop yet-closer relations with Western Europe in the political and other fields.
The importance of solidarity and coordination among the free and democratic countries is bound to increase. The Economic Summit meetings of the seven leading industrialized democracies thus have a major role to play, and this June's Venice Summit was valuable in that close consultations were held on current international economic issues, East-West relations, regional problems, and other issues of concern and concrete patterns of cooperation were agreed upon. It is important that Japan continue to contribute positively in these summit meetings as well as in the OECD and other forums and to further strengthen the cooperation among the industrialized countries.
(2) Diplomacy as an Asia-Pacific Nation
The Asia-Pacific region contains a number of problems both politically, as with the tension on the Korean Peninsula, the problem of Cambodia, and the political unrest in some countries, and economically, as with the deterioration in primary commodity prices and the increasingly serious debt problem. On the other hand, this region is full of dynamism and is taking on greater weight in the international community. Not only is Japan located in the Asia-Pacific region, it has deep historical and cultural bonds with this region. Likewise, peace and stability in this region is most important to ensuring Japan's own security, and Japan's economic relations with these countries have become much closer in recent years through trade, investment and tourism.
In these relations, Japan must be humbly aware and bear in mind that it has long benefited from the region's cultural heritage and that its relations have been marred by unfortunate events in the past. While there is no denying' that Japan has looked primarily to the West in its drive to modernize, this in no way diminishes the importance of the Asia-Pacific region for Japan.
It is important that Japan, continually reflecting on its own stance with a view to better relations with the countries in this region, work to build relations of peace and friendship in line with the basic principles of its Asian policy of learning from history and its lessons. It is essential that Japan, from the basic position of respecting these countries' own initiatives, promote exchanges and dialogue in a wide range of fields and strengthen the mutual trust with these countries contributing to the stability of the region as a nation committed to peace. Strengthening the relations of friendship and cooperation with these Asia-Pacific countries is an indispensable element in conducting Japanese foreign policy in the sense that it contributes to peace and prosperity not only for Japan and this region but for the entire international community.
It is also necessary that Japan intensify its involvement in the various activities for Pacific cooperation which is advancing toward the 21st century.
4. Tasks for Japanese Foreign Policy
Working from these premises it is essential that Japan, maintaining its peace and prosperity, seriously tackle the following tasks to actively fulfill its international responsibilities and play its due role.
(1) Efforts for World Peace and Stability
Although mankind has longed for world peace and stability for eons, there are a number of destabilizing factors including the threat of war, regional conflicts and terrorist acts. As a nation of peace, Japan should play an even more active part consistent with its national strength for world peace and stability in the following areas.
1986 marked the 30th anniversary of Japan's admission to the United Nations. Given that Japan will serve as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for two years beginning this year, it is important that Japan make all the more active effort to fulfill its responsibilities within the United Nations.
(a) East-West Relations and Disarmament and Arms Control
Although there were considerable ups and downs in East-West relations, especially in those United States-Soviet Union relations that have a basic bearing on world peace and stability, as in the October 1986 Reykjavik summit meeting, the U.S.-Soviet Foreign Ministers' consultations in April 1987, and the NATO North Atlantic Council Meeting in June 1987, there were noteworthy moves on disarmament and arms control in the area of Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF). On the INF issue, Japan has taken the basic position that the global and total elimination of INF is the best solution for the security of the West.
While the Venice Summit served to reaffirm the Western desire for peace and Western coordination and solidarity in seeking stable and constructive East-West relations, it is imperative that Japan, while firmly maintaining its security arrangements with the United States and strengthening its solidarity with the other free and democratic nations, make an even greater effort to build more stable East-West relations. Seeking to make an active contribution to the promotion of disarmament, Japan must continue to call upon all nations in the United Nations, the Conference on Disarmament, and other forums for a comprehensive nuclear test ban, the maintenance and strengthening of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime, an early ban on chemical weapons, and other initiatives.
At the same time, Japan's promoting dialogue with the Soviet Union and the East European countries is important not only for the bilateral relationships but also for improving mutual understanding between East and West.
Holding two sets of Regular Foreign Ministers' Conferences with the Soviet Union in 1986, Japan resumed negotiations on a peace treaty including the issue of the Northern Territories and achieved agreement on further strengthening the bilateral political dialogue. While the Soviet Union continues to be unyielding on the Northern Territories issue, Japan remains firm in its basic policy of seeking to conclude a peace treaty resolving this problem and establishing stable bilateral relations based upon true mutual understanding.
In January 1987, Prime Minister Nakasone became the first incumbent Japanese Prime Minister to pay an official visit to Eastern Europe and contributed to promoting political dialogue and mutual understanding between East and West.
(b) Regional Issues
There are numerous conflicts and disputes throughout the world, including the tension on the Korean Peninsula, the Cambodian problem, the problem in Afghanistan, the Iran-Iraq conflict, the question of peace in the Middle East, the problem of southern Africa, and the conflict in Central America. These problems are woven of complex interactions of many factors, including historical causes, ethnic and political differences, and third-country intervention, and no solutions are yet in sight. It is thus important that Japan make even greater diplomatic efforts to create a climate conducive to preventing the spread of conflicts, mitigating tension, and promoting the early solution of these conflicts.
With the prolongation of the Iran-Iraq conflict, the situation in the Gulf is growing increasingly tense and major questions have been raised about the safety of navigation there. Given this situation, a political statement on this question was issued at the Venice Summit. Japan has long sought to work from its independent position of maintaining close dialogue with both Iran and Iraq and has developed a number of diplomatic initiatives to create a climate conducive to the solution of this issue, and Foreign Minister Kuranari made a strong appeal for an early end to this conflict when he visited Iran. All possible efforts need to be continued to end the conflict.
There have recently been a number of bombings, hijacking, kidnappings, assassinations, and other vicious terrorist acts harming innocent citizens. Not only do these terrorist acts disrupt the peace and public safety, they are a challenge to the international community. Nor can they be tolerated from the viewpoint of ensuring the safety of Japanese nationals abroad. Resolutely opposed to terrorism in all its forms, Japan believes it is important to strengthen international cooperation for the prevention of terrorism.
(2) Contributing to the Sound Development of the World Economy
(a) While there are a number of bright spots in the outlook for the world economy, including its sustained growth, low inflation rates, lower interest rates, and the start of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations, many destabilizing factors still exist. Given this situation, it is more and more important that every country take the initiative in dealing with the issues facing it and promoting international policy coordination. In that sense, it is significant that the importance of strengthened policy coordination was reaffirmed at the Venice Summit as at the Tokyo Summit.
Japan has become sharply more important in trade, finance, and investment in recent years, and Japan's contribution in the international economic sphere is subject to increasing interest and heightening expectations overseas. At the same time, Japan now has an unprecedented $86 billion current account surplus (as of 1986), and this has come in for criticism as a disruptive factor in the world economy. For Japan to err in its handling of this issue could well undermine the basic foundation and framework for shared world economic development including the postwar free-trade system and the international monetary regime. It goes without saying that this could also be disastrous for Japan's own development.
The most pressing problem facing Japan today is thus that of alleviating the increasingly serious economic friction with its trading partners and rolling back the rising tide of protectionism. The Japan-United States economic relationship in particular has become tenser this year centering on trade imbalance problems. This relationship has a major impact on the world economy, and it is crucial that both countries recognize their responsibilities, work to defuse the tensions, and strive to roll back protectionism.
Current Accounts of Principal Countries
Of course, it is impossible to rectify current account imbalances solely with Japanese policy efforts and adjustments in the exchange rate, and it is imperative that there be policy coordination efforts among the major countries concerned, including the United States efforts to reduce its budget deficit and to improve its industrial competitiveness, but Japan must also do its part by vigorously pursuing the following policies.
(b) First, recognizing its responsibilities and working for international harmony, it is important that Japan boldly make every effort so as to transform its economic structure from the old export-dependent structure to a domestic-demand-powered structure and to contribute to the sound development of the world economy. It was from this perspective that, looking ahead to the Prime Minister's April/May visit to the United States, the May OECD Ministerial Conference, and the June Venice Economic Summit, the administration and the ruling party, with a view to working out specific Japanese policy initiatives, moved strenuously to formulate a set of emergency economic measures including the expansion of domestic demand, increased imports, and a greater contribution to the international community.
The Emergency Economic Measures decided upon by the administration in late May were the crystallization of these efforts, and, with specific figures in a display of political will, were a manifestation of Japan's strong determination in this area. For the expansion of domestic demand, these measures involved dramatic fiscal measures totaling more than \6 trillion (approximately $43 billion) in additional public works and other investments and the advanced implementation of income and other tax cuts; and for the expansion of imports they included a number of governmental initiatives such as the effort to enact a supplementary budget including extraordinary and exceptional provision for additional government procurement of approximately $1 billion worth of foreign-made manufactured goods. Likewise, on contributing to the international community, as noted below, the government is pledged to advance the implementation of its Official Development Assistance (ODA) program, to actively promote the recycling of capital to the developing countries, and more. Many countries, including the assembled leaders at the Venice Economic Summit have expressed their high regard for these Emergency Economic Measures and their strong interest in seeing them implemented, and it is imperative that the decisions made in the measures be implemented without fail. These policies are central in formulating medium- and long-term policy orientations, and it is important that they not be temporary expedients but be part of a continuing policy effort.
It is also imperative that Japan continue to work for fair and prompt settlements of specific issues with specific trade partners. Moreover, on Japanese agriculture, in line with the agreements in this year's OECD Ministerial Conference and the Venice Economic Summit, Japan should seek to implement balanced reforms with due heed to the need for assured stable supplies of food.
The process of Japanese industrial restructuring and import expansion will inevitably entail some employment problems and other domestic difficulties, and the yen's recent rapid appreciation has created very harsh circumstances for many industries, especially the old heavy industries and the export-dependent companies. There are, given these circumstances, strong calls for additional policy efforts to create new employment opportunities and to stimulate regional economies on the basis of the expansion of domestic demand, but we must recognize that this effort to make the Japanese economy internationally harmonious is indispensable to ensuring medium- and long-term vitality and prosperity for the Japanese economy as a whole and improving the quality of Japanese life.
While there is some concern that it may lead to disindustrialization, direct overseas investment should basically be further promoted as consistent with the internationalization of Japanese industry and as contributing to the creation of employment in and technical transfer to the host countries, and also as tying in with the rectification of the current account imbalance. In promoting such direct overseas investment, a strong effort must be made to employ local people and to become integrated into the local community.
(c) On the international trade front, the start of the Uruguay Round by the September 1986 GATT Ministerial Conference marks major progress in rolling back protectionism and ensuring a solid future for the free-trade system. Japan must play an active role in promoting the success of the Uruguay Round negotiations and at the same time must move determinedly to do what it must.
On the international currency question, there has been further progress in policy coordination aimed at more stable exchange rates, including the G-5 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers in the fall of 1985 and the establishment of the G-7 at the Tokyo Economic Summit. However, given that the yen's very rapid appreciation has had a major impact on the Japanese economy and that a collapse in the value of the dollar could plunge the world economy into chaos, the leading countries must step up their efforts for further policy coordination for exchange stability. From this perspective, it is highly significant that the leaders of the participating nations at the Venice Summit clearly stated their political determination on the need for market stability.
(d) Given the striking technological advances that have been made to date, Japan has an outstanding applied technology prowess and is a world-leader in such frontier fields as electronics, optical fiber technology, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. It is thus important that Japan, making an even greater effort for the development of science and technology overall, including basic research, use its total scientific and technological capability to revitalize the world economy and hence to contribute to the well-being of mankind and the creation of a new civilization. In this light too, it is necessary to actively promote industrial cooperation, scientific and technological cooperation, academic exchanges, and other forms of international cooperation.
(3) Cooperation for the Developing Countries' Stability and Development
(a) While the newly industrializing countries and regions are exhibiting exciting economic development, most of the other developing countries face lower primary commodity prices, slower economic growth, and other economic difficulties. At the same time, the debt problem has become more serious in, for example, the Latin American and African countries, and this is now a major destabilizing factor not only for the debtor countries but for the world economy as a whole. There are also many countries that face grave social and environmental problems, such as urban slumification and desertification, and there are today over 10 million refugees and hundreds of million malnourished people worldwide.
Cooperation for the developing countries' economic and social development is not only important for humanitarian reasons but also contributes to stability and development in the particular country, the region, and the world at large. It may thus be said that Japan, having grown to be the second-largest Free World economy, has an important international responsibility to actively promote economic cooperation.
Cumulative Debt Balance of Developing Countries as a Whole
(b) International expectations of Japan have risen visibly in recent years, and Japan has sought to respond positively to these expectations not only by enhancing its ODA in line with the third Medium-Term Target but also by making a strong decision for positive assistance in this May's Emergency Economic Measures, including advancing the implementation of the seven-year ODA doubling target by two years, recycling more than $20 billion in new and completely untied funds to the developing countries over the next three years, and expanding grant assistance including approximately $500 million in non-project-type grants for, African and other nations over the next three years. At the same time, working to respond flexibly to the diversifying needs of the developing countries such as by implementing proper and effective aid, improving the quality of ODA loans and other assistance, and strengthening its ability to provide international emergency assistance for countries struck by disasters, Japan will make an even greater effort to promote technical cooperation such as by accepting trainees and sending expert advisors so as to contribute to the efforts for the development of human resources and nation-building in the developing countries. Likewise, Japan needs to continue its effort to resolve the still-serious plight of refugees worldwide, including capital and foodstuff assistance and the acceptance of Indochinese refugees wishing to settle in Japan.
ODA of Principal Countries
ODA Share in GNP (1986)
Along with these forms of cooperation, it is very important for further revitalizing the developing countries' economies that Japan develop a new international division of labor by positively promoting dialogue with these countries, both bilaterally and in multilateral forums, further expanding its imports of commodities from developing countries, and promoting private-sector direct overseas investment and the accompanying technology transfer.
(4) Ensuring Japan's Security
(a) Japan has achieved conspicuous recovery and development since the end of the Second World War, and it goes without saying that the peace and prosperity that we have enjoyed during these years has been built upon the foundation of national security. Making every effort for national security is an indispensable prerequisite to protecting the lives and property of the Japanese people and defending the nation's independence, and this is thus a basic foreign policy goal as well.
Japan faces a harsh international situation, as seen in the steady build-up of Soviet military forces, the increasing level of Soviet military activity in the Far East, and the continuing tension on the Korean Peninsula, and it is crucial that Japan make further efforts for its own national security.
Japanese security is obviously heavily dependent upon having a peaceful and stable climate in the region. Thus the active foreign policy efforts described in this chapter are ultimately intended for the building of a peaceful and stable international environment, and Japan will have to continue to make untiring efforts to this end.
At the same time, the stark reality is that international peace is today basically sustained by the balance of power and deterrence, and Japan is working to ensure its security by firmly maintaining the security arrangements with the United States, with which it shares the basic values of freedom and democracy, and by developing its own moderate yet effective defense capabilities.
(b) American deterrence is indispensable to ensuring Japanese security, and the security arrangements with the United States are the foundation of Japanese security. It is thus most important that Japan work untiringly to ensure the smooth and effective functioning of these arrangements and to enhance their credibility.
From this perspective, Japan, while continuing to consult closely with the United States, is promoting Japan-United States defense cooperation including conducting joint studies under the Guidelines for Japan-United States Defense Cooperation, participating in joint exercises, and establishing the framework for military technology transfer to the United States. For ensuring smooth and effective stationing of the United States armed forces in Japan, which is the core of the security arrangements with the United States, Japan increases positive support in improving the facilities and bearing labor costs for the United States armed forces, and also steps up her efforts to obtain understanding of local residents for the construction of an alternative night-landing-practice airfield, the construction of U.S. forces family housing facilities, and port calls by U.S. naval ships. This June, the Special Measures Agreement came into force, making it possible for Japan to increase its share of the labor costs for the employees of the U.S. forces in Japan, and it is hoped that this will contribute to stable employment of these employees and the effective operation of U.S. armed forces in Japan.
In September 1986, the Government made a decision on the question of participation in research in the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) being promoted by the United States as a non-nuclear defense system to render ballistic missiles obsolete, and consultations are now under way with the United States to facilitate Japanese participation.
(c) It is most important that Japan possess its own defense capabilities along with firmly maintaining the security arrangements with the United States. Under its Peace Constitution Japan is thus striving to develop moderate yet effective defense capabilities in line with its basic policies of maintaining an exclusively defensive posture and never becoming such a military power as might threaten its neighbors, adhering to the principle of civilian control, and observing the three non-nuclear principles. At present, Japan is working to implement steadily the Mid-Term Defense Program aiming at attainment of the defense capability levels set forth in the National Defense Program Outline. Japan's defense capability is not only indispensable, along with the security arrangements with the United States, in protecting Japan's own national security but may also be said to contribute consequently to the maintenance of the security of all free and democratic nations and to peace and stability in Asia and hence all the world.
(5) Making Japan More Open to the World
(a) Given Japan's major current account surpluses, there has been increasingly harsh economic friction with many countries in recent years. It is imperative in today's increasingly interdependent international community that we share in both the pain and the gain, and it is impermissible that any one country should selfishly seek to profit at others' expense.
There have been some people who say that Japanese have recently become more arrogant in their perceptions and behavior. It is impossible either to improve ourselves or to win the trust of other nations unless we have the humility needed to accept other cultures and values and to respect diversity. Should parochial nationalism take hold, Japan could well find itself isolated in the international community.
Japan has a long tradition of receptivity to the cultural heritage of the Korean Peninsula, China, and elsewhere, and this was expanded after the Meiji opening to include the adoption of Western institutions, practices, and more. After the Second World War, Japan, determined to make its way in the world as a trading nation, promoted export expansion and overseas industrial development, ambitiously drawing upon imported technology. Japan has thus long been adopting the best of foreign cultures and technologies and has been eager for overseas development. Yet the out-flow of culture and information from Japan has been but a trickle in comparison to the flow into Japan, and we have not always been as receptive as we should have been to people and products from other lands.
For Japan to contribute to the global culture and to promote harmony with the international community, it is necessary that this import/export imbalance in terms of personal exchange, trade, culture, and the entire gamut of fields be rectified. To this end, it is important that both state and society become broad-minded and tolerant, that dramatic reforms be implemented in the entire range of fields from the international perspective, and that our economic and social institutions, practices, and even that our thinking be made more open to the rest of the world.
(b) Working to overcome the insularity in the Japanese economy and society will obviously have considerable ramifications throughout society, and it may be that this process will entail considerable short-term sacrifices in some cases. However, accepting other people, products, and values is not only a Japanese responsibility in the international community but may also be said to be an indispensable prerequisite to the economic and social revitalization of Japan and hence to ensuring our medium- and long-term prosperity and to be an important contributing factor in improving the quality of Japanese life and enabling us to realize our rightful place in the international community.
While there are fears that this process of internationalization may entail a loss of Japan's own distinctive cultural and social identity, it might better be said that making Japan more open to the rest of the world is both a way to sustain and develop Japan's outstanding traditions and the strengths demonstrated in the process of its modernization and part of the process of evolving Japanese behavioral modes and social patterns of more universal values, thereby making them more acceptable to the world.
There are many areas where we need to make Japan more open to the rest of the world, and, while some progress has been evident in recent years in the economic and other fields, there is still considerable room for improvement. It is crucial that both the public and private sectors cooperate in promoting further progress here.
While it is important that we reform our practices and institutions, it is even more important that each and every Japanese change his own thinking. It is thus essential that we promote mutual understanding with foreign countries at all levels of society and seek to strengthen international exchanges. In that sense, it is most welcome that local governments and non-governmental organizations have been active in recent years in international activities such as hosting personal exchanges, international events, and the like.
(c) At the same time, the fact that American, European, Asian and other countries are increasingly receptive to Japanese films, fashions, music, architecture, food, and other aspects of Japanese culture has contributed to improving modern Japan's image. The successful kabuki, sumo, and other tours of Europe and North America have been particularly helpful in promoting greater understanding of traditional Japanese culture, and there has recently been a sharp increase in the number of people studying Japanese language overseas. With Japanese culture becoming more universally accepted than ever before and international interest in Japan on the increase, Japan should make every effort to respond positively to this interest. In so doing, of course, all due heed must be paid to the impact that Japan's internationalization may have on cultural, social, and other developments in neighboring countries.
Likewise, there are still numerous complications in out international relations that stem from misunderstanding, and it has been pointed out that the perception gap is a major cause of much of the friction that occurs. In promoting mutual understanding and friendly relations with other countries, it is important that Japan vigorously promote cultural exchanges, including youth exchanges, student exchanges, and studies of international issues, and engage in wide-ranging public relations activities. With the advent of the information age, it is also imperative that Japan strengthen its information-provision capacity using advanced telecommunications systems and other means.
The world is now at a crucial juncture that will decide whether or not future generations charged with bearing the torch of civilization in the 21st century will be able to create a rich future drawing upon the historical heritage of all mankind. Given this situation, Japan is also at a historic turning point as a responsible member of the international community with greater influence and an increasingly important role to play.
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