Chapter II.  Major International Developments and Japan's Major Diplomatic Activities in 1986



Section 1. Major International Developments


There were fluctuations in the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1986. There were also some developments worthy of attention in regional affairs, although no basic progress was made toward the solution of continuing regional disputes in Asia, the Middle East and other areas.


(1)  The following developments were seen in the U.S.-Soviet relationship as the fundamental framework of international politics:

Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze visited the United States in September 1986 to attend the United Nations General Assembly, and held talks with U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz. The talks were subject to close international attention because they came after American journalist Daniloff in Moscow was arrested by the Soviet authorities in late August. The talks failed to produce any specific decision on Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's visit to U.S. in 1986 which was agreed on at a U.S.-Soviet summit talks in November 1985. But it was decided to hold a U.S.-Soviet summit meeting in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, on October 11 and 12 in order to prepare Gorbachev's visit to U.S.

Substantial, intensive negotiations centering on arms control were done at the Reykjavik summit. The two countries tentatively reached what Secretary of State Shultz described as "potential agreement" on measures including a 50% cut in strategic nuclear forces, elimination of INF (intermediate-range nuclear forces) in Europe, reduction of the number of INF warheads to 100 for each of the two countries at a global level and a 10-year compliance with the ABM treaty (anti-ballistic missile treaty). But eventually they failed to reach any final agreement on arms control because General Secretary Gorbachev insisted on a 10-year restriction on testing for the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative to those in laboratory and, changing his previous position, stuck to a new proposal to incorporate all arms control matters into a single package.

On February 28, 1987, however, General Secretary Gorbachev issued a statement indicating the Soviet Union's readiness to agree on the INF reduction separately from the arms control package. In response, Secretary of State Shultz visited the Soviet Union in April to negotiate the matter. The two countries narrowed their gaps over INF reduction and some other arms control and disarmament problems. The INF reduction has been subject to the ongoing U.S.-Soviet arms control negotiations in Geneva. The United States has closely consulted with its western allies on the negotiations. It will have to solve such pending problems as verification, short-range INF missiles at a global level and long-range INF missiles in Asia before reaching final agreement on the INF reduction.

Western countries are observing with close interest General Secretary Gorbachev's successive proposals on disarmament and diplomatic issues. But they believe they should maintain a cautious attitude toward the Soviet proposals while watching real Soviet actions not only in disarmament but in human rights, regional disputes and other areas.


(2)  In late July 1986, Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev made a speech in Vladivostok to describe the Soviet Union's comprehensive policy toward the Asia-Pacific region. Terming the Soviet Union one of the Asia-Pacific nations, he indicated that his country would positively consider two of the "three obstacles" proposed earlier by China for normalization of their relations. (The two obstacles are the Soviet Union's withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Mongolia.) China made a generally cautious response to the Gorbachev speech and intends to keep close watch on the Soviet Union's future actions especially regarding the Cambodian problem. Meanwhile, China-Soviet border negotiations were resumed in February 1987 for the first time in nine years in response to the speech made by Gorbachev.

As to U.S.-China relations, U.S. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger visited China in October 1986 and announced that U.S. Naval ships would call at a Chinese port for the first time. The port call took place in November.


(3)  The United States, the Soviet Union and China each had domestic developments which attracted international attention.

In the United States, the Democratic Party captured the majority in both the Senate and the House as a result of November's midterm election. In the same month, the U.S. Administration's secret contacts with Iran came to light. It was also found that part of Iran's payments for American weapons in secret deals had been given to Contra, an antigovernment guerrilla group in Nicaragua. Because of the Iran-Contra affair, the Reagan Administration has been criticized by Congress and other quarters severely.

In the Soviet Union, the 27th Communist Party Congress convention in February-March 1986 approved the domestic and foreign policies which General Secretary Gorbachev had promoted since his assumption of the post. Gorbachev has embarked on his "restructuring" policy to vitalize the Soviet society and economy. He has been pushing various domestic reforms under the slogans of openness and democratization to stimulate the people's active participation in the restructure. But indications are that his reforms have been faced with a variety of resistance in the country.

In China, liberal arguments in many fields began to prosper in the spring of 1986 to promote various reforms. The move developed into student demonstrations for liberalization in December. In response, campaigns against the "bourgeois liberalization" have been staged since January 1987. General Secretary Hu Yaobang resigned amid the campaigns in the month. Since then, the Chinese authorities have given priority to both the communist ideology and the economic reform including open-door policy. A matter of concern to China watchers is how the Chinese authorities will balance the two policies toward the Communist Party's 13th Congress scheduled for the autumn of 1987.


(4)  Recent regional developments are as follows:

In Asia, the North-South dialogue on the Korean Peninsula has remained suspended, except sports and some other meetings mediated by the International Olympic Committee. But some developments are expected. In view of the 1988 Seoul Olympics and a prospective government change in the Republic of Korea, the situation of Korean Peninsula deserves close attention. In the Philippines, the Corazon Aquino government, inaugurated in a political change in February 1986, won the people's overwhelming support in both the referendum for a new constitution in February and the elections for inaugurating a new two-chamber parliament in May. But the government is still faced with difficult problems including reconstruction of the economy and measures against antigovernment armed groups such as the New People's Army.

As for the Cambodian problem, various diplomatic efforts have been made, but no clue to the solution has been found.

Sri Lanka's racial issue has grown more and more complicated since a bomb explosion in Colombo in April 1987. The issue has affected Sri Lanka's relationship with India.

On the Afghanistan issue, Pakistan and the current Afghan regime continued proximity talks through the meditation of the United Nations.

In Afghanistan, the Soviet Union withdrew part of its troops in October 1986. But no substantial development was made toward solving the problem.

In the Middle East, Iran-Iraq conflict has been continuing, repeating stalemate and escalation. On the Middle East peace issue, discussions regarding an international conference plan have been made between countries concerned, but Arab nations are still divided over processes toward the Middle East peace. Israel for its part has intra-government conflicts over the international conference plan. Both the conflicts between Arab nations and within Israel have been an obstacle to developments toward the peace.

The South African government declared a state of emergency in June 1986 inviting new international criticism. Western countries forced new sanctions against South Africa from September to October.

In Western Europe, Spain and Portugal joined the European Community in January 1986. Western European countries are taking procedures to ratify a protocol for a unified Europe which will become the base for unification of Europe. They are embarking on constructions of "Strong Europe" under the firm and common political determination. The EC also launched consultations with COMECON for the purpose of establishing bilateral relations. In Eastern Europe, the Gorbachev regime is trying to enhance the unity of the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries, especially in economic area. Each East European country is thus required to implement more efficient policy management to vitalize its economy. Gorbachev's policy of reconstruction has caused direct and indirect impact on Eastern Europe and countries and their responses to the Soviet policy differ depending on their political and economic conditions.

In Latin America, the United States resumed military assistance to Nicaragua's antigovernment forces. Efforts for a peaceful settlement of Central American issues have been made mainly by the Contadora Group, but are faced with difficulties. Reagarding Latin America's external debt issue, such developments took place as Brazil's suspension of interest payments on borrowings in early 1987.


(5)  International terrorism issues grew more serious in 1986. Terrorist attacks frequently occurred, especially in the Middle East and Europe in the year. Hostage problems remained unsolved in Lebanon and other areas. The year's terrorist attacks featured government support and characteristics of international wars. A discotheque bar was attacked by a bomb explosion in West Berlin in April. The United States forced a bombing on Libya as its self-defense measure, claiming it had evidence of Libya's involvement in the West Berlin incident and other terrorist attacks. The year 1986 was characterized by moves to promote antiterrorism measures in the whole of the international society. The moves included seven major industrial democracies' adoption of a statement on international terrorism at their Tokyo summit.


(6)  Although the year 1986 saw encouraging signs in the world economy, such as persistent growth, low inflation rates, reduction of interest rates and launching of a new round of multilateral trade negotiations under GATT, the world economy has still been faced with a variety of serious destabilization factors.

Industrialized countries continued moderate economic growth taking advantage of favorable factors including lower oil prices, lower rates of inflation and falling rates of interest. Among developing countries, Asian newly industrializing countries expanded their economies. But many developing countries were affected by lower prices of oil and other primary products, especially, the debt issue remained serious.

Trade imbalances between major industrialized countries showed signs of improvement thanks to their efforts and developments in their currency realignment. But the imbalances remained large in terms of dollars, causing stronger protectionist pressure. A new GATT round of multilateral trade negotiations (Uruguay Round) was inaugurated in September to maintain and enhance the multilateral free trade system avoiding protectionist pressure. In the negotiations, several task forces were set up in early 1987 to address individual problems subject to the new round.


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