Chapter I. Japanese Foreign Policy in a Changing World



Section 1. Basic Tasks for Japanese Foreign Policy: Promotion of "Japan Contributing to a Better World"



Recent advances in modern science and technology have rapidly and drastically increased the flows of people, goods, capital and information within the international community, have made relations among nations even more interdependent, and have forced peoples to increasingly act in the global context and from a global perspective. This globalization has been especially striking in the economic sphere, and the significance of borders between market-oriented economies is changing. Politically, while there has been no signs of change in the fundamentally adversarial structure of East-West relations, there are new moves emerging toward a more stable relationship.

Against these undercurrents and while the United States and the Soviet Union continue to exercise vast influence with their huge national power, Japan, along with the West European countries, is coming to play an increasingly important role with its growing weight as a consequence of its economic and technological development. At the same time, developing countries and regions are increasingly linked to the developments in the international community through such phenomena as regional conflicts, the debt problems and the dynamic development of the newly industrializing economies (NIEs).

Occupying a relatively inconspicuous place in the international community for many years following World War II, Japan considered the international environment as a given. It was inconceivable then that Japan would have any major impact on the international situation. Yet today, Japan is an economic power accounting for well over one-tenth of world gross national product (GNP) and is, along with the United States and Western Europe, on the forefront of scientific and technological developments. Japanese actions today have a major impact, which they have never had, not only economically but across the entire spectrum of international relations.


Map of GNP Shares in the World (1986)


With the world growing relatively smaller nowadays, it is increasingly imperative that Japan bear a greater responsibility and play a more active role as a main actor for maintaining and promoting the international order. And Japan's peace and prosperity can only be ensured by looking clearly ahead to the future and positively contributing to peace and prosperity for the entire world.


1. Basic Positions in Japanese Foreign Policy


The basic position in Japanese foreign policy is that of contributing to international peace and prosperity while ensuring Japan's own security and prosperity in the realization that Japan is both a member of the free and democratic world and at the same time an Asia-Pacific nation.


(1) Diplomacy as a Member of the Free and Democratic World

Japan could not have evidently achieved its postwar peace and prosperity without the unstinting efforts of all of the people, nor could it have achieved this peace and prosperity without the supportive cooperation and solidarity of the other countries sharing the basic values of freedom and democracy. If Japan is to ensure its future peace and prosperity, it is thus important that it continue to base its foreign policy on its being a member of the free and democratic community of nations. At the same time, Japan being determined to bear its responsibility and play an active role for international peace and prosperity, it is prerequisite that specific ways to promote this be found in cooperation and concert with the other industrialized democracies.

Relations with the United States are the cornerstone of Japanese foreign policy. Although Japan-United States relations have been consistently strengthened throughout the postwar period, it must be admitted that these relations have recently been beset by serious friction in the economic sphere. Nevertheless, progress has been made since early 1988 on allowing foreign corporations enhanced access to the Japanese public works market, liberalizing beef and citrus imports, and finding solutions to other important issues, and the friction between the two countries is now easing. Likewise, with the combined GNPs of Japan and the United States coming to more than one-third of world GNP, not only what the two countries individually do but even the very structure and management of the relationship itself has a major global impact on international political stability, the management of the world economy, economic cooperation for the developing countries, and numerous other facets. The Japan-United States relationship must therefore be nurtured and developed not just from the bilateral perspective but also from the global perspective.

Looking to Japan-Europe relations, when it is considered that Japan is working to contribute to world peace and prosperity commensurate with its capabilities and situation at the same time as the West European countries are exercising new vigor resulting from the unification of the European market and the development of political cooperation and are taking on increasing international responsibilities and roles more than never, it can be said that there is an urgent need for the West as a whole to have Japan and Europe work together with the United States for Western solidarity and cooperation. However, relations between Japan and Europe are not as sufficiently close as those between Japan and the United States or those between the United States and Europe, and the need for strong and balanced trilateral relations among Japan, the United States, and Europe makes it imperative that Japan place a prime priority on strengthening its relations with Europe.


(2) Diplomacy as an Asia-Pacific Nation

The Asia-Pacific region is today basically going through the process of economic development and democratization, some elements of political and economic instability notwithstanding. Economically, dynamic growth is continuing centered on the NIEs and these economies are becoming increasingly important in the world economy. Politically, while undue optimism would be unjustified, the general direction is toward democratization and stabilization.

Japan has extremely close relations with the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, not only in terms of geographic proximity but also economically, culturally, and historically. Japan's relations with the Asia-Pacific region have become especially close and wide-ranging in recent years as more and more Japanese companies have located facilities overseas, as the NIEs and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries sharply stepped up their exports of manufactured goods to Japan, and as the exchange of people between Japan and the other countries of the region has become more flourishing.

Under the circumstances, it is imperative that Japan make an active contribution as an economically powerful force for stability to enable this region to achieve further development and enhanced stability. Fully cognizant of past unfortunate episodes in its relations with the other countries of the region and realizing that Japanese actions can have a major impact on the rest of the region especially in the economic sphere, Japan must work to strengthen the friendly and cooperative relations with the other Asia-Pacific countries and to contribute to peace and prosperity in the region.


2. Tasks for Japanese Foreign Policy


The range of foreign policy issues that Japan must deal with in seeking to play an active role for the maintenance and development of the international order is wide-ranging and highly diverse, including the very basic question of how to ensure its own security and how to maintain its own prosperity through contributing to the development of the international economy. In dealing with these issues, there is also an increased need for Japan, taking new initiatives commensurate with its enhanced standing within the international community, to strengthen its cooperation for maintenance of international peace, to expand and enhance its official development assistance (ODA) to the developing countries, and to do more in terms of international cultural exchanges.

These three areas - cooperation for world peace, enhanced ODA, and international cultural exchanges-are thus the three pillars of the International Cooperation Initiative as proposed by Prime Minister Takeshita and advanced by Japan.


(1) Ensuring Japan's Security

Exercising all due vigilance in the cause of security is prerequisite to maintaining the country's independence and prosperity and protecting the lives and property of the people, and it must thus be the basis of any foreign policy.

(a) The first need in ensuring Japan's security is that of wide-ranging diplomatic efforts to defend Japan and protect the Japanese people. This basically means having an accurate understanding of the intentions and actions of the countries surrounding Japan and responding appropriately in the diplomatic sphere, including efforts such as those to keep disputes from erupting into wars or conflicts, to promote East-West dialogue vigorously as a member of the Western community of nations, and to advance the cause of disarmament and arms control. At the same time, it is also important that an effort be made to explain Japan's positions and thinking in a wide range of fields, including economic relations, economic cooperation, science and technology, and cultural exchanges to the world to gain better understanding of Japan, and to enhance Japan's friendly relations with the rest of the world.

(b) It is a stark fact that the peace and stability of the international community today rests basically upon the balance of power and deterrence. The United States' deterrent force is indispensable to ensuring Japan's own security, and the security arrangements with the United States are the cornerstone of Japanese national security. Japan thus must work untiringly to ensure the smooth and effective functioning of these arrangements and to enhance their credibility.

From this perspective, Japan, as well as promoting research under the Guidelines for Japan-United States Defense Cooperation and encouraging the provision of military-use technology to the United States and other Japan-United States cooperation in the defense area, has long been working to enhance its support for the United States forces stationed in Japan, and the Labor Cost Sharing Agreement was revised in June 1988 to enable Japan to pay a greater share of the wages of personnel employed at American military facilities in Japan.

(c) Along with firmly maintaining the security arrangements with the United States, the need to protect Japan's peace and stability means that it is also important to ensure that Japan has an adequate defense capability of its own. 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 a military power which would threaten its neighbors, adhering to the principle of civilian control, and observing the three non-nuclear principles. And Japan must also continue these efforts. Together with the security arrangements with the United States, these efforts to enhance Japan's defense capability consequently contribute to maintaining the security of the free and democratic community of nations as a whole and to peace and stability in Asia and hence all the world.


(2) Contributing to the Sound Development of World Economy

(a) The world economy is today achieving basically sustained-yet-gradual growth. Although the stock market crash of October 1987 may be said to have been an indication of the present world economy's instability, the external imbalances among the leading countries that underlay this crash are, although still large, clearly being improved as with the steady reduction in Japan's current account surplus.

However, such is not to say that all of the destabilizing factors have been eliminated. There is still considerable skittishness in financial and exchange markets, and the developing countries' debt problems not only limit these countries' growth but pose a threat to the entire world financial and economic order. In addition, it must be noted that the continuing strong protectionist pressures and the increasing drift toward economic blocs pose major problems for the maintenance of the open and multilateral trading system centered around the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that has been the foundation for the postwar world's economic prosperity.

(b) With Japan's GNP having come to account for well over 10% of the world total, Japan has become more aware of its responsibilities and roles and has worked vigorously to shift its economic structure from the traditional export-dependent pattern to a new domestic-demand-oriented pattern and to bring its current account surplus down to internationally harmonious levels. These efforts to stimulate domestic demand, to further open Japanese markets, and to promote import have, along with the yen's recent appreciation and the dollar's devaluation, contributed to reducing Japan-United States trade imbalance through expanded Japan's imports, especially expanded imports from the United States, and to expanding imports of manufactured goods from the Asian NIEs, the ASEAN countries, and other trade partners. Japan must continue these efforts to greatly contribute to the development of the world economy and hence to ensure Japan's own long-term economic development.

The free and multilateral trading system is the basis for economic development not only in Japan but worldwide, and its maintenance and strengthening is very much in the world economy's interests. Japan must thus make a vigorous contribution to the success of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations now under way.

On the other side of this coin, a number of Japanese industries and regions have been hard hit by industrial restructuring and the yen's recent appreciation. Not shirking from this pain, Japan must work to adjust it adequately so as to harmonize the Japanese economy with the world economy and hence to ensure that Japan is at one with the rest of the world.

(c) With the recent progress in advanced technology, scientific and technological capabilities has come to have vast influences on such economic foundations as product development, production, and marketing. At the same time, civilian-product technology has come to have a major impact on the competitiveness of military technology, and it is important to consider the development and transfer of civilian technology in terms of security considerations.

As this has been increasingly realized, diverse science- and technology-related problems have arisen, including the question of the flow of the Western advanced technology to the East in the East-West relations context, the questions of protection for intellectual property rights and cooperative or exchange research among the Western industrialized countries, and the North-South questions of technology transfer and of intellectual property rights protection to those developing countries striving to expand their exports. It is necessary that Japan continue to vigorously promote basic research and play an active role for the solution of these problems, in line with its basic policy stance of seeking to ensure that its scientific and technological capabilities contributes to a better world, on its basic position as a member of the Western community and, at the same time, an Asia-Pacific nation.


(3) The International Cooperation Initiative: The Three Pillars of Japan's International Cooperation

With the improvement in Japan's international standing, and especially the major economic growth that has been achieved, Japan today can no longer simply accept the international environment as a given but must look at the international community in the realization that Japanese actions are now themselves important factors influencing this international community.

In seeking to contribute to international peace and prosperity, Japan should not simply seek to expand its cooperation within the traditional framework but should participate creatively in the various international efforts and must contribute to a better world. In so doing, Japan will also contribute to its own peace and prosperity.

Realizing this, Japan has formulated and is implementing its International Cooperation Initiative built around the three pillars of cooperating for peace, expanding its ODA, and promoting international cultural exchange as the specific measures that Japan can do to contribute to the international community on the basic tasks to work for ensuring its own security and to contribute to the sound development of the global economy. Further enhancing the Japanese contribution to the international community in these areas and responding to the needs of the international community are thus immediate priority policies for Japan.

(a) Cooperating for Peace

Mankind has long hoped to secure world peace and stability, but the fact is that there are a number of destabilizing factors such as international conflicts, regional problems, and even international terrorism.

Given this situation and with the striking increase in Japan's national capabilities in recent years, the international community has come to hold increasing expectations of Japan, not just in such areas as economy and economic cooperation but also in such political areas as maintaining and securing international peace. As international peace and prosperity are now inexorable prerequisites to Japan's own peace and prosperity, Japan should no longer simply reap the benefits of a peaceful international environment but must take the initiative in taking part in maintaining and structuring this peace.

Seeking to cooperate in the cause of peace, Japan, while making every diplomatic effort to create firm foundations for peace in regional conflicts and other problem areas, must also diversify and expand its hitherto financial and other cooperations for peacekeeping activities and must participate positively in peacekeeping efforts under United Nations and other international auspices, including the dispatch of personnel. There is a clear need to make a positive and wide-ranging contribution to maintaining and enhancing world peace, including stepped-up refugee-relief efforts and vigorous contributions for reconstruction after the fighting has stopped.

(b) Enhancing ODA

Three-fourths of the world's population and many of the world's countries are still stuck at low levels of development, and their economic growth rates lag behind those of the industrialized countries. This poses serious problems for the sound development of the international community.

As a nation committed to peace and one of the world's economic leaders, Japan must contribute to reducing this North-South disparity and hence to enhancing the stability and development of the international community. Realizing that Japan has an important international responsibility to expand its ODA for the purposes of contributing to economic and social development, living standard stabilization, and welfare enhancement in the developing countries, Japan is implementing its ODA in keeping with the generally accepted ideals of interdependence and humanitarian considerations. Japan's ODA, with the sharp increases that have been achieved recently, has got to contribute to the economic and social stability of the developing countries and areas and hence to play certain role for peace and stability in these regions. It is imperative that these facets continue to be considered in implementing Japanese ODA.

At the same time, there has also been a sharp increase in the other industrialized countries' expectations of and interest in Japanese ODA in keeping with the dramatic growth of the Japanese economy.

Thus it was that Japan recently drew up the Fourth Mid-Term Target for ODA and is moving to make an even greater international contribution so as to respond positively to the expectations of both North and South and to play a role commensurate with its abilities. Keeping in mind the need to raise the share of Japan's ODA in the total ODA of the DAC members to a level commensurate with the size of the Japanese economy, Japan will work under this Fourth Mid-Term Target to raise its total ODA disbursements for the five years starting in 1988 to more than $50 billion and will also seek to raise the ratio of ODA to GNP as well as to expand the grant portion of aid to and to enhance debt relief for the least among less developed countries, to expand technical assistance including strengthening the provisions for foreign students studying in Japan, to promote cooperation through international institutions, and otherwise to enhance the quality of Japanese ODA.

(c) Promoting International Cultural Exchange

With the international flow of people and information becoming more vigorous along with the flow of goods and capital, deepening mutual understanding among all peoples is a perennial issue of new urgency for the international community. Cultural exchanges in a broad sense are thus important because they transcend the differences of political system and value to lay the foundations for mutual understanding among peoples and because they promote smoother economic and political relations.

The diverse cultures in the international community should all be seen as the shared heritage of all mankind, and all peoples everywhere should be able to enjoy their universal values. At the same time, the fostering of tolerance toward different cultures through such exchanges can well lead to a more open international community and greater international harmony, and the stimulus caused by the mutual exchange of diverse cultures can also generate new impetus for the international community's development. Likewise, Japan's promoting such international cultural exchanges also means that Japanese society will become more open to the rest of the world.

As Japan's relations with the rest of the international community have become both broader and deeper, frictions between Japan and these countries have arisen in a broader range of fields until they are not simply economic frictions but is frequently grounded upon misunderstanding or inadequate understanding of each other's cultures and social practices. This is a clear indication of the increasing importance both of seeking to ensure that Japan is open to the rest of the world not only materially and institutionally but in the broadest sense of the term and of responding positively to the heightened international interest in Japan and working to ensure that Japan is correctly understood overseas.

Along with promoting exchanges among the different cultures of the world to contribute to enriching the global culture, Japan must make a greater effort to promote cultural exchanges between Japan and the rest of the international community.



With little more than a decade left until the 21st century, Japan is also domestically caught up in a maelstrom of change today. In the short term, along with overcoming pain, economic structural adjustment in many sectors is proceeding. In the mid- and long-term, there are a number of developments with important implications for the future, including the graying of the population, the scientific, technological and information revolutions, and the internationalization of society. Every effort must be made to resolve the numerous problems Japan will inevitably face.

Under the circumstances, Japan must make every effort to realize "Japan contributing to a better world" so as "to occupy an honored place in an international society striving for the preservation of peace, and the banishment of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance for all time from the earth" as stated in the preamble to the Constitution. It is precisely this effort to ensure that Japan positively bear the adequate costs entailed in ensuring world peace and prosperity but contributes to a better world in a wide range of areas that is most demanded of Japan today and that best serves Japan's own interests. Japan is now moving in that direction.



to table of contents