Section 3. Japan's Major Diplomatic Activities


Japan's diplomacy for the past year or so has been aimed to create "a Japan Contributing to a Better World" by strengthening its basic position as a member of the Western community of nations and of the Asia-Pacific region and by recognizing deeply its increased international responsibility and role. Concrete measures to attain the goal are referred to as the "International Cooperation Initiative."


1. Diplomacy as a Member of Western Community of Nations


Japan is carrying out foreign policies as a member of the Western community of nations. The annual Economic Summit meeting has become extremely important for the Western community as it is the occasion when the heads of government of major industrial democracies get together to discuss economic, political and other issues. Recently, it has added importance as a place for policy coordination among the major industrialized countries.

The 13th Summit held in Venice June 8-10, 1987, confirmed the importance of Western unity in the political and economic fields.

The Takeshita Cabinet, which was formed on Nov. 6, 1987, has been maintaining and strengthening Japan's basic foreign policy of being "a member of the Western community of nations."

Amid new developments with regard to the East-West relations such as the agreement on the elimination of INF and the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, the 14th Summit was held in Toronto June 19-21, 1988. Prime Minister Takeshita and seven other leaders made a great success of the meeting by reconfirming the strong unity among Western countries.


(1) Japan-U.S. Relations

The maintenance of close Japan-U.S. realitionship has been the very base of Japan's diplomacy in the postwar era. In the past year or so, the two countries continued to strengthen their cooperative ties in the political, economic, security, cultural and various other fields through top-level and foreign ministerial talks constantly.

Leaders of the two countries established very close ties. In late April 1987, then Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and then Foreign Minister Tadashi Kuranari, visited the United States and held talks with President Ronald Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz, respectively. In these talks, they confirmed that they should strive to settle economic problems which were getting increasingly serious.

At that time, Toshiba Machine Co.'s illegal exports to the Soviet Union became a serious problem between Japan and the United States. With various measures adopted to prevent a recurrence of such exports, the dispute has left an important lesson with regard to the outflow of high technology and the maintenance of security.

In January 1988, Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita and Foreign Minister Sousuke Uno visited the United States and Canada. They exchanged frank views with President Reagan against the backdrop of new international political developments such as the signing of the INF elimination agreement at the Russo-U.S. summit in December 1987. The Japanese and U.S. leaders laid the groundwork for further development of bilateral relations, confirming their basic stance that the two countries should jointly strive for the peace and prosperity of the world and settle bilateral problems through cooperation and joint work.

Against the background of these developments, the two countries resolved major bilateral problems one by one. In March 1988, they effectively reached an amicable solution to the question of U.S. firms' participation in public works in Japan. The question of Japan's beef and citrus imports was settled in June as Tokyo agreed to open its market by stages. In the same month, the two governments signed the Japan-U.S. Agreement on cooperation in Scientific and Technology, while the new nuclear cooperation accord took effect in August. In the meantime, an omnibus trade bill with a strong tint of protectionism got through the U.S. Congress in August. Japan is asking the United States to be prudent in exercising the law.


(2) Japan's Relations with Europe

Japan attaches importance to its ties with West European countries as partners of the Western community of nations. Since last year, Japan has carried out various diplomatic activities to strengthen the relationship, including the prime minister and the foreign minister's visits to Europe and their talks with leaders there.

Prior to the May 1987 Summit in Venice, Italian Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani visited Japan to study Japan's position at the coming Summit meeting. After the Summit, then Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone paid a visit to Spain, and this widened dialogues between Japan and European countries. Nakasone was the first Japanese prime minister that visited Spain.

In spring 1988, Prime Minister Takeshita made energetically two visits to Europe within a month or so to strengthen bilateral relations. From April 29 through May 9, he visited Italy, the Holy See, the U.K. and the Federal Republic of Germany. In London, Prime Minister Takeshita unveiled his "International Cooperation Initiative" as a concrete measure to create "a Japan Contributing to a Better World." He then stressed the importance of cultural exchanges between Japan and Europe and proposed "a plan for Japan-Europe cultural exchanges bound by heart" as a specific means of promoting personnel exchanges. After attending the Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament in New York in late May, Prime Minister Takeshita visited the Netherlands, France and Belgium as well as the EC Commission. He also held talks with Lord Carrington, Secretary-General of NATO in a bid to deepen and expand relations between Japan and Europe.


2. Diplomacy as a Member of the Asia-Pacific Region


Japan, fully aware of its position as an Asia-Pacific nation, has carried out foreign policies giving priority to the region.

Then Foreign Minister Kuranari attended the second regular Japan-ROK foreign ministerial conference in May 1987 as well as the Japan-ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting and Japan-China ministerial meeting in June. In August, he visited India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to strengthen Japan's relations with these countries.

In September, Japan and China held a serious of events to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the normalization of their relations. In addition, Thai Prince Maha Vajiralong Korn visited Japan to mark the 100th anniversary of their friendship treaty, while then Prime Minister Nakasone visited Thailand.

The Takeshita Cabinet is attaching greater importance to the Asia-Pacific region. In December 1987, Prime Minister Takeshita attended the Meeting of Heads of Government of Japan and ASEAN in Manila as his first official overseas tour and paid an official visit to the Philippines. He held meaningful talks with ASEAN leaders on the Cambodian problem and other issues and proposed an ASEAN-Japan Development Fund to show Japan's readiness for cooperation with ASEAN. In February 1988, Prime Minister Takeshita visited the Republic of Korea to attend the inauguration of President Roh Tae Woo elected in the December 1987 presidential election democratically. He congratulated the Republic of Korea on its democratization and expressed Japan's willingness to cooperate in making a success of the Seoul Olympics. In July 1988, he visited Australia marking its bicentennial.

Foreign Minister Uno accompanied Prime Minister Takeshita on his visit to the Philippines and attendance at the Meeting of Heads of Government of Japan and ASEAN. He also visited the Republic of Korea in March 1988 and Hong Kong, China, Indonesia and Singapore from late April through May. In spring 1988, he held frank talks with Asian leaders on the question of NIEs which has become a focus of intense international attention.

At the Toronto Summit, Japan, the only attendant from the Asia-Pacific region, stressed the importance of the situation in the region including the Korean Peninsula, Cambodia and the Philippines and help other participants deepen their understanding about the region. As a result, the need to support a political solution to the Cambodian problem and extend special attention to the Philippines was clearly referred to in the chairman's summary and the economic declaration. Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney issued a statement expressing the summiteers' support for the Seoul Olympics.


3. Diplomacy for Other Regions


(1) Soviet Union

Then Foreign Minister Kuranari and his Soviet counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze, held talks on the occasion of their attendance at the annual U.N. General Assembly in September 1987. In November the same year and in June 1988, Japan and the Soviet Union held working-level consultations. In the meantime, the two countries have made substantial progress in such practical fields as trade, fishery and culture but remain wide apart over the Northern territory issue.


(2) Middle East

After the summit in Venice in June 1987, then Foreign Minister Kuranari visited Iran and held talks with Iranian leaders, including A.H. Rafsanjani, speaker of the Islamic Consultation Assembly on the Iran-Iraq conflict and other developments in the Middle East. Following the U.N. Security Council's adoption in July of Resolution 598 seeking a cease-fire to the conflict, then Foreign Minister Kuranari visited Iraqi in mid-September for talks with President Hussain and other Iraqi leaders in a bid to seek an end to the conflict.

After the Toronto Summit in June 1988, Foreign Minister Uno visited Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Israel to study how Japan can contribute to the peace problem in the Middle East as part of its "cooperating for peace."


(3) Latin America

Against the backdrop of new developments in conflicts in Central America following a peace accord in August 1987, then Foreign Minister Kuranari visited the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Guatemala to strengthen friendship with them. He also expressed Japan's readiness to provide positive assistance for their rehabilitation and strive for settling conflicts in Central America.


4. Economic Contribution to the World


Japan decided on "Emergency Economic Measures" in May 1987 to reduce its huge external imbalance and realize harmonious economic relations with other countries. The Measures sought to expand domestic demand through additional public works expenditures totaling some 5 trillion yen and tax cuts worth no less than one trillion yen. It also included additional government procurement of foreign products worth $1 billion. Immediately after the decision, the government budgeted necessary funds and carried out the measures steadily. As a result, the Japanese economy has shifted from excessive reliance on exports to one led by domestic demand. With imports increasing, Japan is steadily building an economic structure harmonious internationally.


5. International Cooperation Initiative


To realize "a Japan Contributing to a Better World," Prime Minister Takeshita has introduced his "International Cooperation Initiative" during his successive visits abroad since spring 1988. This Initiative is comprised of three new pillars of contribution - strengthening cooperation for peace, "enhancing its ODA," and "promotion of international cultural exchanges."


(1) Prime Minister Takeshita revealed the "International Cooperation Initiative" for the first time in his speech in London in May 1988. In particular, he proposed specific measures to promote "international cultural exchanges." They are to (1) cope with increasing interests in Japan in other countries through such means as supporting foreigners studying the Japanese language, (2) expand exchanges of people, (3) extend cooperation for culture in the world, including the reservation of historic vestiges, (4) increase overseas outlets to promote cultural exchanges and strengthen Japan's system for such exchanges, (5) improve activities to publicize the real picture of Japan. A forum on international cultural exchanges called by Prime Minister Takeshita is considering specific measures to promote such exchanges.


(2) In his address to the Third U.N. Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament in June, the Prime Minister expressed his strong resolve for disarmament and revealed specific contents of Japan's "cooperating for peace." Under the plan, in addition to diversifying and expanding its financial assistance to international cooperation aimed to stabilize unstable factors of the world, including regional conflicts, dispatch necessary personnel to U.N. and other international activities for the maintenance of world peace. Following the conclusion of the Geneva accord on the Afghan problem in April 1988, Japan sent a Foreign Ministry official to the U.N. mission mediating between Afghanistan and Pakistan in June, and this opened a new field for Japan's contribution to the world. Japan also dispatched a Foreign Ministry official to the U.N. mission policing the August cease-fire to the Iran-Iraq conflict.

With regard to its financial assistance, Japan in 1988 contributed $20 million to the United Nations, faced with a serious financial crisis, in order to cover expenses of the U.N. Secretary General's mediation in the Iran-Iraq conflict, the Afghan problem, and so on. It is also necessary for Japan to step up assistance to refugees and reconstruction of destroyed areas after the end of the conflicts.


(3) Japan is likely to attain its Third Medium-Term Target for the expansion of ODA at an earlier-than-expected date, whcih was prepared to meet positively Japan's increased international responsibility. Thus at the Toronto Summit in June 1988, Prime Minister Takeshita revealed the Fourth Medium-Term Target under which Japan will provide over $50 billion worth of ODA for five years from 1988 and increase the ODA/GNP ratio steadily, improving its quality. The new target was highly appreciated by other countries.



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