Chapter IV. Foreign Policy Systems

(1) The System for Implementing Foreign Policy

(a) The Need to Strengthen the System for Implementing Foreign Policy

The importance of diplomatic activities has been increased rapidly in all fields in the international community in the post-Cold War era. In accordance with Japan's rising international status, the volume of work handled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been expanding quickly even before the end of the Cold War, and this trend has become more pronounced in recent years. For example, the number of telegrams, which are the main means of communication between the Ministry's headquarters in Tokyo and Japan's diplomatic establishments overseas, rose by about five times in the 15 years from 1978 to 1993, the amount of economic cooperation by about five times, the number of treaties and other international agreements concluded by about four times, and the number of visas issued by about three times. Moreover, as the number of Japanese residents and tourists overseas increases, related administrative work by the Ministry also expands. It is therefore essential for the Ministry to handle the situation properly.

In addition to dealing with the increase in these regular activities, it is incumbent upon Japan, which should play an active role in the building of a new framework for the peace, prosperity, and stability of the world, to consolidate and strengthen its system for implementing diplomacy in the pursuit of a more active and creative foreign policy that suits the new era. Expeditious implementation of the following is particularly important in this regard: (1) Increasing the number of staff in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is still insufficient compared with other developed countries; (2) enhancing the structure of the Ministry so as to deal properly with various foreign policy issues; and (3) strengthening the functions of Japan's overseas diplomatic establishments--improving facilities at overseas establishments, strengthening measures to secure the safety of Japanese nationals abroad, and enhancing the crisis-management system.

(b) Efforts to Improve Organization, Personnel, and Budget

In recognition of these requirements, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the following efforts in 1994 to strengthen the system for implementing foreign policy in terms of organization, personnel, and budget.

Regarding organizational matters, the Ministry established the Non-Governmental Organizations Assistance Division, designed to further strengthen and expand financial assistance to, and the supply and exchange of information with, non-governmental organizations. The New Independent States Division was also established, with the aim of gathering and analyzing more detailed information concerning the foreign policies, domestic politics, and economies of the new independent states of the former Soviet Union. With respect to overseas diplomatic establishments, the Ministry opened an embassy in Jamaica, which has a leading position in the Caribbean Sea, in January 1995, and also set up a consulate-general in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which serves as an important base for information-gathering about the Persian Gulf situation; in addition, the consulate in Encarnacion, Mexico, became a consular office. As a result, at the end of FY 1994 the Government had 181 overseas diplomatic establishments--111 embassies, 63 consulates general, 1 consulate, and 6 permanent missions or delegations.

Regarding an increase in personnel, the Ministry has made various efforts, placing emphasis on such issues as strengthening its capacity for gathering and analyzing information, improving its crisis-management system (including the protection of Japanese nationals overseas), enhancing and strengthening Japan's international contributions, and dealing with issues involving foreign nationals in Japan. As a result, despite tight budgetary and recruitment constraints, the Ministry was able to increase its staff by 150 in FY 1994-38 at the Tokyo headquarters and 112 at overseas diplomatic establishments.

In response to a report submitted by the Advisory Group on the Enhancement of Diplomatic Functions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been carrying out necessary reforms, not simply to increase the number of staff but also to enhance the quality of staff through proper recruitment and training. The Ministry must continue its efforts to realize the recommendations in the Advisory Group's report and further improve its system for implementing foreign policy so that the Ministry can respond with heightened vitality to developments in the international situation both promptly and appropriately.

In budgetary matters, despite tight fiscal constraints the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is making firm efforts to expand its budget, mainly in the following two areas: (1) strengthening the system for implementing foreign policy by making personnel and organizational improvements; strengthening the functions of overseas diplomatic establishments (this includes strengthening measures to secure the safety of Japanese nationals abroad and enhancing crisis-management systems); and strengthening intelligence functions; and (2) enhancing and strengthening international contributions by enhancing bilateral assistance, cooperating in maintaining peace and confronting global issues, and strengthening international cultural exchanges. As a result of these efforts, the Ministry's FY 1994 budget amounted to 694.6 billion yen, up by 4.6% (30.5 billion yen) from the previous fiscal year.

(2) Consular Functions

(a) Overseas Travel by Japanese and the Protection of Japanese Abroad

The number of Japanese traveling overseas in 1993 declined in the first half of the year by 5.3% from the same period in the previous year but then increased from July through December over the same period in the previous year to reach an all-time high of 11.93 million, partly due to Japan's economic situation and the appreciation of the yen. In addition, the number of Japanese long-term residents overseas (those staying abroad for more than three months but excluding permanent residents), which had been increasing rapidly in recent years by around 10% annually, rose by a mere 1.8% in 1993. It was the second consecutive year in which the rate had dropped sharply. Nevertheless, the number of such long-term residents reached nearly 433,000 as of October 1993.

Under these circumstances, an increasing number of Japanese nationals have fallen victim to crimes and accidents overseas. In particular, there have been some notable cases in which Japanese have been the victims of violent crimes. In 1994, 20 Japanese were killed in 18 criminal cases overseas. Moreover, as the international situation remains unstable, there is a growing danger that Japanese may be involved in and be affected by conflicts, disturbances, and other emergency situations around the world.

The Government provides as much support as possible for the protection of Japanese nationals involved in criminal incidents, accidents, or emergency situations overseas. In particular, as a result of a partial revision of the Self-Defense Forces Law which was put into force in 1994, special governmental planes and other SDF aircraft can now be used to rescue Japanese nationals caught in emergencies overseas, thereby enhancing evacuation and rescue operations.

To promote safety measures, the Government domestically supplies information about security in other countries through its Overseas Security Information Center, convenes a Conference for Public and Private Sector Cooperation on Security for Japanese Nationals Overseas, operates an Overseas Security Information Fax Service, and organizes a Safety Week Abroad.

To strengthen Japan's consular system, the Government is continuing its efforts to train consular experts, consolidate the system so as to make the maximum use of accumulated know-how relating to consular affairs, and improve consular functions in an integrated manner.

(b) Generational Changes in Japanese Communities Overseas

Japanese emigration to Latin America, which was very popular immediately after World War II, has ceased almost completely. Accordingly, governmental support for the passage of emigrants was brought to an end as of FY 1993.

At present the number of Japanese immigrants and their descendants in Latin America has reached an estimated 1.5 million people. As generational changes have taken place, the second- and third-generation descendants of these Japanese immigrants are now playing central roles in their communities. These Japanese descendants are active in various walks of life in the countries of their birth, contributing to the development of these countries and also playing an important role as a bridge with Japan. It is thus becoming increasingly important to create a system for supporting the activities of these Japanese descendants. Moreover, as a growing number of Japanese descendants have been coming to Japan to find work, there is a pressing need to implement due measures for the welfare of these people while they are in Japan.

(c) Foreigners in Japan

Due to the appreciation of the yen and other factors, the number of foreigners entering Japan in 1993 dropped slightly from the previous year to 3.75 million. The number of registered foreigners in Japan, however, reached 1.32 million at the end of 1993, an increase over the previous year (according to the Ministry of Justice). In the coming years, the numbers of foreigners both entering and residing in Japan are expected to rise.

Regarding the acceptance of foreign workers, Japan intends to expand the entry of people with special technical skills or knowledge but at present does not accept unskilled workers in view of the enormous economic and social impact and the consequent lack of a national consensus on the issue. The Government will continue its careful consideration of this issue.

As there is an economic gap between Japan and developing countries, in recent years there has been a continuous flow of people coming to Japan, mainly from Asian countries, to illegally engage in unskilled work. Although the number of foreigners overstaying their visas in violation of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act declined slightly from the previous year to an estimated 293,000 as of the end of May 1994, ending an upward trend, the number had almost tripled over the previous four years. In many cases, these illegal workers tend to work under poor labor conditions and with little protection under Japan's social security system; some cases result in human rights issues. This situation could undermine the image of Japan in the home countries of these foreigners and also could hinder desirable international exchanges. For this reason, the relevant authorities are taking measures to control illegal residents, illegal workers, and unscrupulous job brokers. In this connection, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is conducting more careful examinations for visa issuance and holding dialogues with the countries concerned to obtain their cooperation in controlling brokers who send illegal workers and organizing campaigns to prevent illegal labor.

Fostering human resources for domestic industries in developing countries is also effective in preventing the outflow of labor to other countries. From this viewpoint, the Government supports technical training conducted by private companies and organizations, as well as technical training programs which enable qualified foreign trainees to acquire more practical skills and qualifications in actual employment situations.

(3) Foreign Policy and Public Opinion

In recent years, along with the development of an international information network and the deepening of interdependence among countries, public opinion in one country can now be made known to other countries instantaneously. As a result, public opinion in Japan can affect public opinion in other countries and vice versa. In light of this, it is becoming increasingly important in formulating foreign policy to take into consideration public opinion in various countries, which could have an effect on public opinion in Japan and elsewhere. In these circumstances, it is indispensable to promote a broad and deep understanding of Japan among people in other countries and also to further enhance an awareness of the international situation and of Japan's foreign policy among the Japanese.

With respect to domestic public relations activities, in response to the rising interest among Japanese in international affairs and foreign policy issues, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in FY 1994 commenced a facsimile service called MOFAX, which supplies a wide range of information to the public. The Ministry also sends senior officials to universities around the country to give lectures on international affairs and foreign policy issues. In addition, in order to explain complicated international issues as easily and plainly as possible, the Ministry provides information through the broadcast media, such as television, radio, and video, and is also making efforts to further improve the quality of its written publications, such as the annual Diplomatic Bluebook (in Japanese and English), the opinion journal Gaiko Forum (Forum on Foreign Affairs; in Japanese), and the monthly Sekai no Ugoki (World Trends; in Japanese). Furthermore, to support internationalization and international exchanges at the regional level, the Ministry organizes various events in cooperation with local governments, such as the Gaiko no Mado (Windows on Foreign Affairs) and Gaiko Kurabu (Foreign Affairs Clubs).

As for overseas public relations activities, the Ministry makes use of its overseas diplomatic establishments to engage in a wide range of scrupulous public relations activities geared toward not only the mass media but also intellectuals, opinion leaders, minorities, teachers, students, and children. The Ministry strives to improve the image of Japan and dispel any misunderstanding by presenting a true picture of contemporary Japan and explaining Japan's policies. Furthermore, in accordance with the global development of multimedia, especially in the developed countries, the Ministry is planning new types of public relations activities in addition to the conventional channels of printed materials, videos, and personnel exchanges. For example, the Ministry is making preparations to provide information over the Internet, an international computer communications network that is expanding rapidly, and to put its public relations materials on CD-ROMs, which can hold a large amount of text as well as visual information.

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