International Cultural Exchangesand Public Relations Activities
A. Promoting International Cultural Exchanges
1. The Importance of International Cultural Exchanges and Cooperation
As the interdependence of the international community deepens and exchange between the peoples of different countries increases in volume and importance, it has become imperative to seek the common ideas which provide the basis for the further development of trust and cooperation between peoples of different countries. At the same time, the cultures unique to a country or a people are an important part of that country's or people's identity, and contribute vitally to the development of the world as a whole. It is therefore also crucial to maintain the rich cultural diversity of the international community and seek ways to promote coexistence of diverse cultures. In ensuring cooperation among countries and peoples with diverse cultural backgrounds, it is important to enhance further multilateral dialogue and personal contact, as well as to foster mutual respect for other cultures and strengthen cooperation toward their protection and preservation. Furthermore, bilateral exchange remains an indispensable basis for international mutual understanding. It is all the more important given the fact that the modern reality of Japan does not always seem to be reflected accurately in the images spread overseas.
The importance of cultural exchange has been emphasized at a number of international meetings of the highest level, including the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in March; President Clinton's visit to Japan in April; the meeting between the leaders of Japan and the Republic of Korea in June; Chancellor Kohl's visit to Japan in October; and President Chirac's visit to Japan in November. With this in mind, Japan has developed a number of initiatives in the field of international cultural exchange and cultural cooperation. The Government of Japan, in close contact with the Japan Foundation, which has 18 offices abroad and is the central player in Japan's international cultural exchange, enhances cooperation with the non-government sector with a view to supporting broad exchange on a private-sector level.
a) Multilateral Dialogue
By liaising with the private sector, the Government of Japan is supporting dialogue with a number of countries on a variety of levels. One of the three pillars of these projects is the Japan Foundation Asia Center, which was established in October 1995 to promote multilateral intellectual exchange particularly in the Asian region. The first ASEM follow-up measure to be implemented in Japan will be the Asia-Europe Young Leaders Symposium, to be held in Miyazaki and Tokyo in March 1997. This symposium will serve as a new type of exchange among young leaders who play active roles in various fields in Asia and Europe; it will provide a forum for them to gather and explore Asia-Europe cooperation toward the 21st century.
b) Preservation of Cultural Heritage and International Cooperation for Cultural Development
In many cases throughout the world, rapid economic growth and social changes threaten the existence of ancient monuments, cultural property and traditional culture. Mindful of the need to conserve this tangible and intangible cultural property for future generations, the Government of Japan provides assistance through the Japanese Trust Fund for Preservation of the World Cultural Heritage (established within UNESCO in 1989) for the preservation of the Angkor monuments in Cambodia, the Hanyuan Hall of the Daming Palace in China and other monuments located mainly in Asia. Emphasizing the importance of human resource development, particularly for the preservation of the Angkor monuments, Japanese specialists in such fields as architecture and archaeology are working with Cambodian specialists to preserve these treasures.
Since 1993, Japan has been contributing financially to the UNESCO Japanese Trust Fund for Preservation and Promotion of Intangible Cultural Heritage, thereby helping to preserve intangible cultural property, such as traditional dance and music and the making of lacquerware and ceramics, mainly in Asian countries. In addition, the Government also engages in cooperative efforts toward the preservation and restoration of ancient Japanese artifacts held overseas.
Moreover, the Japanese Government provides developing countries with cultural grants for the purchase of materials needed to promote cultural and educational activities as well as to preserve cultural heritage. During FY1995, grants totaling 2.5 billion yen were awarded for 53 projects. The Government also dispatches Japanese specialists to developing countries, invites overseas specialists to Japan and offers training programs for such specialists, cooperating to foster human resources in many different cultural fields in developing countries.
a) Introducing Cultures to One Another
The Japanese Government assists programs which offer opportunities for people overseas to learn about Japanese culture, and for Japanese people to learn about the cultures of other countries. For example, Japanese embassies organize demonstrations of Japanese martial arts, Japanese doll exhibitions and many other events, and the Japan Foundation organizes performances of Japanese performing arts and exhibitions, and also promotes the showing of Japanese films and television programs. During 1996, the Japanese Government made efforts to support events combining diverse programs which introduce Japanese culture such as "Sun & Stars '96" in the United States. In 1997, Japan will open the Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris (The Japanese Cultural Institute in Paris) as Japan's largest cultural establishment overseas, with a variety of cultural events planned there as the hub of efforts to introduce Japanese culture to Europe.
b) Assistance for Japanese-Language Education and Japanese Studies
A survey conducted in 1993 showed that about 1.62 million people in 99 countries and regions outside Japan were studying the Japanese language. In order to further encourage the learning of Japanese abroad, the Japanese Government has been engaged in dispatching experts in Japanese-language education through the Japan Foundation, providing training in Japan to people teaching the Japanese language overseas, and donating teaching materials. The effectiveness of these programs will be increased by the Japan Foundation Japanese Language Institute in Kansai, completed in December. Efforts are also being made to improve overseas Japanese Language Centers. (Six such centers were operating abroad as of the end of 1996, with the seventh, the London Japanese Language Center, scheduled to be opened in March 1997.)
In the past, Japanese studies abroad generally concentrated on fields such as literature and history, but students now pursue other fields including the study of modern Japan, such as economics. The Japanese Government assists these efforts, mindful that they will help promote understanding of Japan, by sending visiting professors and lecturers to universities and research institutions overseas, and inviting researchers to Japan through the Japan Foundation.
c) Personal Contacts and Exchanges
Personal contacts and exchanges are the basis of mutual understanding between nations. The Japanese Government supports various programs in order to promote personal contacts and exchanges among young people, intellectuals and athletes.
More than 50,000 foreign students were studying in Japan at the time covered by the 1996 survey by the Ministry of Education. The Japanese Government encourages this in a number of ways, recognizing that accepting foreign students into Japan will contribute to mutual understanding and friendship, thereby fostering a better understanding of Japan abroad.
In 1996, the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme celebrated the 10th year since its inception. Under this program, more than 30,000 young people from foreign countries have come to Japan over the last 10 years. JET participants are involved primarily in teaching foreign languages at junior and senior high schools throughout Japan, and have greatly facilitated international exchanges at the local level.
The Japanese Government also encourages sports exchanges, sending experts in the sports field overseas and inviting foreign sports experts to Japan, and supporting major international sporting events, including the Nagano Winter Olympic Games, which will be held in February 1998, and the FIFA World Cup, which will be jointly hosted by Japan and the Republic of Korea in 2002.
Japanese people have been developing a higher degree of interest in international affairs and foreign policy in the last few years due to a greater degree of personal contact with people of other countries through the rapid developments in communications and information systems, deepening of economic and cultural exchanges, and an increasing number of Japanese traveling abroad and living abroad.
Based on the perception that domestic and foreign policy are inextricably intertwined, the Japanese Government, taking careful note of public opinion while at the same time actively implementing public relations activities concerning Japan's foreign policy, has continued to make efforts to foster among the Japanese people a greater understanding of Japan's foreign policy and to obtain their support.
For example, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs led other ministries in stipulating the disclosure of diplomatic records produced over 30 years ago file by file as the compiling and screening process is completed, and offering these records for public use at the Diplomatic Record Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To date, 2.2 million pages of records have been released, with dedicated inspection work currently underway toward releasing further documents. In addition, efforts have been made to respond to the interests of the Japanese people to the greatest extent possible by making available for public perusal various Ministry documents which can be read at the Foreign Ministry. The Ministry has also organized systems through which the latest materials and information on foreign policy and international affairs can be easily accessed via the home page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan on the Internet, and through MOFAX, the Ministry's automatic facsimile transmission system.
The Ministry is also endeavoring to report in an easily understood manner important issues which are perceived to be of the highest interest to people and to respond to public interest by such means as featuring special issues in regular publications, creating pamphlets and creating television and radio programs. Efforts are also being made to obtain wide-ranging public support for and a balanced view of Japan's foreign policy by increasing the number of opportunities for direct dialogue with the Japanese people. For example, more lectures by Ministry officials are being held in high schools and universities, and the Ministry also holds lectures and symposia such as Gaiko no Mado (Window on Foreign Affairs), Gaiko Kurabu (Foreign Affairs Club) and Kokusai Forum (International Forum) in local areas.
An understanding of Japan and Japan's foreign policy by people in foreign countries and a favorable and trusting view of Japan are essential elements in advancing Japan's foreign policy. To achieve such recognition, the Japanese Government is extending a variety of public relations and activities through Japanese diplomatic missions (embassies, consulates-general, etc.).
In terms of Japan's foreign policy, the focus of public relations activities is Japan's international role, such as Japan's cooperation through United Nations Peace-keeping Operations (PKO) and Official Development Assistance (ODA), as well as Japan's role in regard to environmental issues, the United Nations and other areas. In terms of general information about Japan, the Japanese Government places particular emphasis on public relations targeting the younger generations of foreign countries in order to foster an accurate and balanced view of Japan. In conducting these public relations activities, the Japanese Government surveys and analyzes public opinion about Japan in major countries, and on the basis of the results, implements lectures and various other types of activities for specific regions and specific countries. When VIPs and prominent Japanese citizens visit foreign countries, Japanese missions there work with the press to create publicity for the visits. The Japanese Government also rebuts, for example, reports based on misperceptions and biases regarding Japan.
Other efforts include inviting foreign television- and newspaper-related individuals to Japan, as well as promoting personal contacts, such as inviting foreign opinion-leaders to Japan and sending Japanese intellectuals abroad as lecturers for symposia and other events.
Japan creates and distributes various types of printed materials, videos and CD-ROMs to introduce Japan's foreign policy and general information about Japan, and has also been sending out information concerning Japan's foreign policy in a number of languages, including English, French, Spanish and German, through media such as the home page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan, which has been posted on the Internet since April 1995.
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