Chapter I.
General Overview

A. The international community and Japan toward the 21st century

Japan's foreign policy addressed many new and difficult issues in 1998. The major focus was responding to new situations posing a threat to regional and world stability, from security-related issues such as the nuclear tests undertaken by India and Pakistan and the missile launch by North Korea to economic turmoil such as financial instability in the Russian Federation and Latin America in the wake of the 1997 Asian currency and financial crisis. Against this backdrop, Japan's diplomacy in 1998 was characterized by: (1) the active development of summit-level foreign policy with the United States, the Russian Federation, the People's Republic of China, the Republic of Korea and other countries to further promote the stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the world; and (2) the demonstration of comprehensive and proactive leadership in various areas, from the prevention of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to conflict prevention and the amelioration of poverty, one of the fundamental causes of conflict.

Looking first at Japan's active summit-level diplomacy, the three Japan-U.S. Summits strengthened Japan-U.S. relations, the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, with both countries reaffirming their commitment to engaging in close cooperation in a broad range of areas. High-level "continuous dialogue" with the Russian Federation led to steady progress in bilateral relations in all areas, including negotiations toward the conclusion of the peace treaty by 2000 based on the Tokyo Declaration. In terms of Japan-China relations too, leaders of both countries drew up a joint declaration entitled "Japan-China Joint Declaration on Building a Partnership of Friendship and Cooperation for Peace and Development" in a year marking the 20th anniversary of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People's Republic of China, also issuing a joint press statement on cooperation to be undertaken in 33 areas. Japanese and ROK leaders signed a document entitled "Japan-Republic of Korea Joint Declaration: A New Japan-Republic of Korea Partnership towards the Twenty-first Century," agreeing to put past issues behind them and build a future-oriented Japan-ROK partnership toward the 21st century. Subsequent meetings such as the Meeting of Japan-ROK Cabinet Ministers have moved this Joint Declaration steadily into practice. Further, at the Hanoi Japan-Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and the Kuala Lumpur Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting, Japan once again emphasized its continued focus on promotion of regional cooperation in the Asia-Pacific toward the recovery of the Asian economy, based on a strong commitment to Japanese economic revitalization.

Secondly, in addition to working to further enhance friendly cooperative relations with Asia-Pacific nations, which is the foundation of regional stability and prosperity, Japan also conducted a comprehensive and proactive foreign policy in response to the various events which occurred in 1998.

First of all, Japan lodged a strong protest against both India and Pakistan over their nuclear tests, which presented a serious security problem, and also stirred up international opinion by appealing strongly through vehicles such as the G8 and the United Nations Security Council for the maintenance and reinforcement of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. Japan also displayed active initiative in, for example, holding the Tokyo Forum on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament to bring together the wisdom of key figures toward a stronger international regime for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, as well as proposing to the United Nations General Assembly a resolution laying out a course to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, with the latter passing by an overwhelming majority.

In addition, Japan took a consistently firm line on the missile launch by North Korea, denouncing this as an extremely regrettable action posing a direct threat to the security of Japan, and postponing negotiations on the normalization of diplomatic relations and the provision of food and other support. Moreover, while maintaining and strengthening the close liaison among Japan, the United States and the Republic of Korea, Japan also worked actively to raise the consciousness of the international community, resulting in the issuing of a press statement by the President of the UN Security Council and wide sympathy with Japanese concerns in international fora such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

New types of crisis also emerged, namely the Asian currency and financial crisis which began in 1997, as well as the subsequent financial uncertainty triggered in the Russian Federation and the destabilization of the Latin American economy. To prevent such international economic and financial crises from occurring and to deal appropriately with any crisis which does occur, the Birmingham Summit of the Eight in May and a string of other meetings by bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank sought to develop measures to strengthen the international financial system. Japan participated actively in global efforts focused on the financial system, and also announced the provision of a total of around US$80 billion as of the end of 1998 for support measures for the Asian countries, where the top priority is recovery from the 1997 currency and financial crisis, and these measures are being steadily implemented.

Next, in terms of conflict-related efforts, marked discord between Prime Ministers Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen in Cambodia was ended through Japan's endeavors, such as the Four Pillars of a political solution for Cambodian issues, realizing a national reconciliation and opening the way for free and fair elections. In addition, Japan held the Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD II), taking the initiative toward promoting development with an eye also to the link between development and conflict, and this was well received by countries and international institutions involved in African development.

In addition to these efforts, the June amendment of the Law Concerning Cooperation for United Nations Peacekeeping and Other Operations (the International Peace Cooperation Law) opened the way for the dispatch of election observer personnel to Bosnia-Herzegovina in September, while in November, Self-Defense Forces units were sent for the first time as international emergency assistance (Japan Disaster Relief Team) to Honduras, where the massive hurricane damage sustained by the Latin American countries was particularly severe. In both cases, these more tangible contributions by Japan were highly respected by the countries involved, with the role which Japan is able to play in protecting the world peace and stability from global threats visibly expanding.

Bringing 1998 to a close, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi looked ahead to 21st century Asia, setting out a vision for the construction of a "century of peace and prosperity built on human dignity." As one area of action underpinning this vision, he advocated an emphasis on "human security" as a concept embracing the various types of threats to human survival, life and dignity and strengthening efforts to combat these. In addition, recognizing the need to provide relief for the socially vulnerable, the hardest hit by the economic crisis, and to restore social stability to further the stability and prosperity of the crisis-struck Asian countries, Japan also announced support measures for these countries by the end of 1998, on a scale unmatched elsewhere in the international community. These efforts have been well received not only in Asia but by many other members of the international community, and clearly impressing on the international community once again the basic line of Japanese foreign policy in seeking to secure the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region will have a positive significance in terms of the further development of Japan's foreign policy.

Having outlined the major trends in Japan's foreign policy in 1998, this section will conclude with an examination from three perspectives of the major currents characterizing the international community on the eve of the 21st century.

1. Diversification of threats

The first of these is the diversification of threats. While the international community of today is less likely to experience a major-scale war, armed conflict remains the largest threat to the lives and safety of individuals. Numerous regional conflicts have broken out since the end of the Cold War; therefore the number of newly-launched United Nations peacekeeping operations (PKO) has almost doubled over the last decade. The causes of conflict, moreover, have been diverse, including confrontation between government and anti-government forces over democratization and confrontations involving territory and identity (religious and ethnic conflicts, etc.). In terms of regional distribution, the majority of conflicts which have occurred over the last few years have been in Africa and Asia, but Europe and other regions have not escaped the same threat. Looking at the types of force employed in actual conflicts, the increasingly regional nature of conflict has brought anti-personnel landmines and small arms into more common use, intensifying conflict and expanding and exacerbating human damage. In other words, whereas weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles were considered the greatest source of threat during the Cold War, with regulation of these the subject of international debate, conventional weapons too have now become a very real threat. The multiplication of armed conflicts is being accompanied by diversification of the forms, causes and means employed in these.

Issues threatening human life and safety are also emerging in areas apart from armed conflicts. These include destruction of the environment, terrorism, transnational organized crime, narcotics, human rights infringements, refugees and contagious diseases, all of which are spreading beyond national borders to stand squarely before us as problems shared by the entire human race. The need to deal with these widening issues is also increasing the pressure for greater coordination across all peoples of the world. The gradual molding of international rules in areas once regarded as privileges of the state and other responses made in recent years based on coordination among sovereign states are developments which could not have been envisaged in the modern age with its principles of equal sovereignty and non-intervention in domestic affairs. Today, however, it is not enough for states to tackle the above issues individually within the scope of their sovereignty; coordination and cooperation among the entire international community have taken on a decisive necessity. At the same time, international efforts in these areas are not always proceeding with uniform smoothness, as progress is frequently hampered by clashes between the short-term interests of one country and the long-term interests of the international community as a whole. Further, as in the case of international terrorism, dealing with problems is made all the more difficult in that entities other than sovereign states-terrorists and terrorist organizations, for example-are becoming the main instigators of threats to the international community.

2. Diversification of national power

The second aspect is the diversification of national power. The sources of national power underpinning relations with other countries, or foreign policy, have become diverse in today's international community, which embraces close to 190 sovereign states. In the modern era, when the imperialist Great Powers were competing with each other, massive military force held major sway over diplomatic relations, but in the increasingly integrated international community since the end of the Cold War, foreign policy is shaped by not only military force but also a number of other factors, including economic, technological and cultural strength. While the reality of international politics today is that military force undoubtedly continues to play a certain role as a final resort in maintaining and restoring order, for diplomacy to produce national profit, it is becoming increasingly important for countries to enhance their international influence through a variety of strengths outside the purely military. Moreover, in the formation of a new international order looking ahead to the 21st century, the ability to conceptualize, design and persuade will be vital in drawing the international community in a direction to national advantage.

3. The progress of globalization

The third aspect is the progress of globalization. Particularly in the area of the economy, the globalization which has advanced rapidly in the latter half of this century seems likely to continue as a major and irreversible trend (Chapter II, Section 1. A.1).

The advance of mobile and communication technology and the expansion of cross-border economic activities accompanying this have brought the world an unprecedented prosperity. Vigorous trade and investment and massive flows of private capital have increased economic efficiency on a world scale, while at the same time making the world likely to share a single fate. Still fresh in memory is the way in which the Asian currency and economic crisis and the Russian financial crisis spread as far as Latin America and other regions, shaking the entire world and spurring discussion on enhancement of the international financial system. Globalization has also intensified global-scale competition, resulting in the emergence of losers and those whom competition has simply left behind, not only in developing but also in developed countries, and this has opened the way for social destabilization. Efforts are now being made to assist the socially vulnerable, including the development of so-called "safety nets." The wave of globalization is irreversible, and total control over the curl of that wave is impossible. Bearing these realities firmly in mind, we need to sustain an inventive approach to globalization which will make maximum use of the dynamism of this to further promote world stability and prosperity.

Here we have identified and elaborated on the three major tides characterizing the world at the dawn of the 21st century. The year 1999 should become an important year in terms of establishing a direction for Japanese foreign policy, building these tides into its calculations and looking ahead at long-term prospects.

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