Chapter IV.
International Exchange and Public Relations Activities

B. National public opinion and public relations; foreign understanding of Japan

a) National public opinion and public relations

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 rapid developments in communications systems and information systems, such as satellite broadcasting and the Internet, higher mutual dependence of economies, and an increasing number of Japanese traveling and living abroad, and also due to the progress of internationalization throughout Japan.

In order to promote foreign policy that moves hand-in-hand with the people, the Japanese Government has continued to make efforts to foster among the Japanese people a greater understanding of Japan's foreign policy and to obtain their support by actively implementing public relations activities concerning foreign policy. Japan is also making efforts to perceive the knowledge of all levels of Japanese society and reflect this knowledge in foreign policy.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs led other ministries in stipulating the disclosure of diplomatic records produced over 30 years ago, and offering these records for public use file by file as preparation is completed at the Diplomatic Record Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To date, 3.5 million pages of records have been released. 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 of Foreign Affairs attaches great importance to its Internet homepage, whose Japanese version provides Japanese people with a means of directly obtaining information on international affairs and foreign policy. The Ministry is working to enhance and improve the content of the homepage, for example by swiftly posting the latest information on international affairs and foreign policy and on travel advice and warning. Information is also provided through MOFAX, an automatic fax transmission system.

The Ministry is also endeavoring to report, in an easily understood manner, foreign policy issues which are perceived to be of the highest interest to people by such means as featuring special issues in regular publications in which the Ministry cooperates with the editing process, creating pamphlets and creating television programs. Efforts are also being made to further the understanding of the Japanese people and to obtain their support for foreign policy. For example, lectures and symposia are held locally by Ministry officials, such as Gaiko no Mado (Gateway to Foreign Affairs) and Gaiko Kurabu (Seminar on Foreign Affairs), and lectures are also held in universities and high schools nationwide.

Furthermore, in order to create policies that pay notice to the opinions of the Japanese people, the Ministry makes efforts to listen to the opinions of NGOs and other private entities in regard to implementing ODA and drafting international economic legislation.

b) An understanding of Japan

An understanding of Japan and Japan's foreign policies by people in foreign countries and a favorable and trusting view toward Japan are essential elements in the advancement of Japan's foreign policies. To this end, the Japanese Government is extending a variety of public relations efforts through embassies and consulates-general, etc.

The Japanese Government makes utmost efforts to positively appeal to the public by not only introducing a general overview of Japan, but also by providing information on policies for revitalizing the Japanese economy, Japan's assistance toward the Asian economic crisis and Japan's contribution toward global issues such as the environment, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, poverty and organized crime. Moreover, from the viewpoint of fostering an accurate and balanced view of Japan, the Japanese Government places particular emphasis on public relations targeting the younger generations of other countries. Detailed public relations activities which respond to regional circumstances are also being developed. For example, the Japanese Government surveys and analyzes public opinions about Japan in major countries, and on the basis of the results, organizes lectures and various types of PR activities for specific regions and specific countries. When VIPs and prominent Japanese citizens visit other countries, the Japanese Government works with the Japanese and foreign press to provide information about the visits. The Japanese Government also rebuts reports based on misperceptions and biases regarding Japan.

The Japanese Government also promotes personnel exchanges by, for example, inviting foreign television crews, newspaper-related individuals and foreign opinion leaders to Japan, as well as dispatching Japanese intellectuals abroad as speakers for symposia and other events.

To introduce Japan's foreign policies and general information about Japan, various types of printed materials and videos have been produced and distributed. Many pieces of information concerning Japan's foreign policies have been disseminated in several languages, including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Russian and Spanish, through the Foreign Ministry Website and Japan Information Network Homepage.

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