Chapter V.
Structures Supporting Japan's Diplomatic Functions

A. Structures to implement diplomatic functions

a) The need to enhance Ministry structures

Diplomatic activities are becoming much more important in today's international society of deepening interdependency. The volume of work handled by Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been expanding constantly in recent years. As the number of Japanese nationals residing or traveling abroad increases, related administrative work also expands. Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs must possess structures that permit proper handling of this situation.

In addition to responding adequately to this increase in regular activities, it is incumbent upon Japan to improve and strengthen the structures it needs to implement diplomatic initiatives, while pursuing an active foreign policy suitable for a new era. This is especially true today-Japan should actively participate in securing the peace and prosperity of the entire world.

To strengthen Ministry structures, expeditious implementation of the following matters is required:

  • Increasing the number of permanent Ministry staff, as the number is still much lower than that of the foreign ministries of other major industrialized countries;
  • Enhancing Ministry structures so as to deal properly with wide-ranging foreign policy issues;
  • Strengthening the functions of Japan's overseas diplomatic and consular establishments by upgrading their facilities, enhancing crisis-management functions and strengthening measures for the safety of Japanese nationals abroad; and
  • Promoting further information management of Ministry functions.

b) Efforts in regard to organization, personnel and budgetary allocation

In recognition of the above-mentioned requirements, the Ministry took the following steps throughout FY1998 to enhance its organization, personnel and budgetary allocation with a view to strengthening the structures it needs to implement Japan's foreign policy.

With regard to organization, given the above conditions, the Ministry increased (from one to two) the number of State Secretaries for Foreign Affairs to assist the Minister for Foreign Affairs, thereby creating more mobility in addressing diplomatic issues. The Ministry also established the Status of U.S. Forces Agreement Division, which has formulated measures to enhance the addressing of issues related to U.S. bases in Japan. The Ministry's administrative work in this area has been increasing since the rape of a Japanese girl in Okinawa by U.S. servicemen in September 1995. In terms of overseas diplomatic and consular establishments, in view of the increased necessity of consular administration in the U.S. Midwest, where 108 Japanese companies are operating and 4,720 Japanese nationals live, the Ministry decided to establish a new consulate-general in Denver, Colorado. The total number of overseas diplomatic and consular establishments (existing in fact) of Japan at the end of FY1998 was therefore 185: 113 embassies, 66 consulates-general and 6 permanent missions or delegations.

When increasing its personnel, the Ministry has placed priority on strengthening its crisis-management and security systems, which must enable the government to respond immediately. In spite of tight budgetary and recruitment restraints, the Ministry increased its staff by 72 during FY1998: 22 at the Ministry itself and 50 at overseas diplomatic and consular establishments. This brought staff totals to 5,169: 2,010 at the Ministry itself and 3,159 at overseas establishments. At the same time, the Ministry not only increased staff numbers but also made efforts to utilize its staff more effectively and to streamline administration, and in addition has implemented reforms to enhance staff recruitment and training.

With regard to budgetary allocations, the original budget for FY1998-the first fiscal year of the concentrated reform period under fiscal structural reform-decreased 3.5% (26.9 billion yen) compared to the previous fiscal year, to 747.9 billion yen. Under these conditions, the Ministry made efforts to allocate the budget dynamically according to the following two-pronged approach:

(1) Strengthening the structures the Ministry needs to implement diplomatic functions (by increasing personnel; improving organizational structure; strengthening the functions of overseas diplomatic and consular establishments to enhance crisis-management systems and ensure the safety of Japanese nationals abroad; and strengthening information-related and telecommunications functions, as well as the communication network, between the Ministry and its overseas diplomatic and consular establishments); and

(2) Improving and strengthening diplomatic measures (by increasing the quality of bilateral assistance; cooperating for peace, security and disarmament; and promoting international cultural exchanges).

In the area of information management, the Ministry is moving forward in a comprehensive and systematic fashion, with further strengthening of the information management of its administrative functions, as well as the establishment of a Local Area Network (LAN)-based computer system for intra-Ministry and overseas functions on the basis of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Plan for Enhancing Administrative Information Management. Efforts are also being made to improve information systems as a means of enhancing the Ministry's diplomatic functions and improving its administrative services for Japanese nationals and others.

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