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

The understanding and support of the people of Japan is indispensable for the Government of Japan in implementing foreign policy. In particular, in recent years Japanese people have been developing a higher degree of interest in international affairs and foreign policy, due to a greater degree of grassroots level exchanges with people of other countries, through rapid developments in information networks, including the Internet, deeper economic interdependence and an increasing number of Japanese traveling and living abroad, and also due to the progress of globalization at the regional level and increases in international exchange and cooperation activities at the civil level. The Government of Japan, while formulating foreign policy that moves hand-in-hand with the people, continues to make efforts to foster among the Japanese people a greater understanding of Japan's foreign policy and to obtain their support, by actively undertaking public relations activities concerning Japan's foreign policy.

As for specific measures, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has provided a reading room for the public to peruse the most recent documents. In addition, since 1976, in principle, records produced or received by the Ministry over 30 years ago have been voluntarily disclosed and made publicly available at the Diplomatic Record Office of the Ministry. The Ministry's information disclosure system will be further enhanced through continuation of this existing system and through the future introduction of an information disclosure system under the Law Concerning the Disclosure of Information Held by Government Offices.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs attaches major 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 promptly posts a wide variety of information, including important foreign policy, international affairs, and travel advisories. In addition, information is also provided through MOFAX, an automatic fax transmission system. The Ministry is endeavoring to inform the public, in an easily understandable manner, on foreign policy issues which are perceived to be of great interest to people by such means as editorials in regular publications, and creating pamphlets and television programs.

Furthermore, lectures and symposia are convened in various regions of Japan, such as Gaiko no Mado (Gateway to Foreign Affairs) and Gaiko Kurabu (Seminar on Foreign Affairs), where direct dialogue takes place with Ministry officials. In addition to such assistance for internationalization at the regional level, lectures are also delivered by Ministry officials at high schools and universities nationwide.

In addition, the Ministry publishes a "Newsletter" which contains all kinds of information, including information on sister city programs, and is sent to 3,500 locations, including local governments and international exchange organizations around the country. The Ministry takes opportunities to maintain and enhance relationships with local governments and NGOs.

Furthermore, in order to take into consideration the opinions of the Japanese people in formulating policies, the Ministry makes efforts to listen to the opinions of private entities, such as NGOs, whose activities have been attracting more attention in recent years, in regard to implementing ODA and formulating international economic regulations.

b) An understanding of Japan

In pursuit of Japan's foreign policies, it is essential to nurture favorable and trusting views on Japan by people in other countries through promoting their understanding of Japan and its foreign policies. To this end, the Japanese Government is extending a variety of public relations efforts through embassies, consulates-general and other diplomatic missions.

The Japanese Government makes utmost efforts to appeal to the public by not only introducing a general overview of Japan, but also by providing information on policy matters, for example on the revitalization of the Japanese economy and on Japan's contribution toward global issues such as the environment, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, poverty and organized crime. In order to foster an accurate view of Japan, the Japanese Government places particular emphasis on providing information on Japan for the younger generations of other countries. In implementing PR activities, the Japanese Government is attentive to the specific circumstances of each region. 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 other PR activities for specific regions and specific countries. When VIPs and prominent Japanese citizens visit other countries, the Japanese Government provides the Japanese and foreign press with information about the visits. The Government also offers its rebuttals when reports based on misperceptions and biases regarding Japan are published.

The Japanese Government strives to introduce various aspects of the country by actively promoting personnel exchanges, for example, inviting to Japan television crews, newspaper reporters and opinion leaders influential in forming public opinion in their own countries, as well as dispatching Japanese intellectuals abroad as speakers for symposia and other events. Various types of printed materials, videos and photographic images have been produced and distributed to introduce Japan's foreign policies and provide general information about Japan. The Japanese Government is making active use of the Internet, the new media that is spreading around the world. The two websites-the English version of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website and the Japan Information Network-were established to promote understanding of Japan. In addition, Japan's many diplomatic missions overseas have established their own websites and posted information that is useful for local needs, in a variety of languages including English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese and Korean. Furthermore, through satellite technology, television programs are being broadcast throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

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