Diplomatic Bluebook 2001


A. Promoting International Exchange

The rapid development of Information and Communications Technology (IT) has facilitated communication between distant places and promoted various forms of international exchange. On the other hand, there still remain various problems based on differences among civilizations, ethnicities, and cultures. For Japan to develop effective diplomacy under these circumstances, it is essential to deepen mutual understanding based on respect for different cultures deriving from different histories, and to make efforts to strengthen relationships of mutual trust among countries. To these ends, dialogue among nations and civilizations based on the spirit of tolerance and cultural sensitivity is of great importance.

It may be true that Japanese culture is still not well known in the world. To improve this situation, it is important to make positive efforts in introducing Japanese culture to have people throughout the world understand the true nature of Japan which contains diverse aspects.

From this point of view, the government of Japan is conducting wide-ranging cultural exchange and cooperation, and also actively supporting international exchange activities of private organizations.

1. State of the International Community and Japan's Response: Dialogue among Civilizations and Cultural Diversity

In recent years, there has been a renewed awareness of the possible role of culture in the international community, such as discussion on the impact of culture in the field of development. The United Nations designated the year 2000 as the International Year for the Culture of Peace and the year 2001 as the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, launched a meeting entitled Wise Persons for the Dialogue among Civilizations, and called on the governments of all member states to promote these ideas.

Japan, a supporter of this philosophy, is making efforts to deepen the understanding of other civilizations and cultures, and to promote dialogue among civilizations. Minister for Foreign Affairs Yohei Kono has stressed the importance of deepening dialogue among different religions, ethnicities, civilizations, and cultures and of promoting mutual understanding on various occasions, including his policy speech during his visit to Europe in January and his policy speeches to the Japanese Diet. As part of these efforts, Minister Kono initiated the Study Group for Islam, which conducted research on means of advancing mutual understanding with Islamic countries. (Minister Kono also stressed the importance of promoting dialogue among civilizations during his visit to Gulf countries in January 2001, and announced the "Kono Initiative on the Dialogue among Civilizations with the World of Islam" in February.)

Japan as Chair of the G8 took initiative to incorporate cultural diversity in the agenda for the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit. The G8 Communiqué Okinawa 2000 recognized cultural diversity as a source of social and economic dynamism, and called for further efforts toward the preservation and promotion of the world's intangible cultural heritage. Accordingly, along with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Japan is further reinforcing various efforts to promote cultural diversity, especially efforts to help preserve and promote the world's intangible cultural heritage.

2. Youth Exchange and Education

Since the younger generation bears the responsibility for our future, international exchange among youth is extremely important for reinforcing the mutual understanding between Japan and other countries. At the G8 Education Ministers' Meeting in April, the G8 members agreed to expand twice in volume over the next ten years the international exchange of teachers, researchers, students, and others. Japan is strengthening its efforts in the field of education and youth exchange both to seek better understanding of Japan and to support human resources development in developing countries.

The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme*1 is a main pillar of governmental efforts to foster better understanding of Japan. Under this program, foreign young people come to Japan to work as assistant language instructors and to assist with international exchange activities in local governments. In 2000, the number of participants in the program surpassed the 6,000-a-year mark for the first time. Japan is also implementing various types of assistance for foreign exchange students, such as information service before and follow-up care after their studies in Japan. From the perspective of fostering human resources development in developing countries, Japan has long provided grants and yen loans on a bilateral basis to support foreign students. Japan has also established a new Japanese Trust-in-Fund for Human Resources Development with a contribution of 1.3 billion yen in FY 2000 and has been supporting the human resources development projects conducted by UNESCO.

The spread of Japanese language education abroad is very important to foster wide-ranging understanding of Japanese culture and society. Japan has been working to promote Japanese language education in foreign countries for many years by training and sending teachers and donating educational materials. As a result of these efforts, the number of people learning Japanese language in foreign countries has been increasing, and surpassed two million in 1998.

3. Cultural Cooperation

With a growing interest not only in pursuing economic development, but also in preserving and promoting culture in developing countries, Japan is actively supporting developing countries' efforts to reinforce their cultural infrastructure. As a mainstay of such support, Japan has provided developing countries with equipment and materials for cultural and educational activities through cultural grant aid programs, which marked their 25th anniversary in 2000. Since FY 2000, Japan has widened the range of cooperation by introducing Grant Assistance for Cultural Grassroots Projects, which aims at offering cooperation on a small scale such as support for NGOs, and Grant Aid for Cultural Heritage, which can handle big projects such as the improvement of environments surrounding cultural heritage sites.

Moreover, Japan has been providing active support for the preservation of the world's tangible and intangible cultural heritage by the trust fund established in UNESCO. The preservation and restoration works at the Angkor ruins in Cambodia are a good example of such cooperation. Japan also intends to focus more attention on the preservation of the world's intangible cultural heritage. At the World Heritage Committee meeting held in December in Cairns, Australia, the Committee decided to inscribe the "Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu" on the World Heritage List.

4. Other Main International Exchange Activities

A wide variety of international exchange events commemorating the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit took place throughout the year 2000. To promote understanding of Japan's rich and diverse culture, artistic troupes were sent to all of the G8 member countries to introduce Okinawan music and dance and won great popularity at each venue. Also, young people from all over the world participated in the Young Leaders Summit 2000 in Okinawa, and had earnest discussions on international problems. A series of "International Symposiums on Perspectives of the 21st Century" were held, at which global intellectuals discussed key common issues in the international community.

Other international exchange events during the year included a performance of gagaku, the ancient and traditional music and dance of the Japanese imperial court, and an art exhibition, entitled Holland, Japan, and de Liefde-both held in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the relationship between Japan and the Netherlands-as well as the screening of Japanese animated films at the Sydney Olympics Arts Festival. Various exchange projects between Japan and the Republic of Korea are being materialized toward the Year of Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) National Exchange in 2002, which is taking place in conjunction with the co-hosting of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The Japan Foundation has established an Internet Website (http//www.jpg.go.jp/jkxx/) which provides information on such Japan-ROK cultural exchanges. In September, Japan and Russia signed a new cultural exchange agreement to replace the old treaty with the former Soviet Union, which is being ratified in due course.

In the sports field, Osaka has been accepted as a candidate city for hosting the 2008 Olympic Games, and the government of Japan, based on Cabinet consent, has been providing support for Osaka's bid to win the selection that will take place in July 2001.


  1. The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme was launched in 1987 to enhance foreign language education in Japan and to advance international exchange at the local level by youth exchange. The JET Programme is implemented by local governments with the cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications; and the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations.

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