Diplomatic Bluebook 2001


In 2000, Latin American and Caribbean countries experienced an overall continuance of political stability and economic development which contributed to the further deepening of regional integration. However, political instability emerged in some countries, and social problems such as gaps between the rich and the poor became increasingly severe. Given these regional situations, the government of Japan has positioned the following issues as key elements in its diplomacy toward Latin America and the Caribbean: securing medium- to long-term stability in the region; supporting the economic activities of Japan's private sector; ensuring the stable supply and circulation of important resources to world markets; and realizing objectives reflected in Japan's energy policy. Various measures have been designed to achieve these ends. The first Japan-CARICOM (Caribbean Community) Ministerial-Level Conference held in November was a major achievement as it widened the scope of Japan's relations with Latin America and the Caribbean.

1. Politics and Society: Progress with Democratization and Future Challenges

In 2000, new presidents took office in Guatemala (January), Uruguay (March), and Chile (March), while in Venezuela, President Hugo Chévez was reelected with overwhelming support under a new Constitution in July. In Mexico, leader of the National Action Party (PAN) Vicente Fox won the July presidential elections, bringing about the change of the ruling party for the first time in 71 years. The Latin American and Caribbean countries, most of which introduced civilian governments in the 1980s, generally maintained political stability and established democracy even more firmly; however, instability remained in some countries, including the change in political power in Ecuador, and the failed coup d'état in Paraguay by retired soldiers.

Given this situation, the government of Japan considers securing the medium- to long-term stability and development of Latin American and Caribbean countries as a key pillar in policy toward the region. When Peru held its presidential and parliamentary elections, Japan sent election observers to assist Organization of American States (OAS) efforts and provided financial assistance. Japan has also been actively providing humanitarian and socioeconomic development assistance to Colombia in response to the government's 1999 announcement of "Plan Colombia," which aims at ending armed conflict with guerilla forces, contending with narcotics, and pushing ahead with socioeconomic development.

2. Expanding and Deepening Regional Integration

The Latin American and Caribbean countries' economy generally made steady progress, spearheaded by Brazil and Mexico, with the region as a whole achieving four-percent growth. Market concerns were temporarily assuaged when IMF-centered international financing assistance measures were announced in December for Argentina to address the country's prolonged economic slump. However, the economic recession and tight fiscal situation remain unchanged, and further developments must be carefully observed.

Efforts continued to expand and deepen regional economic integration. In August, the first Summit among South American leaders was held in Brasilia and announced that a free trade agreement would be concluded between the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the Andine Community by January 2002. Moves by the U.S. hold the key to the outcome of negotiations on the establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Mexico and Chile each expressed their willingness to have free trade agreements with Japan.

3. Regional Cooperation

The Fourth Japan-MERCOSUR High-Level Consultation was held in Tokyo in October, confirming the two regions' intentions to foster economic cooperation between them. The first Japan-CARICOM Ministerial-Level Conference took place in Tokyo in November, with Japan announcing enhanced cooperation measures for the Caribbean countries.

The East Asia-Latin America Forum (EALAF) held its second high-level meeting in Chile in August, aiming at improving mutual understanding and strengthening cooperative ties between Latin America and East Asia in areas such as politics, economy, and culture. It was agreed to hold the first Foreign Ministers' Meeting in March 2001. It is expected that the forum will develop into the first framework for dialogue between East Asia and Latin America.

4. Peru

President Alberto Fujimori announced in December 1999 that he intended to stand for a third term, and subsequently won the runoff in May 2000 to launch his third administration in July. The OAS suspected that the voting process was irregular, and later proposed that in exchange for the OAS's de facto recognition of President Fujimori's victory, the government would engage in democratization measures which included, as pillars, judicial and election system reform as well as freedom of expression and the press. In light of the proposal, dialogue on democratization started between the ruling and opposition parties.

In September 2000, a video was released to the public showing National Intelligence Service Chief Vladimiro Montesinos, who was closely connected to the President, handing over money to a politician who changed his affiliation from the opposition party to the ruling party. Because of this, President Fujimori ordered early presidential and parliamentary elections, and announced that he would not be running for the next term. In November, a no-confidence motion against the Congressional President was passed, turning control of parliament over to the opposition party. After attending the APEC Leaders' Meeting in Brunei, President Fujimori stopped off in Japan, where he announced his resignation. However, Congress did not accept his resignation and effectively removed him from office. As a result, in accordance with constitutional regulations, Congressional President Valentin Paniagua became the interim President (until July 28, 2001), while the former UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar was appointed as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

Japan sent a message to President Paniagua on his inauguration, offering congratulations and assuring him that there would be basically no change in Japan's policy toward Peru.

Even after announcing his resignation, former President Fujimori has remained in Japan. In December, it was confirmed that he has Japanese nationality.

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