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Japan's Efforts to Address Global Issues and International Cooperation


Climate Change and the Environment

As global environmental problems such as climate change and the loss of biodiversity become increasingly serious, Japan has come to recognize these as threats to human existence and has called on the international community to address them in solidarity. The year 2007 was one in which unequivocality of global warming was acknowledged, with climate change attracting significant international interest at such meetings as the United Nations High-Level Event on Climate Change in September and the 13th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP13), held in December. In particular, discussions on the framework after the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period, which ends in 2012, have been the major focus.

In this context, with a view to asserting leadership in the discussions on the framework beyond 2012, in May Prime Minister Abe announced the "Cool Earth 50" which addresses climate change, emphasizing the need to set a long-term goal of reducing global emissions by half from the current level by 2050 as a global goal. Prime Minister Abe then introduced the proposal at the G8 Heiligendamm Summit in June to the other G8 leaders, and participated proactively in the G8 discussions on climate change. Furthermore, at COP13 in December, Japan took a leading role in international discussions by putting forth a proposal to establish a negotiating process in which all major emitters participate and discuss the long-term goal, mitigation measures, and so forth, thereby paving the way to a decision to launch a new Ad Hoc Working Group.


Human Rights

As the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of June 1993 states, democracy, development, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. The sufficient development of human rights and democratic foundations is directly tied to the creation of a peaceful and prosperous society and therefore to the peace and security of international society.

In the UN, the importance of the area of human rights was reconfirmed at the World Summit held in September 2005 as part of a movement towards the mainstreaming of human rights. In March 2006, the General Assembly decided to establish the Human Rights Council in replacement of the Commission on Human Rights as a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly. The Human Rights Council consists of 47 member states, and Japan is serving as a member of the Council until May of 2008, having been selected in the elections held in May 2006.

In the realm of promoting democracy, Japan contributed US$10 million to the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) in March 2007, insofar as it would promote Japan's diplomatic policy of emphasizing fundamental values. In addition, Representative of the Government of Japan Tatsuo Arima attended the Community of Democracies Fourth Ministerial Conference in Mali in November, stating that based on Japan's experiences, democracy is critical for engendering peace and prosperity. He introduced Japan's efforts to support democracy that respect the ownership of the recipient countries.

Japan will strengthen its diplomacy in a comprehensive manner for enhancing human rights and democracy through the development of human rights and democratic foundations by means of development assistance. It will do this by establishing mutual linkages between its efforts related to human rights and democracy in the multilateral fora, such as in the UN, and in bilateral efforts, conducted through human rights dialogues and development assistance.


The "Rule of Law" in the International Community

The establishment of the "rule of law" in the international community brings stability to relations between nations and is extremely important for the peaceful settlement of conflicts. As part of its diplomatic policy, Japan emphasizes the promotion of the rule of law in the international community and has been actively engaged in various efforts for this end.

The prevalence of the rule of law in the international community contributes to effective coordination and smooth negotiations with other countries. As Japan endeavors to secure its national interests related to its territory and maritime interests. In addition, the promotion of the rule of law is essential in fostering a favorable environment for private and corporate activities, including those in economic affairs, thereby protecting relevant interests.

The rule of law in the international community has a rule-making aspect, involving participation in the formulation and development of a new order of international law, and a dispute-settlement aspect, in which disputes between states are settled peacefully based on international law.

Regarding rule-making, Japan is contributing actively to the codification of international law in various international fora, such as the International Law Commission (ILC), which has a Japanese member, and is playing a major role in the creation of global rules across a broad range of fields. More specifically, Japan is proactively engaged in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round negotiations in the field of economy as well as the establishment of a framework beyond 2012 to address the climate change issue.

As for the aspect of peaceful settlement of disputes, Japan has long valued the role of international judicial institutions such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and has strongly supported the activities of these bodies, including through contribution of human resources. Japan is also making efforts toward active utilization of international tribunals in its diplomacy, such as its applications at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in July for the prompt release of Japanese fishing vessels seized by Russia. Japan invited Judge Rosalyn Higgins, the President of the ICJ, in April and Judge Rüiger Wolfrum, the President of the ITLOS in November, and through the exchanges with members of the Japanese Diet and eminent persons, aimed to deepen understanding both in Japan and in the international community of the roles of these judicial organs as well as Japan's efforts in this policy area. Japan became a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in October, and a Japanese candidate was elected as a judge shortly after. Work on a review of the Rome Statute of the ICC is under progress, and in the future it is expected that Japan will make further contributions through this work to the development of international criminal and humanitarian law.

In addition, Japan continues to strengthen its support for the development and improvement of legal systems in developing countries.


Promotion of International Cooperation

Since the establishment of the International Cooperation Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in August 2006, the government of Japan has worked to reinforce the strategic nature of its international cooperation and enhance the effectiveness of its implementation under a new framework.

Specifically, the International Cooperation Planning Headquarters within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs now sets forth policies for extending assistance for each region, sector, or issue, in keeping with basic strategies of overseas economic cooperation deliberated by the Overseas Economic Cooperation Council under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, and taking into account directions of an overall diplomatic policy. In 2007 the Headquarters formulated for the first time a set of "Priority Policy and Regional Priority Issues for International Cooperation." This set out the following five areas as priorities in promoting international cooperation: (i) to address environmental issues and climate change (utilizing economic cooperation towards the establishment of a framework beyond 2012 based on "Cool Earth 50"); (ii) to realize economic growth in developing countries and economic prosperity in Japan (improving the trade and investment climate, promoting economic partnerships, securing natural resources and energy); (iii) to consolidate democracy and assist market-oriented economic reforms within the context of Japan's expanding diplomatic horizons, placing emphasis on universal values (assisting in legal and judicial system development frameworks, supporting human resource development, placing an emphasis on human rights, etc.); (iv) peacebuilding and the fight against terrorism; and (v) ensuring human security (contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, etc.). In addition, the Advisory Council on International Cooperation was launched in March in order to reflect into public policy the views of well-informed persons having depth of knowledge about international cooperation. This council discusses and gives recommendations regarding basic policies for international cooperation based on a broad range of viewpoints, in an advisory capacity to the Foreign Minister. This council presented its interim report to the Foreign Minister in January 2008, which addressed such topics as aid to Africa, public-private partnerships, and challenges in preparation and implementation of ODA projects.

In addition to strengthening the strategic nature of international cooperation in this way, Japan has been working to implement assistance more effectively by speeding up the progression of yen loan projects from the proposal formulation stage to the implementation stage, as this had been an issue in the past. In October 2008, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Overseas Economic Cooperation Operations (OECOs) of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) will be integrated to form the new JICA. The new JICA will be a comprehensive aid agency conducting integrated implementation of the three types of aid instruments, namely technical cooperation, yen loans, and grant aid, and preparations towards this more effective and efficient implementation of assistance are already underway. In addition, coordination with the private sector and NGOs is being advanced further and steps are being taken to strengthen public relations both within Japan and abroad regarding efforts by the government of Japan.

The year 2008 marks the mid-point to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which are the international commitments towards 2015. It is also an important year for Japan, as it will host the G8 Development Ministers' Meeting, the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV), and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. Japan is determined to exercise its leadership, particularly on such topics as climate change, African development, and global cooperationhealth.

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