Contents | Back | Next


Providing Information to Other Countries and Cultural Diplomacy

The impact of public opinion on diplomatic policy has been increasing due to the dramatic development of the Internet and mass media. For this reason, in order to promote diplomatic policy successfully it is critical to attain the understanding of not only foreign governments but also foreign nationals. In particular, as an important part of diplomatic policy, countries are investing significant efforts in ensuring that people in other countries see them in a positive light. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs takes a direct approach towards citizens of foreign countries, comprehensively developing its efforts in public relations overseas and cultural exchange so as to foster favorable and deep understanding of Japan's diplomatic policies and national circumstances. The Ministry is also working to convey the appeal of Japanese culture and promote exchanges with citizens of other countries.

Generally speaking, images of Japan in other countries are positive. The number of learners of Japanese around the globe is increasing steadily, reaching around 3 million in 2006, and interest in modern Japanese culture is high, as seen in the boom in Japanese pop culture. Taking advantage of this fact, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs established the International MANGA Award in May 2007 in order to promote a deeper understanding of Japanese culture. This award recognizes a manga artist who has been contributing to the spread of manga culture abroad. In addition, besides holding cultural events, the Ministry is deepening exchanges with other countries by inviting a broad spectrum of foreigners to Japan, from government VIPs to youths and high school students, introducing Japan to them. Furthermore, the Ministry acts in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other international organizations to contribute internationally in the area of culture, such as by preserving cultural heritage. Beyond such exchanges and cooperation, the Ministry disseminates information proactively about such topics as Japan's policies as well as its society and culture. Furthermore, the ministry invited opinion leaders who have a significant influence on international public opinion to Japan, and support for research at think tanks and universities are provided to ensure that Japan's views are understood accurately.

The Council on the Movement of People Across Borders, an advisory body to the Foreign Minister, has since March 2006 been assessing measures for advancing various types of efforts more effectively. On February 14, 2008, the Council submitted its report, entitled "Measure and Framework for Strengthening Japan's Public Diplomacy: To increase the Number of People Understanding Japan and the Number of 'Japan Fans'," to Foreign Minister Koumura.

Even as it implements these activities, in diplomatic anniversary years Japan also conducts intensive exchange activities with other countries as commemorative events designed to increase mutual understanding in an effective way. In 2007, which was the 35th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China, the Japan-China Exchange Year of Culture and Sports was held and exchanges with citizens of China were further developed. The Japan-India Exchange Year also took place in 2007, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Cultural Agreement between Japan and India. In 2008, the Golden Year of Friendship of Indonesia and Japan and the Japan-Brazil Exchange Year and other commemorative events are planned, and various exchange activities will be held.

Photo:Foreign Minister Aso and Award winners at the International MANGA Award presentation ceremony

Foreign Minister Aso and Award winners at the International MANGA Award presentation ceremony (July 2, Tokyo) (above), Trophies (left), "Sun Zi's Tactics," International MANGA Award (best work) (right)

Text File