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CHAPTER 1 : Overview

International Situation and Japanese Diplomacy in 2008

For Japan, the year 2008 was a year of diplomacy occurring only rarely in recent years, as Japan held the presidency of the G8 summit, an opportunity arising once in eight years, and hosted a series of G8-related meetings, and also held the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), which convenes once in five years.

At the same time, 2008 became a year in which the international community continued to face numerous difficult challenges. Whether the issue be climate change, African development, regional conflicts, or the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the world is still merely on the way towards their resolution. Terrorist attacks occur frequently in various locations, acts of piracy in sea lanes such as the area off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden occur repeatedly and are increasing in number, and large-scale natural disasters have brought tremendous damage to multiple areas. Moreover, while the sharp rise in the prices of food, resources, and energy in the first half of 2008 brought significant benefits to producing countries, it delivered a huge blow to the economies of importing countries, particularly the economies of Africa and other developing countries, making food and energy security an important issue. Since the second half of 2008, the financial crisis triggered by the U.S. subprime loan problem has severely impacted the real economy.

Amidst such a situation, it can be said that 2008 became a year of rediscovery, from both within Japan and abroad, of the roles that Japan can play in resolving increasingly serious common challenges that the international community faces. As the chair of the G8 and the host of TICAD, Japan responded to both domestic and external expectations and helped to lead the way towards the resolution of those challenges.

With regard to climate change, Japan, as a major player in the areas of environment and energy conservation, worked actively towards the creation of a fair and effective framework beyond 2012. At the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (the Davos Conference) in January, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda proposed the "Cool Earth Promotion Programme" and, regarding future goals for greenhouse gas emission reductions, stated that Japan would set a quantified national target and work towards its achivement. He also announced the "Cool Earth Partnership," a mechanism on the scale of US$10 billion which would serve as an assistance package to developing countries aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve economic growth in a compatible way. At the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July, Japan, holding the G8 presidency, conducted vigorous negotiations with each country, including the United States, to confirm the intention to seek to share with all Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and adopt the long-term goal of achieving at least 50% reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This represented a major step forward from the results of the G8 Heiligendamm Summit in 2007. In addition, at the Leaders Meeting of Major Economies on Energy Security and Climate Change, which included emerging economies such as China and India, the leaders shared the common intention to support a shared long-term goal for emission reductions and prepared for the creation of a fair and effective framework beyond 2012. Furthermore, Prime Minister Taro Aso stated at the Davos Conference in January 2009 that Japan would announce a mid-term reduction target by June 2009.

As for African development, the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) was held in Yokohama in May. Vigorous discussions were held at this conference regarding the future direction of African development. The priority areas were boosting economic growth, ensuring human security, and addressing environmental issues and climate change. Japan announced assistance plans which included doubling Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Africa by 2012 and support for doubling Japanese private investment in Africa, which were highly evaluated by the participating countries. The results of the discussions at TICAD IV were also reflected at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. Japan is now steadily carrying out the assistance measures it announced at this conference.

Japan also continues to actively pursue efforts toward the eradication of terrorism. Regarding Afghanistan, Japan is conducting replenishment support activities in the Indian Ocean through the Maritime Self-Defense Force and also offering assistance in the areas of infrastructure development and health and education through ODA. Such security and anti-terrorism measures, as well as humanitarian and reconstruction assistance, are two sides of the same coin, preventing the country from reverting to a breeding ground for terrorism. As for Afghanistan's neighbor Pakistan, Japan is actively pursuing efforts toward the eradication of terrorism and the stabilization of the economy. In Iraq, Japan has been conducting support activities through ODA and the Japan Self-Defense Forces. Taking into account the improvements in the political and security situations, the assistance activities in Iraq by the Japan Self-Defense Forces, which had extended over a period of approximately five years, were drawn to a successful close.

As the numerous and rapidly increasing incidents of piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden became an international issue, Japan, as a co-sponsor of relevant United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions, recognized the importance of efforts by the international community, and has been proceeding with its own preparations to dispatch Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels in 2009.

Japan pursued proactive diplomacy regarding the issue of fluctuating food prices and, holding the G8 precidency, raised the issue at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July, resulting in the G8 Leaders Statement on Global Food Security. Japan was also engaged with the issue of energy prices. In addition to covering the topic at the G8 summit, Japan participated actively in the International Energy Forum (IEF), reinforced its relations with the International Energy Agency (IEA), and played a leading role in the establishment of the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC), thereby helping to strengthen the energy security of both Japan and the world.

Japan has made concrete and important contributions to address the financial and economic crisis. At the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy in Washington, DC and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting in Peru both held in November, Prime Minister Aso made a proposal based on Japan's experience in overcoming its own financial crisis and announced that Japan was ready to lend the equivalent of a maximum of US$100 billion to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to provide assistance to emerging economies and middle and small-scale countries. In Asia, Japan also worked to strengthen the Chiang Mai Initiative, a regional financial cooperation initiative. At the Davos Conference in January 2009, Prime Minister Aso referred to Japan's diplomacy based on the concept of the "Arc of Freedom and Prosperity," under which Japan will support the efforts of countries aspiring to market economies and democracy, and travel the road to prosperity together. He also announced that Japan is ready to provide ODA of not less than 1.5 trillion yen in total for strengthening Asia's growth potential and expanding domestic demand, such as by addressing the impacts of the financial and economic crisis on Asian countries, in order for Asia, holding the greatest potential in the world, to contribute to the world economy as a center of growth open to the world.

At the elections held in October 2008 for non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council, Japan was elected for the tenth time, the most frequent among all UN members. Japan began its two-year term of membership in the Council in January 2009. This reflects the high reputation Japan's diplomacy has established in its achievements and approaches at fora such as the UN, and indicates that further contributions are anticipated of Japan in the future. Japan will continue to develop proactive diplomacy by using its experiences and intellectual capital, working towards the resolution of numerous challenges facing the international community and the creation of a new order towards that end.

Photo:Prime Minister Aso addressing the general debate at the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly (September 25, New York, USA; photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office, Cabinet Secretariat)

Prime Minister Aso addressing the general debate at the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly (September 25, New York, USA; photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office, Cabinet Secretariat)

G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit

For three days from July 7th to 9th, Japan hosted the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit as the G8 Presidency, leading discussions towards the resolution of global challenges facing the international community. This was the fifth G8 summit hosted by Japan, the previous being the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit (2000) eight years ago. This was the largest G8 summit in history, with the heads of state and government of 22 countries participating, including the G8 summit members at the core, an Outreach Program to meet with leaders of African nations and others, and the Leaders Meeting of the Major Economies Meeting (MEM).

As the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit took place at a time when global challenges such as ongoing global warming and sharp rises in energy and food prices were acutely impacting people's lives, the G8 leaders held intense discussions on the main themes of the World Economy, Environment and Climate Change, Development and Africa, and Political Issues.

Regarding the theme of the World Economy, facing uncertainty, the G8 expressed their determination to continuously take appropriate actions, individually and collectively, and with regard to global imbalances, they pledged to promote a smooth adjustment through sound macroeconomic management and structural policies. The G8 also stated that they would resist protectionist pressures in international trade and investment of all kinds and expressed their strong concerns about the sharp rise in oil and food prices. Compiling a separate statement on the food issue, the G8 leaders confirmed their determination to take all possible measures to address the steep rise in food prices.

As for the discussions on Environment and Climate Change, the G8 called for sharing and adopting globally the goal of achieving at least 50% reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in the Leaders Declaration. In addition, the G8 countries agreed that the sectoral approaches proposed by Japan are useful tools.

As for Development and Africa, the areas of health, water, and education were major focus points with a view to ensuring "human security." The G8 renewed their commitment to helping achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), development-related goals set by the United Nations to be achieved by 2015, and also acknowledged that ODA to Africa may need to be increased for the period after 2010.

Discussions on Political Issues took into consideration the results of the G8 Kyoto Foreign Ministers' Meeting, held in June. In addition to holding productive discussions on the nuclear issues of North Korea and Iran from the viewpoint of non-proliferation, the G8's commitments were reaffirmed concerning Afghanistan and peace in the Middle East, which are important issues from the perspectives of the fight against terrorism and peacebuilding. The leaders also issued separate Leaders Statements on counter-terrorism and on Zimbabwe.

The management of this G8 summit was thoroughly environmentally friendly and Japan's cutting-edge environmental technologies were displayed at the International Media Center.

Photo:World leaders gathering at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit (8 July)

World leaders gathering at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit (8 July)

The Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV)

In recent years, Africa has maintained a high rate of economic growth, averaging 6% per annum, and progress towards political stability has been seen in each region. Yet at the same time, it faces major problems such as poverty, conflicts, infectious diseases, and environmental issues and climate change as well as new challenges. Japan is undertaking African diplomacy with the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process at the cornerstone of its engagement, and held the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) in Yokohama in May. TICAD IV was attended by representatives of 51 African countries, including 41 participants at the head of state and government level (including Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union [AU] Commission), 34 development partner countries and Asian countries, and representatives of 77 international organizations and regional organizations as well as representatives of the private sector and civil society, including NGOs, with more than 3,000 participants in all.

At the conference, under the theme "Towards a Vibrant Africa," discussions were advanced on the priority areas of Boosting Economic Growth, Ensuring Human Security, and Addressing Environmental Issues and Climate Change. Specifically, active discussions took place concerning four points, namely (1) accelerating economic growth through support for infrastructure development, human resource development, agriculture, and trade and investment, among other areas, (2) achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through continuing support for the efforts of African countries in such areas as community development, education, health, water, and sanitation, (3) consolidation of peace, which is a major prerequisite for economic growth, and the promotion of good governance, by supporting efforts made by African countries, in order to distribute the dividends of economic growth to the poor as well, and (4) supporting African efforts to address environmental issues and climate change, in order to make African growth sustainable.

At this conference, Japan announced that by the year 2012 it will double its ODA to Africa and also provide support with a view to doubling Japanese private investment in Africa. The conference also adopted the Yokohama Declaration, a political document indicating the future direction of African development, and announced the Yokohama Action Plan, in which concrete assistance measures were summarized, as well as the TICAD Follow-up Mechanism, which presents a monitoring mechanism for steadily implementing the assistance measures.

Concurrently with the plenary sessions, Prime Minister Fukuda held individual meetings with 47 participants, including each of the participants at the head of state and government level, the Chairperson of the African Union, and six individual conference participants. Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura also clearly demonstrated the importance he places on Africa by holding individual meetings with 23 participants, including participants at the head of state and government level, representatives of international organizations, and individual conference participants. Furthermore, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Itsunori Onodera, and Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Yasuhide Nakayama also conducted numerous individual meetings, thereby strengthening bilateral ties between Japan and African countries.

Various events were held at this conference in addition to the plenary sessions and the breakout sessions. As one example, the Presentation Ceremony of the First Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize and a commemorative banquet were held, graced by the presence of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress, with Dr. Brian Greenwood (UK) and Dr. Miriam K. Were (Kenya) awarded the first Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize for their distinguished achievements.

Asia and the Pacific

The fundamental objective of Japan's diplomacy in Asia and the Pacific is to lead the region to become one which shares fundamental values, and is characterized by long-term stability and predictability and grounded in mutual understanding and cooperation. Japan is conducting active diplomacy in Asia and the Pacific region with the Japan-U.S. alliance as its cornerstone, with marked progress seen continuously in 2008.

In its relations with China, the year 2008, which marked the 30th anniversary of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship Between Japan and the People's Republic of China, was a historical year in which numerous dialogues took place towards the creation of a "Mutually Beneficial Relationship Based on Common Strategic Interests," with five visits between the heads of state, including President Hu Jintao's visit to Japan in May, the first visit by a Chinese President in the past ten years, and Prime Minister Aso's visit to China in October. Although some incidents arose in the bilateral relationship, such as the issue of food safety and the entry by a Chinese public vessel into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands in December, relations progressed steadily, with exchanges progressing at a broad range of levels. China is engaging in proactive diplomacy with various countries, such as by forging stable relations with the United States, while also being increasingly active in multilateral diplomacy. Japan welcomes China's positive approach to engage itself in the issues of the international community. At the same time, with regard to the extent of the modernization of China's military forces, its provision of economic assistance to other countries and other issues, Japan urges China to ensure transparency and act in accordance with the rules and standards of the international community.

As for relations with the Republic of Korea (ROK), which is geographically the closest neighboring country to Japan and with which Japan shares fundamental values, "Shuttle Summit Diplomacy" was conducted with President Lee Myung-bak and Japan-ROK relations moved forward in building a "mature partnership." In addition, landmark progress took place in Japan-China-ROK cooperation, as the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting was held independently of other international conferences for the first time in Fukuoka in December, and the leaders confirmed their intention to pursue comprehensive cooperation in a future-oriented manner.

With the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which has been aiming at the establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015 and continuing its integration efforts, Japan has been working to further consolidate the Japan-ASEAN "strategic partnership" by appointing an Ambassador for ASEAN in October and strengthening its relations across a large number of fields, such as through the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP) Agreement coming into force in December. At the same time, Japan is engaging in assistance towards ASEAN integration and development, such as by working to narrow development gaps by within the ASEAN region.

Regarding India, the "Japan-India Strategic and Global Partnership" witnessed strong progress successive to the previous summit meeting in 2007, as the two leaders signed the "Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation between Japan and India" and decided to cooperate in a broad range of fields at the time of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Japan in October 2008.

As for relations with Australia, a partner with which Japan shares fundamental values, it was decided to further strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership and promote more concrete security cooperation during Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's visit to Japan in June. Trilateral cooperation, centered on the Japan-U.S.-Australia Trilateral Strategic Dialogue, also advanced further.

Regarding the Pacific island countries and the Pacific region, it was decided that the Fifth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALMS) would be held in May 2009 in Hokkaido.

In its relations with Russia, which aims to develop Far East Russia and Eastern Siberia and strengthen its relations with Asia and the Pacific region, Japan has been engaged in intensive negotiations towards the final resolution of the outstanding issue of the Northern Territories in order to elevate Japan-Russia relations to a higher level. At the same time, Japan is advancing its cooperation with Russia in order for Russia to strengthen its economic, social, and people-to-people connections with the Asia-Pacific region and take on a constructive role in the region.

As for the outstanding issues of concern regarding North Korea, which are serious issues for the entire Asia-Pacific region, Japan has undertaken its utmost efforts in coordination with relevant countries so as to make progress in both the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and Japan-North Korea bilateral relations, including the abduction issue. While there was a certain degree of progress concerning denuclearization, such as the disablement of nuclear facilities, North Korea has not shown a positive stance towards establishing a concrete framework for verification. As for the abduction issue, although Japan and North Korea reached an agreement at the Japan-North Korea Working-level Consultations on implementing a comprehensive investigation on the abduction issue as well as the concrete modalities of the investigation, North Korea has yet to launch the investigation.

Japan has also promoted proactive cooperation under various regional frameworks in order for the countries of the region to address common challenges.

North America

Japan and the United States are allies sharing fundamental values and strategic interests, and the Japan-U.S. alliance is the cornerstone of Japanese diplomacy. As there remains a lack of both transparency and certainty in the East Asian region, the Japan-U.S. alliance, with the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements at its core, plays an indispensable role in the peace and security of Japan as well as stability and development of the Asia-Pacific region.

Japan and the United States are engaged in close cooperation not only bilaterally but also in facing challenges confronting the international community. Bilateral cooperation includes the steady implementation of the realignment of U.S. Forces in Japan and the reinforcement of the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements through the promotion of ballistic missile defense (BMD) cooperation, among other areas. In addition to the situations in the Asia-Pacific region including North Korea, Japan-U.S. cooperation in global affairs extends to such areas as financial and economic affairs, the fight against terrorism, climate change and energy issues, and African development.

In November, Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic Party candidate advocating "change," was elected in the presidential election, and the new administration was inaugurated in January 2009. Japan is closely coordinating with the new administration through various opportunities such as: affirming the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance through occasions including the Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministerial meeting held during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Japan in February 2009 and the Japan-U.S. Summit meeting held during Prime Minister Aso's visit to the U.S., in addition to carrying out telephone conferences on various occasions.

Japan and Canada cooperate closely in such fields as politics, economy, security, and culture, as partners of the Asia-Pacific region, sharing fundamental values and also as members of the G8.

On the occasion of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Japan as an official guest and held two summit meetings with Prime Minister Fukuda. Various exchanges and events took place in both countries in 2008, which marked the 80th anniversary of Japan-Canada diplomatic relations.

Photo:Prime Minister Aso and US President Obama at the Japan-US Summit meeting (February 24, 2009, Washington, D.C., USA; photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office, Cabinet Secretariat)

Prime Minister Aso and US President Obama at the Japan-US Summit meeting (February 24, 2009, Washington, D.C., USA; photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office, Cabinet Secretariat)

The Middle East and North Africa

The peace and stability of the Middle East, from which Japan imports some 90% of its crude oil, is essential for the stability of the international community as a whole as well as for the energy security of Japan. Japan is proactively engaged in Middle East diplomacy in cooperation with the international community.

Positive developments were seen in the Middle East in 2008, including economic growth of the Gulf states by the benefit of abundant petroleum resources and the improvements in the security situation in Iraq. At the same time, the region still faces challenges, such as the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, the Iranian nuclear issue, and the attacks by Israel on the Gaza Strip. The sharp rise and steep decline in the price of crude oil and the global financial crisis have also resulted in various impacts upon the economy in the region.

Within this context, as the Foreign Minister of the country holding the G8 presidency, in May, Foreign Minister Koumura visited Afghanistan, where efforts towards stability and reconstruction have been continuing, and reiterated Japan's commitment to cooperate with Afghanistan. In July, in order to contribute to the Middle East peace process, Japan hosted the Ministerial-Level Meeting of the Four-Party Consultative Unit for the "Corridor for Peace and Prosperity Initiative" in Tokyo and was engaged in giving concrete shape to this initiative.

Furthermore, in October, Japan made contributions by serving as a co-chair of the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) "Forum for the Future" Ministerial Meeting held in the United Arab Emirates.

Photo:The Third Ministerial-level Meeting of the Four-Party Consultative Unit for the "Corridor for Peace and Prosperity" Initiative

The Third Ministerial-level Meeting of the Four-Party Consultative Unit for the "Corridor for Peace and Prosperity" Initiative


Sharing fundamental values such as democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, Japan and Europe are strategic partners with a leading role in fostering the stability and prosperity of international community.

It is becoming increasingly important for Japan to promote cooperation with European countries, the European Union (EU), and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) amidst the current international situation with so many elements of instability, as it reinforces the foundations upon which the international community responds effectively to global challenges.

In 2008, security issues in the European region, such as Kosovo's declaration of independence in February and armed clashes between Georgia and Russia in August, commanded the attention of the international community. In addition, much attention was drawn to the proactive roles played by the EU and European countries in the context of international discussions in addressing sharply rising energy prices during the first half of the year and the financial crisis during the second half.

Against such a backdrop, through the G8 summit process, Japan and Europe reaffirmed their cooperation in a variety of fields including energy and climate change, with Prime Minister Fukuda visiting Russia in April and Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy in June, and with heads of state and government of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia as well as the president of the European Commission visiting Japan in July for the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. In addition, in October, Prime Minister Aso participated in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit, where he confirmed a strengthening of Asia-Europe cooperation to address the financial crisis.

Russia continues to have stable management of the political situation on the whole after President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin assumed their offices in May. As for its foreign policy, it is noteworthy that Russia in recent years has launched a new policy of developing Far East Russia and Eastern Siberia while aiming to strengthen relations with the Asia-Pacific region, and has been enhancing its activities in the area. In the Japan-Russia bilateral relationship, in order to build a relationship as important partners in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan has been advancing intensive negotiations to reach the final solution of the Northern Territories issue at various levels, including between the heads of state and government and the foreign ministers. In addition, cooperation based on the Japan-Russia Action Plan is advancing across a wide range of fields, including steady development of economic relations between the two countries.

With regard to the situation concerning South Ossetia in August, with armed clashes between Georgia and Russia and Russia's unilateral recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Japan stated its position of consistently supporting peaceful resolution of the issues based on the principle of territorial integrity of Georgia and appealed its position to relevant countries regarding this situation.

In Central Asia and the Caucasus and in Central and Eastern Europe, Japan has utilized regional frameworks to promote, based on the policy of the "Arc of Freedom and Prosperity," dialogue and cooperation with countries in the process of democratization and transition to market economies.


While positive signs have been seen in Africa in recent years such as progress towards peace and stability and favorable economic growth, serious challenges still remain, including poverty and conflicts, political instability, infectious diseases, terrorism, and organized crime. In 2008 in particular, many problems received the attention of the international community such as the turmoil in Kenya following the presidential election in late 2007, domestic political turbulence in Zimbabwe, the situation in Sudan including the issue of Darfur, the instability of the situation in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the issue of piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden. The global financial crisis and economic slowdown have also had various impacts on the countries in Africa. At the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV), held in Yokohama in May, vigorous discussions were held concerning the future direction of African development. The Yokohama Declaration was adopted in the conference, calling for the enhancement of efforts by the international community. Japan has been steadily implementing assistance measures it announced at TICAD IV and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit through proactive measures on both the political and economic fronts, such as through assistance for PKO centers in Africa and the dispatch of Joint Missions for Promoting Trade and Investment to Africa.

Latin America and the Caribbean

In recent years, Latin America and the Caribbean have been increasing their growing presence as a major supplier of minerals, energy, and food resources, along with expanding their economies, consolidating their democracies and market economies, and making their increasingly influential voice heard in the international community. At the same time, the region faces persistent challenges such as poverty and inequality in society.

Japan is making efforts to strengthen its relations with Latin America and the Caribbean, with emphasis on the strengthening of economic relations, assistance towards the stable development of the region, and enhanced cooperation in the international arena. At the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit Meeting in Peru in November, Japan held summit talks with Mexico, Brazil, Peru, and Colombia, among others.

The year of 2008 was an important milestone, marking the 100th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Brazil and the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Colombia. In particular, it was officially designated as the Japan-Brazil Year of Exchange, and various events were held to commemorate the centenary. In April, a commemorative ceremony hosted by the Foreign Minister was held in Tokyo, with the attendance of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress and His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince. In June, His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince made an official tour to Brazil and visited various parts of the country. Such events have contributed to enhancing exchange between the two nations.

Efforts to Foster Peace

Today, in order for Japan to protect its territory and the lives and property of its citizens, it is necessary to have a multi-faceted security policy that addresses not only traditional threats but also non-traditional threats such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, international terrorism, and piracy. For this reason, Japan has maintained and reinforced the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements, fostered stable relations with neighboring countries, and has made efforts towards the peace and stability of the international community, in addition to developing appropriate defense capabilities at the foundation.

Specifically, Japan has been promoting broad-based cooperation with the United States in the area of security while developing and strengthening bilateral and multilateral dialogue frameworks, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), with neighboring countries on various levels. In addition, based on the recognition that the realization of Japan's national interests is dependent on the peace and stability of the international community, Japan has participated in peacekeeping operations, resumed its replenishment support activities in the Indian Ocean, and actively engaged in such issues as peacebuilding, disarmament and non-proliferation, countermeasures against piracy, and countermeasures against international terrorism and international organized crime. Japan will also expeditiously establish measures to counter piracy within its possible means, as piracy is an urgent issue from the perspective of the protection of the life and property of Japanese citizens.

An important issue is the early reform of the UN Security Council, which plays a major role in the maintenance of international peace and security. In order to enhance its contributions to the international community, Japan has been undertaking proactive diplomatic efforts towards the goals of reforming the Security Council at the earliest possible time and becoming a permanent member of the Council. In addition in October Japan was elected to non-permanent membership on the Security Council (term: 2009-2010).

In the area of peacebuilding, Japan deepened discussions at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit and TICAD IV and was also active at the field level through such efforts as its dispatch of Japan Self-Defense Forces personnel to the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and reconstruction assistance in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other areas. Japan also further consolidated its efforts in the areas of intellectual contributions, including serving as the chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, and human resource development for peacebuilding.

Japan has also been actively involved in measures to counter international organized crime, such as by dispatching a government delegation to the Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking held in February.

For the peace and stability of the international community, Japan, as the only country to have ever suffered the devastation of atomic bombings, has been actively engaged in disarmament and non-proliferation consistently since the end of the Second World War. In 2008 Japan submitted to the UN General Assembly the resolution "Renewed Determination towards the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons", which was adopted with overwhelming support. Japan also jointly established with Australia the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, with a view to contributing to the success of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Japan is also actively contributing to advancing the activities of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In December, Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions at a signing conference in Oslo. Regarding the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the "International Initiative on 3S-based Nuclear Energy Infrastructure" was launched at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit through a proposal by Japan in order to ensure nuclear non-proliferation/safeguards, nuclear safety, and nuclear security (3S).

In the area of science, in keeping with recommendations by the Council for Science and Technology Policy and the enactment and entry into force of the Basic Space Law, in 2008 Japan launched efforts in science and technology diplomacy and space diplomacy.

Photo:Minister for Foreign Affairs Nakasone signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions (December 3, Oslo, Norway)

Minister for Foreign Affairs Nakasone signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions (December 3, Oslo, Norway)

Climate Change and the Environment

Global environmental issues are common challenges for all humanity, and concerted efforts of the international community have become an urgent matter. In particular, discussions have been especially active with regard to climate change, working towards the 15th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP15), which will be held in Denmark at the end of 2009 to decide on the framework beyond 2012.

As a leading country globally in the field of environment and energy conservation, Japan makes use of its technological capabilities and has taken initiative in approaching global environmental issues through providing assistance to developing countries in the environmental area using ODA and other means, as well as through contributing to the establishment of global rules such as multilateral environment agreements.

It was within this context that in 2008, Japan, holding the presidency of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, which placed "Environment and Climate Change" as one of its main agenda items, played an active role towards the creation of a fair and effective framework, with Prime Minister Fukuda proposing the "Cool Earth Promotion Programme" in his address at the Davos Conference in January and delivering a policy speech on the topic "In Pursuit of 'Japan as a Low-carbon Society' " in June. As a result, the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July succeeded in reaching a shared intention among its members, including the United States, to have all Parties to the UNFCCC share the goal of achieving at least 50% reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Promotion of International Cooperation

In recent years, Japan has been engaged in making the implementation of its international cooperation more strategic and more effective in order to address numerous global challenges. Japan's international cooperation drew attention from other countries in 2008 as Japan hosted international conferences addressing development and Africa as a major theme and launched the new Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

In April 2008, Japan, holding the G8 presidency, hosted the G8 Development Ministers' Meeting. At the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July, discussions were held on Environment and Climate Change, and Development and Africa as main themes of the meeting, and the G8 reiterated its determination to achieve the MDGs. In addition, TICAD IV was held in Yokohama in May, before the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. At TICAD IV, Japan laid out an aid package that included doubling its ODA to Africa by 2012.

In October 2008, with a view to implementing ODA more effectively, the Overseas Economic Cooperation Operations (OECOs) of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) were integrated into JICA. The new JICA was launched as an agency implementing the three types of aid modalities, namely technical cooperation, ODA loans, and grant aid, in an integrated fashion. The newly born JICA has established a structure to realize international cooperation that is of a higher quality and better matched to the needs of developing countries.

International Economy and International Measures in the Economic Aspects

The year 2008 was a tumultuous one for the global economy, as the first half of the year brought sharp rises in the prices of food and crude oil, while the second half saw a worsening of the financial crisis and a global economic slowdown triggered by the subprime loan problem in the United States.

In November, Prime Minister Aso delivered a proposal to the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy in Washington DC, based on Japan's experience in overcoming its own financial crisis, asserting the necessity of expeditious disposal of financial institutions' toxic assets and of capital injections using public funds. The concrete Action Plan formulated at the Washington summit also received support from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies at the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting that was held immediately afterward.

As for the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round negotiations, which have been underway for a full seven years since their launch in 2001, a ministerial meeting was held in Geneva in July, at which time discussions progressed quickly towards an agreement on modalities for agriculture and Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA). However, points of contention among relevant countries regarding the "Special Safeguard Mechanism" (SSM), a mechanism in the agricultural sector, which developing countries are to invoke, ultimately resulted in failure to reach an agreement. With the risk of protectionism emerging globally, major relevant countries including Japan are continuing their efforts to advance negotiations towards the early conclusion of the Round.

As a means of supplementing the WTO, Japan has also been actively promoting Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Agreements with Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines, and also ASEAN as a whole entered into force in 2008, and agreements were signed with Vietnam in December 2008 and with Switzerland in February 2009. Negotiations are currently underway with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), India, and Australia as of February 2009. Working-level consultations to consider and to create a favorable environment for the resumption of negotiations were also held twice in 2008 with the Republic of Korea (ROK), with which EPA negotiations have been suspended. In addition, Japan has been contributing proactively to the study and exploration of economic partnership in the region.

Investment agreements with Cambodia and Laos came into force in July and August, respectively, while agreements were signed with Uzbekistan in August and Peru in November.

Reinforcing Japan's economic security by ensuring access to energy and food resources constitutes an important pillar of economic diplomacy, along with the promotion of free trade and investment. By strengthening relations with energy producing countries and enhancing its cooperation with international agencies such as the International Energy Agency (IEA), Japan is working to ensure a stable supply of energy resources along with market stability. As for food resources, Japan conducted diplomacy at the head of state and government level towards the strengthening of the food security of both Japan and the world, utilizing the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) High-Level Conference on World Food Security in June and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July.

Public Diplomacy

Deepening the understanding of Japan by citizens of other nations across a broad range of fields including politics, economics, society, and culture leads to an improved image of and enhanced trust towards Japan, thereby contributing to the creation of friendly relations with other countries and an established international standing. Japan is proactively promoting public diplomacy efforts that convey messages not only to governments of other nations but also directly to opinion leaders and the general public. In 2008, the Japan Culture Volunteers Program was launched, through which volunteers are dispatched abroad to introduce Japanese culture and the Japanese language. Twenty-six volunteers were dispatched in January 2009 to Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania. These activities are expected to foster human resources that will serve as the core for friendly relations between these countries and Japan in the future. In addition, Japan launched the Anime Ambassador project, intended to deepen understanding of Japan through interest in Japanese anime, with anime character Doraemon appointed Anime Ambassador in March. A program to screen a full-length anime feature film in various countries around the world has also been widely covered by the local media. There are currently some three million learners of the Japanese language around the world, a figure that has increased by more than 20 times over the past 30 years. Japan will continue to be actively engaged in these efforts, as the spread of the Japanese language abroad will promote future exchanges with Japan.

Diplomacy and Japanese Nationals

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers consular affairs, centered on assistance to Japanese citizens overseas, to be one of the two pillars of its tasks, along with diplomatic affairs. With over 17 million Japanese nationals traveling abroad annually, the expectations of the Japanese people towards consular services are incomparably higher than ever. Given such expectations from the Japanese people, the Ministry is actively engaged in reinforcing a broad range of consular services, such as dissemination of safety information abroad, protection of Japanese nationals involved in incidents or accidents, issuance and renewal of passports, management of overseas voting, and family registration, which is closely related to the lives of Japanese citizens overseas, as well as committed to improving its quality of services and its implementation.

In order to promote diplomacy with the understanding and support of the full range of the public, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cooperates with local authorities, companies, and NGOs, working to strengthen a system of engagement by "all Japan." In addition to gain broad public understanding about diplomatic policy, the Ministry is engaged in reinforcing two-way communication with the public through the Internet and other types of media as well as various types of events.

In order to further promote diplomacy that serves the people, it is essential to reinforce the foundation of Japan's diplomatic capacity, including by establishing new diplomatic missions abroad, increasing the number of Ministry personnel to levels comparable to other major developed nations, and strengthening capabilities in information gathering and analysis. The Ministry will continue to actively strengthen such diplomatic capacity in order to develop diplomacy based on national interests, including protecting the interests of overseas Japanese.

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