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Japan's Foreign Policy in Major Diplomatic Fields


Efforts to Achieve Peace and Stability in the International Community


Japan's Security Policies

The current international security environment has changed from that of the Cold War era. While the probability of conflict among major powers is decreasing, regional conflicts are on the increase. Moreover, threats have intensified, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missiles, increases in international terrorism such as the series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India and cases of piracy, as well as global issues such as those related to poverty, the environment, refugees, illegal narcotics, and infectious diseases. In such a context, in order for Japan to maintain its territorial integrity, protect the lives and properties of Japanese nationals, and ensure prosperity and development, it is necessary for Japan to have a multi-faceted security policy to address not only traditional threats but also non-traditional threats. Specifically, in addition to developing appropriate defense capabilities and maintaining and reinforcing the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements, it is important to continue to actively advance diplomatic efforts to enhance stable international relations with neighboring countries and efforts towards fostering peace and stability in the international community.

Based on such a perspective, in 2008, in addition to participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations (PKO) including dispatching officers of the Japan Self-Defense Forces to the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) Headquarters, resumption of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's replenishment support activities in the Indian Ocean, and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force's successful completion of its transportation assistance activities in Iraq, the Japanese government, holding the G8 presidency, actively engaged in various topics such as peacebuilding, disarmament and non-proliferation, international terrorism and international organized crime.

Ensuring the security of sea lanes, including those off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, in which efforts by Japan continue to be sought, is an issue directly linked to the existence and prosperity of Japan. With a view to ensuring the lives and property of Japanese citizens, Japan will provide cooperation towards strengthening maritime law enforcement capabilities and human resource development in coastal nations. Furthermore, as for its own measures to fight against piracy, Japan will further consider establishing new legal frameworks and swiftly take appropriate measures that can be taken under existing legal frameworks.

In October, Japan was elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The peace and stability of the international community are essential for promoting Japan's national interests, Japan will continue to work actively towards early realization of Security Council reform and will pursue Japan's permanent membership in the Council.

The international community at present faces numerous challenges. Japan will further expand its efforts in the aforementioned areas and develop an aggressive and proactive security policy.


Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements

The Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements have effectively functioned as the fundamental framework supporting stability and development in the Asia-Pacific region and brought peace and prosperity to Japan and the Far East since the end of World War II. At the same time, North Korea's ballistic missiles and nuclear issues demonstrate that elements of instability still exist in the Asia-Pacific region even after the end of the Cold War in situations surrounding the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait, among others. In order to ensure the peace and stability of Japan and the region, under such circumstances, it is critical that Japan further reinforces the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements together with its ally the United States.

The governments of Japan and the United States continue to hold a full range of consultations so as to further strengthen the Japan-US Security Arrangements, including consultations on the realignment of U.S. Forces, Japan. Furthermore, the fact that the United States has an unwavering commitment to carrying out its defense obligations towards Japan has been reconfirmed on repeated occasions.

In a telephone conversation held directly after the election of U.S. Senator Barack Obama as the next President of the U.S., Prime Minister Aso congratulated the President-elect and stated that strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance is the principle component of Japan's foreign policy. Prime Minister Aso also added that the two countries should cooperate closely on various challenges the international community faces. President-elect Obama responded that he would also like to work together with the Prime Minister on these issues and further strengthen the alliance.


Efforts to Counter and Eradicate Terrorism

Since the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, the international community has placed counter terrorism among its highest priorities. Counter-terrorism measures have been progressively strengthened in various fora such as the United Nations, the G8, and other multilateral frameworks, ASEAN, APEC, ASEM, and other regional cooperation bodies, as well as through bilateral cooperation.

Although the leadership of the international terrorist organization "Al-Qaeda" and other related groups has declined due to the international community's efforts to counter terrorism, their strength remains substantial.

In addition, the threat from extremist organizations worldwide influenced by the ideology and methodologies of this organization remains high even today. The year 2008 again saw a large number of terrorist attacks around the world, with Japanese nationals also affected by the threat of international terrorism. Terrorism is an issue affecting more than the safety of a nation and its citizens. Through its impact on investment, tourism, and trade, among other areas, it is an issue that has an enormous impact on the economy of our nation. Japan's fundamental position is that terrorism can be neither justified nor tolerated for any reason. The activities Japan had been conducting based on the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law (2001) were temporarily suspended when the law expired, but activities were resumed after the enactment of the Replenishment Support Special Measures Law in January. Furthermore, a revised law was enacted in December, extending the law for one year. Japan considers counter-terrorism as its own security issue, and through a broad range of approaches, such as providing assistance to other countries and strengthening international legal frameworks, Japan will continue to actively strengthen its counter-terrorism efforts in cooperation with the international community.


Maritime Security

Japan is a maritime state and trading nation that depends on maritime transportation for its imports of energy and food resources as well as much of its overseas trade. For Japan, ensuring maritime security, including safety of maritime navigation and countering terrorism and piracy, not only directly affects the existence and the prosperity of the nation, but is also crucial for the economic development of the region.

Japan is greatly concerned with the current rapid increase in the number of acts of piracy in its critical sea lanes connecting Europe and the Middle East with East Asia, including the Strait of Malacca, the area off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. In particular, vessels are under constant risk of being attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia, and the Japanese Shipowners' Association and the All Japan Seamen's Union made strong appeals to the government for the dispatch of naval vessels of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. While combating piracy is an issue of international concern, it is also an urgent matter from the point of view of protecting the lives and assets of Japanese citizens, which is one of the most important duties of the government.

As for Japan's anti-piracy measures, Japan has been providing compilations of safety information to maritime shipping companies and coordinating with like-minded nations concerning security, as well as providing various cooperation including the enhancement of maritime law-enforcement capabilities and the development of human resources in coastal countries.


Measures to Counter International Organized Crime

Trafficking in persons, drug-related crime, cyber crime, money laundering, and other cross-border organized crimes (international organized crime) are worsening further as a result of globalization, the sophistication of communications networks and an expansion in the movements of people. The United Nations, the G8, and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) among others, are engaged in intensive efforts to respond appropriately to these issues. Japan is actively involved in such international efforts to combat international organized crime, recognizing that international organized crime directly affects the safety and security of Japanese nationals, and that there is a need for the international community to respond in concert.


Regional Security

In the Asia-Pacific region, we have not yet developed a multilateral collective defense security mechanism similar to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Europe, due to factors such as the diversity of political and economic systems, cultures, and ethnicities. Instead, regional stability has been maintained primarily through various bilateral security arrangements centered on the United States. In Japan's view it is both practical and appropriate to improve and strengthen multilevel regional bilateral and multilateral dialogues, while securing the presence and engagement of the U.S. so as to realize a stable security environment surrounding Japan and to ensure peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. This is the core of the diplomatic efforts to ensure the stability of the international environment surrounding Japan.

The Government of Japan has engaged in security dialogues and defense exchanges through bilateral frameworks with neighboring countries. In this way, Japan has been making efforts to enhance mutual trust and foster cooperation in the security area.

As a multilateral approach, Japan has been making use of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), a political and security framework for the entire region in which major Asia-Pacific countries participate.


The United Nations

The international community of today faces many challenges which cannot be dealt with by individual countries or regions alone, such as climate change, terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, poverty, and infectious diseases. This has led the United Nations (UN) to assume an increasingly important role. In order to promote international cooperation centered on the United Nations, which is one of the major pillars of Japan's diplomatic policy, Japan is pursuing the early realization of UN reform, notably the reform of the Security Council, as well as contributing in terms of both personnel and finance to international organizations, including United Nations organizations, in order to enhance its national interests in the international community.

Japan was elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in October 2008 through the support of a large number of UN member states. This will be the tenth time for Japan to assume non-permanent membership, the most frequent among all UN member states. In serving its two-year term as a UNSC member starting in 2009, Japan intends to participate actively in UNSC discussions. Also, by playing a role commensurate with that of a country aiming to become a permanent member of the Council, Japan will further invigorate momentum towards the early realization of both Security Council reform and the achievement of its permanent membership in the Council.

As the understanding of the Japanese people regarding the role of the UN and Japan's efforts is essential for Japan to advance its diplomacy robustly through the UN and other international organizations, Japan will also actively undertake public relations activities.


Efforts towards Peacebuilding

There were many advances in efforts towards peacebuilding in 2008, both at the global level and domestically. Japan held the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) in May, at which the consolidation of peace was discussed as one of the priority areas. Japan also hosted the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July, at which "Peacekeeping/Peacebuilding" was taken up as one of the main themes in the area of Political Issues. At the Summit, Japan led an initiative to enhance military, police, and civilian peacebuilding capacity worldwide. In addition, Japan's own program in human resources development for peacebuilding has also taken root, and is to be further strengthened in the years to come. At the United Nations, Japan served as the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, and the Security Council as well is raising its awareness regarding peacebuilding issues.

Peacebuilding, that is, seamless efforts ranging from facilitating the peace process and maintenance of security, to reconstruction and development, with a view to preventing the recurrence of conflict, is one of the critical issues that the world faces today, along with the fight against terrorism and the prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Against this backdrop, both the quality and quantity of the efforts by the international community have been intensified in the areas of conflict prevention, peace mediation, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance, development of administrative institutions and reconstruction assistance.

The peace and stability of the international community are indispensable for Japan's further development. Based on this recognition, Japan considers peacebuilding to be one of its diplomatic priorities and has been making tangible efforts on the three pillars: efforts on the ground through contributions to such activities as UN peacekeeping operations (PKO), the provision of Official Development Assistance (ODA), and intellectual contributions and human resources development.

Photo:Japanese staff officer attending a meeting at the UNMIS Headquarters (December, Sudan; photo: Secretariat of the International Peace Cooperation Headquarters, Cabinet Office)

Japanese staff officer attending a meeting at the UNMIS Headquarters (December, Sudan; photo: Secretariat of the International Peace Cooperation Headquarters, Cabinet Office)


Disarmament and Non-proliferation (Including International Cooperation in Science and Technology and in the Field of Nuclear Energy)

Disarmament and non-proliferation are the issues that Japan should address as a member of the international community in order to develop a favorable security environment and to create a peaceful world. As the only state to have suffered the devastation of atomic bombings, Japan has consistently called for the maintenance and enhancement of the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime, aiming to attain a peaceful world free of conflicts and nuclear weapons.

In 2008, there continued to be a need for concerted action by the international community to address various types of challenges facing the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, including the nuclear issues of North Korea and Iran.

Japan's efforts to maintain and strengthen the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime included its efforts at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit; efforts contributing to the success of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), including the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, established as a joint initiative between Japan and Australia; and the submission of a draft nuclear disarmament resolution to the United Nations General Assembly. This draft resolution was adopted with overwhelming support from the largest number of countries ever.

Japan also made efforts towards reinforcing the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Furthermore, regarding disarmament and non-proliferation of conventional weapons, Japan has engaged in shaping, implementing, and strengthening international instruments as well as implementing and providing assistance for projects in clearance of anti-personal landmines and the collection of small arms and light weapons in affected countries.

As for science, while advancing bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the field of science and technology in general as well as nuclear energy, Japan has launched its "science and technology diplomacy" and "space diplomacy."

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