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Japan's Efforts to Address Global Issues and International Cooperation


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 strengthen the strategic value of its international cooperation and enhance the effectiveness of its implementation under the new organization.

Specifically, the "Priority Policy and Regional Priority Issues for International Cooperation" for fiscal year 2008 set out the following as priorities in promoting international cooperation, in keeping with the discussions of the Overseas Economic Cooperation Council under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, the International Cooperation Planning Headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among others: (i) assistance to developing countries regarding environment and climate change issues; (ii) assistance to developing countries regarding the sharp rise in food prices; (iii) peacebuilding and the consolidation of peace, and reconstruction; (iv) the promotion of economic growth of developing countries and of Japan's economic prosperity; and (v) ensuring human security.

With a view to implementing Official Development Assistance (ODA) more effectively, in October 2008, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Overseas Economic Cooperation Operations (OECOs) of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) were integrated in order to form the new JICA as an agency conducting integrated implementation of the three types of aid schemes, namely technical cooperation, aid loans, and grant aid. Furthermore, in an effort to ensure resources and energy and also tackle environment and climate change issues, in April 2008, the government announced the "Public-Private Cooperation for Accelerated Growth," designed to strengthen cooperation with private enterprises still further. Public relations activities are actively underway both within Japan and overseas regarding such efforts by the Japanese government.

In 2008, Japan, holding the G8 presidency, hosted the G8 Development Ministers' Meeting in April and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July. This summit covered the environment and climate change, development and Africa, and other topics as the main themes, with the G8 stating its determination to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Prior to the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) was held in Yokohama in May, with active discussions on boosting economic growth, ensuring human security, and other topics, announcing the Yokohama Declaration, which addressed efforts and future directions for African development.

Japan is determined to continue to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world through active engagement in the development of developing countries and in global issues. It will also enhance its efforts to promote international cooperation in line with Japan's foreign policy and exercise leadership, particularly on African development, climate change, global health, and food security.

Photo:Children in front of the large-scale power station in Samawah constructed by Japan's grant aid (December 22, Samawah, Iraq)

Children in front of the large-scale power station in Samawah constructed by Japan's grant aid (December 22, Samawah, Iraq)


Climate Change and the Environment

Global environmental problems including climate change and the loss of biodiversity are a serious threat to the survival of humankind. Japan recognizes that conservation of the global environment is the responsibility of the present generation to the future of the earth and has been engaged in it as an important diplomatic issue. In particular, as a nation that is a global front runner in the fields of the environment and energy conservation, making use of its high level of technology, Japan has been leading efforts to address global environmental issues by assisting developing countries in the environmental field through ODA as well as by formulating international rules such as multilateral environmental agreements.

In serving as the chair of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit held in July 2008, Japan identified the environment and climate change as one of the main themes of the summit and led discussions to promote negotiations on the future framework to address climate change. It also helped to foster efforts in the areas of deforestation, biodiversity, the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle), and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

As for climate change issues, discussions on the framework after the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period, which ends in 2012, have been actively underway. Negotiations on this framework are to reach an agreement by 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, and Japan put forth a proposal on its fundamental approach under UN negotiations in September 2008.


Human Rights

Human rights and democracy are universal values. The sufficient development of these foundations in each country contributes to the establishment of a peaceful and prosperous society and therefore to the peace and security of the international community. At the United Nations, as a part of a movement to mainstream human rights advocated by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in which the perspective of human rights is emphasized in all UN activities, the importance of human rights was reaffirmed at the 2005 World Summit.

To that end, the UN General Assembly decided in March 2006 to establish the Human Rights Council in replacement of the Commission on Human Rights as a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly. Japan has been serving as a member of the Human Rights Council since its establishment in 2006. At the third election for the Council held in May 2008 upon the upcoming expiry of the members' term, Japan was re-elected as a member of the Council, obtaining the largest vote in the Asia Group with 155 votes.

Japan will strengthen its foreign policy for the promotion of human rights and democracy in a comprehensive manner, through the development of human rights and democratic foundations based on development assistance, and by linking efforts related to human rights and democracy in multilateral fora such as the UN, and efforts in bilateral fora through human rights dialogues and development assistance.


The "Rule of Law" in the International Community

Japan has set the promotion of the "rule of law" in the international community as a pillar of its diplomatic policies and has actively engaged in various efforts towards this end. The establishment of the "rule of law" in the international community brings stability to relations between nations and constitutes an essential foundation to ensure dynamic private and corporate activities at the international level.

Japan endeavors to secure its territorial and maritime interests, as well as the security and prosperity of Japanese citizens. To achieve this end, it is important for Japan to participate proactively, from the conceptual stage onwards, in the day-to-day formulation of international rules and the codification of international customary law regarding politics and security, economics, human rights, the environment, and other areas, and also to reflect Japan's principles and assertions appropriately into the structure of international law. Japan is participating actively in the codification work being undertaken by the International Law Commission (ILC) and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Sixth Committee, the drafting of conventions in the area of private international law at fora such as the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), as well as in discussions on the framework convention beyond 2012 to address climate change and in the creation or improvement of rules at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Implementing the international rules formed in the above fora and peacefully resolving conflicts in accordance with international law comprise another aspect of the rule of law in the international community. The appropriate implementation of international agreements that Japan has concluded helps to maintain continuity and consistency in Japanese diplomacy and holds great significance in increasing trust in Japanese diplomacy. Japan attaches importance to the roles of the various types of international judicial bodies, and strongly supports the dynamic activities and universalization of these bodies, including through the contribution of human resources, such as judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the ICC, and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). In addition to this, Japan is making efforts towards the active utilization of international tribunals in its diplomacy, including the WTO dispute settlement mechanism.

In February 2009, Judge Hisashi Owada of the ICJ became the first Japanese to be elected as President of the Court. Judge Owada is expected to play an even greater role at the Court.

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