Contents | Back | Next

CHAPTER 1 : Overview

International Situation and Japanese Diplomacy in 2009

Chapter 1 reviews Japan�s foreign policy in 2009, in recognition that in order to evaluate the current state of the international situation as well as Japanese external relations and to form an accurate perspective of the era we live in, it is important to analyze specific developments by focusing on major transitions in the international order that have occurred since the turn of the century.


Changes in International Frameworks

The world entered a period of transition in history with the end of the Cold War in 1991. The ideological confrontation between the East and the West was replaced by the increasingly diverse and complex formulae that now govern international relations. In addition, the relative importance of global issues in the international relations has increased rapidly with globalization and advance in communications technology. Such changes have prompted the changes in the fora in which international agenda are discussed. For example, the meeting of the industrialized nations known as the G7 evolved into the G8 with the participation of Russia, with outreach meetings organized as frameworks for dialogue with heads of governments from Africa and elsewhere.

Recent years have seen the rise of the emergent nations, most notable example being the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) with their remarkable economic growth, and these nations now account for a growing share of the global economy. While the capacity for growth in industrialized nations is limited, Asia is gaining stature as a center of economic growth since Asian countries were among the first to extricate themselves from the impacts of the global economic and financial crisis and are now on the path to recovery. Efforts are now underway to restructure consensus-building and decision-making mechanisms in the international community.

In this context, holding of the G20 summit and the decision to hold the meetings on a regular basis is a development worthy of note in 2009. In response to the global economic and financial crisis, the G20 summits, with the participation from major economies including emerging nations and industrialized nations, were held in Washington D.C., in November 2008, in London in April 2009 and in Pittsburgh in September 2009. These summits played a vital role in responding to the global crisis through international policy coordination which also involved emerging nations. In Pittsburgh, participating governments designated the G20 to be the premier forum for international economic cooperation and agreed to meet annually. G20 is a framework with a wider range of representation in comparison with, for example, G8 in that it has the participation of emerging nations. Individual interests of the participating countries are that much more diverse and the effectiveness of the group as a framework for discussion is likely to vary from theme to theme.

On the issue of climate change, conflicting interest among nations resulted in occasional interruptions in the deliberations during the Fifteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP15) held in December. In addition to the traditional disputes between developed and developing nations, differences became apparent among developing nations, between island countries most vulnerable to damage from rising sea levels caused by global warming and emerging nations expected to shoulder new responsibilities. Although the Copenhagen Accord, which will be the basis for the legal framework of the future, was finally reached through the negotiation among the leaders of the major countries, the adoption was not unanimous and the episode brought to the fore the difficulty of building international consensus with unanimity on issues involving a maze of intricate national interests.


Advancements in Regional Cooperation

With advent of the 21st century, international relations are becoming increasingly diverse and complicated. While globalization is going on, there is also a trend toward cooperation and integration on a regional level in attempt to enhance competitiveness and presence. The enlargement and enrichment of the European Union (EU), the accelerated efforts by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) toward formation of a community, the establishment of the African Union (AU), and the propagation of free trade agreements in different regions are a few examples of this trend.

Looking back at the developments in 2009, the Treaty of Lisbon amending the basic Treaty on European Union, took effect in December. This treaty enriches institutional integration of Europe through measures such as establishing key posts including the President of the European Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy as the �faces� of the EU.

Japan intends to actively contribute to the strengthening of the regional cooperation. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has put forward the initiative for an �East Asian community� as a long-term vision and advocated the steady advancement of open and transparent regional cooperation in trade and investment, finance, environment, education, activities to promote �life sustenance and culture� and other areas where such cooperation is possible. Japan chairs the 2010 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings and will pursue coordinated efforts toward a successful APEC and creation of a new vision for the Asia Pacific, coordinating closely with the United States, which will chair the 2011 APEC.


The Expanding Role of Non-state Actors

The role of non-state actors operating across international borders has grown significantly in the post-Cold War world, prompted by information revolution coupled with innovations in communications technology. In particular, globalization of the economy has enhanced the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the influence of corporations. In the background of the recent global economic and financial crisis was the presence of worldwide financial institutions which have increasingly broadened their operations across international borders in the past few years.

In recognition of the role of NGOs in the field of climate change, NGO officials were invited to join the Japanese government delegation for the first time at the COP15 in December 2009. As the role of NGOs in addressing global issues expands, collaboration between the government and NGOs will become increasingly important.


Arrival of a New Era of Cooperation

Advent of the 21st century is marked by increasingly conspicuous need for the international community to work in close cooperation to address global issues such as climate change.

In 2009, the international community entered a new era of cooperation characterized by heightened expectation for concerted international efforts to meet global challenges, the inauguration of President Barack Obama being among the elements contributing to it. Of the global issues, particularly noteworthy are climate change and nuclear disarmament/non-proliferation.

(1) Climate Change

Climate change is a threat to humanity. No one nation can resolve it alone but instead it requires a concerted effort of the international community. It is imperative to establish an international framework that includes not only the industrialized nations, but other major countries such as the emerging countries which have been releasing an increasing amount of greenhouse gases in recent years. Intense debates took place during the COP15 in December concerning the establishment of the next framework for 2013 and beyond. In the end, the conference produced a certain level of progress as summit-level consultation and drafting resulted in taking note of �the Copenhagen Accord�.

During the United Nations General Assembly in September, Prime Minister Hatoyama announced an ambitious target for a greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 25% by 2020, if compared to the 1990 level, premised on the formation of a fair and effective international framework by all major economies and agreement on their ambitious targets. Furthermore, at the same General Assembly, the Prime Minister unveiled the �Hatoyama Initiative� regarding assistance to developing countries and specific details of this program were released at the COP15. Under the Initiative, Japan will provide assistance to developing countries in the amount of about US$15 billion in total up to 2012, including 11 billion in public financing. Prime Minister Hatoyama also participated actively in negotiations at the COP15 and contributed to the formulation of the Copenhagen Accord. Japan will continue to cooperate with other nations, exert leadership and seize the initiative in international negotiations toward adoption of a new legal document which establishes a fair and effective international framework at the COP16 to be held in Mexico in 2010.

Prime Minister Hatoyama addressing at the opening session of the United Nations Summit on Climate Change (September 22, New York, USA; photo: Cabinet Public Office Relations Office, Cabinet Secretariat)

Prime Minister Hatoyama addressing at the opening session of the United Nations Summit on Climate Change (September 22, New York, USA; photo: Cabinet Public Office Relations Office, Cabinet Secretariat)

(2) Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

2009 saw a ground swell of international aspiration for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation with the speech by President Obama in April calling for a �world without nuclear weapons� as a source of inspiration. Japan has consistently worked for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation because it regards these objectives as priorities for improving the security environment and achieving global peace. In 2009, Japan played a leading role in maintaining and strengthening the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime based on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

In September, The UN Security Council Summit on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament for the first time in history and Prime Minister Hatoyama represented Japan on the occasion. The meeting resulted in the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1887 which addresses a wide range of elements including nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the peaceful use of nuclear energy and nuclear security (i.e. prevention of nuclear terrorism). Japan is also reinforcing its efforts in these fields. In December, the Draft Resolution on Nuclear Disarmament which Japan has been submitting to the UN General Assembly every year was adopted by an overwhelming majority. The United States, which had opposed such proposal for the last eight years, decided to support the resolution as a co-sponsor country. In the same month, Yukiya Amano, Ambassador in charge of Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Energy, assumed the office of Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as the first Japanese and Asian to do so.

A nuclear security summit and an NPT review conference are scheduled for 2010, which makes the year an important one in terms of consolidating the momentum toward a �world without nuclear weapons�. Japan will play a meaningful role in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation through enhanced discussion with countries concerned.


Diversified Sources of Security Threats

One notable change in the international environment following the end of the Cold War is the increase in the incidence of international terrorism and piracy. In 2009, Japan, in its response to the threat of terrorism, continued to provide assistance to Afghanistan and Pakistan and to implement measures to address the issue of piracy which has become the focus of attention as a problem facing the international community as a whole due to the rising number of cases in the area off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden.

While we see situations emerging with which traditional international relations governing state to state interactions are not able to cope effectively, there continue to exist conventional threats to security. Subsequently, the international community actively responded to such threats as the missile launches and nuclear tests by North Korea, which are serious threats to the safety of Japan, as well as the issue of Iran�s nuclear development program.

(1) Responding to the Threat of Terrorism

The Afghan government and the international community are cooperating in efforts to eradicate terrorism in Afghanistan. However, as can been seen in the region bordering Pakistan, the security situation in Afghanistan continues to be precarious. In response to these circumstances, the international community is bolstering assistance and the Obama administration announced its new strategy in December, pledging military reinforcements for the goal of transferring responsibilities to Afghanistan, enhancing of civil assistance and collaboration with Pakistan. This initiative was followed by 25 nations, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states, announcing their intention to send additional forces.

To actively contribute to efforts toward resolving the issues of Afghanistan and Pakistan, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada travelled to both countries in October, immediately after his appointment in September. He visited aid project sites to grasp what form of assistance is necessary. On the basis of this ministerial visit in November Japan announced its �New Strategy to Counter the Threat of Terrorism.� Japan announced its intention to provide assistance to Afghanistan up to an amount of US$5 billion in about five years from 2009, in which main areas of assistance are enhancement of Afghanistan�s own capability to maintain security, reintegration of former Taliban soldiers and sustainable and self reliant development. For Pakistan, Japan pledged, at the Pakistan Donors Conference held in Tokyo in April, assistance of up to US$1 billion over the next two years and confirmed that it will fully implement this assistance in the aforementioned New Strategy released in November. The April meeting succeeded in raising over US$5 billion in financial support from participating nations and institutions, an amount exceeding the US$4 billion requested by the Pakistani government.

As nations proceeded to support antiterrorism and aid efforts for Afghanistan and Pakistan, an attempt to blow up an American airliner occurred in December. It was found that the suspect had received training in Yemen, attracting international attention to this country from counterterrorism perspective. Two international conferences were held in London in January 2010: one on the topic of Afghanistan and the other on Yemen. These developments indicate how counterterrorism continues to be an urgent priority for the international community.

(2) Measures to Combat Piracy on the Coast of Somalia

Due to the lack of government exercising effective control over its entire territory in Somalia, the number of pirates and attacks on ships sailing through Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia, a vital waterway for shipping, has increased in recent years. To crack down on these acts of piracy, nations concerned have deployed naval vessels to escort commercial vessels travelling through this area.

In addition to anti-piracy measures by the Self-Defence Forces and the Japan Coast Guard, Japan is also engaged in multi-tiered efforts such as assistance to stabilize the situation in Somalia that is the root cause of the piracy issues well as to upgrade the maritime policing capabilities of surrounding nations. Japan is playing an important role in international cooperation in this field, serving, for example, as the president of the 4th meeting of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia in September, which was established in January as part of a framework for international cooperation based on a UN Security Council resolution.

(3) North Korea

Missile launches and nuclear tests by North Korea destabilized the security environment surrounding Japan in 2009.

Although relevant nations including Japan called for restraint, North Korea forcibly carried out a missile launch in April and also conducted a nuclear test in May. Japan immediately protested against these actions on the part of North Korea. Following the missile launch in April, the UN Security Council adopted a presidential statement in the same month. In response to the nuclear test in May, the Security Council adopted resolution 1874 in June condemning North Korea. Reacting against these measures by the international community, North Korea resorted to provocative actions such as launching several ballistic missiles in July.

Toward verifiable and irreversible denuclearization by North Korea through the Six-Party Talks, Japan will consult closely with the relevant nations and will implement measures based on the UN Security Council resolutions as well as measures of its own initiative.

(4) Iran

Along with North Korea, Iran�s nuclear development program became the focus of attention from the international community in 2009. The Obama administration came into office in January intent on resolving this issue through dialogue with Iran. It was then discovered in September that Iran was constructing a new uranium enrichment facility. In October, talks between Iran and the EU 3 (the United Kingdom, France and Germany) + 3 (the U.S., Russia and China) resumed for the first time in a year. During these talks, the parties were said to have reached an agreement regarding transport of low-enriched uranium outside Iran but no progress was made subsequent to the meeting, and the situation remains unpredictable.

As a member of the international community, Japan continues to engage Iran on the basis of our unique relationship with the country with the aim of achieving a diplomatic resolution of this issue in close consultation with the major countries concerned.



As described in this chapter, the security environment surrounding Japan continues to present uncertain and unstable elements even after the Cold War. To maintain peace and security, while improving its own defence capabilities, Japan must maintain the Japan-U.S. alliance as cornerstone of its foreign policy and deepen it further as a common good providing not only for the defence of Japan but also for the peace and prosperity of the Asia Pacific region. From this perspective, looking toward the future 30 to 50 years from now and in an effort to reaffirm the role to be played by the Japan-U.S. alliance, Foreign Minister of Japan and the Secretary of State of the United States agreed at their meeting held in Hawaii in January 2010, which marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Japan-U.S. Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, to initiate a process of consultation for further deepening of the Japan-U.S. alliance.

In this day and age, the international community is confronting a wide range of global issues. Japan must live up to the world�s expectations by playing a more active role and exerting leadership in efforts to resolve these issues. This calls for a robust foreign policy supported by the understanding and trust of the nation.

From this standpoint, Foreign Minister Okada ordered an investigation into the so-called �secret agreements� controversy on the day of his appointment in September. On March 9, 2010, the results of this investigation were released along with a report from the Expert Committee. The Ministry will, on the basis of this exercise, seek to regain the trust of the nation toward its conduct of foreign policy and to carry out a diplomacy that is always with the nation.

Text File