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Regional Diplomacy


Asia and the Pacific

The realization of an Asia-Pacific region that is prosperous, stable and open Asia-Pacific region is indispensable for the peace, security and prosperity of Japan. Japan will proactively promote diplomacy vis-�-vis Asia based on the solid Japan-U.S. alliance, and as a long-term vision put forward the initiative for an East Asian community.

As the main pillar of Japan�s diplomatic efforts in Asia, the East Asian community initiative aims to build a regional community in East Asia through the accumulation of open and highly transparent regional cooperation, starting from such possible areas as trade and investment, finance, environment, energy, disaster relief, education, people-to-people exchanges, infectious disease control, etc. In that process, Japan intends to make use of existing frameworks for regional cooperation, including the East Asia Summit (EAS), Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)+3 (Japan, China and the Republic of Korea (ROK)), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and APEC in a multilayered and flexible manner. Rather than dwelling too much on the question of which country should join which framework, it is believed important for Japan to steadily carry out concrete cooperation with the countries that are ready for such cooperation, thereby developing many layers of networks of functional communities. Prime Minister Hatoyama explained these ideas in a speech he delivered in Singapore in November regarding Japan�s Asian policy. As examples of areas to be emphasized in the immediate future, he cited �cooperation for prosperity together,� �cooperation for saving a green Asia,� �cooperation for the protection of human lives,� �cooperation for in building a �sea of fraternity,�� and people-to-people exchanges such as youth exchange. Japan is determined to deepen cooperation with Asia in these areas in the years to come.

One of the most salient aspects of Asia is its economic clout. With ASEAN+6 (Japan, China, ROK, India, Australia and New Zealand) representing 23% of the world�s GDP and APEC 53%, and with both figures rising, this region draws public attention as the �the growth center of the world.� Economic recoveries in Asia�s emerging economies in the wake of the worldwide economic and financial crises, among other developments, have helped drive the world economy. Also, as a result of economic growth, this region is expected to see a dramatic increase in its middle-class population. If Japan is to continue steady growth despite its aging population and falling birth rate, it is important to promote dynamic development in Asia by utilizing Japan�s funds, technology, and knowledge, thereby translating the dramatic increase in �Asia�s domestic demand� into growth for Japan. While regional integration has been making progress in the real economy, numerous obstacles to regional integration and many barriers to growth remain. Ensuring the smooth flow of people, goods and capital, and contributing to the reduction and elimination of barriers to growth by such measures as development of infrastructure, will greatly benefit Japan, Asia, and the entire world.

Meanwhile, common regional challenges such as environment and climate change, natural disasters, and H1N1 influenza have emerged. Moreover, as indicated by North Korea�s missile launches and nuclear test in 2009, the regional security environment including the Korean Peninsula remains unpredictable. Under these circumstances, the United States presence in Asia plays an important role in ensuring peace and prosperity of Asia, including Japan. This is the greatest reason that Japan continues to regard the Japan-U.S. alliance as the linchpin of Japan�s foreign policy. Initiative for an East Asian community also presupposes this bilateral alliance. Against this backdrop, Japan will steadily promote regional cooperation by enhancing its partnership with the U.S., which based on increased emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region, and strengthening its engagement in the region.

Relations with our neighbouring countries, namely the ROK and China, are important. Japan, China and the ROK will strengthen relations at all levels, including at the summit and foreign ministerial levels, and promote cooperation in areas such as environment, economy and university exchange by taking advantage of opportunities such as trilateral summit meetings.

Japan attaches particular importance to ASEAN in its regional cooperation in Asia. ASEAN upheld the �enhancing connectivity of ASEAN� during its 15th summit held in Thailand in October 2009, thereby accelerating efforts toward further integration with the aim of establishing an ASEAN Community by 2015. Based on the understanding that a more closely integrated ASEAN functioning as a hub of regional cooperation is important for the stability and prosperity of Japan, ASEAN and all of East Asia, Japan announced its active commitment to measures toward the narrowing the development gaps and the enhancing connectivity during the 12th Japan-ASEAN Summit held in the same month. Moreover, during the First Meeting between the Heads of Governments of Japan and the Mekong region countries in Tokyo in November, initiatives in the fields of development, environment/climate change, etc. for narrowing the regional gap, one of the major challenges in promoting ASEAN integration, were announced, and these initiatives have been steadily put into action.

In the area of economic partnership, network of Free Trade Area (FTAs) is developing around a core of ASEAN is developing. In 2008, the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP) Agreement, Japan�s first such multilateral agreement, entered into force. Moreover, at the ASEAN-related summit meetings held in October, it was decided that studies on East Asian Free Trade Agreement (EAFTA) comprising the members of ASEAN+3 and Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia (CEPEA) comprising the members of EAS (ASEAN+6) should be transformed from a Track Two stage to an intergovernmental stage.

During the 17th APEC Summit held in Singapore in November, APEC leaders adopted a statement entitled �A New Growth Paradigm for a Connected Asia-Pacific in the 21st Century.� In the statement, APEC leaders agreed to pursue balanced, inclusive and sustainable growth to ensure a durable economic recovery. They also agreed to explore, within the APEC Framework, building blocks towards a possible Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) in the future.

Japan-Korea Exchange Festival 2009 in Tokyo (September 20, Tokyo; photo: the Organizational Committee of the Japan-Korea Exchange Festival)

Japan-Korea Exchange Festival 2009 in Tokyo (September 20, Tokyo; photo: the Organizational Committee of the Japan-Korea Exchange Festival)

Bilateral relationships function as a foundation of such regional cooperation and are a vital pillar of Japanese diplomacy in Asia. The ROK is Japan�s closest country geographically and also an important neighbour with whom Japan enjoys extremely close relations in various areas, including politics, economy, and culture. The ROK, like Japan, is an ally of the U.S., and also shares with Japan fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, and fundamental human rights. Facing history squarely, Japan will enhance the future-oriented relations with the ROK as mature partners through such approaches as �shuttle diplomacy�. Bilateral summit events in 2009 include the Japan-ROK summit in the ROK in January, a summit meeting in New York in September after inauguration of the new government, and the summit talks during Prime Minister Hatoyama�s visit to the ROK in October as his first official trip overseas. In terms of the economy, both countries continue to be important partners, with the ROK being Japan�s third greatest trading partner (and Japan being the ROK�s second greatest trading partner). To further strengthen close bilateral economic relations, Japan will continue its efforts toward resumption of the Japan-ROK Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations.

Against the backdrop of its rapid economic growth, China enjoys heightened political and economic presence in the international community, including East Asia. China�s steady development in harmony with the international community provides opportunities for Japan and other countries in the region; therefore, China is expected to play more responsible roles in the international arena. In 2009, Japan continued to hold summit meetings with China on many occasions, including various international conferences, thereby ensuring closer communication between the leaders of the two countries. The two countries� leaders have also agreed to jointly address various outstanding issues that the region and international community face in a way that further enhances and helps to materialize a �Mutually Beneficial Relationship Based on Common Strategic Interests.� Meanwhile, efforts need to be continued with respect to concerns involving the two countries, including food safety and resource development in the East China Sea.

In Japan�s relations with Mongolia, two Japan-Mongolia Foreign Ministers� meetings were held, in addition to Japan-Mongolia Summit talks in Tokyo in July. Through these steps, efforts have been made to further strengthen trust-based bilateral relations through active high-level dialogues. Also, in a bid to enhance economic relations between the two countries, which is one of the major bilateral issues, Japan and Mongolia have also taken steps to establish a �Comprehensive Partnership,� including conclusion of an agreement to hold working-level intergovernmental consultations toward the inauguration of private-public joint research on economic partnership agreements (EPAs).

As for North Korea, Japan�s basic policy is to seek to normalize its relations with North Korea through the comprehensive resolution of outstanding issues of concern including the abduction, nuclear and missile issues and the settlement of the unfortunate past between the two parties, in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration. Under this policy, the Government of Japan has been making its utmost efforts to achieve progress in both the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and Japan-North Korea bilateral relations, including the abduction issue.

Under these circumstances, North Korea launched a missile in April in defiance of calls by Japan and other countries concerned to abandon the plan, and conducted a nuclear test in May. Japan promptly protested to North Korea�s actions, which were utterly intolerable. Japan is committed to working closely with other countries concerned through the Six-Party Talks to achieve North Korea�s abandonment of the its nuclear programs in a verifiable and irreversible manner as early as possible. At the same time, Japan will steadily implement measures based on the U.N. Security Council Resolutions as well as Japan�s own measures. With regard to the abduction issue, despite Japan�s repeated demands for North Korea�s launching of a thorough investigation into the abduction as agreed during the Japan-North Korea Working-Level Consultations in August 2008, North Korea has yet to launch the investigation (as of the end of February 2010). While maintaining a close cooperation and collaboration with other countries concerned through the Six-Party Talks and other diplomatic opportunities, Japan will sincerely engage in bilateral talks with North Korea and urge North Korea to take concrete actions toward the resolution of the outstanding issues of concern, including the abduction issue.

Embracing India, the world�s largest democracy, South Asia has been steadily increasing its presence in recent years due to its regional population of roughly 1.5 billion and the high economic growth enjoyed throughout the region. There is no negative historical legacy in South Asia�s relations with Japan, and many countries in the region have traditionally been pro-Japan, supporting Japan in elections at international institutions and on numerous other occasions. Furthermore, the region is geographically important to Japan because of its location in the sea lanes connecting Asia and the Middle East. Therefore, it is vital for Japan to foster close cooperative relations with this region. In Japan�s relations with India, one of the emerging global powers, leaders� visits to each other�s countries have taken place annually since 2005. In December 2009, Prime Minister Hatoyama visited India, during which he and Prime Minister Singh of India affirmed that both countries would cooperate with each other in a broad range of areas, including security and the economy, thereby further strengthening and stepping up the bilateral �Strategic and Global Partnership.� Meanwhile, South Asia still faces challenges in such areas as democratization, peacebuilding and counter-terrorism measures. In Sri Lanka, government forces virtually wiped out the separatist organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), putting an end to the civil war. In spite of such a positive development, the terrorism situation in South Asia has shown little sign of improvement, with the number of terrorist victims reaching an all-time high in Pakistan. The stability of Pakistan is one of the most vital issues for the entire international community. In this regard, in April 2009 Japan hosted the Pakistan Donors Conference and in November announced a new assistance package to Afghanistan and Pakistan as a new strategy to support counter-terrorism. Moreover, in acknowledging the importance of South Asia, Japan engages in proactive diplomacy in multilateral frameworks and also actively supports the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), placing emphasis on democratization and peacebuilding, promotion of regional connectivity, and people-to-people exchanges, as the three pillars of its support efforts.

Australia and New Zealand are Japan�s important partners in the Asia-Pacific region with shared basic values. In particular, Japan has developed its partnership with Australia from a bilateral relationship focused on the economy into a strategic partnership aimed at ensuring peace and stability of the international community. In this process, the two countries, both U.S. allies, have deepened their security cooperation as well.

Many Pacific island countries enjoy friendly relationships with Japan and are important partners for Japan in terms of cooperation in the international community and supply of marine resources. In May, leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) met in Hokkaido for the Fifth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM5). At the meeting, various measures to strengthen ties between Japan and Pacific island countries were ironed out, including a three-year assistance package worth �50 billion.

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