2. Supporting Japanese Nationals and Companies Overseas
The annual number of Japanese traveling abroad has reached the level of approximately 16.64 million (2010). The number of Japanese living abroad2 has also reached about 1.14 million (as of October 2010) and it has been increasing year by year. A large number of Japanese nationals are active in many fields in the world. This results in increasing and diversifying risks and dangers to Japanese abroad. Protecting their lives, safety, and interests are one of the most important missions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We implement various measures to assure the safety and security of Japanese abroad.
The Ministry swiftly collects and provides wide-ranging information concerning the safety and security of Japanese abroad, including information on accidents and crimes such as terrorist attacks, and kidnapping, wars and conflicts, natural disasters, and the spread of infectious diseases. The Ministry also calls on individual Japanese national to raise their awareness of risk management and to have one’s own safety measures. Meanwhile, the Ministry continuously seeks enhanced measures to provide effective and prompt services to utmost extent in cases where Japanese nationals are involved in dangers.
In addition to providing fundamental administrative services such as issuing passports and various types of certificates and handling overseas voting through Japanese diplomatic missions (embassies and consulate-generals) in each country, the Ministry supports the daily lives of Japanese residing overseas by activities such as giving assistance to Japanese schools and supplementary education schools and provides medical and healthcare-related information to Japanese residing overseas. These measures (consular services) are important services for Japanese people and enterprises conducting or expanding their activities overseas.
Furthermore, the Ministry supports Japanese immigrants and their descendants abroad since they have been contributing to the development of their countries of residence help strengthen bilateral ties between Japan and those countries as “bridges” and they play very important roles for Japan to advance diplomacy as an open country.
Amid the changing international economic environment with the advance of globalization and the rise of emerging economies, it is extremely important for Japan to link overseas growth, particularly in Asia, to that of Japan. The government needs to actively support Japanese enterprises in areas, such as deploying integrated infrastructure systems and addressing import restrictions introduced in various countries after the Great East Japan Earthquake. The Ministry is gathering opinions widely from Japanese enterprises on issues they are facing overseas through its diplomatic missions and other channels and is responding to their inquiries and requests. Furthermore, the Ministry also holds dialogues and discussions on regulatory reforms and improvements to the business environment with different countries and calls for improvements in these countries and regions.
To support the activities of Japanese individuals and enterprises overseas, it is also important to develop the legal infrastructures governing economic cooperation relationships with other countries. The Ministry works toward improving the use and operation of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) taking into consideration of requests from Japanese enterprises overseas, and it conducts periodic reviews of how EPAs are implemented. The Ministry is also making progress in conclusion of investment agreements to protect, promote, and liberalize investment, tax treaties to avoid double taxation, and social security agreements to resolve the problems of duplicate social insurance contributions to two countries and of dual contributions. Furthermore, as part of the initiative to establish Japan as an intellectual property-based country, the Ministry is working to strengthen protection of the intellectual property rights of Japanese enterprises by conducting activities such as reaching out to other countries through both bilateral and multilateral consultations, based on the complaints from Japanese enterprises that are damaged by counterfeit and pirated goods