3. Diplomacy with the Support of the Public
In implementing foreign policies, it is crucial for the government to gain understanding and the support of the policies by the public. The public should be given explanations on foreign policies and the roles of the government specifically, clearly and timely. The Ministry makes every effort for this purpose by using various media, such as newspapers, magazines, TV and the Internet. Information technology has been advancing and influence of social media on civil society has been growing in recent years, which necessitates us to provide more information on Japan to the public more actively. The Ministry has elaborated strategies and frameworks for public diplomacy including on public relations, media relations, cultural and human exchanges and has been implementing them flexibly and effectively.
Press conferences are held almost every day by the Foreign Minister, the Parliamentary Senior Vice-Ministers for Foreign Affairs or the Press Secretary. Statements by the Foreign Minister or the Press Secretary are issued to express Japan’s positions on particular issues, and press releases to provide information on the Ministry’s activities. The Foreign Minister, the Parliamentary Senior Vice-Ministers, and the Parliamentary Vice-Ministers appear on TV and other media to talk about Japan’s foreign policies directly to the public.
The Ministry makes efforts to upload accurate information on its website (http://www.mofa.go.jp) and to enhance the contents. All of Japan’s embassies, missions to international organizations, and consulate-general offices opened their own websites by the end of the year 2011. The Ministry started Twitter (MofaJapan_jp) and Facebook (Mofa.Japan) in June 2011, recognizing that the social media recently has great influence on the public. It is important to provide information in various foreign languages. The Ministry runs its website in English, while overseas diplomatic missions provide in local languages.
The Ministry promotes public relations through dialogue with Japanese citizens. In addition to the speeches and lectures by the Foreign Minister, the Ministry officials present lectures and talk sessions at universities and senior high schools nationwide, hoping that younger generation will have more interest and knowledge in foreign policies. In September 2010, the Ministry launched issuing the journal titled “Diplomacy”, which is expected to stimulate discussions on foreign policies among the public. The Ministry invites comments and opinions from the public through its website and other media. It is another attempt to have better communications with the public.
In its efforts to promote further understanding and trust in diplomacy by the Japanese people, the Ministry formed the Committee for the Promotion of Declassification of the Diplomatic Historical Records with the participation of experts in May 2010. The Ministry is actively working on an expeditious transfer of the historical diplomatic records to the Diplomatic Archives and the declassification of these records. The declassification process has been accelerated since fall 2011 in particular. Furthermore, the Ministry is disclosing information pursuant to the Act on Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs, while giving due consideration to Japan’s security and relationship of mutual trust with other countries.
In the process of obtaining the forementioned public understanding and support while securing Japan's national interests in the international community and striving for the recovery and reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, what is important properly address various challenges is to further strengthen the foreign policy implementation structures to fully coordinate with a variety of stakeholders related to promote an “all-Japan” effective diplomacy.
To this end, it is necessary to make efficient and effective use of limited human, material, and financial resources while securing a sufficient budget and human resources required for the diplomatic activities. In this regards, based on the results announced following discussions in the Ministry’s task force on Japan’s overseas establishments in 2010, the Ministry has reviewed existing diplomatic establishments promoted more efficient and effective allocation of human resource as well as cost-cutting measures. At the same time, based on the recognition that it remains essential to strengthen the diplomatic structures, Japan has worked to open new diplomatic establishments with the aim of developing its foreign policy implementation structures on a par with those of other major countries. The Ministry is continuing to improve its system of diplomatic establishments strategically, bearing in mind the proposals made during the public hearing to review the government programs at the end of 2011.