Diplomatic Bluebook 2014 Summary
Japan’s Foreign Policy that Takes a PanoramicPerspective of the World Map
1. Asia and Oceania
The stature and importance of the Asia–Oceania region has risen significantly in recent years. It is home to many of the emerging countries, boasts a high rate of economic growth, and is blessed with an abundance of human resources. The Asia–Oceania region is a world growth center and has been enhancing its presence in the global economy. Of the world’s population of 7 billion, approximately 3.4 billion live in East Asia Summit (EAS) member states 2 (excluding the U.S. and Russia). This represents 48.3% 3 of the world’s population. The combined nominal GDP of ASEAN member states, China and India grew 370%4 over the last 10 years, as compared with the world average of 110%. Total exports and imports of EAS member states (excluding the U.S. and Russia) is US$10.5 trillion, making it the second largest market behind the EU (US$11.3 trillion). Of these exports and imports, 43.3% 5 are intra-regional, illustrating the close economic ties between these nations and their high degree of economic interdependence. In recent years, Japanese-led foreign investment has enabled development of closely integrated supply chains that extend across the entire region. As the middle class expands, overall purchasing power is expected to rise sharply. This will support strong economic growth within the region, and the huge demand for infrastructure and massive purchasing power of this large middle class will also help to bring renewed affluence and vitality to Japan. Realizing affluence and stability throughout Asia and Oceania is indispensable for Japan’s peace and prosperity.
In contrast to the favorable economic growth climate, the security environment surrounding Japan within the Asia–Oceania region is becoming increasingly severe. North Korea continues its nuclear and missile development and engages in provocation; countries in the region are modernizing their military forces in a manner that lacks transparency, and are trying to change the status quo through the use of force or coercion; and tensions within the region are growing over maritime issues, including issues in the South China Sea. Other factors hindering the stable growth of the region include immature financial markets, environmental pollution, limited supplies of food and energy, and aging populations.
- 2 ASEAN (member states: Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos), Japan, China, the ROK, India, Australia, and New Zealand.
- 3 World Bank (WB) World Development Indicators.
- 4 WB World Development Indicators
- 5 International Monetary Fund (IMF) Direction of Trade Statistics May 2012
As the security environment in the Asia–Pacific region becomes increasingly severe, the Japan–U.S. Alliance as the linchpin of Japan’s diplomacy has become more important than ever. Against this background, Japan therefore welcomes the continued implementation of the United States’ rebalancing toward the Asia– Pacific, as this contributes greatly to the stability and prosperity of the region. Japan continues to closely cooperate with the United States in a wide range of areas including security and economy, in order to maintain the rule of law in this region, not the rule by force.
In recent years, China has achieved rapid economic development while facing a variety of social and economic challenges, and has significantly enhanced its presence within the international community in various fields. The entire international community, including Japan, welcomes the development of China as a responsible, peace-loving nation. However, China’s moves to strengthen its military capabilities without sufficient transparency, and its increased maritime activities are causing concern in the entire region. Japan and China are neighbors separated by the East China Sea, and have cultivated a very close relationship, with mutually interdependent economies and frequent people-to-people and cultural exchanges. At the same time there are a number of political and social differences between the two countries, and precisely because of their close relationship it is inevitable that frictions and confrontations should sometimes occur.
With regard to the Senkaku Islands, these islands are clearly an inherent part of the territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law. Indeed, they are under the valid control of Japan. There exists no issue of territorial sovereignty to be resolved concerning the Senkaku Islands. Japan conducted a series of field surveys of the Senkaku Islands beginning in 1885, and after ascertaining that there was no trace of their having been under the control of another state including the Qing Dynasty of China, the Senkaku Islands were formally incorporated into the territory of Japan in January 1895. Later, with the permission from the Japanese Government, private enterprises were established on the islands, engaging in activities such as the processing of dried bonito, and the islands counted more than 200 inhabitants at one point. After World War II, the San Francisco Peace Treaty placed the Senkaku Islands under the administration of the U.S. as a part of Okinawa. In 1895, when Japan acquired sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands by lawful means under the international legal framework which existed at that time, and until the 1970s, after the potential existence of oil reserves in the East China Sea was reported, China made no objections whatsoever regarding Japan’s sovereignty over the Senkakus. Moreover, China has offered no explanation as to why it failed to raise any such objections during this period.
Since September 2012, with the exception of periods of severe weather, China has sent government-owned vessels around Senkaku Islands on an almost daily basis. From January through December 2013 China’s government-owned vessels intruded into Japanese territorial waters 52 times (involving a total of 180 vessels), and on one occasion in August remained in Japanese territorial waters for over 28 hours, China’s longest intrusion to date.
Japan is firmly resolved to defend its territorial land, sea and air space, and continues, through diplomatic channels, to lodge strong protests and to demand the withdrawal of Chinese vessels from these waters. Given this situation, in order to prevent unforeseen contingencies Japan has proposed the early deployment of a Maritime Communication Mechanism, involving the defense authorities of both countries, but as of yet China has not accepted this proposal. Further, on November 23, the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China announced that it had established the “East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone.” The announcement unilaterally obliges aircraft flying in international airspace to abide by Chinese domestic procedures, and refers to “defensive emergency measures” that would be taken in case such aircraft do not follow those procedures. The announced measures unduly infringe the freedom of flight in international airspace, which is the general principle of international law. In addition, the so-called “zone” established by the Chinese Ministry of National Defense makes it appear as if the airspace over the Senkaku Islands, which is an inherent part of the territory of Japan, were a part of China’s “territorial airspace.” Such a representation is completely unacceptable. The Government of Japan has expressed its concerns about these issues by issuing a statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and immediately made strong protests to China, demanding that China revoke all measures interfering with the freedom of flight in international airspace. Japan will continue to deal firmly but in a calm manner with China’s attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo by coercive measures, and will urge China not to allow the situation to escalate.
In spite of these difficulties, Japan’s relationship with China represents one of Japan’s most important bilateral relationships. Although after the transfer of ownership of three of the Senkaku Islands to the Government of Japan September 2012, tensions between Japan and China affected economic relations in various ways, relations in the economic field and the number of Chinese visitors to Japan began to recover during the second half of 2013. In terms of people-to-people exchanges as well, Japan has been endeavoring to build and strengthen a wide range of relationships by inviting Chinese from various strata of society and fields to visit Japan. Both countries share responsibility for the peace and stability of the region and of the international community. Japan believes that it is in the interests of both Japan and China, as well as the international community, for both countries to adopt a broad perspective, and improve their relations by reaffirming the basic principles of a “Mutually Beneficial Relationship Based on Common Strategic Interests.” On Japan’s side, the door to dialogue is always open. Rather than taking the attitude of refusing to engage in dialogue until after all issues are resolved, Japan’s position is that it is precisely because challenging issues exist between the two countries that frank discussions should be held.
Taiwan is an important partner and has close economic ties with Japan. In April 2013 a long-pending Japan–Taiwan Fisheries Arrangement was signed, reinforcing the framework for cooperation between Japan and Taiwan. People-to-people exchanges between Japan and Taiwan are very vigorous, and the number of short-term visitors traveling between Japan and Taiwan set a new record in 2013. Cultural exchanges are also very active. In April the Takarazuka Revue theater company gave its first performance in Taiwan, and achieved great success. In 2014 a special exhibition from Taiwan’s Palace Museum is scheduled to be held in Japan. In line with the 1972 Japan–China Joint Communique, the relationship between Japan and Taiwan is maintained through working relations at the non-governmental level, with emphasis on promotion of working cooperation to achieve closer economic ties.
Mongolia is an important partner to Japan, and the two countries share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy and a market economy. Results achieved by two summit meetings in 2013 helped raise the “Strategic Partnership” between the two countries to a new level. Japan will continue to strive to strengthen its mutually beneficial and complementary relations with Mongolia.
Republic of Korea
The Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan are the most important neighboring countries to each other, which share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, and respect for basic human rights. The two countries also share common interests in maintaining regional peace and security. President Park Guen-hye took office in February 2013, and the new governments of Japan and the ROK, aware of the importance of cooperation towards the 50th anniversary, in 2015, of the normalization of relations between the two countries, have deepened communication at various levels with the aim of improving their relations. In recent years, the people of Japan and the ROK have steadily deepened andexpanded their mutual understanding and interaction, while economic relations remain very close. Despite the fact that the two countries face difficult issues, in light of the current situation in the East Asia, Japan will continue to make steady efforts toward building future-oriented and multi-layered relations with the ROK in every field, including politics, economy and culture from a broader perspective.
Japan and the ROK have an issue concerning the sovereignty over Takeshima. The Government of Japan maintains a consistent position that Takeshima is clearly an inherent territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law. Japan will continue to make efforts to settle this territorial dispute in a peaceful manner based on international law.
As regards the issue of “comfort women,” Japan has made sincere efforts to address this issue. Japan’s position is that the issues of property and claims between the two countries, including the “comfort women” issue, have already been settled legally. However, in order to offer practical assistance to former “comfort women,” Japanese nationals and the Japanese government established the Asian Women’s Fund, which provided funds for various medical and welfare support projects and “atonement money.” In addition, then-Prime Ministers of Japan sent a letter expressing apologies and remorse directly to each of the former “comfort women.” Japan will continue to exert its utmost effort to gain understanding on its position and the earnest and sincere efforts it has made.
With regard to problems arising from the juridical decisions in the ROK concerning the “Requisition of civilians” from the Korean peninsula, Japan has consistently taken the position that the issues of property and claims between Japan and the ROK have been settled completely and finally through the Agreement on the Settlement of Problem concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Co-operation Between Japan and the Republic of Korea, and will continue to deal appropriately with the issues on that basis.
North Korea continues its efforts to consolidate the regime centered on Kim Jong-Un, the First Chairman of the National Defense Commission (NDC). During the past year, there were some moves in this regards such as the purge of Jang Sung-Taek, Vice Chairman of the NDC, in December 2013. Following the two missile launches conducted in 2012, North Korea carried out a nuclear test in February 2013 in violation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. North Korea’s nuclear and missile development remain a serious threat, not only to the region but also to the entire international community. Japan will continue to closely coordinate with countries concerned including the U.S., the ROK, China and Russia in urging North Korea to refrain from any further provocation, and to take concrete actions toward denuclearization and other goals in compliance with the Six-Party Talks Joint Statement and the relevant UNSC resolutions. The Government of Japan, under its policy of “dialogue and pressure” and in accordance with the Japan–DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, will continue to work in close coordination with other countries concerned toward the comprehensive resolution of the outstanding issues of concern such as the abductions, as well as nuclear and missile issues. With cooperation from the international community, Japan will continue to make its utmost efforts toward the complete resolution of the abductions issue based on the position that the normalization of relations with North Korea can never be achieved without the resolution of the abductions issue.
In March 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council authorized establishment of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) on human rights in the DPRK, and in February 2014 this Commission released its final report, which comprehensively details the grave human rights violations in North Korea, including the abductions issue. Based on this report Japan, in collaboration with the international community, will play a leading role in urging North Korea to take concrete action to improve the human rights situation in North Korea.
Southeast Asian Countries
High rates of economic growth are helping to boost the importance and presence of the Southeast Asian countries within the Asia–Oceania region. Japan has been working to strengthen relations with each of the ASEAN member states, based on a longstanding history of friendly relations. 2013 marked the 40th Year of ASEAN–Japan Friendship and Cooperation. During that year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid official visits to each of the ASEAN member states, and in December the ASEAN–Japan Commemorative Summit was held in Tokyo. In addition, other high-level exchanges were maintained through frequent visits to ASEAN member states by Foreign Minister Kishida and other Cabinet members. The strategic environment of the Asia–Oceania region has changed in recent years, and in order to achieve peace and prosperity in the region, Japan will continue to reinforce its dialogue and cooperation with Southeast Asian countries in the fields of politics and security. Moreover, as a growth center for the 21st century, the Southeast Asia region, particularly in recent years, is attracting attention as a desirable partner for investment and trade. Against this backdrop, and hoping to take advantage of the vitality of this region to reinvigorate its own economy, Japan supports the development of the infrastructure and investment environment in this area. Japan is also working to reinforce people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and took advantage of the fact that 2013 marked the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Cambodia, the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Viet Nam (Japan–Viet Nam Friendship Year), and the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Indonesia to further promote friendly relations with the Southeast Asia region. In addition, youth exchanges were organized through programs such as JENESYS 2.0, and the easing of visa requirements boosted the number of tourists visiting Japan from Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Viet Nam and Myanmar.
Australia and New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand are important partners of Japan within the region and share the same fundamental values as Japan. The two countries have also been working with Japan to address regional and global issues. Japan and Australia enjoy steadily deepening, mutually complementary economic ties, particularly in the areas of trade and investment. Moreover, as strategic partners working together for the peace and stability of the international community, Japan and Australia are steadily strengthening their relationship in terms of security and defense cooperation. Japan and New Zealand have maintained friendly relations for many years, and this connection was further reinforced in 2013 as the foreign ministers of both countries confirmed the elevation of their relationship to that of a “Strategic Cooperative Partnership.”
Pacific Islands Region
Many of the Pacific Island countries are friendly toward Japan and are important partners of Japan in terms of cooperation within the international community and in the supply of fisheries and mineral resources. In October 2013, the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) Second Ministerial Interim Meeting was held in Tokyo and Sendai. A summary was issued by the Chair, reaffirming the cooperation between Japan and the Pacific region, particularly in the areas of international maritime order, resource management, and trade and investment.
South Asia is becoming increasingly important in the international arena with its large population of approximately 1.6 billion, its geopolitical importance, and the continued high rates of economic growth enjoyed by many countries in the region. Japan will further strengthen the economic relationships with South Asian countries with which it traditionally has friendly and cooperative relations. Moreover, Japan will continue its cooperation for each country’s efforts such as establishing national reconciliation and democratization. Japan established the Strategic and Global Partnership with India in 2006, and the two countries share values such as democracy and respect for the rule of law. Japan is working to further strengthen its basic relationship with India in a wide range of areas, including security, economy and people-to-people exchange. In May 2013, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Japan, and Prime Minister Abe visited India in January 2014. In Pakistan, which plays a key role in counter-terrorism, a democratically elected civilian government completed a full term in office for the first time ever, and achieved a democratic transition of power via elections held in May. Japan will continue to encourage Pakistan’s positive effort and cooperate with it to promote the peace and stability of the region and the entire international community.
Strengthening Regional Cooperation
As described above, the strategic environment surrounding the Asia–Oceania region is changing rapidly, and it is becoming extremely important for Japan to cooperate and strengthen its relations with the countries of this region. While continuing to strengthen the Japan–U.S. Alliance, Japan’s policy will be to play an active role in promoting peace and prosperity in the region by reinforcing its relations of trust and cooperation with its partners in Asia– Oceania and elsewhere. In addition to strengthening bilateral relations, Japan will also make active use of trilateral arrangements for dialogue such as those among Japan, China and the ROK, Japan, the U.S. and the ROK, and Japan, the U.S. and Australia, as well as larger multilateral frameworks such as Japan–ASEAN, ASEAN+3,6 EAS, APEC, ARF and others. With regard to the trilateral cooperation among Japan, China and the ROK, although no summit or foreign ministers’ meetings were held, working-level cooperation made continued progress in various areas such as those of environment, culture, disaster risk reduction, and health.
Japan considers ASEAN’s central role in promoting regional cooperation as extremely important for stability and prosperity in the entire East Asia region. Japan places great importance on its relationship with ASEAN in the context of regional cooperation, and is helping to promote the integration of ASEAN. 2013 marked the 40th Year of ASEAN–Japan Friendship and Cooperation, and during that year Prime Minister Abe and other Cabinet ministers worked vigorously to promote ASEAN diplomacy. In January the first countries visited by Prime Minister Abe and Foreign Minister Kishida after the formation of the Abe Cabinet were ASEAN member states, and during his visit to Indonesia Prime Minister Abe announced his “Five Principles for Japan’s ASEAN Diplomacy,” 7 and pledged to work together with ASEAN as an “equal partner,” Since that time Prime Minister Abe has continued to place great importance on ASEAN diplomacy, visiting all the member states of ASEAN and holding top-level summits with the leaders of each member state within a year. Crowning this work was the ASEAN–Japan Commemorative Summit held in Tokyo on December 13–15, at which the assembled leaders adopted the Vision Statement on ASEAN–Japan Friendship and Cooperation, which outlined the future direction of cooperation between Japan and ASEAN, based on four major themes: Partners for Peace and Stability, Partners for Prosperity, Partners for Quality of Life, and Heart-to-Heart Partners.
The 8th EAS was held in October 2013, and Japan attended it with a policy of reconfirming common principles and basic rules in the region, and with the goal of giving a powerful boost to the development of the EAS as a leaders-led forum capable of leading the way to tangible cooperation in various areas including politics and security. At the meeting, discussions took place on regional and international affairs, covering topics such as maritime safety and security, connectivity, disaster management, and low-carbon growth, as well as problems related to North Korea and the South China Sea. Japan has been working cooperatively with the rapidly growing Mekong region since 2008 on issues such as narrowing development gaps between advanced and late member countries within ASEAN, and enhancing connectivity in the Mekong region. The Fifth Mekong–Japan Summit was held in December 2013 to conduct a mid-term review of the Tokyo Strategy 2012, which was drawn up to outline the policies for Japan–Mekong cooperation for the period from 2012 through 2015, and to follow up on the Action Plan for realization of the Tokyo Strategy 2012 for Mekong– Japan Cooperation.
In addition, in view of the need to support connectivity among the Southeast Asian countries not only on land, but also at sea, Japan is consulting on ways to improve ASEAN connectivity.
Furthermore, Japan will also work with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to strengthen intra-regional connectivity and promote people-to-people exchange.
On the occasion of his visit to Yasukuni Shrine on December 26, 2013, Prime Minister Abe issued a statement entitled “Pledge for everlasting peace” (see below), in which he expresses the following sentiments: “I have renewed my determination before the souls of the war dead to firmly uphold the pledge never to wage a war again”; “we must build an age which is free from the sufferings caused by the devastation of war”; “For 68 years after the war, Japan created a free and democratic country, and has consistently walked the path of peace. There is no doubt whatsoever that we will continue to pursue this path.” The Government of Japan will continue its efforts to humbly, politely and sincerely explain the contents of that statement to the international community.
- 6 Regional framework consisting of ASEAN, Japan, China, and the ROK.
- 7 The Five Principles of Japan’s ASEAN Diplomacy are as follows:
- (1) protect and promote together with ASEAN member states universal values, such as freedom, democracy and basic human rights;
- (2) ensure in cooperation with ASEAN member states that the free and open seas, which are the most vital common asset, are governed by law and not by force, and to welcome the United States’ rebalancing to the Asia–Pacific region;
- (3) further promote trade and investment, including flows of goods, money, people and services, through various economic partnership networks, for Japan’s economic revitalization and the prosperity of both Japan and ASEAN member states;
- (4) protect and nurture Asia’s diverse cultural heritages and traditions;
- (5) promote exchanges among young people, who will be the leaders of the future, to further foster mutual understanding.