Diplomatic Bluebook 2014 Summary
Japan’s Foreign Policy to Promote Nationaland Worldwide Interests
2. Japan’s International Cooperation—ODA and Response to Global Issues
Strategic utilization of ODA
Over 60 years since 1954, Japan has actively utilized ODA and contributed to poverty reduction in developing countries, peace-building, realization of sustainable economic growth, and resolution of global issues. Such contributions help protect the daily lives of Japanese citizens and also create a favorable international environment, since Japan relies on other countries for resources and food, while depending on international peace. Moreover, ODA has played a vital role from the perspective of cultivating trust in Japan among members of the international community and enhancing its presence. Following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, Japan received heartfelt sympathy and support from 174 countries and regions worldwide, including developing countries. This can be seen as an expression of gratitude for Japan’s contributions through ODA.
ODA addresses development issues in developing countries, and is also expected to help revitalize Japan’s economy by taking in the dynamic growth of developing and emerging countries. The “Infrastructure System Export Strategy” (formulated in May 2013) and the “Japan Revitalization Strategy” (approved by the Cabinet in June 2013) express Japan’s intention to utilize ODA strategically in such areas as infrastructure systems export, sharing advanced technologies and know-how of small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and local governments, sharing medical technology and services, and the securing of international standards. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been implementing initiatives in conjunction with related ministries and agencies through the effective utilization of frameworks, including the Ministerial Meeting on Strategy relating Infrastructure Export and Economic Cooperation (established in March 2013).
The importance of ODA is increasing as Japan seeks to be a “proactive contributor to peace” as upheld by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The National Security Strategy (NSS) approved by the Cabinet in December 2013 states that responding to development issues contributes to improvement in the global security environment, and Japan needs to strengthen its efforts as part of its “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation.
Moving ahead, Japan will cooperate closely with local governments, NGOs and the private sector to promote proactive and strategic ODA activities.
Response to Global Issues
While rapid globalization has resulted in dramatic economic and societal development worldwide, it has also brought about diverse threats to human security that transcend national borders. The challenges of conflict, terrorism, disasters, infectious diseases, environmental issues such as climate change, human trafficking, refugee problem and labor issues, accompanying the greater movement of people, economic crises and growing social disparity cannot be addressed by one country alone. Instead, the international community must work together while keeping in mind the perspective of human security (focusing on the individual human beings, and promoting their protection and empowerment).
As 2015, a milestone year for global issues draws near, Japan is reinforcing its efforts in pertinent fields. It is the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and accelerating progress is a common issue for the international community. Moreover, serious discussions are being held regarding the formulation of international development goals beyond 2015. Japan has strengthened its efforts in this area by leading discussions in cooperation with countries concerned and international organizations, the focus being on MDGs and the post-2015 development agenda’s guidelines for defining major international development assistance- related policies. In May 2013, Japan announced its Strategy on Global Health Diplomacy, which makes contribution to resolving the world’s health issues vital for achieving human security—a key challenge for Japan’s diplomacy. As part of this strategy, Japan is strengthening its initiatives to provide universal health coverage, ensuring that everyone has access to essential health services without suffering excessive financial burden. In addition, Japan is focusing its efforts on disaster risk reduction, drawing on its experience of numerous disasters, including the Great East Japan Earthquake. Preparations are under way for the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, to be held in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture in March 2015.
In the area of climate change, 2015 is the year by which a new international framework applicable to all parties must be agreed. Within this context, in November 2013, Japan announced a Proactive Diplomatic Strategy for Countering Global Warming―Actions for Cool Earth (ACE) to take the lead in negotiations for creating the new international framework.
In the area of global environment issues, sustainable development, which aims to integrate economic, social and environmental aspects, has gained momentum following Rio+20. Japan is actively taking part in international debate toward sustainable development. Japan is also contributing to concrete initiatives by leveraging its experience and knowledge, including serving as host country for the Diplomatic Conference on the Minamata Convention on Mercury, held in Kumamoto Prefecture in October 2013.
While the continued melting of Arctic sea ice, due to global warming, has increased the possibility that the Arctic may be used for shipping routes and the development of natural resources, there has been growing international debate in recent years regarding problems the Arctic region faces, such as the impact of human activity on the environment. Japan established organizational frameworks to participate in international discussions concerning the Arctic, including the appointment of the Ambassador in charge of Arctic Affairs in March 2013. Consequenlt y Japan was granted observer status to the Arctic Council in May 2013. Japan aims to further contribute to the Arctic Council, with its scientific knowledge and technology accumulated over the years.
Concerning Antarctica, the Antarctic Treaty introduces basic principles such as (1) the use of Antarctica for peaceful purposes, (2) freedom of scientific investigation and international cooperation, and (3) a freeze on territorial rights and claims. In keeping with these basic principles, Japan promotes research and observation activities. Moreover, Japan is committed to the conservation of the Antarctic environment in accordance with the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, and contributes to the maintenance of the Antarctic Treaty System.
Science and Technology Diplomacy
The international community holds a high level of interest in, and great expectations of, Japan’s science and technology, fields that rank among the most advanced in the world. Japan is contributing to peace and stability in the international community, resolution of global issues and further advancement in science and technology at home and abroad by enhancing relationships and cooperating with other countries through science and technology diplomacy. Japan is also striving to enhance its soft power by transmitting information as a science- and technology-based nation.