Diplomatic Bluebook 2014 Summary

Chapter 4

Japan’s Diplomacy Open to the Public

3. Diplomacy with the Support of the Public

The understanding and support of Japanese citizens are indispensable to smooth implementation of Japan’s foreign policy. As such, the prompt provision of clear explanations on the policy details and on the role of government is crucial. Furthermore, the influence of social media on society is growing, so the government must be proactive in ensuring communication with the public in a comprehensive way. Accordingly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is striving to enhance its ability to communicate information, using all forms of media in an agile and effective manner, combining PR, media briefings, and cultural and people-to-people exchange.

Regular press conferences are conducted four days a week by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, one of the Parliamentary Senior Vice-Ministers for Foreign Affairs, or the Press Secretary, while extraordinary press conferences are held as necessary. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs releases statements by the Minister for Foreign Affairs or Press Secretary announcing the stance of the Japanese government on specific issues, and issues press releases that provide information on the Ministry’s activities. In addition, the Minister, Parliamentary Senior Vice-Ministers, and Parliamentary Vice-Ministers explain the government’s foreign policies directly to Japanese citizens through appearances on TV and by means of other media.

The Ministry utilizes its official website to swiftly distribute information about diplomatic activities by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, as well as to promptly provide the latest information about Japan’s foreign policy and the situation in countries across the globe. The Ministry also is utilizing Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media as a means of communication.

Furthermore, the Ministry organizes speeches by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to promote public relations through dialogue with Japanese nationals and holds lectures by its officials and foreign policy debates at universities and high schools nationwide in a bid to cultivate the next generation of Japanese leaders. The Ministry is also striving to improve two- way communication with the public through such public consultation initiatives as receiving comments and opinions on its official website.

To promote further understanding of, and trust in, diplomacy among Japanese citizens, the Ministry has established the Committee for the Promotion of Declassification of the Diplomatic Historical Records, and has been transferring records to the Diplomatic Archives so that they may be declassified. It has been striving to implement the procedure smoothly and swiftly, and the process has been accelerating.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is continuing its efforts to strengthen foreign policy implementation structures through utilizing its limited resources for high priority issues, in order to promote flexible diplomacy that can deal with changes in both domestic and international situations.

The Space Policy Division was established in May 2013 based on the ministerial organizational order to comprehensively coordinate space-related issues in both civil and national security aspects. The Ministry also established the Embassy of Japan in South Sudan in July 2013 and the Embassy of Japan in Iceland in January 2014. However, the number of Japanese diplomatic missions overseas remains fewer than those of other major countries. The Ministry is therefore committed to strategically improving this situation. Also, the number of staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan is less than those of other major countries. In order to better deal with the increasingly complex diplomatic challenges, the Ministry continues to make every effort to increase the number of staff. In the 2013 budget, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs allocated ¥608.3 billion to support the foreign policy implementation structures described above, with priority given to (1) the dynamic development of strategic diplomacy based on universal values, and (2) diplomacy that contributes to growth and to the strengthening of economic foundation. From 2014 onward, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will make efforts to achieving further streamlining and will strive to ensure a level of foreign policy implementation structures that is comparable to those of other major countries.