Diplomatic Bluebook 2015
Japan’s Foreign Policy that Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map
Section 3 Latin America and the Caribbean
Latin America and the Caribbean region is a key partner of Japan in terms of economy as well as building a better international community based on the rule of law. Although economic growth in the region has slowed since 2011 against the backdrop of falling product prices and the slowdown of major economies outside of the region, Latin America and the Caribbean has a combined GDP of 6 trillion US dollars (approximately 2.5 times larger than that of ASEAN) and a population of 600 million. The region is also a producer of mineral resources (including rare metals), energy, and food, and a significant number of Japanese companies have established operations there. Moreover, with “the rule of law” and democracy firmly established in nearly all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, the region possesses a growing presence in the international community. Japan and Latin America and the Caribbean have traditionally maintained a very friendly relationship. With approximately 1.78 million Japanese descendants, or “Nikkeis,” living in Latin America, the human and historical bonds between Japan and the region run deep, while Japan has maintained economic ties with Latin America and the Caribbean as the Asia’s largest investor for a long time.
Given the importance of these factors, from late July to early August 2014, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Chile, and Brazil, and it was the first tour of Latin America and the Caribbean by a sitting Japanese Prime Minister in ten years. Prime Minister Abe presented his policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean in a speech entitled “Juntos!!1 Bringing infinite depth to Japan-Latin America and the Caribbean Cooperation.” In the speech, Prime Minister described three guiding principles of Japan’s diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean: (1) Progress together (strengthening economic relations); (2) Lead together (working together in the international arena); and (3) Inspire together (promoting people-to-people exchanges, cultural and sports exchanges, and other exchanges). In addition, Prime Minister conversed with parliamentarians of Japanese descent as well as members of “Nikkei” organizations and Japanese companies operating in the region. The visit strengthened the relations between Japan and the region in all fronts, leaving the impression that “Japan has returned to Latin America and the Caribbean.” The Prime Minister was accompanied by an economic mission of over 250 people which has networked with members of the business community in each country.
In terms of strengthening economic relations, Japan has been taking steps to create a better business environment for Japanese companies operating in the region through establishing legal frameworks such as EPAs and investment agreements, as well as consultations with governments of partner countries. Furthermore, Japan is promoting development assistance that employs Japanese technology, as demand for urban transport and energy-related infrastructure within the region is expected to increase as a result of the region’s economic development. Japan has also been working to enhance cooperative relationships with countries which have abundant resources and food, in order to secure a stable supply of resources and food from the region.
With regard to increasing cooperation in the international arena, Japan has been collaborating with Latin American and Caribbean countries in addressing various issues, such as sustainable growth, environmental issues and climate change, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as UN Security Council (UNSC) reform. At the same time, Japan has been reinforcing cooperation and dialogue with regional organizations such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which has influence in the international community.
In the area of people-to-people exchanges, Japan has strengthened networking at all levels, including inviting junior administrative officials and Japanese descendants from Latin America and the Caribbean to Japan, in addition to mutual visits by key officials.
- 1 Juntos = “Together” in Portuguese.