Diplomatic Bluebook 2015
Japan’s Diplomacy Open to the Public
Section 1 Japanese Society and People Deepening Their Ties with the World
Tapping the Power of Foreign Nationals for the Growth of Japan
Increasing the number of people traveling between Japan and other countries stimulates the economy and promotes mutual understanding among different cultures. Based on this view, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) takes steps to facilitate the entry of foreign nationals to Japan and their stay in the country.
The Government of Japan attaches importance to promoting Japan as a tourism-oriented country and regional vitalization in Japan. In this regard, in 2014, following on from the previous year, MOFA relaxed visa requirements, mainly for the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) member states. A depreciated yen, combined with other factors, contributed to reaching a record high of more than 13 million foreign visitors to Japan in 2014. At the same time, Japan conducts strict visa screening to ensure that Japan remains the safest country in the world, all the while promoting Japan as a tourism-oriented country.
In order to further vitalize the Japanese economy and increase Japan’s competitiveness, it is critical to secure outstanding manpower from home and abroad. In the Japan Revitalization Strategy (revised in 2014), the policy is set forth that the government promote further utilization of foreign nationals. MOFA works with relevant ministries and agencies to ensure that the system of accepting foreign nationals is well in line with the principle of respect for human rights. MOFA encourages lively debates among people regarding the concrete challenges and measures arising from the acceptance of foreign nationals and their integration into Japanese society.
International Organizations and Japanese Nationals
At international organizations, staff from all over the countries capitalize on their respective skills and traits to carry out activities for addressing global issues. Japan has been providing financial and intellectual contributions as well as personnel contributions to international organizations. If more Japanese staff play active roles at international organizations, Japan will have an enhanced presence in the international community and human resources of Japan will be enriched.
MOFA carries out programs to find, train, support, and provide information to Japanese professionals who can play active roles at and contribute to international organizations. MOFA will continue to make active efforts to create an environment where outstanding Japanese nationals can play an active role on the global stage.
NGOs and Volunteers
The Government of Japan promotes ‘‘All-Japan’’ diplomacy which draws on the strengths of non-governmental actors. In this context, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become even more important in recent years as implementers of support activities in developing countries and as channels for offering policy proposals. NGOs play a significant role in fields that Japan excels in and can make international contributions to, such as health, water and sanitation, education, disaster risk reduction, environment and climate change, and emergency humanitarian assistance for refugees and disaster victims. MOFA regards NGOs as important partners in international cooperation, and strives to strengthen partnerships with NGOs through financial assistance, improving their operational environment, and policy dialogue.
Participants of the volunteer programs of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), including the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) and the Senior Volunteers (SV), are crucial actors in international cooperation. In the countries or regions where they are dispatched, JICA volunteers see the development challenges from the same perspective as local people and work hard together to tackle them. Such programs are highly appreciated by various countries, as the symbol of Japan’s aid with a Japanese flag. In addition, the programs play a substantial role not only in local economic and social development, but also in fostering mutual understanding, friendship, and goodwill between Japan and these countries and regions. Furthermore, these programs are also significant from the viewpoint that the knowledge and experience that JICA volunteers gain are fed back into Japanese society once they return home.
Cooperation with Local Governments
Local governments and communities play a critical role in building multi-layered and friendly international relations in a wide range of fields, including fostering mutual international understanding, developing relationships of trust, and strengthening Japan’s brand.
MOFA regards local governments and communities as important partners in promoting diplomacy, and aims to reinforce Japan’s comprehensive diplomatic capacity through the “All-Japan” approach. To this end, MOFA engages in various collaborative activities with local governments and communities based on the following priorities: (1) conveying Japan’s local attractions to the world; (2) supporting the international initiatives of local governments and communities; and (3) providing extensive information about international exchanges.
In addition, MOFA established the Task Force on Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy in Japan to advance the whole government’s efforts toward overcoming population decline and vitalizing local economies in Japan, which is one of the top priorities of the Abe Cabinet. The Task Force implements a robust diplomacy with a view of strengthening the partnerships between Japan’s local governments and communities and overseas which contribute to regional vitalization in Japan.