Diplomatic Bluebook 2015
Japan’s Diplomacy Open to the Public
1.Active Provision of Information to the Public
(1) Information Provision through Domestic Media
MOFA has committed itself to appropriate information provision through various media, such as newspapers, television and the Internet in order to gain the understanding and support of Japanese nationals for Japan’s foreign policy. In particular, the press conferences of the Foreign Minister are open to foreign media, Internet media and freelance journalists and the records and videos of the press conferences are posted on the website of MOFA. On the occasion of overseas visits by the Prime Minister or the Foreign Minister, information is sent from the visited countries so that the people can easily trace and understand the processes and outcomes. In addition, MOFA carries out information provision and cooperation for media coverage in various forms, which include transmission of information on foreign policy using email newsletters, provision of information on foreign policy to media personnel in local areas, and interviews of high-level officials of MOFA by newspapers of their local hometown.
When factual errors and insufficient information are reported by the media, MOFA will submit an appeal for correction when it is deemed necessary and will contribute its views or post its views on the website of MOFA upon announcement at a press conference. These are all efforts to gain an accurate understanding of Japan’s approach and stance domestically and internationally.
(2) Information Provision through the Internet
MOFA is working on provision of information through the Internet using websites and social media in order to garner understanding and support for Japan’s foreign policy from Japanese nationals and from the international community. MOFA’s Japanese website posts information on recent diplomatic activities of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, and provides the latest news and basic information on such as Japan’s foreign policy and international affairs. Furthermore, MOFA posts a wide range of contents including “Easy Ways to Understand International Situations,” which explains international situations in an understandable manner, and “MOFA for Kids” for the students of elementary and junior/senior-high schools.
Regarding MOFA’s English website as an important tool for public diplomacy, MOFA has enhanced the function of sending messages in English pertaining to Japan’s foreign policies and Japan’s positions on international affairs. In April 2014, MOFA set up a special site, “Japanese Territory,” in eleven languages. Information is also available through the websites of Japanese embassies and consulates general overseas in local languages.
In light of the spread of various forms of social media, MOFA sends out information using Facebook and Twitter and also actively uses YouTube for sending video messages.
(3) Dialogue with the People
MOFA promotes “Public Relations through Dialogue with Japanese nationals” to provide the people of Japan with an opportunity to directly talk to the Foreign Minister and its officials.
As a part of such opportunities, MOFA holds “Talk to the Minister” to give explanations on Japan’s foreign policies and the principles and other themes in which the people have much interest and give candid answers to the questions and opinions of the participants.
MOFA is committed to promote understanding of foreign policies and international affairs through various occasions. For instance, MOFA organizes lectures by its officials at international exchange organizations, universities and high schools throughout Japan, through “Lecture on the International Situation,” “Diplomatic Talks” and “Talks for High School programs.” It also holds debate sessions between university students and young officials of the ministry through “Dialogue with Students,” as well as providing opportunities for young students to visit MOFA (“Visits of Elementary, Junior- and High-School Students to MOFA.”)
In September 2014, MOFA held the “International Issues Presentation Contest,” which is a renewed version of the previous “Debate on International Issues by University Students” and participating students made excellent presentations on the theme of “My Proposal—Japan’s Future ODA.”
Japan’s ODA policies and specific measures are introduced to the public through various symposiums, lectures and “ODA Delivery Lectures” in which the officials of MOFA are dispatched to schools (52 lectures). MOFA issues the journal “Diplomacy” with the aim of raising people’s interest in diplomacy through active discussions on foreign policies from a wide range of opinion leaders, including scholars, journalists and NGOs. In 2014, the journal featured and highlighted various diplomatic issues, such as current international affairs in the Middle East and Ukraine, introduced information on international information/warfare and published a number of papers by prominent experts from around the world.
In order to also promote further understanding on the organizational structure and foreign policies of MOFA, numerous pamphlets are released such pamphlets include “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” “Japan’s Security Policies,” and “We Will Support the International Business Activities of Japanese Companies.”
In addition to the above, MOFA surveys public opinion through various forms of media, including the website of MOFA, the website of the Prime Minister of Japan and his Cabinet, and the electronic governmental inquiries window (“e-Gov”), as well as through telephone calls, fax messages and letters. Opinions and comments gathered from the public are shared throughout MOFA and used as a reference in policy making and planning.
(4) Promotion of Declassification of Diplomatic Records and Information Disclosure
MOFA has voluntarily disclosed, in addition to documents prior to the World WarⅡ, post-war diplomatic records and made them public at the Diplomatic Archives since 1976. MOFA has set up the “Committee for the Promotion of Declassification of the Diplomatic Records”, which is chaired by either State Minister for Foreign Affairs or Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs and participated by external experts, to engage actively in an effort to transfer diplomatic records that have past more than 30 years since their compilation/creation to the Diplomatic Archives for the public to have access. 12 meetings in total of the said Committee were held by December 2014. The speed of declassification of diplomatic records has been accelerating, particularly since the fall of 2011, and the number of files, which have been transferred and completed the procedure of declassification, reached 22,000 at the end of 2014 (starting from May 2010).
Furthermore, MOFA discloses information pursuant to the Act on Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs (Act on Access to Information) while giving consideration to national security, relationship of mutual trust with other countries, impacts on diplomatic negotiations and the protection of personal information. In 2014, MOFA received 684 requests for disclosure and documents totaling 70,474 pages were disclosed.