Diplomatic Bluebook 2016
Japan’s Foreign Policy that Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map
2.Situation in Latin America and the Caribbean Region
(1) Political situation
Presidential or general elections were held in St. Christopher and Nevis, Guyana, Suriname, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Argentina, Belize, St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2015 (for the details on the changes of governments, see the Figure “Major events in 2015 (by country/ region)”). At the presidential election in Argentina, the leftist government which had lasted 12 years was defeated, and a center-right administration took office. Also, the leftist ruling party was defeated at the Diet member election held in Venezuela, and future political movement should be followed closely.
Regional integration organizations also held various high-level consultations including the 3rd Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit Meeting in January, the 45th and 46th SICA Summit Meetings in June and December, the 10th Pacific Alliance Summit Meeting in July, the 36th CARICOM Summit Meeting, and the 48th and 49th MERCOSUR Summit Meetings in July and December.
Also, diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, which had been cut off for more than a half-century, resumed in July, and new embassies were established in both countries. Future developments, between the two countries toward the normalization of diplomatic relation, the subsequent relations between the Latin American states and the United States, and the behavior of Cuba in the international community will draw attention.
(2) Regional economic conditions
The economic growth rate of the entire region was minus 0.4% in 2015 (estimated by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); hereinafter the same), recording the first negative growth since 2009. In particular, due to falling in commodity prices in recent years, as well as disastrous economic policies, countries that economically depend on commodity products such as crude oil or mineral resources, continue to face severe economic circumstances. Specifically, the economic growth of Brazil was minus 3.8% highting stagnation in the largest economy in the region.
On the other hand, in Mexico, which has the second largest economy in the region and functions as a gateway to the American market, the number of companies entering from Japan and other parts of the world is increasing mainly in automobile-related fields. The Peña Nieto administration achieved the major structural reform by August of the previous year. In 2015, the government continues to promote the fundamental changes for areas including telecommunication, energy, education, etc. Although affected by the decrease of crude oil prices, its GDP growth rate remained around 2.5% throughout the year thanks to the robust industrial exports to the US with the weak currency. Some countries recorded notable economic growth rates such as 6.5% in the Dominican Republic, 5.9% in Panama, 5.2% in St. Christopher and Nevis, and 4.5% in Bolivia. Even in the same region, a difference of policies may influence the economic growth rates.
Latin America and the Caribbean region is a major global food supplier area in the world as well as being a supplier of silver, copper, zinc, iron ore, oil and other important resources. The region is a major producer of rare metals such as lithium, the demand for which is expected to increase greatly in the future for such use as in the batteries in electric vehicles. In recent years, Argentina (the world’s 2nd largest shale gas possible reserves) and Mexico (the world’s 6th largest possible reserves) are attracting attention as the sites of major deposits of shale gas. Although it is not highly likely that the falling commodity prices will recover in the near future, the potential of this region is still high.
1. Diplomatic relations between Japan and Brazil
In 2015, Japan and Brazil celebrated the 120th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations since the signing of the “Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between Japan and Brazil” in November 1895. The world’s largest Japanese community is in Brazil. On the occasion of the 120th anniversary, many VIP visits took place to further deepen mutual understanding, as well as a total of 600 commemorative projects were carried out in a variety of fields, such as economy, culture and art.
2. Official visit of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino to Brazil
Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino, made an official visit to Brazil from October 28 to November 8 at the invitation of the Brazilian government. Their Imperial Highnesses paid a courtesy call on President Dilma Rousseff, attended the 120th anniversary commemorative ceremony hosted by the National Congress and Brazilian government-sponsored luncheon. In addition, Their Imperial Highnesses visited the Federal District and five states (São Paulo, Paraná, Mato Grosso do Sul, Pará, Rio de Janeiro), where they gave an audience to the respective governors and attended events hosted by organizations of Japanese descendants or “Nikkei”.
3. Projects commemorating the 120th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Brazil
In commemoration of the 120th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Brazil, a variety of projects were carried out. They included the participation of traditional “Tachineputa” floats made by Goshogawara City, Aomori in the São Paulo carnival, “Exhibition of Japan-Brazil joint projects” introducing five joint national projects including Cerrado agricultural development, and the renovation of Japan Pavilion in Ibirapuera Park.
In Sao Paulo, the city with the biggest Japanese population in Brazil, a fireworks festival (Photo) produced by Junko Koshino took place in September, with 4,500 fireworks launched in time to the music. In addition, Ms. Fernanda Takai, a Brazilian singer of the world-popular band “PatoFu”, composed a song commemorating the 120th anniversary of Japan-Brazil friendship titled “LOVE SONG”, jointly with Japanese artist Maki Nomiya. The song was widely played during the commemorative event. Furthermore, at Japan Festivals held in various locations in Brazil, live tour concerts took place with joint performances by Brazilian and Japanese artists, and they were well received.
4. Japan-Brazil future relations
Relations between Japan and Brazil are not confined to economic exchange, but cover people-to-people exchanges in a variety of areas such as academy, culture and sports. The Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, and the Games will be handed over to Tokyo, hopefully leading to a closer relationship between Japan and Brazil in the future.
In 2015, Japan and Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica celebrated the 80th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Japan and Central American Integration System (SICA), which is composed of eight countries (above mentioned five countries plus Panama, Belize and the Dominican Republic) defined 2015 as a “Japan-SICA Friendship Year,” and implemented commemorative projects in a variety of fields such as politics, economy and culture.
Prior to the Friendship Year, Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino visited Guatemala in October 2014. Furthermore, Her Imperial Highness Princess Mako of Akishino visited El Salvador and Honduras in December 2015. Her Imperial Highness received a grand welcome from the governments and the peoples of both countries. It was a visit worthy of the ending of the Friendship Year.
In the political and economic areas, an exchange of Friendship Year celebration messages took place between Prime Minister Abe and respective Central American leaders. Also, VIP visits actively took place between Japan and Central America, including the visit by President Hernandez of Honduras to Japan in July. In May, the Japan-SICA Business Forum was held in Guatemala to promote economic exchanges.
In addition, a number of commemorative events were organized in both Japan and Central American countries throughout the year. In Central American countries, approximately 300 commemorative events intended mainly to introduce Japanese culture were also organized, including port calls of the Overseas Training Cruise of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, martial arts demonstrations, concerts, and animation and other pop culture-related events.
In Japan, many events introducing Central American culture took place, including concerts, painting exhibitions and a film festival. Aside from this, friendly matches were held between visiting Costa Rican U22 and U16 National Football Teams and corresponding Japanese teams. All of the events livened up the Friendship Year to a great extent.
As mentioned above, mutual exchange and understanding was promoted in a variety of fields in 2015, which marked an epoch-making year in terms of a deepening of Japan-Central America relations.
We hope to further promote the enhanced friendly relations through the Friendship Year with the Central American countries, as partners continuing to develop together.