Diplomatic Bluebook 2017

Chapter 1

International Situation and Japan's Diplomacy in 2016

2.Japan's diplomacy

In 2016, under the Japanese G7 presidency, Japan hosted the G7 Ise-Shima Summit and the G7 Hiroshima Foreign Ministers' Meeting (See Special Feature “G7 Ise-Shima Summit & G7 Hiroshima Foreign Ministers' Meeting”). Furthermore, while serving as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (2016-2017), 2016 was a year in which Japan's diplomacy led the world, through actions such as hosting the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) for the first time in Africa (See Special Feature “TICAD VI”). Japan, while making the utmost efforts for promotion of national interests in the increasingly severe international situation, will contribute to peace and prosperity of the international community and further consolidate the position of a peace-loving nation.

(1) Diplomacy Taking a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map and “Proactive Contribution to Peace”

In order to create a stable and predictable international environment, which is desirable for Japan, it is important to build trust and cooperative relationships with countries worldwide and the international community through diplomatic efforts, to strengthen the basis for stability and prosperity of the international community and to prevent the emergence of threats in advance. From such perspective, since the inauguration of the Abe administration, the Government of Japan has advanced diplomacy, from a panoramic perspective of the world map, under the policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation.

In that context, Prime Minister Abe announced the “Free and Open Indo- Pacific Strategy” in his keynote address at TICAD VI held in Kenya in August, and stated that the “two continents,” the rapidly growing Asia and Africa, which abound in potential strength, and the dynamism born from confluence of the “two oceans,” the free and open Pacific and Indian Oceans, hold the key to stability and prosperity in the international community, and expressed Japan's intention to work toward the realization of prosperity in Asia and Africa (See Special Feature “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy”).

Prime Minister Abe visited 66 countries and regions (111 countries and regions in total), and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has visited 49 countries and regions (86 countries and regions in total) (as of February 20, 2017). As a result, Japan's presence in the international community has steadily risen and personal trust between Prime Minister Abe and foreign leaders as well as between Foreign Minister Kishida and other foreign ministers have greatly been deepened.

From 2016 to the beginning of 2017, changes of leader took place in countries and regions such as the UK, Italy, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan, as well as in the U.S., an ally of Japan. As a stable force in the international community, Japan will continue to build relationship of trust with the new leaders, and while promoting its national interests, lead the international community for peace and prosperity of the world.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official visits abroad
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida’s official visits abroad

(2) The Three Pillars of Japan's Foreign Policy

In order to protect and promote Japan's national interests, Japan intends to continuously strengthen the following three pillars of its foreign policy: (1) strengthening the Japan-U.S. Alliance, (2) enhancing relations with neighboring countries, and (3) strengthening economic diplomacy as a means of driving the growth of the Japanese economy.

【Strengthening of the Japan-U.S. Alliance】

Japan and the U.S. share fundamental values and strategic interests, and the Japan-U.S. Alliance is the linchpin of Japan's diplomacy and security. Furthermore, the presence of the U.S. in the Asia-Pacific region contributes to stability and prosperity not only for Japan and the U.S., but for the entire region and the world.

In May 2016, President Obama made the first visit as a sitting U.S. President to Hiroshima (See Special Feature “Visit by U.S. President Obama to Hiroshima”), and in December Prime Minister Abe paid a visit to Hawaii (See Special Feature “Visit by Prime Minister Abe to Hawaii”). These reciprocal visits symbolized the strength of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, and served as an opportunity to demonstrate the power of tolerance and peace between countries which had previously been at war. At the summit meeting held in Hawaii in December, both leaders shared the view on the importance of advancing the Japan-U.S. Alliance to an even higher level, and shared recognition of the importance of expanding the network of alliances such as the Japan-U.S.-Australia and Japan-U.S.-India alliances to preserve stability and prosperity in the region, with a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Japan, under the Legislation for Peace and Security and the new Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation (the New Guidelines), is further enhancing the “seamless” deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, covering from peacetime to contingencies, through a wide range of consultations and coordinating mechanisms with the U.S. For example, these efforts contributed to the joint operations of the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. forces in swift response to the Kumamoto Earthquake in April.

Reducing the burden on Okinawa is one of the most important issues for the government. In December, a major portion of the Northern Training Area in Okinawa was returned, and in January 2017, the Agreement on Cooperation with regard to the Implementation Practices relating to the Civilian Component of the U.S. Forces in Japan, Supplementary to the Status of U.S. Forces Agreement (SOFA) was signed and entered into force. Japan will continue to strive for realizing impact mitigation in Okinawa in a tangible manner, including the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma to Henoko as soon as possible, while maintaining deterrence of the U.S. forces.

Japan-U.S. cooperation in the economic field is essential for further enhancement of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and the development of the global economy, as well as the invigoration of economy of both Japan and the U.S. With a cumulative balance of direct investments in the U.S. of approximately 411 billion US dollars by Japanese firms (2015), Japan ranks second after the UK, and the activities of Japanese firms have created jobs for approximately 840,000 people (2014).

Japan will continue to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance while building a close relationship with the Trump administration, which started in January 2017.

【Enhancing relations with neighboring countries】

Enhancing our relations with neighboring countries constitutes an important basis for making the environment surrounding Japan stable.

The relations with China constitute one of Japan's most important bilateral relationships. It is important that both countries build a cooperative relationship in the region and international community under the “Mutually Beneficial Relationship based on Common Strategic Interests.” In 2016, summit meetings were held at the ASEM held in Mongolia in July, the G20 Hangzhou Summit held in China in September, and the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting held in Peru in November, and Foreign Minister Kishida visited China from April to May. Through these bilateral talks, Japan and China shared the view that they will both make efforts to improve the overall Japan-China relationship, while expanding and strengthening the affirmative aspects of the Japan-China relationship, and appropriately dealing with unresolved issues. Meanwhile, Japan continues to respond in a firm but calm manner while making claims that should be made in dealing with repeated intrusions by Chinese government-owned vessels into Japan's territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands and its unilateral resource development in the East China Sea.

The ROK is Japan's most important neighbor which shares strategic interests with Japan. In 2016 there were frequent communications at the summit and foreign minister levels, and at all of the summit and foreign minister meetings, both sides shared the view that they would take responsibility to implement the agreement relating to the issue of comfort women made at the end of 2015. On the other hand, the installation of the comfort woman statue on the sidewalk in front of the Consulate-General of Japan in Busan in the end of 2016 is extremely regrettable, and Japan has conveyed its position to the ROK on various occasions, including the foreign ministers' meeting in February 2017. While continuing to tenaciously take every opportunity to request the ROK to steadily implement the agreement, it is important for Japan to deepen its cooperative relationship with the ROK in a wide range of areas, including security, and to move toward developing Japan-ROK relations into a new era of future-oriented era based on mutual trust.

Furthermore, the Japan-China-ROK trilateral cooperative process is highly significant, and as the chair country, Japan hosted the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Foreign Ministers' Meeting in August.

With Russia, high-level political dialogues and mutual visits took place, including two visits to Russia by Prime Minister Abe, and a visit to Japan by President Putin in December (See Special Feature “Visit to Japan by President Putin”). Regarding the Northern Territories Issue, which is the greatest concern between Japan and Russia, both leaders shared their common recognition in the summit meeting in May (in Sochi, Russia) that they would continue the negotiation tenaciously under the “New Approach,” and in the summit meeting in December they decided to start the discussion regarding joint economic activities under a special framework on the Four Northern Islands. Both leaders also decided to improve the procedures for the former island residents to visit their hometowns more freely. Japan will continue negotiations persistently under the ”New Approach” in order to resolve the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands. Furthermore, Japan will also call on Russia to fulfill a constructive role in a wide range of international issues, and continue cooperating with the G7 on the sanctions against Russia regarding the situation in Ukraine.

The nuclear tests and repeated ballistic missile launches by North Korea pose a new level of threat, and are totally unacceptable. Under its policy of “dialogue and pressure” and “action for action”, Japan will continue to work toward the comprehensive resolution of the outstanding issues of concern, such as the abductions, nuclear and missile issues based on the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration. Japan will continue to closely work with relevant countries, including the U.S. and the ROK, and urge North Korea to refrain from further provocations and comply with the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. The issue of abductions by North Korea is not only a critical issue concerning the sovereignty of Japan as well as the lives and safety of Japanese citizens but also a universal matter of the entire international community as it constitutes a violation of fundamental human rights. Japan will closely cooperate with relevant countries, including the U.S., and will make its utmost efforts toward its resolution, as the most important foreign policy agenda.

In light of the increasingly severe security environment, it is essential to deepen cooperative relations with partners sharing such values as freedom and democracy in the Asia-Pacific region.

Japan and Australia share fundamental values and strategic interests based on a “Special Strategic Partnership.” Japan will steadily strengthen its cooperation with Australia in a wide range of areas, including security, economy, and regional affairs.

With regard to India, summit meetings were held three times, including the one during Prime Minister Modi's visit to Japan in November, and with the signing of Japan-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement and the steady progress of the high-speed railway plan, great strides were made in the “new era in Japan-India relations.”

The further integration, prosperity, and stability of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is vital for the peace and stability of the region. Japan will continue to support the centrality and unity of ASEAN, and strengthen its relationship with ASEAN and each of the ASEAN countries.

In addition, while utilizing regional frameworks such as the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Japan continues to strengthen its relationship with Europe in a multilayered approach. Japan also continues to promote security and defense cooperation with the UK, France, Germany and Italy. Furthermore, Japan continues to strengthen relationship with the Pacific island countries, Central Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean as well.

【Promoting economic diplomacy as a means of driving the growth of the Japanese economy】

In 2016, the Government of Japan advanced economic diplomacy from the three aspects of: (1) rulemaking to strengthen a free and open international economic system, (2) supporting Japanese companies' overseas business expansion by promoting public-private cooperation, and (3) promoting resource diplomacy and attracting investment and tourists.

For Japan, which has promoted economic growth on the basis of free trade, it is critically important to maintain and develop the open, stable and rules-based international economic order. In the G7 Ise-Shima Summit and the G20 Hangzhou Summit, Japan appealed for the need to take all policy measures including monetary, fiscal and structural policies, and led the consensus-building efforts among the leaders of G7 and G20. Furthermore, as the pressure of protectionism continues to increase, Japan led the discussions on free-trade and inclusive growth through frameworks such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement signed in February 2016 as an initiative to promote free trade, in January 2017, ahead of other countries, Japan notified New Zealand, which is designated as the Depositary of the Agreement of the Diet approval in December 2016 and completion of Japan's domestic procedures. Japan will continue seeking agreement in principle on the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as early as possible, and will vigorously pursue negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Japan-China-ROK Free Trade Agreement in parallel.

Regarding support for Japanese companies overseas, the ministry has proactively carried out activities such as offering counseling to Japanese companies, working to sell Japanese infrastructure and technologies overseas in public-private efforts, and holding events to promote Japanese products, at diplomatic missions overseas with the goal of having the “Most Open Diplomatic Missions in the World.” Regarding the import restrictions in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, Japan has been sharing correct information in a quick manner and making efforts for the relaxation and abolition of restrictions based on scientific evidences with the government of relevant countries.

In the area of resources, in addition to making efforts to secure a stable supply of resources and food, Japan led international discussions on energy, mineral resources and food security in 2016 as the presidency of the G7, and hosted the Meeting of the Energy Charter Conference as the first chair from East Asia in November, and made outreach efforts of the Energy Charter Treaty, which aims to promote trade and transit liberalization and investment protection in the energy sector.

Regarding foreign tourists, Japan is working to promote visits to Japan through strategic relaxation of visa requirements and by promoting the attractions of Japan, and achieved 24 million overseas visitors to Japan in 2016, with 3.7 trillion yen spent on consumption.

(3) Response to Global Issues

The issues of disarmament and non-proliferation, peace-building, sustainable development, risk reduction, climate change, human rights, women's empowerment, and the consolidation of the rule of law are related to the peace, stability and prosperity of the international community, including Japan. These issues cannot be solved by one country alone, and require a united response by the international community, and the initiatives for these issues are one critical part of Japan's “Proactive Contribution to Peace” initiative.

【Contribution to realizing a human centered society】

In order to take care of socially vulnerable people in the international community with respect for the universal values of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and realize a society where individuals can make the most use of their potential, Japan is advancing international contributions under the notion of “human security.”

〈2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development〉

The “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (the 2030 Agenda)” adopted in September 2015 lays out a set of “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” which are to be undertaken by all countries, and 2016 marked the starting year of their implementation. In May, the SDGs Promotion Headquarters, headed by Prime Minister Abe, was established in Japan, and with actions such as the formulation of the implementation guidelines for SDGs in December, the implementation is steadily advancing.

〈Toward a society where women shine〉

The third World Assembly for Women (WAW! 2016) was held in December, gathering leaders of various fields surrounding women from diverse countries and international organizations. A proposal was sent out as “WAW! To Do 2016”, after the discussion, and is to be distributed as a UN document (A/71/829).

〈Human rights〉

Human rights and fundamental freedom are universal values, and their preservation serves as the cornerstone of peace and stability in the international community. In this field, Japan proactively participates in bilateral dialogues and a number of multinational fora such as the UN and makes contributions including constructive dialogue with the UN human rights mechanisms in order to improve the human rights situation globally.

〈Global Health〉

Health holds an important position when considering “human security.” Based on the “Basic Design for Peace and Health” decided in September 2015 and discussions at international conferences such as the G7 Ise-Shima Summit, Japan is working to enhance health systems, starting with the promotion of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) that ensures affordable access to basic health services for all whenever they need them throughout their lives, which serves to strengthen responsive capability for public health emergencies, and help prepare for potential threats.

【Contribution to prosperity】
〈Development Cooperation Charter and ODA Utilization〉

Under the Development Cooperation Charter decided by the Cabinet in February 2015, Japan has been making proactive and strategic utilization of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in order to contribute to the peace, stability, and prosperity of the international community and to secure Japan's national interests through them.


Since 1993, Japan has taken the initiative to support the development of Africa through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). In August 2016, Japan hosted TICAD VI in Nairobi, Kenya, which resulted to be the first TICAD Summit held in Africa.

〈Quality Infrastructure〉

For the economic growth of developing countries, it is essential that the fruits of growth be spread throughout society and that development be sustainable in harmony with society and environment and highly resilient against shocks such as economic crises and natural disasters. Japan is leveraging its strengths in human resource development and technology transfer to put in place the development of quality infrastructure which supports “quality growth.”

The “G7 Ise-Shima Principles for Promoting Quality Infrastructure Investment” were endorsed at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit, and Japan announced the “Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure” which would provide financing of approximately 200 billion US dollars in the next five years to infrastructural projects across the world. At TICAD VI, Japan committed to carry out approximately 10 billion US dollars of quality infrastructure investments in Africa over three years from 2016 to 2018.

〈Climate Change〉

The “Paris Agreement” is a fair and effective framework that provides for the setting and submission of greenhouse gas emission reduction goals by each country independently, with no distinction between developing and developed countries, and for the implementation of initiatives toward the achievement of these goals. Regarding the Agreement, Japan will continue to work on the formulation of the relevant guidelines which enhance the transparency of each country's greenhouse gas emission reductions to ensure the achievement of effective greenhouse gas emission reductions by all countries.

〈Utilizing science and technology for diplomacy〉

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is advancing initiatives which utilize the power of science and technology in diplomacy in both bilateral relationships and multinational frameworks. The Science and Technology Advisor to the Minister for Foreign Affairs is gathering domestic expertise through the Advisory Board for the Promotion of Science and Technology Diplomacy for which he serves as chairman, while advising the Minister for Foreign Affairs and relevant departments on the use of science and technology in diplomatic areas as well as promoting public relations and networking overseas.

【Contribution to peace】
〈Proactive initiatives for disarmament and non-proliferation〉

As the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings, Japan is leading international efforts in disarmament and non-proliferation to realize “a world free of nuclear weapons” through promoting cooperation between nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States and is building up realistic and practical measures, including the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

“The Hiroshima Declaration on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation” was issued at the G7 Hiroshima Foreign Ministers' Meeting in April, delivering a strong message towards “a world free of nuclear weapons.” The US President Obama visited Hiroshima in May. Both events served to revitalize international momentum to realize a world free of nuclear weapons. In December, the “International Conference in Nagasaki–towards a world free of nuclear weapons” was held in Nagasaki, the site of an atomic bombing, inviting government officials, experts and youth from various countries around the world to hold discussions toward the realization of “a world free of nuclear weapons.”

〈Promotion of international peace cooperation〉

Japan has placed importance on cooperating in UN Peace Keeping Operations (PKOs) from the standpoint of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation, and currently has dispatched staff officers since 2011, and engineering units which have carried out site maintenance within UN facilities, road repair outside of UN facilities and other activities since 2012 to the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS). While continuously dispatching necessary personnel, in November 2016 the Cabinet decided to revise the Implementation Plan authorizing a mission of so-called “Kaketsuke-Keigo” (coming to the aid of geopolitically distant unit or personnel under attack).In March 2017, it was decided to end the activities of the Engineering Unit among the dispatched personnel by the end of May.

〈Stabilization of the Middle East〉

To achieve stability in the Middle East, Japan is urging related countries to fulfill constructive roles, while providing support to resolve the fundamental causes of the issues.

〈Measures against violent extremism〉

Against the threat of the expansion of terrorism and violent extremism, Japan is strengthening international cooperation particularly in the field of border control as well as the building up of moderate societies in Asia, and comprehensively combating terrorism and violent extremism, including by collecting information through International Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Collection Units. In line with the final report summarizing Japan's new safety measures, compiled after the July 2016 terrorist attack in Dhaka, Japan continues to strengthen the measures to secure the safety of those working on international cooperation projects. Japan also reinforces safety measures for, Japanese companies operating overseas including small and medium enterprises, educational institutions and overseas Japanese including students.

〈Proactive efforts to strengthen the rule of law〉

Japan is working to maintain and promote the “Open and Stable Seas” based on the “Three Principles of the Rule of Law at Sea.” Furthermore, Japan is strengthening its cooperation with various countries by actively participating in initiatives to ensure the security of sea lanes of communication through anti-piracy measures off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden as well as Asia, international rule-making to strengthen the rule of law in outer space and cyberspace, as well as the efforts of the international community regarding the Arctic.

〈Strengthening cooperation with the UN and other organizations and UN security reform〉

Japan has been serving as a member of the UN Security Council for two years from 2016 to 2017 after being elected as a non-permanent member of the Security Council for the 11th time, which is more than any other UN Member States. Furthermore, 2016 marked the 60th anniversary of Japan's membership in the UN, and various related memorial ceremonies were held both in Japan and abroad.

In order to advance comprehensive UN Security Council reform, to make the UN better reflect the reality of the international community and better respond to challenges, Japan, as a member of the G4, will continue to closely cooperate with reform-oriented countries toward an early realization of the reform.

Furthermore, in response to the issues addressed by the UN and other international organizations, Japan is making intellectual and personnel contributions through active roles of Japanese staff in addition to financial contributions, and is making efforts to increase the number of Japanese nationals working in international organizations.

(4) Strengthening Strategic Communication and the Foreign Policy Implementation Structure


Public understanding and support both domestically and from the international community are indispensable for the implementation of Japan's foreign policy. Sharing Japan's various charms, such as culture and food, serves to increase understanding for Japan in the international community, and is also important in the economic aspect such as tourism and exports. Particularly in regard to sharing the attractiveness of Japan's regional areas, MOFA is working to promote such attractiveness from “Local to Global,” and attract tourists and domestic investment from “Global to Local”.

In 2016, MOFA worked on provision of information utilizing various methods including through MOFA websites and social media for both within Japan and abroad. Efforts are also proceeding to establish the “Japan Houses” in London, Los Angeles and São Paulo, which promote Japan's attractiveness through an All-Japan initiative.

【Strengthening the foreign policy implementation structure】

As we continue to face wide-ranging diplomatic issues, it is essential to further expand the foreign policy implementation structure, which serves as the foundation of diplomacy, and MOFA continues its efforts to enhance its comprehensive foreign policy implementation structure. While continuing its streamlining efforts, MOFA will make efforts to further reinforce the diplomatic missions overseas and its personnel structure accounting for both quantity and quality, as well as to engage in capacity development for its diplomats in order to ensure a level of foreign policy implementation structure that is comparable to those of other major countries.

The G7 Ise-Shima Summit & G7 Hiroshima Foreign Ministers' Meeting

The G7 shares the basic values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and has jointly demonstrated leadership in addressing issues faced by the international community, such as downside risk of the global economy. Holding the presidency of the G7 serves as an important opportunity for Japan to promote its contributions and efforts, appeal, and strengths to the international community, as well as to develop an economic and political international environment that is desirable for Japan. Japan hosted the G7 Ise-Shima Summit on May 26 and 27, 2016 in Mie Prefecture as the presidency of the G7. The Ise-Shima Summit marked the 42nd Summit since the Rambouillet Summit, and according to the annually rotating presidency, it was Japan's sixth time to host the Summit, following 1979 (Tokyo), 1986 (Tokyo), 1993 (Tokyo), 2000 (Kyushu, Okinawa) and 2008 (Toyako, Hokkaido).

Regarding the global economy, which was the most important theme of the Ise-Shima Summit, in the presence of risks such as the downturn in crude oil prices, the slowdown in the emerging economies and the UK's exit from the EU, the G7 reaffirmed the importance of using all policy tools ―monetary, fiscal and structural― in order to avoid falling into another crisis. Candid discussions were held among the G7 leaders on topics in which Japan has taken the leading role: quality infrastructure investment, health, and a society in which women can actively engage; various issues faced by the world, such as terrorism, the refugee crisis, climate change and sustainable development; and furthermore as the first summit held in Asia in eight years, the situations in the Asia-Pacific, including North Korea, and the maritime security of the East and South China Sea, making the Ise-Shima Summit a great success.

The G7 leaders were welcomed amidst the dignified atmosphere of Ise-Jingu Shrine, and in addition to serving meals centered around locally sourced ingredients from Mie Prefecture, famed Japanese sake from Mie Prefecture and the disaster-affected areas, and Japanese wines were also provided. Furthermore, the latest technologies and initiatives aligned with the theme of the Ise-Shima Summit were introduced at the International Media Center, and other activities were also undertaken to fully share the unique charms and strengths of Japan with the world.

G7 leaders’ visit to Ise-Jingu Shrine (May 26, Mie Prefecture (Ise-Jingu Shrine))G7 leaders’ visit to Ise-Jingu Shrine (May 26, Mie Prefecture (Ise-Jingu Shrine))
A scene from the G7 Ise-Shima Summit (May 27, Mie Prefecture)A scene from the G7 Ise-Shima Summit (May 27, Mie Prefecture)
Group photo of the Heads of G7 and outreach countries (May 27, Mie Prefecture)Group photo of the Heads of G7 and outreach countries (May 27, Mie Prefecture)

At the G7 Hiroshima Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in April, ahead of the Ise-Shima Summit, discussions were held on pressing issues faced by the international community, such as terrorism and violent extremism, the refugee issue, disarmament and non-proliferation, and maritime security, as well as regional affairs such as North Korea, the Middle East and Ukraine, resulting in the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting Joint Communiqué, the G7 Foreign Ministers' Hiroshima Declaration on Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, the G7 Foreign Ministers' Statement on Maritime Security, and the G7 Statement on Non-proliferation and Disarmament. Furthermore, after the first ever visit of the G7 foreign ministers, which includes nuclear-weapon States, to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the ministers laid wreaths at the Cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims, and by U.S. Secretary of State Kerry's proposal, they made an impromptu visit to the Atomic Bomb Dome, and sent a strong message to the international community as the G7 from Hiroshima, which symbolizes the resurrection of “peace” and “hope” after the dropping of the atomic bomb.

In addition to introducing the G7 foreign ministers to the Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage Site, Japan's history and food culture was also effectively introduced and advertised in the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting through a vivid menu made with the bountiful ingredients of Hiroshima's various regions, and a wide array of Japanese sakes, Japanese wines, and Japan made whiskeys centered around those produced in Hiroshima prefecture.

In addition to the G7 Hiroshima Foreign Ministers' Meeting, ten ministerial meetings were held at locations throughout Japan: the Agriculture Ministers' Meeting in Niigata City, and the ICT Ministers' Meeting in Takamatsu City in April, the Energy Ministerial Meeting in Kitakyushu City, the Education Ministers' Meeting in Kurashiki City, the Environment Ministers' Meeting in Toyama City, the Science and Technology Ministers' Meeting in Tsukuba City, the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors' Meeting in Sendai City in May, and after the Ise-Shima Summit, the Health Ministers' Meeting in Kobe City, and the Transport Ministers' Meeting in Karuizawa Town in September. At each of these ministerial meetings, the responsible G7 ministers held meaningful discussions on the various issues faced by the international community, and also appreciated the beautiful nature of Japan, and the appeal of the bountiful cultures and traditions of the various regions in Japan.

The G7 holds the responsibility to present prescriptions for a wide range of issues faced by the international community from a global perspective, and each member country has the responsibility to practice those prescriptions. The Ise-Shima Summit is positioned as the highlight of Japan's 2016 diplomacy, and while Japan was able to host the summit to a successful conclusion by gathering every available diplomatic resource, it is critical to turn the determination of the G7 displayed at the Ise-Shima Summit into visible actions. For that purpose, Japan will continue to make meaningful contributions.

G7 Foreign Ministers’ visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and laying wreaths at the Cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims (April 11, Hiroshima Prefecture)G7 Foreign Ministers’ visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and laying wreaths at the Cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims (April 11, Hiroshima Prefecture)
The G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (April 11, Hiroshima Prefecture)The G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (April 11, Hiroshima Prefecture)

Visit by U.S. President Obama to Hiroshima

On May 27, 2016, President Obama of the United States of America, accompanied by Prime Minister Abe, visited Hiroshima, as the first sitting U.S. President to visit the city.

After arriving at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, President Obama was welcomed by Prime Minister Abe, and then greeted, in front of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, by Foreign Minister Kishida, Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture, Hidehiko Yuzaki, and Mayor of Hiroshima City, Kazumi Matsui. While at the museum, Minister Kishida gave an overview of the museum and explanations of its exhibits, including Sadako Sasaki's folded paper cranes. President Obama listened attentively to Minister Kishida's explanations while looking intently at the exhibits. Subsequently, the President personally handed folded paper cranes to two local Hiroshima children and explained to them that he had folded them by himself, with a little help. Prime Minister Abe and President Obama signed the guest book respectively, and President Obama placed two more folded paper cranes beside it.

Laying wreaths at the Cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims (May 27, Hiroshima Prefecture, Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)Laying wreaths at the Cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims (May 27, Hiroshima Prefecture, Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)
The two leaders meeting with atomic bomb survivors (May 27, Hiroshima Prefecture)The two leaders meeting with atomic bomb survivors (May 27, Hiroshima Prefecture)
Viewing the Atomic Bomb Dome (May 27, Hiroshima Prefecture)Viewing the Atomic Bomb Dome (May 27, Hiroshima Prefecture)

Afterwards, in a solemn atmosphere, the two leaders proceeded to the Cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims, led by Governor Yuzaki, Mayor Matsui, Minister Kishida, and Ambassador of the United States of America to Japan, Caroline Kennedy. There, the leaders were handed wreaths by Hiroshima high-school students who have been commissioned as “Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons,” and first, President Obama and then, Prime Minister Abe laid the wreath and offered a silent prayer.

President Obama, followed by Prime Minister Abe, then delivered a statement. Powerful messages on realizing “a world free of nuclear weapons” were stated by the leader of the only country to have used nuclear weapons and the leader of the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings in war. After the statements were delivered, President Obama walked over to atomic bomb survivors, Mr. Sunao Tsuboi and Mr. Shigeaki Mori, exchanged words with each of them and also exchanged a warm embrace with Mr. Mori.

The two leaders proceeded toward the Atomic Bomb Dome. They viewed the dome from the Flame of Peace's north side, and Minister Kishida provided an explanation. President Obama listened attentively to Minister Kishida's explanation that the Atomic Bomb Dome was designated a World Heritage Site in 1996 and is a symbol of the bombsite. Minister Kishida also told President Obama about the Children's Peace Monument and the folded cranes that have been sent from around the world, which were located immediately in front of them.

President Obama's visit to Hiroshima was the first visit by a sitting U.S. President and it was an extremely important historic event in terms of commemorating the war dead and revitalizing international momentum for realizing a world free of nuclear weapons. At the same time, the visit symbolized the strength of the U.S.-Japan Alliance, an “Alliance of Hope,” which has been built up over more than 70 years since the war.

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Abe of Japan at Hiroshima Peace Memorial

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Seventy-one years ago, on a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.

Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not so distant past. We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 in Japanese men, women and children; thousands of Koreans; a dozen Americans held prisoner. Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become.

It is not the fact of war that sets Hiroshima apart. Artifacts tell us that violent conflict appeared with the very first man. Our early ancestors, having learned to make blades from flint and spears from wood, used these tools not just for hunting, but against their own kind. On every continent, the history of civilization is filled with war, whether driven by scarcity of grain or hunger for gold; compelled by nationalist fervor or religious zeal. Empires have risen and fallen. Peoples have been subjugated and liberated. And at each juncture, innocents have suffered, a countless toll, their names forgotten by time.

The World War that reached its brutal end in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was fought among the wealthiest and most powerful of nations. Their civilizations had given the world great cities and magnificent art. Their thinkers had advanced ideas of justice and harmony and truth. And yet, the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes; an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints. In the span of a few years, some 60 million people would die -- men, women, children no different than us, shot, beaten, marched, bombed, jailed, starved, gassed to death.

There are many sites around the world that chronicle this war -- memorials that tell stories of courage and heroism; graves and empty camps that echo of unspeakable depravity. Yet in the image of a mushroom cloud that rose into these skies, we are most starkly reminded of humanity's core contradiction; how the very spark that marks us as a species -- our thoughts, our imagination, our language, our tool-making, our ability to set ourselves apart from nature and bend it to our will -- those very things also give us the capacity for unmatched destruction.

How often does material advancement or social innovation blind us to this truth. How easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause. Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill. Nations arise, telling a story that binds people together in sacrifice and cooperation, allowing for remarkable feats, but those same stories have so often been used to oppress and dehumanize those who are different.

Science allows us to communicate across the seas and fly above the clouds; to cure disease and understand the cosmos. But those same discoveries can be turned into ever-more efficient killing machines.

The wars of the modern age teach this truth. Hiroshima teaches this truth. Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us. The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution, as well.

That is why we come to this place. We stand here, in the middle of this city, and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell. We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see. We listen to a silent cry. We remember all the innocents killed across the arc of that terrible war, and the wars that came before, and the wars that would follow.

Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering, but we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again. Someday the voices of the hibakusha will no longer be with us to bear witness. But the memory of the morning of August 6th, 1945 must never fade. That memory allows us to fight complacency. It fuels our moral imagination. It allows us to change.

And since that fateful day, we have made choices that give us hope. The United States and Japan forged not only an alliance, but a friendship that has won far more for our people than we could ever claim through war. The nations of Europe built a Union that replaced battlefields with bonds of commerce and democracy. Oppressed peoples and nations won liberation. An international community established institutions and treaties that worked to avoid war and aspire to restrict and roll back, and ultimately eliminate the existence of nuclear weapons.

Still, every act of aggression between nations; every act of terror and corruption and cruelty and oppression that we see around the world shows our work is never done. We may not be able to eliminate man's capacity to do evil, so nations –- and the alliances that we've formed -– must possess the means to defend ourselves. But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without them.

We may not realize this goal in my lifetime. But persistent effort can roll back the possibility of catastrophe. We can chart a course that leads to the destruction of these stockpiles. We can stop the spread to new nations, and secure deadly materials from fanatics.

And yet that is not enough. For we see around the world today how even the crudest rifles and barrel bombs can serve up violence on a terrible scale. We must change our mindset about war itself –- to prevent conflict through diplomacy, and strive to end conflicts after they've begun; to see our growing interdependence as a cause for peaceful cooperation and not violent competition; to define our nations not by our capacity to destroy, but by what we build.

And perhaps above all, we must reimagine our connection to one another as members of one human race. For this, too, is what makes our species unique. We're not bound by genetic code to repeat the mistakes of the past. We can learn. We can choose. We can tell our children a different story –- one that describes a common humanity; one that makes war less likely and cruelty less easily accepted.

We see these stories in the hibakusha –- the woman who forgave a pilot who flew the plane that dropped the atomic bomb, because she recognized that what she really hated was war itself; the man who sought out families of Americans killed here, because he believed their loss was equal to his own.

My own nation's story began with simple words: All men are created equal, and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Realizing that ideal has never been easy, even within our own borders, even among our own citizens.

But staying true to that story is worth the effort. It is an ideal to be strived for; an ideal that extends across continents, and across oceans. The irreducible worth of every person, the insistence that every life is precious; the radical and necessary notion that we are part of a single human family -– that is the story that we all must tell.

That is why we come to Hiroshima. So that we might think of people we love -- the first smile from our children in the morning; the gentle touch from a spouse over the kitchen table; the comforting embrace of a parent –- we can think of those things and know that those same precious moments took place here seventy-one years ago. Those who died -– they are like us. Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life, and not eliminating it.

When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done.

The world was forever changed here. But today, the children of this city will go through their day in peace. What a precious thing that is. It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child. That is the future we can choose -– a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare, but as the start of our own moral awakening. (Applause.)

The original text: The White House

Remarks by Prime Minister Abe during the visit to Hiroshima with President Obama of the United States

Last year, 70 years after the end of the war, I visited the United States and delivered an address, as the Prime Minister of Japan, at a Joint Meeting of the U.S. Congress.

Many American youngsters were deprived of their dreams and futures because of that war.

I offered my eternal condolences to the souls of all American people who were lost during World War II, reflecting upon such harsh history.

And I expressed gratitude and respect for all the people in both Japan and the United States who have committed themselves to reconciliation for the past 70 years.

70 years later, enemies that had fought each other so fiercely have become friends bonded in spirit, and have become allies bound in deep trust and friendship between us. The Japan-U.S. Alliance, which came to the world in this way, has to be an alliance of hope for the world. So I appealed in my address.

One year has passed since then.

This time, President Obama, for the first time as the leader of the United States, paid a visit to Hiroshima, a city that suffered from an atomic bombing.

The US President witnessed the realities of atomic bombings and renewed his determination for “a world free of nuclear weapons”.

This gave a great “hope” to people all around the world who have never given up their hope for “a world free of nuclear weapons”.

I would like to give a wholehearted welcome to this historic visit which had been awaited not only by the people of Hiroshima, but also by all the Japanese people.

I express my sincere respect for the decision and courage of President Obama.

With his decision and courage, we are making a new chapter to our history of the reconciliation of Japan and the United States and trust and friendship.

A few minutes ago, together, President Obama and I offered our deepest condolences for all those who lost their lives during World War II, and also by the atomic bombings.

71 years ago, in Hiroshima and in Nagasaki respectively, a number of innocent citizens were lost to a single atomic bomb without any mercy.

Each one of them had his or her life, dream and beloved family.

When I reflect on this sheer fact, I cannot help feeling painful grief.

Even today, there are victims who are still suffering unbearably from the bombings.

There are feelings of those who went through unimaginable tragic experiences, indeed, in this city, 71 years ago.

It is utterly unspeakable.

Through their minds, various feelings might come and go. But, of these, this must be in common.

“At any place in the world, this tragedy must not be repeated again.”

It is the “responsibility of us who live in the present” to firmly inherit this deep “feeling”.

We are determined to realize “a world free of nuclear weapons”.

No matter how long and how difficult the road will be, it is the “responsibility of us who live in the present” to continue to make efforts.

The children who were born on that unforgettable day lit the “light”, hoping for permanent peace.

It is the “responsibility of us who live in the present” to make every effort for the peace and prosperity of the world, vowing for this “light”.

We will surely fulfill our responsibility.

Japan and the United States will together become a “light to bring hope” to the people in the world.

Standing in this city, I am firmly determined, together with President Obama.

This is the “only way” to respond to the feelings of countless spirits, who were the victims of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I am truly convinced.

Provisional translation: Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet

Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy

Prime Minister Abe announced the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” at TICAD VI held in Kenya from August 27 to 28.

Prime Minister Abe giving his keynote address at TICAD VI (August 27, Kenya, Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)Prime Minister Abe giving his keynote address at TICAD VI (August 27, Kenya, Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)

“What will give stability and prosperity to the world is none other than the enormous liveliness brought forth through the union of two free and open oceans and two continents. Japan bears the responsibility of fostering the confluence of the Pacific and Indian Oceans and of Asia and Africa into a place that values freedom, the rule of law, and the market economy, free from force or coercion, and making it prosperous. Japan wants to work together with you in Africa in order to make the seas that connect the two continents into peaceful seas that are governed by the rule of law. That is what we wish to do with you. The winds that traverse the ocean turn our eyes to the future. The supply chain is already building something quite like an enormous bridge between Asia and Africa, providing industrial wisdom. The population in Asia living in democracies is more numerous than that of any other region on Earth. Asia has enjoyed growth on the basis of the democracy, rule of law, and market economy that has taken root there. It is my wish that the self-confidence and sense of responsibility spawned there as a result come to envelop the entirety of Africa together with the gentle winds that blow here.”

Japan considers the key to the stability and prosperity of the international community to be the dynamism created by the synergy between the “two continents” ― Asia, which is recording remarkable growth, and Africa, which is full of potentials ― and two free and open seas ― the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. By regarding these continents and seas as an integrated region, Japan intends to open up a new frontier of Japanese diplomacy. This strategy is based on the consistent conclusion of the Abe Cabinet that free and open seas are the source of peace and prosperity in the world.

Democracy, the rule of law and the market economy have already taken root in Southeast Asia and South Asia, and self-confidence, responsibility and leadership have been awakened. Japan intends to promote peace and prosperity in the region as a whole by promoting the success of Asia, which could be called the “leading part of the world,” throughout the Middle East and Africa through free and open Indo-Pacific, extracting the latent power of the Middle East and Africa; in other words, by improving the “connectivity” of Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

In particular, Japan will expand infrastructure development, trade and investment, and enhance business environment and human development from East Asia as a starting-point, to the Middle East and Africa. In addition, Japan will provide nation-building support in the area of development as well as politics and governance, in a way that respects the ownership of African countries, and not by forcing on or intervening in them.

To realize this strategy, Japan intends to further strengthen its strategic cooperation with countries such as India, which has a historical relationship with East Africa, and the U.S. and Australia, with which it has alliances. Particularly, during Prime Minister Modi of India's visit to Japan in November 2016, the two leaders shared the view to take the initiative for the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region by enhancing the synergy between Japan's “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” and India's “Act East Policy” through collaboration.

A New Foreign Policy Strategy: &dquot;Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy&dquot;