Diplomatic Bluebook 2017

Chapter 2

Japan's Foreign Policy that Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map


(1) Australia

A Brief summary and overview

In Australia, Prime Minister Turnbull, who was appointed in September 2015, dissolved both houses of the federal parliament in May 2016 and federal parliamentary general elections were held in July. As a result of the elections, the Coalition (Liberal Party-National Party) led by Prime Minister Turnbull won by a narrow margin and he was reappointed as the prime minister.

Under the “Special Strategic Partnership” sharing fundamental values and strategic interests, Japan and Australia support a rule-based free and open international order and contribute together to the stability and prosperity of the international community. Based on mutual visits by the prime ministers and close collaboration between the foreign ministers, cooperative relations on the political and security fronts are steadily deepening. On the economic front, Australia is the sixth largest trading partner for Japan and Japan is the second largest trading partner for Australia. The two countries are further developing their mutually complementary economic relations based on the Japan-Australia EPA, and are cooperating closely regarding the promotion of free trade, in particular, the TPP agreement, the RCEP, etc. Furthermore, trilateral coordination and partnership such as Japan-U.S.-Australia and Japan-Australia-India are being steadily strengthened.

A Japan-Australia Summit Meeting was held on the occasion of the ASEAN-related Summit Meetings in September in Laos. During the meeting, the two leaders shared the view that they would further promote bilateral relations and closely cooperate on regional and international issues. Furthermore, in January 2017, Prime Minister Abe visited Australia and confirmed the deepening of the “Special Strategic Partnership” in a wide range of areas including security and defense cooperation, economic issues and people-to-people exchanges, while also seeking to strengthen the personal relationship between the two leaders. This visit was widely and favorably reported by the media in the two countries. Foreign Minister Kishida and Foreign Minister Bishop held meetings on the occasions such as Foreign Minister Bishop's visit to Japan in February and the UN General Assembly in September. Through these meetings, the two countries shared their views on the increasingly severe regional situations and confirmed that they would continue to coordinate for the peace and stability of the region.

Japan-Australia Summit Meeting (September 7, Vientiane, Laos; Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)Japan-Australia Summit Meeting (September 7, Vientiane, Laos; Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)
B Cooperation in the security field

Japan and Australia are steadily strengthening and expanding cooperation from the point of view that the close bilateral coordination in the areas of security and defense will contribute to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. The Foreign and Defense Joint Ministerial Consultations (“2+2”) have been regularized, and the Japan-Australia Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (Japan-Australia ACSA), the Agreement on the Security of Information, and the Agreement concerning the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology were concluded between the two countries. The two countries worked to revise the ACSA in order to further promote close cooperation between the Self-Defense Forces and the Australian Defence Force, taking into account Japan's Legislation for Peace and Security, and the new Japan-Australia ACSA was signed in January 2017. Furthermore, the two countries are currently negotiating to make an agreement to facilitate joint operations and exercises. Moreover, the two countries are strengthening the coordination in areas such as cyber, space, counter-terrorism and violent extremism, and are broadening the scope of cooperation.

In light of the increasingly severe security environment in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan and Australia, which are both allies of the U.S., are working on further enhancement of Japan-U.S.-Australia cooperation. In July 2016, the Japan-U.S.-Australia Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) was held for the first time in approximately three years, and the three countries shared the view that they would closely collaborate and cooperate regarding issues including the South China Sea, the East China Sea, North Korea, and counter-terrorism. Furthermore, the cooperation is making steady progress such as joint exercises by the Japan Self-Defense Forces, U.S. Forces, and Australian Defence Forces, and the signing of the Trilateral Information Sharing Arrangement among the defense authorities in October.

At the Japan-Australia Summit Meeting held in January 2017, the two countries reaffirmed that the efforts relating to the security and defense cooperation will strengthen the long-standing bilateral strategic ties.

C Economic relations

The mutually complementary economic relationship between Japan and Australia has been developing steadily over the years. Japan mainly exports industrial products such as automobiles to Australia and mainly imports energy resources such as coal and natural gas, as well as agricultural products such as beef from Australia. Furthermore, in recent years, investment from Japan to Australia has been diversifying and expanding, making Japan the second largest investor to Australia. Moreover, efforts are being made to further develop economic relations between Japan and Australia, under the Conference for Promotion of Exchanges between Japan and Australia, with innovation-led reform of industrial structures and region-led promotion of relations serving as the two pillars. The two countries are also closely coordinating on the promotion of regional free trade systems, including the TPP agreement and the RCEP.

At the Japan-Australia Summit Meeting in January 2017, the two leaders confirmed the success of the Japan-Australia EPA, celebrating the second anniversary of its entry into force, and the implementation of the TPP agreement that will bring about important economic and strategic benefit, will remain indispensable. They also reaffirmed that the RCEP would provide opportunities towards closer economic integration of the region.

D Cultural and people-to-people exchanges

There exists a foundation for an affinity toward Japan in Australia cultivated over many years, as shown by the fact that approximately 360,000 people in Australia learn the Japanese language (the highest number of learners per population in the world), and that there are over 100 sister city relations. In order to strengthen the foundation of Japan-Australia relations, various efforts have been made such as the promotion of understanding Japan through the short-term invitation programs, namely, JENESYS 2015, JENESYS 2016, and the “New Colombo Plan,” as well as promotion of reconciliation through the invitation program of former Australian prisoners of war (POWs), and the Young Political Leaders Exchange.

E Cooperation in the international Community

The two countries have been strengthening cooperation at various levels to play an active role in the peace and stability of the international community. The two countries have been building cooperative relations over many years regarding the UN peacekeeping operations and peacebuilding, and both countries have been operating in close coordination in the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS). In February, the foreign ministers of Japan and Australia announced the Japan-Australia Strategy for Cooperation in the Pacific in order to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Pacific region. In October, the first Pacific Policy Dialogue was held to exchange views regarding the cooperation between Japan and Australia. Furthermore, the two countries are working together in the international arena, sharing the recognition on the importance of issues such as maritime security, the nuclear and missile development, the abduction issue by North Korea, disarmament and non-proliferation, climate change, and UN Security Council reform.

(2) New Zealand

A Brief summary and overview

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Key resigned in December and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance English assumed the office of the prime minister. Japan and New Zealand share fundamental values, such as democracy and market economy. The two countries have been maintaining good relations over the years. In recent years, under the “strategic cooperative partnership,” the two countries have been strengthening cooperative relations on issues facing the region and the international community and strengthening bilateral cooperation in areas including economy, security and defense cooperation, and people-to-people exchanges.

B Mutual VIP visits

From Japan, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Hitoshi Kikawada visited New Zealand in February to attend the commemorative ceremony to mark the 5th anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake. Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Hamachi and Minister of State for Special Missions Nobuteru Ishihara visited New Zealand and held meetings with its top government officials in July and August, respectively.

From New Zealand, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Goldsmith visited Japan in May to attend the International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo. Furthermore, Minister for Maori Development Flavell visited Japan in June, and held a meeting with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuhiro Sugita, and exchanged views with companies related to the agriculture and forestry sectors. In addition, Minister for Economic Development Joyce visited Japan in August and exchanged views with people in the business sector.

C Economic relations

The two countries enjoy a complementary economic relationship, and the prime ministers of Japan and New Zealand confirmed the importance of promoting free trade during their talks on the occasion of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Peru in November. The two countries are further strengthening bilateral cooperation toward the entry into force of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which both countries participate, and the early conclusion of a high-quality RCEP.

Furthermore, in the fields of food and agriculture, the two-year extension of the “New Zealand Hokkaido Dairy Collaboration Project” was decided in June after the completion of a two-year long pilot project which began in 2014. This project is designed to identify methods of improving the profitability of dairy farming in Japan.

D People-to-people exchange

In 2016, 31 university students from New Zealand visited Japan as part of a youth exchange project “JENESYS (Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths) 2016.” More than 1,100 high school and university students from New Zealand have visited Japan through youth related programs that have continued since 2007.

In addition, networking between sister cities is making progress with an aim to promote mutual understanding among the youth. Furthermore, the New Zealand Government sponsored “Game On English” which extends support to English language education for Japanese students through rugby, in which New Zealand won the World Cup twice in a row. Under this program, 22 Japanese students visited New Zealand in 2015.

E Cooperation at times of disaster

When a magnitude 7.8 earthquake centered in the northern Canterbury region, South Island, struck New Zealand on November 13 (Japan time), Japan dispatched a P-1 patrol aircraft from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force as a part of the Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) Team and the Self-Defense Force Team, and surveyed the state of damage from the air upon a request from the government of New Zealand.

F Cooperation in the international community

The two countries cooperated closely for the peace and stability of the international community as the non-permanent members of the UN Security Council. Furthermore, Japan and New Zealand have been playing active roles in the stability and prosperity of the region, including the collaboration in the regional cooperation frameworks such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM), and the cooperation in the field of economic development in the Pacific island countries.

(3) Pacific Island Countries (PICs)

A Brief summary and overview

The Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are important partners for Japan in terms of the cooperation in the international community and supply of natural resources, and are bound by the Pacific Ocean and have deep historic ties with Japan. Japan has been holding the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) once every three years since 1997. Since 2010, Japan has also been holding the PALM Ministerial Interim Meeting. Furthermore, Japan continues to participate in the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Post Forum Dialogue. In addition, from 2014 onwards, Japan has been holding Japan-Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting every year on the occasion of the UN General Assembly held in September. Japan has been further strengthening relations with PICs through high-level visits during such international conferences, operational implementation of meetings, agile ODA projects, and active people-to-people exchanges. There were a series of elections held in the PICs in 2016, including national elections held in Kiribati in January, Vanuatu in February, Samoa in March, Nauru in July, and Palau in November. As a result, new leaders came into office in Kiribati and Vanuatu and the incumbent were re-elected in Samoa, Nauru, and Palau. Furthermore, in the Marshall Islands, presidential elections were held twice, including one due to a vote of no confidence in January, and a new president came into office twice.

B Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting

In September during his visit to New York, U.S., Prime Minister Abe held the Third Japan-Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting on the occasion of the UN General Assembly where discussions were held on items such as the status of follow-up on various commitments and cooperation announced at the Seventh Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM 7), North Korea, the rule of law at sea, and UN reform, and in particular, Security Council reform.

Furthermore, in January 2017 the PALM Third Ministerial Interim Meeting was held in Tokyo. At this meeting, Foreign Minister Kishida and Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Federated States of Micronesia Robert served as co-chairs, and exchanges of views were held with the focus on the follow-up of PALM 7, cooperation in the international arena, self-sufficient and sustainable development, various maritime issues, and the vision toward PALM 8. The PICs expressed their deep appreciation for the steady implementation of the commitments announced at PALM 7 by Japan, and each country agreed to cooperate closely toward the success of PALM 8 in 2018.

C Mutual VIP visits

In January, Member of the House of Representatives Kazunori Tanaka visited the Republic of the Marshall Islands as a Special Envoy of the Prime Minister, and attended the inauguration ceremony of President Nemra and held meetings with the president and others. In May, Prime Minister of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea O'Neill attended the outreach meeting of the G7 Ise-Shima Summit as the representative of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), and held a meeting with Prime Minister Abe and confirmed cooperation in economic areas, in particular, LNG. In July, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Masakazu Hamachi visited Samoa as the head of a joint public-private economic mission in order to attend the Japan-Samoa Trade and Investment Seminar, which was held as a specific effort based on the fact that the importance of encouraging trade and investment between Japan and the PICs had been confirmed at PALM 7. In January 2017, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Odawara attended the inauguration ceremony of the president of the Republic of Palau as a Special Envoy of the Prime Minister and held a meeting with President Remengesau and others.

D Relationship with Pacific Islands Forum (PIF)

In September, a Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Post Forum Dialogue was held in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, and Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Odawara attended as a Special Envoy of the Prime Minister, and made reference to the importance of cooperation with the PIF and announced that Japan would advance cooperation with the PICs in a variety of areas, including climate change and human resources development.

E People-to-people exchanges

A total of 224 people, including university students, visited Japan under the people-to-people exchange projects - JENESYS 2015 and JENESYS 2016 - deepening their understanding of the politics, history, culture, and society of Japan. Furthermore, from FY2016 Japan commenced the Pacific-Leaders' Educational Assistance for Development of State (Pacific-LEADS) for young government administrators in the PICs, and in FY2016 the program accepted 41 trainees.

F Establishment of the Embassy of Japan in Samoa

Since Samoa is one of the central countries in the Polynesia region and is an important country for Japan, such as supporting Japan's position in the international arena to date, Japan upgraded the status of the representative office in Samoa to the Embassy of Japan in January 2017.