Diplomatic Bluebook 2017

Chapter 2

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

6.Regional and Inter-Regional Cooperation

The Asia-Pacific region is one of the world's growth centers. The realization of a peaceful and prosperous region is one of the priority issues in Japan's diplomacy. From this perspective, Japan places a high priority on working with its neighbors to create a peaceful and stable regional community underpinned by rules that comply with international law and a free, open and close-knit regional economy, making use of various regional cooperative frameworks, including Japan–ASEAN, Japan-Mekong cooperation, ASEAN+3, East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), while maintaining the Japan–U.S. Alliance as the linchpin of its foreign policy.

(1) The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

At the ASEAN-related Summit Meeting held in November 2015 (in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), it was declared that the ASEAN Community constituted of three communities of “political security,” “economic,” and “sociocultural,” (Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Establishment of ASEAN Community) would be established by the end of 2015. In addition, the “ASEAN2025: Forging Ahead Together,” which shows the direction of the ASEAN Community for ten years from 2016 to 2025, was adopted.

ASEAN also plays an important role as a center of regional cooperation in East Asia. In addition, multi-layered East Asian regional cooperation centered on ASEAN is functioning through such frameworks as ASEAN+3, EAS, ARF, and strengthened cooperative relationship in a wide range of areas including politics, security, and the economy. On the economic front, the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), as well as other economic partnership agreements (EPAs) and free trade agreements (FTAs) with various countries including Japan, China, the ROK, and India, were concluded creating a network of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) centered around ASEAN. With regard to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the negotiations started in 2013, and are being advanced with the aim of the conclusion of a high-quality agreement in such fields as trade in goods, trade in services, investment, intellectual property, and e-commerce.

Since ASEAN is situated in a geopolitically important location and constitutes important sea lanes, and its stability and prosperity relates to those of not only the East Asian region but also the international community, it is important for the entire international community that ASEAN is integrated in accordance with values such as the rule of law and democracy.

In the South China Sea, China has been further conducting unilateral actions that change the status quo and increase tensions such as large-scale and rapid land reclamation, the building of outposts for their use for military purposes, and attempts to create fait accompli. Many countries including Japan have expressed concern over such actions by China. Japan's position is that it welcomes dialogue between China and ASEAN regarding the South China Sea issue, but the dialogue should be based on international law and on the premise that demilitarization and self-restraint will be maintained on the ground.

Regarding the arbitral proceedings instituted by the government of the Philippines concerning the disputes between the Philippines and China about the South China Sea under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Arbitral Tribunal rendered the final award on July 12. Japan issued a statement by Foreign Minister Kishida on the same day, in which he stated that Japan has consistently advocated the importance of the rule of law and the use of peaceful means - not the use of force or coercion - in seeking settlement of maritime disputes, and that as the Tribunal's award is final and legally binding on the parties to the dispute under the provisions of UNCLOS, the parties to this case are required to comply with the award, and that Japan strongly expects that such compliance will eventually lead to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea.

For Japan, the issues surrounding the South China Sea are important matters of concern, because most of its resources and energy depend upon sea transport and it places importance on freedom of navigation, and overflight and securing safe sea lanes. It is necessary for the international community to cooperate towards the maintenance and development of “Open and Stable Seas” (see 1-1 (2), 2-1-2 (1) and 3-1-3 (4)).

(2) Japan-ASEAN Relations

ASEAN exerts its centrality in regional cooperation in the Asia-pacific region. Therefore, achieving a more stable and prosperous ASEAN as the motive force is essential to the stability and prosperity of the region as a whole. Based on this recognition, Japan has announced that it will actively support efforts by “ASEAN Community Vision 2025” to achieve even further integration after the establishment of the ASEAN Community, while steadily implementing the vision statement on ASEAN–Japan Friendship and Cooperation and the joint statement that were both adopted at the 2013 ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit Meeting.

Regarding Japan-ASEAN relations, which were elevated to new heights by the Commemorative Summit Meeting in 2013, through such meetings as the Japan–ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in July 2016 (in Vientiane, Laos) and the 19th Japan–ASEAN Summit Meeting (in Vientiane) in September 2016, the cooperative relations were further strengthened in a wide range of areas including strengthening the integration of ASEAN, sustainable economic growth, improvement of people's livelihoods, and ensuring the peace and safety of the region and the international community.

On the security front, the ASEAN countries appreciated Japan's contribution to the region and international community under the policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” and mentioned Japan's cooperation for countering terrorism, violent extremism, and transnational crimes, and cooperation for maritime security. With respect to the current situation in the South China Sea which may undermine peace, safety, and stability in the region, they shared the importance of peaceful resolutions of disputes in accordance with international law including UNCLOS, self-restraint in the conduct of activities which increase tensions, and respect for legal and diplomatic processes. Furthermore, regarding North Korea, the ASEAN Member States expressed their concerns on missile development by North Korea and mentioned the importance of complying with the UNSC resolutions and their expectation for an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks. They also shared Japan's concerns including the abduction issue.

In the economic area, through Official Development Assistance (ODA) and Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), Japan will continue to support deepening of the ASEAN integration, including support for enhancing ASEAN Connectivity and narrowing gaps within the region. At the 19th Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting held (in Vientiane) in September, concerning “strengthening connectivity,” the key to integration and growth of ASEAN, Japan promoted the development of infrastructure both qualitatively and quantitatively under our “Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure” initiative based on the principles agreed to at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit. Japan stated that it will support the realization of “vibrant and effective connectivity” whereby the infrastructure in the region is interconnected and is utilized through institutional improvements and development on the surrounding areas, under the “Japan-Mekong Connectivity Initiative” and the “Mekong Industrial Development Vision.” In response to this, all ASEAN Member States expressed their gratitude for Japan's cooperation with ASEAN over the years. Many ASEAN Member States appreciated Japan's initiatives to contribute to enhancing connectivity, human resource development and people to people exchanges such as the “Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure,” the “Industrial Human Resource Development Cooperation Initiative,” “Japan-ASEAN Women Empowerment Fund” and the JENESYS program. They also welcomed increase of trade and investment between Japan and ASEAN and expected cooperation in economic areas such as supporting SMEs.

In other areas, Japan has been promoting the “Japan-ASEAN health initiative,” to support human resources development with the aim to promote health, prevent illness, and improve the standard of medical care, and Japan-ASEAN Disaster Management Cooperation such as through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA CENTRE). Furthermore, Japan promotes a variety of people-to-people exchange programs in ASEAN, via such initiatives as the Japan-ASEAN Center, the JENESYS program, “the WA Project Toward Interactive Asia through Fusion and Harmony,” and “Innovative Asia.”

The Mekong region (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam), situated in a strategic location for land and sea transport, has been achieving strong economic growth and becoming a partner of growth blessed with a prospective future. Peace, stability, and prosperity in the region are extremely important for Japan. Economic development in this region contributes to narrowing the development gap and promoting regional integration within ASEAN, making it important for the stability and prosperity of the entire region. In recent years, economic activities in the Mekong region have been revitalized and remarkable growth has been achieved, including the progress of infrastructure development, and an increase in the number of Japanese companies entering the region.

At the 7th Mekong-Japan Summit (Japan-Mekong Summit Meeting) held in Tokyo in July 2015, the “New Tokyo strategy 2015” was adopted and Japan announced the implementation of ODA assistance totaling 750 billion yen for the Mekong region in the next three years. At the 9th Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers' Meeting in July 2016, the Japan-Mekong Connectivity Initiative was launched to realize &dquot;vibrant connectivity&dquot; in the region. This initiative has the objective of realizing stronger institutional connectivity in order to utilize physical connectivity more and further strengthening connectivity within the region. At the Eighth Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting in September. Japan and Mekong countries announced projects to be implemented under this initiative. Going forward, Japan will continue to contribute to the prosperity and development of the Mekong region as a trusted partner in the region.

(3) East Asia Summit (EAS) (participating countries: ten ASEAN countries and Japan, China, ROK, Australia, New Zealand, India, U.S., and Russia)

Launched in 2005, the EAS is an important regional forum, with its objectives to facilitate a candid dialogue among leaders on issues of importance to the region and the international community and to take advantage of the leadership of the participating heads of governments to advance specific cooperative initiatives targeting issues of common concern in the region. Many democratic nations take part in the EAS, and it is expected that it will contribute to sharing fundamental values in the region, including democracy and the rule of law as well as to strengthening international rules concerning trade and investment.

At the 6th EAS Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in July (in Vientiane), the foreign ministers reviewed EAS cooperation and discussed the future direction of the EAS and regional and international issues, such as the South China Sea and North Korea. Foreign Minister Kishida attended the meeting and expressed Japan's view on the South China Sea and North Korea. Moreover, he explained Japan's initiatives and ideas in regard to countermeasures against terrorism and violent extremism, strengthening the EAS, maritime cooperation and the sustainable economic development in East Asia.

Regarding the South China Sea issue, Foreign Minister Kishida stressed that Japan has consistently supported the unified response by ASEAN on the issue. In this context, Minister Kishida noted that ASEAN showed its strong will and capability to unite in one voice on the South China Sea issue by agreeing on the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Joint Communique, and expressed his respect for Lao PDR, the ASEAN Chair, as well as countries concerned for their efforts. He also indicated that the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Joint Communique expressed their serious concern over recent developments in the South China Sea, and explicitly mentioned peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, the importance of non-militarization and self-restraints in the conduct of all activities, as well as full respect for legal and diplomatic processes. Minister Kishida demonstrated that such points would form a basis for overcoming the situation of concern at this point in time. In addition, He stated that Japan is seriously concerned over the current situation in the South China Sea. He also reiterated his view that the award by the Arbitral Tribunal, as to the disputes between the Philippines and China, is legally binding to the parties of the dispute, and expected that the parties' compliance with this award would eventually lead to the peaceful settlement of disputes. In light of this, he emphasized that all countries and states concerned should abide by international order based on the rule of law, not by force or coercion, and Japan will continue to support ASEAN's unity and this stance would not change in the future.

Regarding North Korea, Foreign Minister Kishida stated that it was totally unacceptable that North Korea not only conducted its 4th nuclear test and a series of ballistic missile launches but also launched a ballistic missile presumed to be “Musudan,” and has been pursuing the development of SLBMs since the EAS held in November 2015. In addition, Minister Kishida called on EAS participating countries to take united actions in urging North Korea to refrain from any further provocation, comply with the UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) and the joint statement of the Six-Party Talks, and take concrete actions toward denuclearization and other goals. Furthermore, he stated that it was necessary to put pressure on North Korea through ensuring strict implementation of the UNSCRs and that the EAS should issue a strong message regarding North Korea's human rights and humanitarian issues including the abductions.

At the 11th EAS held in September, (in Vientiane) the leaders reviewed cooperation within EAS and discussed the future direction of the EAS, as well as regional and international situations. Prime Minister Abe stated that Japan will provide 45 billion yen and conduct human resources development for 2,000 personnel over the next three years to support the enhancement of counterterrorism capabilities, including border measures, for the sake of countering terrorism and violent extremism in EAS participating countries. He also mentioned that in order to deal with violent extremism, which is the root cause of terrorism, Japan intends to contribute even more actively through a comprehensive approach, including encouragement of moderation through personnel exchanges, educational activities, and other initiatives, and support for social and economic development that underpins a moderate society. Furthermore, from the perspective of strengthening the EAS, he stressed that the functions of the EAS should be further strengthened as the premier forum in the region, and it was Japan's desire to steadily implement “the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Tenth Anniversary of the EAS” and to promote further vitalization of the discussions in the political and security areas.

Regarding the South China Sea issue, Prime Minister Abe expressed serious concerns over ongoing unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. He also stated that it is the rule of law that is the universal principle that must be strictly adhered to by the international community, and all parties should exercise self-restraint over actions that may increase tensions in the region, and should seek peaceful resolution based on international law including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Moreover, he mentioned that Japan has always supported the ASEAN centrality and unity, and while Japan welcomes the dialogue between China and ASEAN, it should be based on international law and on the premise that non-militarization and self-restraint will be maintained on the ground. He also mentioned that the Philippines-China arbitral award is legally binding on the parties under UNCLOS, and Japan expects that the parties' compliance with the award will eventually lead to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea (see 1-1 (2), 2-1-2 and 3-1-3 (4)).

Regarding North Korea, Prime Minister Abe stated that North Korea has launched approximately 20 ballistic missiles, and the three ballistic missiles launched by North Korea on September 5, when the G20 Summit was being held, fell into Japan's exclusive economic zone, and such acts are unprecedented and unforgivable outrages. Furthermore, he stressed that the repeated provocations by North Korea are clear challenges to the international community and there is no other way but to augment pressure on North Korea through strict implementation of the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. Moreover, he pointed out that the human rights and humanitarian issues of North Korea are serious, and in particular, the abduction issue is the most important issue that concerns Japan's sovereignty and the lives and safety of Japanese people and called for understanding and cooperation of the relevant countries for early resolution.

Furthermore, many leaders including Prime Minister Abe pointed out the importance of the EAS Statement on Non-proliferation, leading to its adoption. It was very meaningful that all 18 EAS participating countries, including China, Russia, and ASEAN member states, stood united to issue the statement right after the missile launch by North Korea amid the G20 Summit.

(4) ASEAN +3

The Asian financial crisis in 1997 was the catalyst for the launch of ASEAN+3 in the form of adding the three countries of Japan, China, and the ROK to ASEAN, and it has developed centered on the fields such as finance and food security. It currently covers cooperation in 24 fields, including finance, agriculture and food, education, culture, tourism, public health, energy, and the environment. ASEAN+3 member states are deepening cooperation in the various fields based on the “ASEAN+3 Cooperation Work Plan (2013-2017).”

In the financial area, the Agreement Establishing ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) entered into force in February, and in the same month, AMRO opened in Singapore. Furthermore, in food security, Japan provided rice to countries such as the Philippines and Cambodia through the framework of the “ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve” (APTERR) agreement.

At the 17th ASEAN+3 Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in July (in Vientiane), Foreign Minister Kishida reviewed ASEAN+3 cooperation and explained the future direction of ASEAN+3, focusing on the initiatives of Japan. In addition, he explained Japan's concerns regarding terrorism, transnational crime, and the abductions and nuclear and missile development by North Korea as well as the regional and international situation including Japan-China-ROK trilateral cooperation.

At the 19th ASEAN+3 Summit Meeting held in September (in Vientiane), Prime Minister Abe made statements about the importance of the integration of the ASEAN community and Japan's support for the centrality and unity of ASEAN. With regards to ASEAN+3 cooperation, he mentioned the Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure, AMRO, which opened in 2016, and an early conclusion of the RCEP negotiations. Furthermore, with regards to food security, explaining about the rice that Japan provided based on APTERR, he called on the expansion of public-private partnership cooperation to construct a food value chain and the relaxation and removal of import restrictions on Japanese food products. Regarding the cooperation pertaining to people-to-people connectivity, he touched on the Memorandum of Cooperation on ASEAN+3 Tourism signed in January and stated that Japan will actively support human resources development and people-to-people connectivity in ASEAN through tourism cooperation and student exchanges. Moreover, he explained Japan's support and frameworks regarding terrorism and transboundary crimes and mentioned the importance of criticizing the clear violations of the UNSC resolutions by North Korea and of strict adherence to the Three Principles of the Rule of Law at Sea in maritime security. In response to this, many ASEAN leaders expressed their concerns about the nuclear and missile development of North Korea, and some of them mentioned cooperation in the field of maritime security and appreciated the Japan-China-ROK cooperation.

ASEAN+3 (Japan-China-ROK) Summit (September 7, Vientiane, Laos; Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)ASEAN+3 (Japan-China-ROK) Summit (September 7, Vientiane, Laos; Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)

(5) Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Cooperation

Trilateral cooperation among Japan, China, and the ROK continues to be vital on the ground that it promotes exchange and mutual understanding among the three countries that enjoy geographical proximity and share deep historical ties. Furthermore, as economies that play a major role in the world economy and serve as the motive force driving the prosperity of the East Asian region, trilateral cooperation among Japan, China, and the ROK is one of the areas of cooperation which has huge latent potential in efforts to tackle various issues in the international community.

In August, the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Foreign Ministers' Meeting was held (in Tokyo), and Foreign Minister Kishida attended the meeting. The three ministers discussed cooperation in a wide range of areas as disaster management, environment, youth exchange, counter-terrorism, the Middle East and Africa, and shared the view that they would further promote such trilateral cooperation. With regard to the regional and global situations, the three ministers exchanged their views frankly on regional issues such as the situation in Northeast Asia and the cooperation in East Asia and reaffirmed their staunch opposition to the repeated provocations by North Korea among others. Regarding the Trilateral Summit, since the schedule was not fixed in 2016, the three countries are continuing to coordinate with each other to hold the summit in Japan in 2017 under Japan's chairmanship.

(6) Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Consisting of 21 countries and regions (economies), including those in the Asia- Oceania region, APEC promotes regional economic integration and intra-regional cooperation among the member economies on a voluntary basis. The Asia-Pacific region is positioned as the world's growth center, so strengthening cooperation and relationships of trust in the economic realm in this region is absolutely crucial if Japan is to achieve further development.

At the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Peru in 2016, the participating leaders had wide-ranging discussions on themes of the promotion of regional economic integration and quality growth, the enhancement of the regional food market, the modernization of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and the development of human capital, etc., under the overall themes of “Quality Growth and Human Development.” Prime Minister Abe expressed the need for leaders to use all policy measures - monetary, fiscal, and structural - individually and collectively to respond to the downside risks to the global economy, and also expressed Japan's intention to continue to promote free trade by progressing policies to bring about “Inclusive Growth” and introduced Japan's activities to realize its initiative of the “Japan's Plan for Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens” (see 3-3-1 (3)).

(7) Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)

ASEM was established in 1996 as the only forum to intensify dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe, and it celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2016. ASEM currently consists of 51 member countries and two institutions and has been working through summit meetings and various ministerial meetings in the fields of politics, economy, and culture and society defined as three pillars.

In July, the 11th Summit Meeting was held in Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia). The participants took the opportunity of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of ASEM to take stock of the partnership between Asia and Europe to date and hold discussions about the future of ASEM. Furthermore, discussions were also held about what needed to be done to promote the ASEM partnership toward strengthening connectivity between Asia and Europe as well as the regional and international situation.

From Japan, Prime Minister Abe attended and resolutely condemned the terrorist attack in Nice (France) that had occurred the day before the meeting and the terrorist attack in Dhaka (Bangladesh) which claimed the lives of Japanese nationals as well. Prime Minister Abe also emphasized that Asia and Europe should jointly issue a clear message on fighting against terrorism. In addition, with regard to the global economy facing uncertain circumstances, he referred to the response by Japan mobilizing all policy tools, consisting of monetary policy, fiscal policy, and structural reform, on the basis of the agreement reached at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in May. Moreover, he discussed Japan's position on North Korea and the South China Sea, as challenges relating to the regional peace and prosperity.

The Chair's Statement issued by this summit contained statements about maritime security and terrorism, and in particular, an independent statement on terrorism was released under the leadership of Japan. Furthermore, following on from the 10th Summit Meeting in 2014 and the 12th Foreign Ministers' Meeting in 2015, the North Korea abduction issue was clearly mentioned.

In addition, at the 7th ASEM Culture Ministers' Meeting held in Gwangju City ROK) in June, under the theme of “Culture and Creative Economy,” recognition of the importance of developing culture and creative industries in the economic growth of Asia and Europe was shared. Furthermore, in the same month, the 12th ASEM Finance Ministers' Meeting was held in Ulaanbaatar, and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aso attended. The finance ministers of each country exchanged views about the macroeconomic trends and prospects in Asia and Europe, and discussed issues related to securing financial stability at the regional and global level.

ASEM Summit (Retreat Session) (July 16, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)ASEM Summit (Retreat Session) (July 16, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)

(8) South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

SAARC was officially inaugurated in 1985 with multiple objectives such as enhancing the welfare of citizens of the South Asian countries, cooperation and collaboration in economic and social development and cultural areas. As of 2016, SAARC has eight member states and nine observer countries and institutions, including Japan. SAARC is working primarily on areas such as the economy, society and culture, for example, through summit meetings and meetings of the Council at the ministerial level (foreign ministers' meetings). It is a comparatively moderate framework for regional cooperation but SAARC is gaining importance recently from the viewpoint of regional connectivity. Japan is making efforts to strengthen relations with SAARC through cooperation in a wide range of fields such as democratization and peace-building, infrastructure, energy, disaster risk reduction, and child welfare. As part of youth exchange between Japan and the SAARC, Japan has invited around 3,000 people to date (221 people in FY2016).