Diplomatic Bluebook 2017
Japan's Foreign Policy that Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map
1.Strengthening Relations and Cooperating with Latin America and the Caribbean Countries
(1) Progress together (Strengthening Economic Relations)
The Latin America and the Caribbean region includes some of the world's largest economies, such as Brazil (9th largest gross domestic product (GDP) in the world and a G20 member), Mexico (15th largest GDP in the world and a G20 member), and Argentina (21st largest GDP in the world and a G20 member), and the rate of the middle class is increasing year by year. Furthermore, it has the countries on the Pacific coast such as Colombia, Peru, Chile and Panama which are maintaining strong growth and countries rich in mineral resources such as Venezuela and Bolivia and its economic potential has attracted attention.
The economic growth of the region has been sluggish due to falling commodity prices and the economic slowdown of major countries outside the region. However, many countries in the region have continued to achieve stable growth, and the region is still attracting a high level of interest from Japanese companies. The number of Japanese companies expanding into the Latin America and the Caribbean region has been increasing year by year and has reached 2,508 companies (as of October 2015). In particular, in Mexico where the increase in the number of Japanese residents since the Japan-Mexico EPA entered into force in 2005 has been dramatic, the Consulate-General of Japan in León was opened in Guanajuato State in January. The number of Japanese companies moving into this country has approximately tripled since the EPA entered into force, and had reached 1,111 companies as of October 2016.
Japan places importance on each country in Latin America and the Caribbean region as an economic partner to grow together, and the public and private sector unite to promote and facilitate trade and investment between Japan and the region. Specifically, the Government launched the Joint Public-Private Committee Meeting with Argentina, and in addition, held the Joint Public-Private Committee Meeting with Cuba upgraded to the political level in November. Furthermore, it held economic dialogues aimed at strengthening relations with the Common Market of the South/ Mercado Comun del Sur (MERCOSUR). In addition, through frameworks for dialogue in which both the public and private sector participate, such as the business environment improvement committees under each EPA, the Japan-Argentina Business Environment Improvement Committee, the Japan-Argentina Joint Committee on Promoting Trade and Investment, the Japan-Brazil Joint Committee on Trade and Investment. Japan is carrying out initiatives aimed at improving the business environment with Latin America and the Caribbean countries.
(2) Lead together (working together in the international community)
Japan is focusing its energies on strengthening cooperation in the international arena with Latin America and the Caribbean Countries in the increasingly severe international situation. In the summit meetings with Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Brazil and Peru held in 2016, Japan explained its position and sought the understanding and cooperation of those countries regarding the issues of North Korea and South China Sea and East China Sea issues. In addition Japan confirmed that it would strengthen cooperation on global issues such as nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and climate change. In the Fifth Japan-CARICOM Ministerial-Level Conference held in September, the importance of maintaining and strengthening cooperative relationships aimed at realization of UN Security Council reform was confirmed. Furthermore, Japan is placing importance on cooperation with Uruguay, which served as a UN Security Council non-permanent member from 2016, and Bolivia, which took up its position as a non-permanent member in January 2017.
In addition, together with the countries of Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Mexico which have received support from Japan previously and have now reached an economic level enabling them to provide support to third countries, Japan is advancing so-called triangular cooperation that provides support to other developing countries.
Moreover, Japan has provided quick and timely cooperation for natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. In February, Japan extended emergency grant aid of 1 million US dollars in response to the Zika virus infection in Latin America and the Caribbean, and in April Japan provided emergency relief goods and extended emergency grant aid of 1.35 million US dollars in response to the large-scale earthquake that occurred in Ecuador. Regarding the damage from hurricane Matthew which hit Haiti and Cuba in October, Japan provided emergency relief goods and extended emergency grant aid totaling 3 million US dollars to Haiti, and in addition, provided emergency relief goods to Cuba. Japan worked with Chile, where natural disasters frequently occur, to implement Disaster Risk Reduction Training Program for Latin America and the Caribbean and in addition, cooperated with respect to the UN resolution regarding the establishment of World Tsunami Awareness Day and implemented combined Tsunami Disaster Drills.
(3) Inspire together (promoting people-to-people exchanges, cultural and sports exchanges, and other exchanges)
The year 2016 was the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Haiti, the 80th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Paraguay, and the 60th anniversary of Japanese immigration to the Dominican Republic. Japanese descendants in Paraguay have contributed to the development of that country through agriculture, in particular soy bean cultivation, and commerce. In 2016, the 80th anniversary of Japanese immigration, in conjunction with commemoration ceremonies (See Special Feature “Strengthening Exchanges and Cooperation with Japanese Descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean”) Japan Festival was held, in which 18,000 people participated, and they were a great success.
In 2016, high-level exchanges were invigorated more than ever before throughout the year. In addition to the visits by Prime Minister Abe to Brazil, Cuba, Peru, and Argentina and the visit of Foreign Minister Kishida to Peru, many visits were conducted to Japan from Latin America and the Caribbean Countries included Deputy Prime Minister Davis of The Bahamas in February, Foreign Minister Loizaga of Paraguay in March, President Varela of Panama in April, Vice-President Michetti of Argentina, Foreign Minister Martínez of El Salvador, and Vice-president of the Councils of State Díaz-Canel of Cuba in May, Foreign Minister Malcorra of Argentina in July, President Temer of Brazil in October, and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Johnson Smith of Jamaica in December.
Furthermore, in 2016 the first Olympics and Paralympics in Latin America were held in Rio de Janeiro, where many Japanese people visited Brazil and other parts of the Latin America and the Caribbean region, deepening exchanges in a variety of areas. Moreover, “the Shitamachi Bobsleigh Network Project Team” comprised of small factories in Ota Ward, Tokyo, provided a completed bobsleigh to the bobsleigh team of Jamaica, which provided a good opportunity for the ties between the two countries to be widely known in society and an opportunity to demonstrate to the world the high technical capacity of small and medium-sized businesses in Japan. (See Column “Shitamachi Bobsleigh”)
(4) Cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean Countries through Regional Organizations
Diverse frameworks and organizations for regional integration exist in Latin America and the Caribbean region which are contributing to deepening political and economic ties. Japan is strengthening its cooperation with regional organizations such as the Pacific Alliance, the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC), the Central American Integration System (SICA), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Union of South American Nations/Union de Naciones Suramericanas (UNASUR), the Common Market of the South/Mercado Comun del Sur (MERCOSUR) to address to the various issues in the region and the international community. In September the Japan-CARICOM Ministerial-Level Conference was held, and Japan confirmed that it would further strengthen cooperation with the CARICOM countries, with which it shares basic values, in line with the three pillars of Japan's CARICOM policy ((1) Cooperation towards sustainable development, including overcoming the vulnerabilities particular to small island states, (2) Deeping and expanding fraternal bonds of cooperation and friendship, and (3) Cooperation in addressing challenges of the international community) announced by Prime Minister Abe in 2014. In particular, all of the CARICOM countries have strong concerns about the impact of climate change, and are placing importance on cooperation with Japan in areas such as disaster risk reduction, the environment, and renewable energy.