Diplomatic Bluebook 2017

Chapter 3

Japan's Foreign Policy to Promote National and Worldwide Interests

Section 1 Efforts for Peace and Stability of Japan and the International Community


(National Security)

The security environment surrounding Japan is becoming increasingly severe in recent years. The enhancement of North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities, the increase in China's military spending which is lacking transparency, and its unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force or coercion at sea and in the airspace at areas such as the East and South China Seas, have been concerns of the international community. Furthermore, risks such as the spread and diversification of international terrorism and cyberattack are becoming more serious.

Facing such a security environment, it is necessary to secure peace of the international community in order to ensure the security of Japan and the peace and stability of the region. It is necessary for Japan to secure peace by advancing vibrant diplomacy under the policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation. Under the “Legislation for Peace and Security,” which took effect in March, Japan has made concrete efforts to contribute even more proactively in securing peace, stability and prosperity of the international community.

Also, ensuring the forward deployment of U.S. Forces under the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements and thereby enhancing deterrence are indispensable not only for the peace and security of Japan but also for the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. In order to further enhance the Japan-U.S. Alliance's deterrence and response capabilities, the two countries will expand and strengthen cooperation in various fields such as ballistic missile defense, cyberspace, outer space, and maritime security, including efforts made under the new Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation (the New Guidelines) and the Legislation for Peace and Security. With regard to the realignment of U.S. Forces in Japan, both governments are determined to mitigate the impact on local communities, including Okinawa, while maintaining deterrence, by steadily implementing the existing agreements between the two governments, including the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma to Henoko.

In addition to strengthening the Japan- U.S. Alliance, it is necessary for Japan to build trust and cooperative relations with its partners both inside and outside the Asia– Pacific region, and to create multilayered relationships for security cooperation. Japan also promotes collaboration in the area of security with the ROK, Australia, European countries, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), India, and other countries with which it shares strategic interests.

In addition, it is also important to promote the institutionalization of regional cooperation frameworks in the security aspect of the Asia-Pacific region. Japan also advances partnership and cooperation through multilayered regional cooperation frameworks, including the East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), and advances partnership and cooperation through trilateral cooperation frameworks such as the Japan- U.S.-ROK, Japan-U.S.-Australia, Japan-U.S.-India and Japan-Australia-India frameworks.

(Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding)

The security and prosperity of Japan cannot be achieved merely by improving the security environment surrounding Japan. It also depends on the peace and stability of the international community. Based on this understanding Japan has been actively engaged in addressing various issues and challenges that confront the international community. In particular, Japan addresses peacebuilding which is essential in order to prevent the outbreak and recurrence of conflicts and to achieve sustainable peace as one of its key diplomatic agenda. Such comprehensive efforts include peacekeeping, emergency humanitarian assistance, promotion of peace processes, maintenance of security, and reconstruction and development. For instance, Japan proactively cooperates with United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations (PKOs) and the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), and is engaged in the development of social infrastructure through the utilization of Official Development Assistance (ODA) as well as human resource development.

(Threats to Security)

In recent years, the threat of terrorism has been spreading from the Middle East and Africa toward Southeast Asia and South Asia with which Japan has a close relationship not only geographically but also politically and economically in all spheres. In 2016, a terrorist attack struck Dhaka in Bangladesh, resulting in casualties including Japanese nationals. Countering the spread of violent extremism through the propaganda of terrorist groups, foreign terrorist fighters and their return have become great challenges.

Japan works with the international community to promote international cooperation in countering terrorism and violent extremism through a comprehensive, enhanced approach, which includes the release of the G7 Action Plan on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit, and the announcement of Japan's commitment at the Japan-ASEAN Summit meeting on comprehensive counter-terrorism measures consisted of: (1) Improvement of counter-terrorism capacity; (2) Measures to counter violent extremism conducive to terrorism; and, (3) Social and economic development assistance for creating a foundation for a moderate society.

(Disarmament and Non-proliferation)

As the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings, Japan has been proactively promoting efforts to realize “a world free of nuclear weapons.” To achieve this goal, it is vital for nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States to cooperate and advance realistic and practical measures based on a clear understanding of the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, as well as an objective assessment of the severe security environment. Based on this understanding, in April, at the G7 Hiroshima Foreign Ministers' Meeting, Japan, as the President of the G7 that comprises both nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States, and G7 Foreign Ministers issued “the Hiroshima Declaration on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation” to send a powerful message for “a world free of nuclear weapons” . In May, President Obama of the United States of America, visited Hiroshima for the first time as the incumbent President. This, with visits by other leaders around the world to sites of atomic-bombings, contributed to revitalizing international momentum toward achieving “a world free of nuclear weapons.” The year 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Japan, as a co-ordinator for facilitating entry into force of the Treaty together with Kazakhstan, made enormous effort to encourage those countries that have not signed and ratified it to do so, and in September, Foreign Minister Kishida co-chaired the Ministerial Meeting of the Friends of the CTBT at the UN General Assembly. Nevertheless the UN General Assembly had some countries demonstrated clear differences in their approach toward nuclear disarmament1, the resolution on the elimination of nuclear weapons, which Japan has been submitting to the UN General Assembly annually since 1994, was adopted with 167 votes in favor. To promote nuclear disarmament, it is important to convey the tragedies of use of nuclear weapons. Therefore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is calling for world's political leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki and putting effort into passing on the correct understanding of the realities of the use of nuclear weapons beyond national borders and generations through initiatives including the “Youth Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons” program, which was launched to support younger generations in conveying the realities of the use of nuclear weapons at international conferences overseas, as well as “the Special Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons” program, which aims at supporting atomic bomb survivors' activities of telling their testimonies. In December, Japan held the “International Conference in Nagasaki – towards a world free of nuclear weapons” and invited government officials, experts, and youths from various countries to the city of Nagasaki.

As for the regional nuclear proliferation issues, the nuclear agreement between Iran and EU3 (UK, France, and Germany) +3 (the U.S., China, and Russia) has continued to be upheld, and the IAEA has reported that Iran has implemented its commitments based on this nuclear agreement.

On the other hand, North Korea conducted two nuclear tests in 2016, launching more than 20 ballistic missiles, and posing a new level of threat not only to East Asia but also to the international community. In light of this situation, Japan has continued to discuss nuclear and non-proliferation issues with the relevant countries, and is implementing initiatives to strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and export controls, particularly in developing countries in Asia. For example, Japan hosts the Asia Senior-Level Talks on Non-Proliferation (ASTOP) for exchanging opinions on various non-proliferation issues, including the North Korea's nuclear issue. It is held every year with the participation of 18 countries2, mainly from Asia, and also provides support to countries in Asia to enhance their capabilities in the field of non-proliferation. Japan will continue its support for strengthening the non-proliferation regime.

  • 1 For example, a resolution to convene a conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons was adopted by 113 votes in favor including Austria, Mexico, and Sweden. However, 13 countries including China, India, Pakistan, and the Netherlands abstained, while 35 countries including the U.S., the UK, France, Russia, Japan, Australia, Germany, and Canada opposed.
  • 2 Japan, ASEAN countries, China, Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada and France
(The Oceans and Seas/Cyberspace/Outer space)

“Open and Stable Seas,” which are upheld by a maritime order governed by law and rules and not by force, are essential for peace and prosperity not only of Japan, but also of the international community as a whole. From the perspective of contributing to maintaining a maritime order, Japan is dedicated to ensuring the freedom of navigation and overflight of the high seas and safe maritime transport through various efforts and cooperation with other countries, including anti-piracy operations. Especially for Japan, a maritime nation surrounded by the sea, a maritime order, with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) at the core, is indispensable for securing its maritime rights and interests as well as for undertaking maritime activities smoothly.

Regarding cyber issues, in order to ensure a free, fair and safe cyberspace, Japan contributes proactively to international discussions on cyber security, including the making of international rules in cyberspace. For this purpose, Japan cooperates with a wide range of stakeholders, such as private companies and experts. Furthermore, Japan promotes concrete forms of cooperation and confidence-building with other countries through dialogues and discussions on cyber issues. At the same time, Japan provides support for capacity-building in developing countries.

In order to tackle increasing risks to sustainable and stable use of outer space, Japan has been engaged in efforts to realize and strengthen the rule of law in outer space as well as conducting dialogues and consultations with other countries on space while promoting international cooperation in the fields of space science and exploration, and supporting overseas business development of the Japanese space industry.

(United Nations)

Since January 2016, Japan has been serving as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 11th time, which is more frequent than any other UN member states. Through this, Japan plays an active role in ensuring international peace and security.

2016 also marked the 60th anniversary of Japan's accession to the United Nations. Japan, which made a fresh start as a peace-loving nation after World War II, fulfilled its long-cherished wish of gaining entry into the United Nations in 1956. For 60 years thereafter, Japan has built up a track record in international contributions in various areas of the United Nations' activities, including the three pillars of peace and security, development, and human rights.

Today, the international community is confronted by a wide range of cross-border challenges including conflict, terrorism, refugees, poverty, climate change, and infectious diseases, and the United Nations has to fulfill an ever-growing role. Under the policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation, Japan will take an even more proactive approach toward tackling these issues through the United Nations.

The international situation is undergoing significant changes, such as the rise of emerging countries and response to global issues. To enable the United Nations to deal with the challenges confronting the international community more effectively, Japan will continue to work proactively towards the reform of the United Nations, including the Security Council.

(Rule of Law)

The rule of law is the concept that recognizes the superiority of the law over all forms of power; it is the basis of friendly and equitable relations between states as well as an essential cornerstone of a fair and just domestic society. The rule of law is also an important factor in promoting “good governance” in each country and in ensuring the peaceful settlement of disputes. Based on this view, Japan promotes rule-making and its implementation in bilateral and multilateral contexts in various fields, such as security, socio-economic areas, and criminal justice. Furthermore, in order to promote peaceful settlement of disputes and maintain international legal order, Japan proactively cooperates with international judicial organizations such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to strengthen their functions by providing personal and financial contributions. In addition, Japan endeavors to enhance the rule of law in Asia as well as the international community as a whole by providing legal technical assistance, participating in international conferences, exchanging views with various countries, and holding events related to international law.

(Human Rights)

Human rights and fundamental freedoms are universal values. The protection and promotion of these values are the basic responsibility for all states and a legitimate concern of the entire international community. It is essential that these values are fully guaranteed in each country not only for the peace and prosperity of Japan, but also for laying the foundations of peace and stability in the international community. Towards this end, Japan is working more actively than ever in the field of human rights. Specifically, Japan makes proactive contributions to improve the human rights situation around the world through dialogue and cooperation. Japan also engages in bilateral dialogues, actively participates in multilateral forums including the UN, and continues constructive dialogues with human rights mechanisms.


With the determination that the 21st century should be a world with no human rights violations against women, Japan has been leading the international community to promote gender mainstreaming and women's empowerment and to build “a society where women shine” around the world by setting the following three areas as priority fields: (1) promoting women and girls' rights; (2) improving an enabling environment for women and girls to reach their full potential; and (3) advancing women's leadership in politics, economics, and other public fields. As a part of these efforts, Japan has led discussions to promote women's empowerment in the world through forums such as the G7 Ise-Shima Summit and the World Assembly for Women. It has also announced its “Development Strategy for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment,” which aims to further strengthen women's capabilities and their advancement in society. To promote the empowerment of women in developing countries, Japan announced its commitment to provide support of more than 3 billion US dollars in total by 2018 and is steadily implementing this initiative.