Diplomatic Bluebook 2017

Chapter 4

Japan's Diplomacy Open to the Public

Section 1 Japanese Society and People Deepening Their Ties with the World


(Tapping the Power of Foreign Nationals for the Growth of Japan)

Increasing the number of people traveling between Japan and other countries stimulates the economy and promotes mutual understanding among different cultures. Based on this view, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) takes steps to facilitate the entry of foreign nationals into Japan and also their stay in the country.

The Government of Japan attaches importance to promoting Japan as a tourism-oriented country based on the recognition that “Tourism is a main pillar for Japan's growth strategy and regional revitalization,” and MOFA has engaged in strategic relaxation of visa requirements. With efforts to attract tourists including showcasing the various attractiveness of Japan and other factors, the number of foreign visitors to Japan reached the highest record of 24 million in 2016, exceeding 20 million a year for the first time. MOFA strives to contribute to the increase of foreign visitors while continuing to maintain “Japan, the safest country in the world,” and to a tourism-oriented country both in quantity and quality by attracting the wealthy class, repeat visitors, and the young generation.

In order to further vitalize the Japanese economy and increase Japan's competitiveness, it is critical to secure capable human resources irrespective of their nationality. “Japan Revitalization Strategy (revised in 2016)” set forth utilization of foreign human resources. To realize it, MOFA works with relevant ministries and agencies to ensure the effective policy and measures for accepting foreign human resources taking into account human rights. Moreover, MOFA encourages national debate on the challenges arising from the acceptance of foreign nationals and their integration into Japanese society, as well as appropriate measures to be taken.

(International Organizations and Japanese Nationals)

At international organizations, staff from all over the world capitalizes on their respective skills and traits to carry out activities for addressing global issues.

Japan has been providing personnel contributions as well as financial and intellectual contributions to international organizations. If more Japanese nationals play active roles in international organizations, Japan's presence in the international community will be enhanced and the human resources of Japan will also be enriched.

MOFA carries out programs to recruit, train, support, and provide information to competent Japanese nationals who can play active roles in international organizations and contribute to them. MOFA will further strengthen its efforts to create an environment where outstanding Japanese nationals can play active roles on the global stage.

(NGOs and Volunteers)

The Government of Japan has promoted All-Japan diplomacy which draws on the strengths of non-governmental actors. In this context, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become even more important in recent years as implementers of support activities in developing countries and as channels for offering policy proposals. Japanese NGOs play a significant role in fields that Japan excels in and can make international contributions to, such as health, water and sanitation, education, disaster risk reduction, environment and climate change, and emergency humanitarian assistance for refugees and disaster victims. MOFA regards NGOs as important partners in development cooperation, and strives to strengthen partnerships with NGOs through financial assistance, improving their operational environment, aid and dialogue.

Participants in the volunteer programs of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), including Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) and Senior Volunteers (SV), are crucial actors in international cooperation. In the countries and regions where they are dispatched, JICA volunteers see the development challenges from the same perspective as local people and work hard together to tackle them. Such programs are highly appreciated by local people including government officials in various countries and earn their gratitude, as symbols of the “Visibility of Japanese Development Cooperation.” In addition, the programs play a substantial role not only in local economic and social development, but also in fostering mutual understanding, friendship, and goodwill between Japan and these countries and regions. Furthermore, these programs are also significant from the viewpoint that JICA volunteers bring back their experiences to contribute to society in the end, for the volunteers use their volunteer experience and stay active at home and abroad upon their return.

(Cooperation with Local Governments)

Regional revitalization is one of the top priority issues of the Cabinet. MOFA is implementing all-ministry efforts under initiatives named “Local to Global” to showcase the regions' attractiveness to the world and to attract as many tourists and investments as possible. At home, MOFA, together with local governments, carried out “Regional Promotion Seminars” and “Diplomats' Study Tours” as well as projects to support regional revitalization by way of using the Iikura House, the Ministry's facility etc., to showcase the various attractiveness of local areas to the diplomatic corps in Tokyo. Also MOFA started a new project in which the Foreign Minister visits regional areas with the diplomatic corps in Japan to share the attractiveness of the regions. Overseas, as measures to support Japan's local governments in promoting their attractiveness including the field of tourism, and in developing local industries and regional economies, “Regional Promotion Projects” have been conducted, by using Japan's diplomatic facilities overseas. Moreover, MOFA, in collaboration with local governments, continued to conduct PR and other activities under the “Project to Support Overseas Presentations as Countermeasures for Reputational Damages” to dispel damage from rumors stemming from the Great East Japan Earthquake. In addition, MOFA actively promotes alcohol beverages (Japanese sake, wine, etc.) produced in various regions in Japan through its diplomatic missions overseas and supports overseas operations of local governments and local SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) by making use of ODA.