Diplomatic Bluebook 2017
Japan's Diplomacy Open to the Public
3.Cooperation with Local Government
Regional revitalization is one of the priority issues of the Cabinet. Both MOFA and diplomatic missions overseas work as one to actively promote various measures that contribute to the vitalization of the regions in order to promote a powerful diplomacy that leads to regional revitalization.
Inside Japan, projects to support regional revitalization, which started in 2015 using the Iikura House, the Ministry's facility, were jointly implemented with Kagawa Prefecture (February), Ibaraki Prefecture (June), and Wakayama Prefecture (November). Under this scheme co-hosted by the Foreign Minister and respective prefectural governors, the ambassadors residing in Japan and foreign people involved in commerce and industry are invited to the Iikura House to hold seminars and receptions. With many people in attendance for each project, the various attractiveness of the regions were introduced widely both in Japan and abroad.
In addition, in 2016, MOFA launched a new undertaking to showcase the attractiveness of the regions globally. In this project, the Foreign Minister and other high-level MOFA officials visit regions in Japan with the diplomatic corps in Japan to engage in dialogue with the local people, and promote the attractiveness of the regions to the world, with the aim of connecting Japan's regions with the world and further vitalizing such areas. Foreign Minister Kishida and others visited Miyagi Prefecture in November as part of this project.
Besides, “Regional Promotion Seminars” and “Diplomats' Study Tours” were organized for the diplomatic corps in Japan. “Regional Promotion Seminars” to showcase the attractiveness of respective regions were held in collaboration with Miyagi Prefecture, Miyazaki Prefecture, Kashihara City in Nara Prefecture and Tochigi Prefecture at MOFA in February, and also held in collaboration with Nagano Prefecture, Yokosuka City in Kanagawa Prefecture, Iki City in Nagasaki Prefecture and Suzuka City in Mie Prefecture at a hotel in Tokyo in June. 70 to 80 members of the diplomatic corps took part in each of the seminars. At the seminars, participating local governmental units gave presentations to the diplomatic corps in Japan and other participants to convey the attractiveness in terms of tourism and the benefits of investing in their respective regions. This was followed by booth exhibits of the unique products and tourist attractions of the respective regions, and mutual exchanges.
“Diplomats' Study Tours” organized for the diplomatic corps in Japan were conducted in Tochigi Prefecture (February), Yokosuka City in Kanagawa Prefecture (May), Nagano Prefecture (July), Fukuoka City in Fukuoka Prefecture and Iki City in Nagasaki Prefecture (November), with around 20 to 30 members of the diplomatic corps participating in each occasion. The diplomatic corps visited local research, cultural, industrial and artistic facilities, etc. and interacted with various local organizations and their students.
Furthermore, MOFA actively provides local governments with opportunities to explain Japan's current diplomatic policies and exchange views. As a part of such activities, a “Local Partnership Cooperation Forum” was held in January. Part One of the forum was the foreign policy briefing session, where MOFA explained “Economic Diplomacy and Public-Private Collaboration.” In Part Two of the forum, participants exchanged views in five sectional meetings entitled “information transmission to the world by making use of foreign media”, “local partnership”, “showcasing various attractiveness of Japan through the Japan House”, “Public-Private Cooperation (supporting the overseas activities of Japanese businesses and local governments by utilizing ODA)”, and “undertaking regional revitalization (utilization of new types of grants, etc.).” About 250 people, mainly local government officials, attended the forum.
Overseas, MOFA continued to conduct the “Project to Support Overseas Presentations as Countermeasures for Reputational Damages,” launched in 2015 to dispel rumors stemming from the Great East Japan Earthquake and promote the attractiveness of tourism resources and food in collaboration with local governments in the disaster-stricken areas, in Seoul and Taipei (hosted by the Interchange Association (public interest incorporated foundation)) in February 2016. In Seoul, local government officials and people from the tourism and distribution industries among others took part in the ceremony at the Ambassador's residence by invitation, with Aomori, Miyagi, Fukushima and Kagoshima Prefectures participating. In Taipei, the opening ceremonies were held with officials from the Taiwanese authorities and people from the food industries, tourism and distribution industries among others taking part by invitation, as well as a promotion event for the general public with about 17,000 visitors over two days with the participation of Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Chiba and Ehime Prefectures.
In addition, 20 “Regional Promotion Projects” were conducted in Asia, North America, and Europe as measures to support local governments in promoting the attractiveness of each region and in developing local industries and regional economies by making use of Japan's diplomatic facilities overseas. For example, in June, the Shanghai Office of Kumamoto Prefecture and the Consulate General of Japan in Shanghai showcased the attractiveness of Kumamoto and Kyushu by co-hosting an event at the consulate-general to recover reputational damages of the Kumamoto Earthquake in 2016 mainly in the field of tourism and to express gratitude for the support and donations for Kumamoto.
In addition, MOFA supports sister-city exchanges between Japanese local bodies and their counterparts abroad through various initiatives. Specifically, in order to support the international initiatives of local governments and communities, Japanese diplomats visit sister cities of Japanese municipalities and share each other's opinions with officials responsible for international/economic exchanges. Also, heads of the diplomatic missions overseas visit local cities in Japan to have dialogues and deliver lectures on sister city exchanges prior to leaving for new posts or when they temporarily return to Japan. In addition, if a foreign local governmental body wants to establish a sister-city relationship with a Japanese one, MOFA indirectly supports such a move by providing prefectures and 20 major cities with relevant information and posting it on the ““Glocal” (global and local) Diplomatic Network” on the website of MOFA2.
As part of the overseas promotion of alcoholic beverages (Japanese sake and wine, etc.) produced in various parts of Japan, diplomatic missions overseas create opportunities to introduce Japanese alcoholic beverages, by way of offering them at lunch/dinner with government leaders of the assigned countries or diplomatic corps of other countries, and making a toast with Japanese sake at grand events such as the Emperor's birthday receptions. As a result, participants in these lunch/dinner events or receptions organized around the world have given positive feedback and evaluations on Japanese alcoholic beverages. The opportunities have increased their understanding and initiated their interest in Japanese alcoholic beverages.
Moreover, MOFA works on supporting local companies. With the rapid economic development, the demand for water treatment, waste disposal, urban transportation, and anti-pollution measures, etc., have sharply increased in developing countries. In cooperation with Japanese local authorities and by making use of ODA, MOFA supports the overseas business expansion of local SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), which have accumulated knowledge on countermeasures against such problems, and increases development cooperation. This contributes not only to the global outreach of local companies, development of globally competent human resources, and Japanese style of infrastructure export but also to vitalizing the economy of whole Japan as well as some local areas.
- 2 Currently (as of February 2017), the countries with a large number of Japan's sister and partnership cities (including prefectures and municipalities) are, in descending order, the U.S. (448), China (362), the ROK (163), Australia (108), and Canada (70) and so on. (Calculated by the Council of Local Authorities for Internal Relations; see its website: http://www.clair.or.jp/j/exchange/)