Diplomatic Bluebook 2018

Chapter 1

International Situation and Japan's Diplomacy in 2017

2.Japan's Diplomacy

Amid the various challenges facing the international order based on fundamental values that have underpinned global stability and prosperity, Japan must take on a greater responsibility and role than before, while collaborating with other countries. Based on this recognition, Japan, while making the utmost efforts to promote its national interests in the increasingly severe international situation, including North Korea's nuclear and missile development, will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the international community and will further consolidate Japan's position as a peace-loving nation.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official visits abroad
Foreign Minister Taro Kono's (and the former Foreign Minister Kishida's) official visits abroad
Foreign Minister Taro Kono's official visits abroad

(1) Diplomacy Taking a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map and “Proactive Contribution to Peace”

In order to create a stable and predictable international environment, which is desirable for Japan, it is important to build trust and cooperative relationships with countries worldwide and the international community through diplomatic efforts, to strengthen the basis for stability and prosperity of the international community and to prevent the emergence of threats in advance. From such a perspective, since the inauguration of the Abe administration, the Government of Japan has advanced diplomacy, from a panoramic perspective of the world map, under the policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has thus far visited 76 countries and regions (135 countries and regions in total), and since being appointed in August 2017, Foreign Minister Taro Kono has visited 26 countries and regions (31 countries and regions in total) (as of January 29, 2018). As a result, Japan's presence in the international community has steadily risen, and the relationship of trust between Prime Minister Abe and foreign leaders as well as between Foreign Minister Kono and other foreign ministers and the heads of international organizations have also been greatly deepened.

In 2017 leadership changes took place in several major countries including the U.S. As a stable force in the international community, Japan will continue to build relationships of trust with countries' leaders, and while promoting its national interests, lead the international community for peace and prosperity of the world.

(2) The Six Priority Areas of Japan's Foreign Policy

In order to protect and promote Japan's national interests, Japan intends to continuously strengthen the following six priority areas of its foreign policy: (1) strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance and promote the networking of allies and friendly nations; (2) enhance relations with neighboring countries; (3) promote economic diplomacy; (4) contribute to the resolution of global issues; (5) contribute to the peace and stability of the Middle East; and (6) the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.”

【1 Strengthening the Japan-U.S. Alliance and Promote the Networking of Allies and Friendly Nations】

The Japan-U.S. Alliance is the cornerstone of Japan's diplomacy and security. It also plays a substantial role in regional and international peace and prosperity. As the security environment surrounding Japan is becoming increasingly severe including North Korea, the Japan-U.S. Alliance is becoming more and more important.

In January 2017, Mr. Donald Trump was inaugurated as the President. In February, immediately after President Trump's inauguration, Prime Minister Abe visited the U.S. to hold a Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting. The two leaders issued a joint statement affirming their strong determination to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance and economic relations. Furthermore, in November President Trump chose Japan as the first destination on his first tour of Asia since his inauguration. The two leaders affirmed that both countries are 100 percent together on the issue of North Korea, and that the U.S.' commitment to the region is unwavering, backed by the U.S. presence that is based on the Japan-U.S. Alliance, and they shared the view that they will work together on implementing the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.” In addition, the two leaders met with the families of abductees, and promised that Japan and the U.S. would cooperate closely in order to swiftly resolve the abductions issue. This visit demonstrated the unwavering bond of the Japan-U.S. Alliance to the world amid increasing regional tension, including North Korea. (See Special Feature “Visit by President Trump to Japan”).

Japan, under the Legislation for Peace and Security and the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation (the Guidelines), is implementing a “seamless” response covering from peacetime to contingencies. It will further enhance the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance by continuing to promote security and defense cooperation, through the Japan-U.S. Extended Deterrence Dialogue held in June, the “2 + 2” talks in August, and interpersonal exchange between high-level officials.

Mitigating the impact on local communities including Okinawa is one of the most important issues for the Government. In July, approximately four hectares of lands along the eastern side of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma was returned. Additionally, the relocation of carrier air wing squadrons from Naval Air Facility Atsugi to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni began in August. Japan will continue to make all efforts to mitigate the impact on local communities including Okinawa, while working on the relocation of MCAS Futenma to Henoko as soon as possible, in order to ensure the stable stationing of U.S. forces in Japan.

Alongside security and interpersonal exchange, Japan-U.S. cooperation in the economic field is one of three pillars underpinning the Japan-U.S. Alliance, and 2017 was a year that presented opportunities to build new Japan-U.S. economic relations. The Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting held in February saw the launch of the Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Aso and Vice President Pence. The first round of Dialogue was held in Tokyo in April and the second round was held in Washington D.C. in October. Japan's cumulative direct investments in the U.S. occupies the second highest after the UK (approximately 421.1 billion US dollars by Japanese companies (2016)). The activities of Japanese companies have created jobs for approximately 860,000 people (2015). (See Special Feature “Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue”).

Furthermore, it is important to construct the alliance network by strengthening multilayered cooperative relationships with allies and partners, with the Japan-U.S. Alliance as the cornerstone. In this perspective, along with the Japan-U.S.-Australia and Japan-U.S.-India frameworks, the foreign affairs authorities of Japan, Australia, India, and the U.S. held director-general-level talks on the Indo-Pacific in Manila in November 2017, and discussions took place on initiatives for ensuring a free and open international order based on the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific.

【2 Enhancing Relations with Neighboring Countries】

Enhancing our relations with neighboring countries constitutes an important basis for making the environment surrounding Japan stable.

The Japan-China relationship constitutes one of the most important bilateral relationships for both countries, which are the world's second and third-largest economies respectively. Japan and China both share a responsibility to work shoulder to shoulder and jointly engage with challenges facing the regional and international communities, including the North Korea issues. 2017 marked the 45th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China. It was a year in which high-level dialogues were actively held, including by the two countries' leaders and foreign ministers, and momentum for improving the relationship increased greatly. 2018 will mark the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China. In 2018, it will be important to accelerate this trend towards improved relations by continuing to move forward with realizing mutual visits by the countries' leaders, promoting exchanges between their citizens, and strengthening economic relations, from a broad perspective under the concept of a “Mutually Beneficial Relationship based on Common Strategic Interests.”

At the same time, attempts by China to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea by force or coersion are absolutely unacceptable, and Japan will continue to respond calmly and resolutely while strengthening coordination with the relevant countries, along with strengthening communication in order to make the East China Sea a “Sea of Peace, Cooperation and Friendship.”

Good relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) are essential in ensuring peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. Following the appointment of President Moon Jae-in in May 2017, communications at summit and foreign minister levels continued to take place frequently in 2017. On the other hand, the report by the Taskforce to Review the Agreement on Comfort Women Issue, which assessed the 2015 Japan-ROK agreement on the comfort women issue, was published in December 2017, and in January 2018, the Government of the ROK announced its position on the Japan-ROK agreement. It is completely unacceptable for Japan that the ROK would seek additional measures from Japan. The Government of Japan will continue to strongly urge the ROK Government to steadily implement the agreement, which confirmed the “final and irreversible” resolution of the comfort women issue. Difficult issues exist between Japan and the ROK, but it is important to move the Japan-ROK relationship forward in a future-oriented manner, while managing these issues appropriately.

Japan is building up close dialogue with Russia at various levels, including four Summit Meetings and five Foreign Ministers' Meetings. Regarding the issue of the Northern Territories, which is the outstanding issue of concern between Japan and Russia, both countries will realize joint economic activities on the Four Northern Islands based on the agreements between the two leaders. Japan will also implement humanitarian measures for the former island residents. Japan will continue to build up dialogue at various levels, and will continue to persistently negotiate with Russia based on its basic policy of resolving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands and concluding a peace treaty.

The nuclear tests and repeated ballistic missile launches by North Korea pose an unprecedented, grave and imminent threat, and are totally unacceptable. In order to urge North Korea to change its policies, Japan is cooperating closely with the U.S. and the ROK, and coordinating with relevant countries including China and Russia to maximize pressure on North Korea by all available means. Through these efforts, Japan aims to comprehensively resolve the outstanding issues of concern, such as the abductions, nuclear and missile issues. As well as being a critical issue concerning the sovereignty of Japan and the lives and safety of Japanese citizens, abduction by North Korea constitutes a universal issue among the international community as a violation of basic human rights. Japan has positioned its resolution as the most important issue and is making utmost efforts towards the resolution while working closely with relevant countries including the U.S.

Japan held three Summit Meetings with India, including the Summit Meeting held when Prime Minister Abe visited India in September, and has substantially advanced the bilateral relationship, including making steady progress with the high-speed railway plan, as can be seen by the holding of the ceremony to launch the construction of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail.

As demonstrated by the visit to Japan by Australian Prime Minister Turnbull in January 2018 and the visit to Australia by Prime Minister Abe in January 2017, Japan and Australia share fundamental values and strategic interests based on a “Special Strategic Partnership.” Japan will steadily strengthen its cooperation with Australia in a wide range of areas, including security, economic issues, and regional affairs.

The further integration, prosperity, and stability of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are vital for the peace and stability of the region. Japan will continue to support the centrality and unity of ASEAN, and strengthen its relationship with ASEAN and each of the ASEAN countries.

While utilizing organizations such as the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Japan continues to strengthen its relationship with Europe in a multilayered approach. Japan also continues to promote security and defense cooperation with the UK and France. Furthermore, Japan is further strengthening its relationships with the Pacific island countries through the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) process. Japan is strengthening its relationships with Central Asia and the Caucasus, and Latin America and the Caribbean as well.

【3 Promoting Economic Diplomacy】

In 2017, the Government of Japan continued to advance economic diplomacy from the three aspects of: (1) rule-making to bolster free and open global economic systems; (2) supporting the overseas business expansion of Japanese companies through promotion of public-private partnerships; and (3) promoting resources diplomacy along with inward investment towards Japan.

For Japan, which has promoted economic growth on the basis of free trade, it is critically important to maintain and develop the open, stable and rules-based international economic order. At the G7 Taormina Summit in Italy and the G20 Hamburg Summit in Germany, Japan led the consensus-building efforts among the leaders of G7 and G20 regarding the response to the global economy, trade, and the problem of excess capacity. Furthermore, as the pressure of protectionism continues to increase, Japan led the discussions on free-trade and inclusive growth through frameworks such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

As an initiative to promote free trade, regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement signed in February 2016, the Trump Administration in the U.S. announced the withdrawal from the TPP in January 2017. Nevertheless, as a result of Japan's leadership, an agreement in principle on the TPP was reached by 11 nations in Da Nang, Viet Nam in November 2017, and in March 2018 the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP11) was signed in Santiago, Chile. Furthermore, the negotiations on the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) were concluded in December 2017 (See Special Feature “The Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement”). Along with aiming to have these agreements signed and enter into force, Japan will continue to vigorously pursue negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Japan-China-ROK Free Trade Agreement in parallel, and will spread 21st century-rules for free and fair trade and investment throughout the world.

In order to support the steady growth of the Japanese economy by capturing the momentum of economic growth overseas including emerging countries, the ministry has proactively carried out activities such as offering counseling to Japanese companies, working to sell Japanese infrastructure and technologies overseas through public-private collaborations, and holding events to promote Japanese products, at diplomatic missions overseas, thus providing support for Japanese companies' cultivation of foreign markets. Regarding the import restrictions in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, Japan is issuing accurate information to the Governments and general public of relevant countries in a prompt manner, and making efforts for the relaxation and abolition of the restrictions based on scientific evidence. In addition, from the perspective of connecting Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Japanese economic growth, the Government of Japan is achieving win-win cooperation that contributes both to the development of Japanese companies' business overseas and socioeconomic development of recipient countries, including by proactively promoting the placement of orders for ODA projects with Japanese companies, and by using ODA for the development of overseas business by Japanese small and medium-sized enterprises.

In the area of resources, Japan engaged in strengthening Japan's and the world's energy, resources and food security. On the basis of the major changes in the world's energy supply and demand structure, which could be described as tectonic, in July 2017, the ministry came out with a new vision of energy and resource diplomacy that attaches importance to contributing to resolving global challenges. Furthermore, in January 2018 the ministry announced a decision to develop diplomacy that is based on the importance of renewable energy.

Regarding foreign tourists, Japan is working to promote visits to Japan through the strategic relaxation of visa requirements and by promoting the attractions of Japan. The number of overseas visitors to Japan reached 28.69 million in 2017.

【4 Response to Global Issues】

The issues of disarmament and non-proliferation, peace-building, sustainable development, disaster risk reduction, environment and climate change, human rights, women's empowerment, and the consolidation of the rule of law are related to the peace, stability and prosperity of the international community, including Japan. These issues cannot be solved by one country alone, and require a united response by the international community, and the initiatives for these issues are one critical part of Japan's “Proactive Contribution to Peace” initiative.

In order to take care of socially vulnerable people in the international community with respect for human rights, freedom and democracy as the fundamental values, and realize a society where individuals can make the most use of their potential, Japan is advancing international contributions under the notion of “human security.”

(Promotion of International Peace Cooperation)

Japan has placed importance on cooperating in the field of peacekeeping and peacebuilding, including United Nations (UN) Peace Keeping Operations (PKOs) from the standpoint of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation. Since 1992 Japan has dispatched more than 12,500 personnel to 27 UN missions including UN PKO. Most recently, Japanese staff officers have been dispatched to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) since 2011 while the engineering units had been dispatched since 2012. The engineering units concluded their activities in May 2017, but four staff officers (Japan Ground Self-Defense Force officials) are still on active duty at the UNMISS headquarters.

(Measures to Counter-Terrorism and Violent Extremism)

Based on the “G7 Action Plan on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism” that Japan compiled at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in 2016 in response to the growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism, Japan is engaging in comprehensive counter-terrorism measures. Those efforts consist of initiatives for (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 moderate society. Furthermore, Japan is striving to further strengthen information-collecting through the International Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Collection Unit, and is strengthening cooperation on counter-terrorism with the relevant countries. In parallel to these initiatives, Japan is also engaged in strengthening measures for the safety of Japanese nationals overseas working on international cooperation projects, along with personnel at Japanese companies, tourists and students studying abroad.

(Proactive Initiatives for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation)

As the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings, Japan has a mission to lead the international community's efforts concerning nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, with the aim of realizing “a world free of nuclear weapons.” Japan attaches importance to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which is the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime, and in which both nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States participate. Japan is engaging in realistic and practical nuclear disarmament measures, while appropriately addressing actual security threats.

In May, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida attended the First Session of the Preparatory Committee of the 2020 NPT Review Conference and announced Japan's pathway toward elimination of nuclear weapons. In September, Foreign Minister Kono attended the Tenth Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), as well as co-hosted the 9th Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) with Germany. Subsequently Japan submitted a draft of resolution regarding the elimination of nuclear weapons to the UN General Assembly that received wide support. In November, Japan held the first meeting of a Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament in Hiroshima aiming to rebuild trust and cooperation among countries having differing approaches towards a world free of nuclear weapons, and to make recommendations, which contribute to achieve substantive advancement of nuclear disarmament.

(Strengthening Cooperation with the UN and Other Organizations and UN Security Reform)

Japan was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for the 11th time, which is more frequent than any other UN Member State, and served as a non-permanent member of the UNSC for a two-year period from 2016 to 2017 (See Special Feature “Summary of Japan's contribution during its 11th term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council”).

Japan is also putting efforts into the UN Security Council reform, including Japan's entry as a permanent member of the Council, with the pressing need to reform the Council in a way that reflects the realities of the international community in the 21st century, so that the Council can deal more effectively with contemporary challenges. Furthermore, in order to continue contributing to the maintenance of peace and security in the international community as a member of the Council prior to its admission as a permanent member, Japan is running for the UNSC non-permanent membership election in 2022.

In addition, in response to the issues addressed by the UN and other international organizations, Japan has been providing financial and policy contributions as well as making personnel contributions through the activities of Japanese personnel, and is also making efforts to encourage the employment and promotion of more Japanese staff at international organizations.

(Proactive Efforts to Strengthen the Rule of Law)

Japan is working to maintain and promote “Free, Open and Stable Seas” based on the “Three Principles of the Rule of Law at Sea.” Furthermore, Japan is strengthening its cooperation with various countries by actively participating in the efforts of the international community in areas that include initiatives for promoting and entrenching freedom of navigation and overflight, initiatives to ensure the security of sea lanes through anti-piracy measures off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden as well as support for the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) Information Sharing Center, international rule-making to strengthen the rule of law in outer space and cyberspace, and strengthening the rule of law in the Arctic.

(Human Rights)

Human rights, freedom and democracy are fundamental values, and their protection and promotion serve as the cornerstone of peace and stability in the international community. In this field, Japan proactively participates in bilateral dialogues and a number of multinational fora, such as the UN, and makes contributions, including constructive dialogue with the UN human rights mechanisms, in order to improve the human rights situation globally.

(Toward a Society in Which All Women Shine)

At the G20 Hamburg Summit held in Germany in July, the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) was launched by the World Bank and 13 participating countries, and Japan announced its intention to contribute 50 million US dollars to the fund. The Fourth World Assembly for Women (WAW!2017) was held in November, gathering together leaders active in women's fields from various countries and international organizations. The content of the discussions at the assembly was compiled as a proposal known as the “WAW!2017 Tokyo Declaration.”

(Development Cooperation Charter and ODA Utilization)

Under the Development Cooperation Charter decided by the Cabinet in February 2015, Japan has been continuing to make proactive and strategic utilization of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in formats that contribute both to the development of Japanese companies' businesses overseas and recipient countries' economic and social development, in order to contribute to the peace, stability, and prosperity of the international community and to secure Japan's national interests through that.


Since 1993, Japan has taken the initiative to support the development of Africa through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). In August 2017 Japan hosted the TICAD Ministerial Meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, with Foreign Minister Kono attending (as the co-chair), and confirmed the state of progress with the initiatives announced at TICAD V and VI.

(Quality Infrastructure)

Reflecting the belief that infrastructure development should contribute to “quality growth” in developing countries, and on the basis of the “G7 Ise-Shima Principles for Promoting Quality Infrastructure Investment” adopted at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in 2016, Japan is promoting the development of “quality infrastructure” in which open access transparency, economic efficiency in view of life-cycle cost, safety, local employment and technology transfer, social and environmental considerations alignment with economic and development strategies, including the fiscal soundness of the recipient countries, and the effective mobilization of capital are ensured. In order to make this “quality infrastructure” concept widely known in the international community, in April the Ministry of Foreign Affairs co-organized the “First International Economic Forum on Asia” with the OECD Development Centre and Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), and in September it co-hosted a High-Level Side Event on “Promoting Quality Infrastructure Investment” with the EU and the UN.

(2030 Agenda and SDGs)

The “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (the 2030 Agenda)” adopted in September 2015 lays out a set of “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” which are to be undertaken by all countries. In July 2017 Foreign Minister Kishida attended a UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) and presented SDGs initiatives through public-private partnerships, and international cooperation on the SDGs. In addition, at the fourth meeting of the SDGs Promotion Headquarters held in December 2017, Japan decided on the SDGs Action Plan 2018, which aims to convey Japan's SDGs model to the world and incorporates the direction of that model and its key initiatives.

(Global Health)

Health holds an important position when it comes to realizing the concept of “human security.” Based on the “Basic Design for Peace and Health” formulated in September 2015, Japan is engaging in enhancing health systems, including the promotion of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which contributes to crisis responses and to bolstering the capacity to respond to public health crises. (UHC: To ensure affordable access to basic health services for all whenever they need them throughout their lives). In December the UHC Forum 2017 was held in Tokyo with the participation of senior government officials from various countries, representatives of international organizations and international health specialists. The Forum contributes to responding to public health emergencies such as infectious diseases and, left a deep impression about Japan's leadership in this field on the international community (See Special Feature “The UHC Forum 2017”).

(Climate Change)

The Paris Agreement is a fair and effective framework that provides for the submission of greenhouse gas emission reduction targets by each country independently, with no distinction between developing and developed countries, and for the implementation of measures toward the achievement of these targets. Negotiations are currently underway with the aim of adopting the relevant guidelines in 2018, and Japan participated actively in discussion to that end at the COP23 held in Germany in November 2017 as well as on other occasions.

(Utilizing Science and Technology for Diplomacy)

Science and technology constitute the foundational elements of peace and prosperity, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is advancing initiatives that utilize the power of science and technology in diplomacy in both bilateral relationships and multinational frameworks. The Science and Technology Advisor to the Minister for Foreign Affairs gathers domestic expertise through the Advisory Board for the Promotion of Science and Technology Diplomacy, for which the advisor serves as chair, while advising the Minister for Foreign Affairs and relevant departments as well as promoting public relations and networking overseas. In May, the Recommendation for the Future aimed at the implementation of the SDGs was drawn up under the advisory board and submitted to Foreign Minister Kishida.

【5 Contributing to the Peace and Stability of the Middle East】

The Middle East and North Africa are situated in a geopolitically important location and is also an important supplier of energy resources such as crude oil and natural gas to the world. On the other hand, the region faces a number of destabilizing issues such as ISIL and other violent extremist groups and the refugee issue. Achieving the peace and stability in this region is of great importance to the world as a whole, including Japan, and the international community is working to resolve these issues.

Japan coordinates with the global community to undertake humanitarian assistance and support stabilization, and to implement development cooperation from a mid to long-term perspective. Alongside that Japan is also encouraging countries to play a constructive role in realizing stability in the Middle East. The first Japan-Arab Political Dialogue was held in Egypt in September 2017, and based on Japan's achievements so far, it came out with the “Kono Four Principles” ((1) intellectual and human contribution, (2) investment in “people,” (3) enduring efforts, and (4) enhancing political efforts).

【6 Promoting the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy”】

A free and open maritime order based on the rule of law is a cornerstone of the stability and prosperity of the international community. In particular, the Indo-Pacific region, which stretches from the Asia-Pacific through the Indian Ocean to the Middle East and Africa, is the core of the world's vitality and supports more than half the world's population. Maintaining and strengthening the Indo-Pacific region's free and open maritime order as “international public goods” will bring stability and prosperity.

In order to promote this strategy in practice, Japan is advancing (1) the promotion and establishment of fundamental principles such as the rule of law and freedom of navigation, (2) the pursuit of economic prosperity through enhancing connectivity, including through Quality Infrastructure development in accordance with international standards, and (3) initiatives for ensuring peace and stability that include assistance for capacity building on maritime law enforcement, anti-piracy measures, disaster reduction and non-proliferation.

Japan has reached a consensus with the relevant countries on pursuing collaboration and cooperation in order to realize the free and open Indo-Pacific, including as a result of Prime Minister Abe's visit to India in September 2017, U.S. President Trump's visit to Japan in November 2017, and Australian Prime Minister Turnbull's visit to Japan in January 2018 (See Special Feature “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy”).

(3) Strengthening Strategic Communication and the Foreign Policy Implementation Structure

【Strategic Communications】

Public understanding and support on Japan's policy and initiatives both domestically and from the international community are indispensable for the implementation of Japan's foreign policy. Sharing Japan's various charms, such as culture and food, serves to increase understanding for Japan in the international community, and is also important in the economic aspect such as tourism and exports. Particularly in regard to sharing the attractiveness of Japan's regional areas, MOFA has been working to promote such attractiveness from “Local to Global,” and attract tourists and domestic investment from “Global to Local.”

In 2017 as well, MOFA provided information both in and outside Japan by using various tools including MOFA websites and social media. In addition, progress is also being made with establishing “Japan Houses” in London, Los Angeles and São Paulo to promote Japan's attractiveness through an All-Japan initiative. Japan House São Paulo opened in Brazil in April, part of Japan House Los Angeles opened in advance in the U.S. in December, and preparations are underway to open Japan House London in the UK as well.

【Strengthening the Foreign Policy Implementation Structure】

To address wide-ranging diplomatic issues, MOFA continues to enhance its comprehensive foreign policy implementation structure in order to build a stronger foundation for policy execution. While continuing its streamlining efforts, MOFA will further reinforce the diplomatic missions overseas and its personnel both in quantity and quality.

Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy

A free and open maritime order based on the rule of law is a cornerstone of the stability and prosperity of the international community. In particular, the Indo-Pacific region stretches from the Asia-Pacific through the Indian Ocean to the Middle East and Africa, and is the core of the world's vitality, supporting more than half the world's population. Prime Minister Abe has been emphasizing the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific, including presenting a speech on the “Confluence of the Two Seas” – the Indian and the Pacific Oceans – to the Indian Parliament in 2007. Prime Minister Abe once again advocated this concept as the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” on the occasion of the TICAD VI in August 2016.

The maritime order in the Indo-Pacific region is facing various challenges such as piracy, terrorism, proliferation of WMD, natural disasters and illegal fishing. Japan is promoting the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” in order to make the Indo-Pacific region “international public goods” that bring stability and prosperity. This Strategy involves maintaining and strengthening a free and open maritime order based on the rule of law across the region through addressing of those challenges, as well as through enhancing connectivity within the region by developing Quality Infrastructure in accordance with international standards.

More specifically, Japan is advancing (1) the promotion and establishment of fundamental principles such as the rule of law and freedom of navigation; (2) the pursuit of economic prosperity through enhancing connectivity, including through Quality Infrastructure development in accordance with international standards; and (3) initiatives for ensuring peace and stability that include assistance for capacity building on maritime law enforcement, disaster risk reduction and non-proliferation. The Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy is open to every country that supports this idea and is ready to work with us.

Joint press conference held when U.S. President Trump visited Japan (November 6, Tokyo; Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)Joint press conference held when U.S. President Trump visited Japan (November 6, Tokyo; Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)

Many countries support the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.” For example, when Prime Minister Abe visited India in September 2017, he and Prime Minister Modi shared the view that they will encourage further alignment between Japan's “Free and Open-Indo Pacific Strategy” and India's “Act East Policy,” and will deepen concrete cooperation, including strengthening connectivity of the regions and cooperating on maritime security. Furthermore, when U.S. President Trump visited Japan in November 2017, the two leaders shared the view that Japan and the U.S. will promote the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy,” with Japan leading the initiative. Japan intends to strengthen cooperation while coordinating closely with partners, in order to further implement initiatives for realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Indo-Pacific Strategy Map