Diplomatic Bluebook 2018

Chapter 2

Japan's Foreign Policy that Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map

Section 3 Latin America and the Caribbean


(Situations in Latin America and the Caribbean)

Latin American and the Caribbean (hereafter referred to as “LAC”) region consists of 33 countries that have a population of more than 600 million and a GDP of roughly 5.2 trillion US dollars. Accounting for nearly 17% of the United Nations (UN) membership, it has a huge presence in the international arena. Moreover, it has a large production of food, minerals, energy, natural resources as well as a rapidly growing market and considerable economic potential.

While some parts of the region recorded negative economic growth in 2016 due to the declining price of natural resources in recent years, it was predicted that they would recover a positive growth in 2017. Although they struggle with the plunge of the price of natural resources, LAC region is enhancing its profile with its free trade policy among the global value chain, especially the countries promoting economic reform and an open market. LAC countries are important partners for Japan, a standard-bearer of free trade. As LAC countries are beginning to “graduate” from recipient countries, support and triangular cooperation in the fields of high-demand will be required to expand.

Many LAC countries share fundamental values with Japan, such as liberalism and democracy. The great majority of LAC countries have been working together with Japan on the international pressure campaign against North Korea by means of immediately issuing a number of statements criticizing North Korea's nuclear tests and its launches of ballistic missiles. This includes collaboration with other global issues such as environment, climate change, disarmament, and non-proliferation.

LAC region is a home to the community of Japanese immigrants and descendants (the Nikkei community) numbering 2.1 million, 60% of the whole world's Nikkei population. This is a bond that is unique to Japan. Contributions by Nikkei people to the local community for more than 100 years have established a traditional affinity towards Japan.

(Japanese Diplomacy towards Latin America and the Caribbean countries)

Japan's diplomacy towards LAC region has developed under the guiding principle of the three “Juntos” (“progress together,” “lead together,” and “inspire together”) announced by Prime Minister Abe during the visit to the region in 2014. The number of the mutual visits have never been greater than that of recent years. In 2017, Japan welcomed numerous dignitaries from LAC countries while Japanese high-ranking officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other ministries carried out more than 50 visits to that region.

On the economic front, Japan is working with those countries aiming at “progressing together.” In 2017, Japan worked hard with LAC countries for reaching an agreement in principal of TPP11, and held a range of policy dialogue on Japanese companies operating in the region and its business environment. Moreover, under the “lead together” principle, Japan is working with LAC countries as a partner in solving common issues of the international community. In 2017 many meetings were held; bilateral meetings including the three summits, Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the Forum for East Asia–Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) in August, and the Japan-CELAC (Community of Latin America and Caribbean States) Extended Troika Foreign Ministers' Meeting. Regarding the efforts on the “inspire together” principle, Japan is strengthening collaboration especially with the Nikkei community, and amplifying further its efforts in the areas of business, culture, science, and technology. In addition to promoting people-to-people exchange through a range of invitation programs, Japan opened Japan House in São Paulo (Brazil) in April 2017.

Japan-CELAC Extended Troika Foreign Ministers' Meeting (September 21, New York)Japan-CELAC Extended Troika Foreign Ministers' Meeting (September 21, New York)
Broadening reinforcement of economic ties with Latin America and the Caribbean
Grand opening of the Japan House (April 30, São Paulo, Brazil; Photo: Marcos Corrêa / PR)Grand opening of the Japan House (April 30, São Paulo, Brazil; Photo: Marcos Corrêa / PR)