Diplomatic Bluebook 2018

Chapter 3

Japan's Foreign Policy to Promote National and Global Interests

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


(National Security)

It is no exaggeration to say that the security environment surrounding Japan is most severe since the end of World War Ⅱ. Since 2016, North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests, and fired as many as 40 ballistic missiles, including ones that flew over Japan on two consecutive occasions, constituting an unprecedented, grave and imminent threat. Furthermore, the increase in China's military spending which is lacking transparency, and its unilateral attempts 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 become a common concern of the international community. Moreover, risks such as the spread and diversification of international terrorism and cyberattacks are becoming more serious.

Facing such a security environment, it has become important for Japan itself to fulfill its responsibility and role, more than ever before, in order to ensure the security of Japan and the peace and stability of the region. From this perspective, Japan promotes vibrant diplomacy under the policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation. At the same time, under the “Legislation for Peace and Security,” Japan strives to ensure its own security, while making concrete efforts to contribute even more proactively in securing peace, stability and prosperity of the international community.

It goes without saying that the presence and role of the U.S. are important for ensuring the peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan. From this perspective, in order to ensure the forward deployment of the U.S. Forces under the Japan-U.S. security arrangements and, further strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, both Japan and the U.S. have been expanding and strengthening cooperation in a wide range of areas 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 promotes security cooperation with Australia, India, European countries including the UK and France, Member States of the Association of South Asian Nations (ASEAN), and other countries with which it shares strategic interests.

Furthermore, 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) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and through trilateral cooperation frameworks such as the Japan-U.S.-ROK, Japan-U.S.-Australia, Japan-U.S.-India and Japan-Australia-India frameworks, as well as the quadripartite framework of Japan- Australia-India-U.S.

(Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding)

The security and prosperity of Japan cannot be achieved merely by improving the security environment surrounding Japan, as it also depends on the peace and stability of the international community. Based on this understanding, Japan is actively engaging in addressing various issues and challenges that confront the international community. In particular, Japan addresses peacebuilding as one of its key diplomatic agendas, which is essential in order to prevent the outbreak and recurrence of conflicts and to achieve sustainable peace. In this regard, Japan works comprehensively on peacekeeping, emergency humanitarian assistance, promotion of peace processes, maintenance of security, and reconstruction and development. These include Japan's proactive cooperation with United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations (PKOs) and the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), and its engagement in the development of social infrastructure and human resources through Official Development Assistance (ODA).

(Threats to Security)

Although the territory controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria has shrunk, the return or relocation of foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) who had been under the influence of ISIL to their home countries or to third countries has spread the threat of terrorism, and this threat is also growing in Asia. In May 2017, a group self-professed to be “ISIL East Asia” occupied a part of Marawi City in the Philippines. While the military operations have been completed, there is still a need to continue closely monitoring the situation in Mindanao including Marawi City.

In 2016, Japan formulated the “G7 Action Plan on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism” at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit, and at the Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting held during the same year, declared its commitment to putting in place comprehensive counter-terrorism measures that are comprised of the following initiatives: (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. Japan is steadily promoting international cooperation in measures to counter- terrorism and violent extremism in line with these plans.

(Disarmament and Non-proliferation and the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy)

As the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings, Japan has been actively engaged in disarmament and non-proliferation efforts to realize “a world free of nuclear weapons.” To achieve progress in nuclear disarmament, it is necessary to put repeated effort into realistic and practical measures with the cooperation of both nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States. Based on this understanding, Foreign Minister Kishida attended the First Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)1 held in May, where he announced Japan's proposal about the pathway towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons. In September, Foreign Minister Kono attended the 10th Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)2, where he declared Japan's determination to continue leading international efforts towards the early entry into force of the CTBT. He also co-hosted the 9th Ministerial Meeting of the Non-proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI)3 with Germany, and issued statements confirming cooperation as the NPDI towards the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT, and strongly condemning North Korea's nuclear tests and missile development.

While the divergent views as to the way to advance nuclear disarmament had come to the surface, Japan submitted a draft resolution regarding the elimination of nuclear weapons to the UN General Assembly with the aim of providing a common ground by rebuilding trust amongst all states and to bridge gaps among states with different positions. This resolution was adopted with wide support from countries with various positions. Furthermore, Japan held the first meeting of a Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament in Hiroshima in November, which contributed to rebuilding trust and cooperation among countries having differing approaches towards a world free of nuclear weapons, and which drew recommendations that contributed to achieving substantive advancement of nuclear disarmament.

Japan is also putting much effort into strengthening the framework of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other arms. A representative example is its initiatives aimed at strengthening and enhancing the efficiency of the safeguards4 of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)5, which plays a central role in international nuclear non-proliferation. In addition, Japan participates in the export control regimes, which are frameworks for the appropriate control of the export of weapons and related dual-use goods and technologies.

As for the regional nuclear proliferation issues, the nuclear agreement between Iran and EU3 (UK, France, Germany, and EU) +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's nuclear and missile problem is 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 issues and nuclear non-proliferation issues with the relevant countries, and engaged in capacity building efforts in the field of non-proliferation, including strengthening the IAEA safeguards and export controls, particularly in developing countries in Asia.

Japan is also actively engaged in efforts in the field of nuclear security, such as by organizing the relevant conferences in Tokyo, with the aim of preventing nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists and other criminals.

Japan's basic approach is to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which is one of the three pillars of the NPT, while securing nuclear non-proliferation. Japan takes wide-ranging initiatives, including promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy through means such as the conclusion of bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements, while also focusing on promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in developing countries and contributing to development agenda. Japan takes further steps to deal with the aftermath of the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (the Fukushima Daiichi accident) and moves forward on reconstruction, while gaining the understanding and support of the international community. Japan also contributes to strengthening nuclear safety globally by sharing its experience of the accident with the international community.

  • 1 Opened for signing in 1968, and entered into force in 1970. 191 countries are parties to the treaty (countries that have not ratified the treaty are India, Pakistan, Israel, and South Sudan). (1) Nuclear non-proliferation: Defines the five countries of U.S., Russia, UK, France, and China as “nuclear-weapon States,” and prevents the proliferation of nuclear weapons to countries other than the “nuclear-weapon States;” (2) Nuclear disarmament: Stipulates the obligation of State Parties to faithfully engage in negotiations on nuclear disarmament (Article 6); (3) Use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes: Stipulates the use of nuclear power for peaceful purposes as an “inalienable right” of all State Parties (Article 4.1). In addition, it also sets out the obligation for non-nuclear-weapon States to accept the safeguards of the International Atomic and Energy Agency (IAEA), with the aim of preventing the transfer of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes to military technology (Article 3).
  • 2 Prohibits experimental explosions of nuclear weapons and nuclear explosions in all places including outer space, within the atmosphere, in water, and underground. Although it was opened for signing in 1996, as of December 2017, of the 44 countries required to ratify the treaty in order for it to enter into force, China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, and the U.S. have not yet ratified the treaty, while India, North Korea, and Pakistan have not yet signed it. Hence, it has not entered into force. In the past two years, Myanmar and Swaziland ratified the treaty on September 2016, while Thailand is currently undergoing domestic procedures towards ratification.
  • 3 A group of cross-regional non-nuclear-weapon States established under the leadership of Japan and Australia in 2010, it now has 12 members. The other members are Canada, Chile, Germany, Poland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines and Nigeria.
  • 4 The IAEA was established in 1957 to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to prevent it from being diverted from peaceful to military uses. Its secretariat is located in Vienna. Its highest decision-making body is the General Conference, which consists of all member countries and meets once a year. The 35-member Board of Governors carries out the IAEA's functions, subject to its responsibilities to the General Conference. As of February 2017, the IAEA has 168 member countries.
  • 5 Verification measures (inspections, checks of each country's material accountancy (management of its inventory of nuclear material) records, etc.) undertaken by the IAEA in accordance with the safeguards agreements concluded by each individual country and the IAEA, in order to assure that nuclear material is being used exclusively for peaceful purposes and is not being diverted for use in nuclear weapons or the like. Pursuant to Article 3 of the NPT, the non-nuclear-weapon States that are contracting parties to the NPT are required to conclude safeguards agreements with the IAEA and to accept safeguards on all nuclear material within their borders (comprehensive safeguards).
(The Oceans and Seas/ Cyberspace/ Outer space)

“Free, 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 and strengthening a maritime order, Japan is dedicated to ensuring the freedom of navigation and overflight and safe maritime transport under the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy,” through various efforts and cooperation as well as support 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 secure cyberspace, Japan contributes proactively to international discussions on cyber security, including the promotion of rule of law 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 measures with other countries through dialogues and discussions on cyber issues. At the same time, Japan provides support for capacity building in developing countries and others.

In order to tackle increasing risks accompanying the diversified use of outer space and increasing number of countries using space, Japan has been engaged in efforts to realize 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)

For two years from January 2016 to the end of 2017, Japan served as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the 11th time, which is more frequent than any other UN Member State (See Special Feature “Summary of Japan's contribution during its 11th term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council”). During its term on the Council, Japan contributed proactively to discussions on issues surrounding North Korea, Africa, and the Middle East, in order to exert leadership towards achieving international peace and security.

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 prior to its admission as a permanent member, Japan is running for the UNSC non-permanent membership election in 2022, in order to serve, as frequently as possible, as a member of the Council.

Today, the international community is confronted by a wide range of challenges across borders including conflicts, terrorism, refugees, poverty, climate change, and infectious diseases, and the UN has to fulfill an expanding role. Under the policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on international cooperation, Japan will take an even more proactive approach towards tackling these issues through the UN. Japan will also continue to be proactively engaged in the UN reform, including the reform of the Security Council, so that the UN can cope more effectively with the various issues faced by the international community.

(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 the international order that consists 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 state and in ensuring the peaceful settlement of disputes between states. Based on this view, Japan promotes the bilateral and multilateral rule-making and implements these rules in various fields, such as security, economic and social affairs, and criminal justice. Furthermore, in order to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes and maintain international legal order, Japan actively 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 via contributions both in terms of human resources and financial needs. In addition, Japan has been working to enhance the rule of law in Asia as well as the international community as a whole via provision of legal technical assistance, participation in international conferences, exchanges with various countries, and hosting of events related to international law.

(Human Rights)

Human rights, freedom and democracy are fundamental 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 actively in the field of human rights. Specifically, Japan has been making proactive contributions to improve the human rights situation around the world through dialogue and cooperation. Japan is also engaged in bilateral dialogues, actively participates in multilateral forums, including the UN, and continues constructive dialogues with human rights mechanisms.


Japan has been leading the international community to promote gender equality and women's empowerment, and to achieve “a society where women shine” around the world. As a part of these efforts, Japan leads discussions to promote women's empowerment in the world through fora such as the World Assembly for Women (WAW!). In the field of international cooperation, to promote the empowerment of women in developing countries, Japan announced its commitment to provide support of more than 3 billion U.S. dollars by 2018 and is steadily implementing this initiative, based on the “Development Strategy for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment” that aims to further strengthen women's capabilities and their advancement in society.