Diplomatic Bluebook 2020

Chapter 1

International Situation and Japan's Diplomacy in 2019

Japan aspires to ensure its national interests in the political, security, and economic domains, as well as to maintain and develop a desirable international order that is based on universal values such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. To this end, Japan needs to pursue strategic diplomacy, while rationally accounting for and adapting to changes in the international situation.

Below is a broad overview of the international situation surrounding Japan and of Japan's diplomacy in 2019.

1 Overview of the International Situation

The security environment surrounding Japan is becoming ever more severe and uncertain. Changes in the balance of power in the international arena are accelerating and becoming more complex, while cross-border threats are also growing. Today, no single country can protect its peace and security on its own.

At the same time, protectionism and inward-looking trends are becoming conspicuous in reaction to rapid globalization, even in countries that have enjoyed the benefits of free trade, such as the U.S. and Europe. Furthermore, the international order based on universal values such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, which has underpinned the stability and prosperity of the world, is being challenged by unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion, as well as by the spread of terrorism and violent extremism.

(1) Changes in the International Situation in the Mid- to Long-term

A Changes in the Balance of Power

The balance of power in the international community is shifting dramatically due to the rise of emerging countries, among other factors. Inter-state competition, in which states seek to shape an international order to their advantage as well as to increase their influence, is emerging more prominently. Meanwhile, there is growing uncertainty over the existing order.

B Diversification and Increased Complexity of Threats

The scope of national security has further broadened to encompass economic and technological fields in recent years, requiring the enhancement of efforts regarding the security policy in these fields. In addition, issues related to the transfer, proliferation, and capacity improvement of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, including the possibility of acquisition and use of such weapons by, among others, terrorist organizations, continue to constitute a major threat. Against such a backdrop, countries with outstanding military capabilities both in terms of quality and quantity are concentrated around Japan, and there is a clear tendency of further reinforcement of military capabilities and acceleration of military activities.

Regarding terrorism, operations against the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)” in Iraq and Syria liberated the territories that had been under ISIL's control. The return or relocation of foreign terrorist fighters who had been under the influence of ISIL to their home countries or to third countries, however, has spread the threat of terrorism and violent extremism throughout the world, including Asia. In April 2019, Sri Lanka witnessed the largest set of terrorist attacks in Asia in recent years, resulting in more than 250 casualties, including a Japanese national. In December, a terrorist shooting occurred in Afghanistan, killing a Japanese doctor. The form and background of terrorism have also diversified, as illustrated by some incidents where footage of terrorist attacks was spread instantly on social media.

Recent advances in science and technology are ramping up activities in outer space and cyberspace. While this presents major opportunities, it also brings about new risks and threats, making international rule-making an imperative from a security perspective.

Furthermore, progress has been made in a new paradigm of technological innovation which can bring about essential changes to the nature of society and people's lives, such as Internet of Things (IoT), fifth-generation mobile communications system (5G), artificial intelligence (AI), and quantum technology. Countries are vying with each other to develop technologies linked to national competitiveness and are stepping up efforts to apply these technologies in the security domain. The success or failure of innovations is anticipated to have considerable implications for the security environment.

C Global Economic Trends (the Emergence of Protectionism, Inward-Looking Trends, and Economic Friction)

The world economy has become more interdependent than ever through the development of global supply chain and financial systems, in line with the progress of globalization and innovation, such as digital technology. Thus, factors such as economic shocks and fluctuations in commodity prices in one region have increasing impacts on other regions or the entire global economy. Moreover, innovative progress in information and communication technologies by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, represented by AI, robotics, and Big Data, has been driving further transformation of the international economic order by dramatically changing people's lives. Furthermore, to enable smoother cross-border economic activities, the maintenance and promotion of a rules-based economic order has become all the more indispensable.

Meanwhile, protectionism and inward-looking trends that have spread as a backlash against globalization remain pronounced across the world. The backgrounds of such trends are diverse: growing domestic income inequality, job losses, an increase in imports, a rise in migrants, global environmental problems, etc. In Europe, the UK withdrew from the European Union (EU) at the end of January 2020, and a transition period was set to mitigate sudden changes in UK-EU relations after the withdrawal. Yet uncertainty lingers over the fate of UK-EU negotiations during the transition period concerning the nature of future relations, including economic ones. In the U.S., President Trump continued to emphasize “America First,” and economic friction between the U.S. and China has garnered the attention of Japan and the rest of the international community.

D Increasing Seriousness of Global Challenges

Ending poverty is the first goal of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are development goals for the entire international community. Poverty not only threatens the survival, daily life, and dignity of each person; it is also a source of social injustice, political instability, and violent extremism. The eradication of poverty is vital from the perspective of human security as well.

Infectious diseases threaten everyone's life and health and profoundly impact society as a whole. Globalization dramatically increased people's cross-border movements, exacerbating the threat of the outbreak and transmission of infectious diseases. Since the end of 2019, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that started in China has been raging around the world, causing substantial effects worldwide in various aspects, including the economy, society, and diplomacy.

In addition, there was a succession of large-scale disasters around the world, such as major typhoons, torrential rains, and forest fires. The severity of natural disasters is forecast to continue to intensify with the effects of climate change, and there is a concern that this will have a profound impact, especially on people in vulnerable environments. The possibility of global population growth, industrialization, and urbanization aggravating issues over water, food, and health has also been pointed out.

To resolve these global challenges, it is crucial to steadily make efforts on SDGs and address social, economic, and environmental issues in an integrated manner.

E The Situation in the Middle East Faced with Destabilizing Factors and Challenges

The Middle East is an important supplier of energy resources to the world. Its peace and stability are vital for Japan and the rest of the international community. The Middle East, however, faces various challenges that are destabilizing the region, such as heightened tensions over Iran, political turmoil that has persisted since the “Arab Spring” including the situations in Syria and Yemen, and the Middle East peace process which has been a historical issue since the founding of Israel. In addition, the risk of the spread of Islamic extremist groups, such as ISIL, remains in the region.

(2) The Very Severe Security Environment in East Asia

A Nuclear and Missile Development by North Korea

North Korea frequently and repeatedly conducted launches of ballistic missiles, totaling more than 20 from May to November 2019. It also launched ballistic missiles in March 2020. As this shows, North Korea has not carried out the dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner, in accordance with a series of relevant UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

B China's Strengthening of Military Power which Lacks Transparency and Unilateral Attempts to Change the Status Quo

The peaceful development of China should be welcomed by Japan and the entire international community. China, however, continues to increase its defense budget and has been strengthening and modernizing its military power extensively and rapidly without transparency. It also aims to secure superiority in new domains, such as outer space, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum. China continues unilateral actions and attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion at sea and in the airspace in areas such as the East and South China Seas based on its own assertions that are incompatible with the existing order of the law of the sea.

In the East China Sea, amid the continuation of intrusions by Chinese Government-owned vessels into Japan's territorial sea around the Senkaku Islands, the Chinese military has rapidly expanded and intensified its activities qualitatively and quantitatively at sea and in the airspace there. In addition, China has been continuing unilateral development of resources in the maritime areas pending delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone and the continental shelves. Furthermore, in recent years China has been carrying out numerous surveys without Japan's consent or in a manner that deviates from Japan's consent in the waters around Japan, including the East China Sea.

The issue over the South China Sea is a legitimate concern of the international community that is directly related to the peace and stability of the region. In the South China Sea, China has been continuing unilateral actions that change the status quo and increase tensions such as the large-scale and rapid building of outposts as well as their use for military purposes. China also attempts to make the results of these actions a fait accompli. According to a U.S. think tank, the total area covered by permanent facilities that China completed or commenced construction as of 2017 has reached around 290,000 square meters. In 2019, China deployed on disputed features missile systems with ranges covering nearly all of the South China Sea and also conducted anti-ship ballistic missile test launches. With regard to the dispute between the Philippines and China over the South China Sea, China makes claims that are inconsistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and continues to make its own self-righteous assertions concerning its territorial rights in the South China Sea. China has also denied that the final award rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal, which confirmed the unlawfulness of China's land reclamations and other actions, is legally binding.