Diplomatic Bluebook 2020

Chapter 4

Japan's Diplomacy Open to the Public

2 Japanese Taking Active Roles in the International Community

(1) Japanese Taking Active Roles in International Organizations

International organizations are founded to serve the common interest of the international community. People of various nationalities join these international organizations, and draw on their skills and traits to create an environment where people of the world can live in peace and enjoy prosperity. There are many international organizations working to solve global issues that cannot be addressed by individual countries; for instance, conflict prevention/peacebuilding, sustainable development, food, energy, climate change, disaster prevention, health, education, labor, human rights/humanitarian issues, and gender equality, among others.

Talented individuals with specialized knowledge, passion, and capabilities to contribute to the world's interests are needed so that international organizations can competently perform their duties and fulfill the roles expected of them. As a member country of these international organizations, Japan, in addition to policy contributions, makes financial contributions through its assessed and voluntary contributions. In addition, it can be said that the activities and service of Japanese staff are, in a broad sense, also Japan's contributions.

Currently, about 880 Japanese nationals are working as professional-level staff in UN-related agencies around the world. There is an increasing trend to the number of Japanese staff members, but taking into account the number of professional-level staff of other G7 member countries, which exceeds 1,000, the number of Japanese staff remains insufficient.

Number of Staff Members at UN-related Agencies by Nationality (professional or higher)
Japanese Taking Active Roles in the International Community

The Government of Japan has set the objective of increasing the number of Japanese staff working at UN-related agencies to 1,000 by 2025. To this end, MOFA is actively recruiting, training, and supporting, in collaboration with universities, related ministries and agencies, and organizations, Japanese nationals who can play active roles and make a contribution on the global stage. As part of this effort, MOFA runs the Junior Professional Officer (JPO) Programme that sends young Japanese nationals to positions in international organizations for a term of two years in principle with the aim of gaining regular staff positions in such organizations after the term. MOFA also runs a program to send mid-career and higher Japanese nationals who can be future managerial candidates. In addition to increasing the number of Japanese staff through these efforts, MOFA is also working to coordinate with international organizations and gather information for the employment and promotion of Japanese staff.

MOFA provides useful and timely information such as vacancy announcements to Japanese candidates seeking positions at international organizations through its website, mailing lists, and social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and provides support related to application procedures for such positions. Public relations efforts include holding guidance seminars in and outside Japan to appeal the attractiveness of working at international organizations and to deliver methods to apply for a job, and holding recruitment seminars when senior officials or human resource experts of international organizations visit Japan (see the website for MOFA's Recruitment Center for International Organizations).3

A larger number of talented Japanese people taking on active roles in international organizations will further enhance Japan's presence in the international community more visibly. Japanese staff are involved in various fields and duties at different locations, but they share the same goal of solving various issues facing the international community (see the Column on page 322).

In addition, Japanese staff at international organizations may play the role of a “bridge” between the international organization and their home country. For example, Japan's successful co-hosting of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) in August with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank, and African Union Commission (AUC) was underpinned by the important role played by Japanese staff members, who understand the stance and work procedures of both Japan and partner organizations. In this manner, the presence of Japanese staff in international organizations has vital significance also from the perspective of promoting Japan's diplomatic priorities.

Moreover, increasing the number of globally- minded human resources who have professional experience at international organizations and who can play an active role on the international stage will in turn lead to enrichment of the human resources of Japan, contributing to the development of Japan as a whole.

MOFA will continue to be even more active in undertaking measures that increase the number of Japanese nationals working in international organizations so that a larger number of competent Japanese nationals who have high aspirations and passion to contribute to solving global issues can take part in international organizations.

  • 3 Ministry of Foreign Affairs Recruitment Center for International Organizations website (only in the Japanese language): https://www.mofa-irc.go.jp/
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs Recruitment Center for International Organizations website (only in the Japanese language)

Voices of People Who Have Been Supporting the United Nations' Activities - Toward a peaceful world with zero hunger

Ushiyama Coco

Director of UN System and Multilateral Engagement Division,
World Food Programme (WFP) New York

2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (UN). Growing up, and from as long as I can remember, I have aspired toward the ideals of the UN focusing on international cooperation including global and generational challenges. I still remember a conversation with a former colleague more than 25 years ago as I was resigning from the investment bank where we both worked in Tokyo. When I told him I was leaving to work for the UN, he bluntly suggested I reconsider, saying there were other ways I could contribute from Japan.

To date, I have worked at the UN Headquarters in New York, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, and at the World Food Programme (WFP) offices in various countries. Although I have served the longest in the WFP, the WFP's strong field focus meant that I have worked in new countries in different continents every three to four years providing me with a richer perspective of our work and life in general.

As the world's largest humanitarian organization, WFP's emergency work is in food insecure countries often affected by conflict, natural disasters and economic downturns. As we often serve in challenging conditions, we generally become physically and mentally tough over time. Personally, I have also come to appreciate things we take for granted in Japan. For example, electricity and water at all times. In the 1990s, when I was working in the dry, arid parts of Kenya, I was grateful just to have a small tub of lukewarm water after a long, dusty day at the various project sites, even if it had quite a few insects in it. In Malawi, where I had been working until three years ago, power outages occurred frequently. On bad days, we only had four to five hours of electricity.

In our line of work with increasing emergency operations, we have to resolve the problems that are right in front of us at that moment, and address longer term challenges whenever possible at the same time. In Malawi, as a consequence of various factors, such as climate shocks (drought and flood), poor harvests, rising food prices, and inflation, we responded to a major emergency operation working long hours over several months including often on the weekends as well to prevent widespread hunger. At the same time, we also ensured our developmental work such as our school meals program not only continued but scaled up in some areas so children would eat at least one healthy meal a day, continue to study, and did not drop out. We also worked closely with the communities, civil society, and the local and central governments in resilience-building work. Joint analysis, multisector planning and coordination, context specific capacity, and implementation support were important investments toward a shock resilient, zero hunger future.

I was very surprised when I first heard the expression “heiwa boke” (referring to an attitude of complacency about peace, or taking peace for granted) in Japan. Prolonged wars and conflicts are still being fought in various parts of the world today. For too many in the world, peace is a luxury they do not have. In addition, climate change, natural disasters, pollution, and loss of biodiversity are increasing challenges affecting many, beyond borders. My colleagues at WFP are working hard in conflict zones such as Yemen and Syria. In reality, we are, for the first time, facing more than five simultaneous large-scale and urgent humanitarian responses around the world. This scenario was unthinkable 25 years ago, or even 10 years ago. While we are responding to the rising humanitarian needs, the UN has to play an even more active role than before to ensure that all humankind and our planet can enjoy sustainable peace, development, and prosperity.

The UN belongs to everyone. If you are curious about the world, wish to contribute to the international community, and have the passion and skillsets to resolve global issues, why not join the UN? If you're not easily daunted by global and generational challenges working toward a future with sustainable development, we hope you get more involved.

The author talking to elementary school students at a school benefitting from the school meals program in Malawi (front, right)The author talking to elementary school students at a school benefitting from the school meals program in Malawi (front, right)
Tree-planting as a part of the Community Resilience Programme in Malawi (Author: Center)Tree-planting as a part of the Community Resilience Programme in Malawi (Author: Center)

Voices of People Who Have Been Supporting the United Nations' Activities - Procurement authority and responsibility

Mitsui Kiyohiro

Chief, Transportation & Life Support Service, Procurement Division, UN Secretariat

Mitsui Kiyohiro

After college graduation, I worked in a general trading company before I was given the opportunity to work in an international organization by the Junior Professional Officer program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From September 1998 to September 2000, I worked as a Junior Professional Officer in the United Nations Development Program office in Trinidad and Tobago. There, I managed and coordinated projects implemented by various UN agencies in collaboration with the government of Trinidad and Tobago. Subsequently, I became an Associate Administrative Officer of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization in the office of the Director of General Services Division in Vienna. In September 1991, I was appointed to the Procurement Division of the UN Secretariat in New York. Since then, my work has shifted to procurement activities, which include the purchase of communication equipment, transportation vehicles, sea and air transportation services, food rations and fuel needed for UN peacekeeping operations and programs at the UN Headquarters.

In contrast to my work in the private sector where the focus was on corporate profits, at the UN Procurement Division the purpose of my work is to contribute to the common goals and causes of the international community. In our division, we secure external contractors who supply necessary goods and services for the operation of UN activities. Our contractors are chosen through competitive bidding to ensure fairness and transparency. As each procurement officer has the authority to form a contract through the competitive bidding process, they go through rigorous training in UN procurement regulations and rules and in professional ethics. In order to maintain transparency about conflicts of interest, all staff working in procurement are required to disclose their assets annually.

Each member of the UN Procurement Division upholds “fiduciary responsibility.” “Fiduciary responsibility” refers to the responsibility of establishing contracts that ensure appropriate allocation and expenditure of funds. We are directly funded by the member states of the UN that specify the use of these funds during the budgetary process. These funds include contributions from some of the poorest countries in the world. As such, it is the procurement officer's responsibility to make sure these funds are allocated as specified. I constantly keep in mind the responsibility that accompanies the use of the funds that have been entrusted in our procurement officers. I am dedicated to upholding this responsibility as a senior staff member of the UN Procurement Division.

(The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and position of the UN.)

The author (right) in a meeting with UN participants at a business seminar for potential vendors held in Chengdu (China)The author (right) in a meeting with UN participants at a business seminar for potential vendors held in Chengdu (China)

(2) Activities of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

A Development Cooperation

Most of the Japanese NGOs involved in development cooperation activities are familiar with local needs at the grassroots level and provide flexible and detailed support in developing countries and regions facing various challenges such as poverty, natural disasters, and conflicts. In the interest of leveraging the capabilities of organizations outside of the Government of Japan to conduct all-Japan diplomacy, the role that NGOs play in development cooperation is expanding significantly as organizations that provide support to various nations, including developing countries.

Through NGOs, MOFA actively provides Official Development Assistance (ODA) via financial cooperation in the form of grant assistance for economic and social development projects implemented by Japanese NGOs in developing countries and regions (Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects). The projects cover a wide range of assistance, including health, medical and hygienic care (maternal and child health, countermeasures for tuberculosis/HIV/AIDS, water/hygiene, etc.), rural development (environmental development/technological improvement for agriculture), support for people with disabilities (vocational training/job seeking assistance, provision of wheelchairs for children, etc.), education (building schools, etc.), disaster risk reduction, and the clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnances (UXO). In 2019, 55 Japanese NGOs implemented 95 projects in 34 countries and regions including Asia, Africa, and the Middle East under the Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects (see the Column on page 325). Moreover, subsidies are provided with the objective of supporting activities that will enhance the project execution capabilities and expertise of Japanese NGOs and that promote NGO projects (NGO Project Subsidies).

Japan Platform (JPF) was established in 2000 with the aim of conducting emergency humanitarian assistance more effectively and promptly through cooperation and partnerships among the Government, NGOs, and business communities at the time of large-scale natural disasters or conflicts. As of the end of December 2019, 43 NGOs are members of JPF. In 2019, JPF launched emergency response to Cyclone Idai in Southern Africa, emergency response to floods in Nepal, and assistance for Venezuelan migrants and refugees, while implementing response programs for humanitarian crises in Myanmar, South Sudan, Uganda, Syria, Iraq, and their neighboring countries.

JPF Project “Emergency Response for People Fleeing Myanmar”: Project for improving the water, sanitation, and hygiene environment at the refugee camp in Cox's Bazar (Bangladesh) by Association for Aid and Relief (AAR), Japan (© Association for Aid and Relief (AAR), Japan)JPF Project “Emergency Response for People Fleeing Myanmar”: Project for improving the water, sanitation, and hygiene environment at the refugee camp in Cox's Bazar (Bangladesh) by Association for Aid and Relief (AAR), Japan (© Association for Aid and Relief (AAR), Japan)

As seen thus far, NGOs assume important roles in the area of development cooperation. Identifying such NGOs as partners in development cooperation, MOFA and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) provide indirect support for NGO activities through various policy measures with the aim of enhancing their capacity and expertise as well as developing human resources so that NGOs can strengthen the foundation for their activities and perform further tasks. In 2019, MOFA implemented four programs, namely the “NGO Consultant Scheme,” “NGO Study Program,” “NGO Intern Program” and “NGO Study Group.”

Moreover, the general meeting of the NGO- MOFA Regular Consultation Meeting was held in 2019 to promote dialogue and coordination with NGOs. The ODA Policy Council meetings to discuss ODA policy and the Partnership Promotion Committee meetings to discuss support and cooperation measures for NGOs were also held. In addition, MOFA has been working on initiatives to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while exchanging views with various stakeholders, including NGOs, through the SDGs Promotion Roundtable and other fora.

Bringing Clean Water to More People by Utilizing the “Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects”

Kinoshita Kanako, N'Diaye Saori

HOPE International Development Agency Japan

In recent years, NGOs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) have been creating many opportunities for mutual consultations in order to develop better partnerships that harness their mutual strengths. HOPE International Development Agency Japan (“HOPE”) provides support to those living in extreme poverty around the world to become self-reliant, and through its cooperation with MOFA, has successfully expanded the scope of this support.

Since 2005, HOPE has been implementing projects in remote, rural areas in southern Ethiopia, which focus on providing health and hygiene education alongside providing access to clean water that is vital toward helping local residents break out of poverty. The number of beneficiaries in past years when MOFA's “Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects” was disbursed increased sometimes ten times more than that in years when projects were implemented through our own funds acquired through fundraising. It is extremely difficult to raise the same amount of funds as MOFA's Grant Assistance through business revenues and donations from supporters. However, by utilizing the knowhow that HOPE has accumulated locally together with MOFA's scheme, it has become possible to supply safe water to even more people.

A project that is currently being implemented under the “Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects” scheme aims at enabling access to clean water for approximately 12,000 residents over three years in three villages of Bonke District in southern Ethiopia. To ensure that clean water is supplied over the long-term, water is delivered from mountain springs to the water stations through gravitational force alone in a water supply system adapted to the local terrain. Moreover, protecting the health of residents is an important element. To that end, steady progress is being made to provide basic hygiene education to the people, such as promoting toilet use and hand washing, under the leadership of a community health committee selected from local residents.

This project is being implemented in a remote, rural area at an altitude of about 3,000m, and due to the bad roads (muddy mountain roads), it takes about four hours to travel from the neighboring city using a four-wheel drive vehicle. Because no assistance is provided by other organizations, the residents have long been looking forward to having access to clean water supplies. However, a project that serves to fulfill their needs will not create a desire for them to solve problems on their own, but instead leads only to growing demands. Supporting people who are not receiving assistance by putting them on the path toward self-reliance is the principle that lies at the root of HOPE's pro­jects. The aim is to help these people solve problems on their own so that they can live in a dignified manner as well as break out from the cycle of poverty permanently. To that end, we place the emphasis on residents taking ownership over projects. Specifically, by entrusting the physical work to the local residents such as road development and transportation of materials to the project site prior to the start of the project, we seek to foster a sense of ownership. Furthermore, the sustainability of the project is assured through initiatives such as setting up protective fences and keys for water stations by having users of the water stations contribute materials and labor, and deciding on the terms of use for water stations at resident gatherings.

In October 2019, water supply systems (simple gravity-fed water supply facilities) were completed in two of the three villages in the Bonke District. This project not only enabled access to clean water for 6,636 villagers, but also enhanced health and hygiene knowledge and brought about changes in lifestyle habits such as water handling, toilet use, and hand washing. Consequently, the rate of diseases such as diarrhea is beginning to decline. Additionally, with the reduced need for people to fetch and draw water manually, an environment is gradually being developed that enables children to attend school and women to engage in activities that improve income.

The hand-over ceremony of this water supply system, held in the Bonke District, was attended by Ambassador Matsunaga from the Embassy of Japan in Ethiopia. Villagers in formal dress and holding spears were waiting as they held up paper banners with the message “Thank you people of Japan.” While their sentiments of appreciation and gratitude cannot be quantified, they moved our hearts immensely. It is also our role to convey these changes to even more Japanese people. Going forward, we hope to continue communicating the importance of assisting people who cannot even obtain clean water, despite advancements in technological innovations and the increasing number of support projects that include business elements.

Award-winning photograph at the Global Festa: children delighted with the supply of clean waterAward-winning photograph at the Global Festa: children delighted with the supply of clean water
Villagers from Bonke in formal dress holding banners with “Thank you people of Japan”Villagers from Bonke in formal dress holding banners with “Thank you people of Japan”
B Partnership in Other Major Diplomatic Areas

MOFA also cooperates with NGOs in areas other than development cooperation. For instance, at the 63rd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held in March 2019, Dr. Tanaka Yumiko (visiting professor at Josai International University) represented Japan, and NGO representatives actively participated in discussions as members of the Japanese delegation. At the 74th UN General Assembly, Dr. Miyazaki Akane (professor at Japan Women's University) attended the Third Committee, which deals with a range of social and human rights issues, as an advisor to the representatives of the Government of Japan. In addition, the Government of Japan has initiated dialogues with civil society including NGO representatives and experts on matters related to government reports to be submitted based on various conventions on human rights, third country resettlement projects, and the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security based on the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1325 and related resolutions.

Japanese NGOs are also increasing their presence in the area of disarmament. MOFA has been actively promoting cooperation with them; for example, in the area of conventional weapons, MOFA works in cooperation with NGOs in implementing clearance of mines and unexploded ordnances, and risk reduction education projects.

Furthermore, in the area of nuclear disarmament, MOFA has been conducting dialogues with various NGOs and experts. The Government supports the activities of NGOs and others to convey atomic bomb survivors' testimonies on the realities of the disaster of the use of nuclear weapons to the international community through the commissioned projects called the “Special Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons” and the “Youth Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons.” As of December 2019, a total of 299 Special Communicators on 101 occasions and a total of 405 Youth Communicators on 35 occasions have been dispatched to the world through these commission programs.

As for the measures against transnational organized crime, especially in the area of human trafficking in persons, coordination with civil society including NGOs is essential. With this in mind, the Government actively exchanges opinions with NGOs and other stakeholders to identify recent trends of human trafficking in persons and to consult on appropriate measures to tackle them.

Particularly for the G20, the C20 (Civil 20) was launched separate from the governments, as one of the Engagement Groups of the G20 (organizations independent of governments and formed by parties involved in activities in the international community). In April, the C20 Summit was held in Tokyo, generating a wide range of discussions on the main issues of the G20 Osaka Summit from the civil society perspective, and C20 representatives paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Abe, who chaired the G20, and handed the “C20 Policy Pack 2019.”

Prime Minister Abe receiving a courtesy call by the C20 representatives (April 18, Tokyo; Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)Prime Minister Abe receiving a courtesy call by the C20 representatives (April 18, Tokyo; Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)

(3) Japan JICA Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, Experts, and Others

The Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) is JICA's program aimed at cooperation and assistance for the socio-economic development of the communities of the developing countries where Japanese nationals from 20 to 69 years of age, who possess skills, knowledge, and experience, live and work together with local people in these countries, fostering mutual understanding under the program. As of the end of December 2019, 54,106 JOCVs had been dispatched to 98 countries in total since the program's launch in 1965. Dispatched volunteers have been engaged in about 200 types of work in ten sectors: planning administration, commercial/tourism, public utility works, human resources, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, health/medical care, mining, social welfare, energy, and others.

JOCV participants who have returned to Japan contribute to the Japanese society by sharing their experiences in educational, local, and business activities. These unique participatory activities of Japan have been highly appreciated by not just recipient countries but both domestically and internationally.

JOCV participants use their experience for their self-development as human resources who play an active role on the global level. For this reason, the Government of Japan has been working with companies, municipal governments, and universities, which appreciate such opportunities to develop human resource through dispatching their employees, teachers, and students to developing countries. For example, JOCV (private sector partnership) was launched in FY2012 as a program responding to the needs of private companies, such as small and medium-sized enterprises which aim for international expansion of their businesses. Furthermore, the Government is committed to developing an environment under which former JOCV participants can feed back their experiences into society by some measures such as employment support. There are many former JOCV participants who are active in a wide range of domestic and international fields. Some work actively in disaster-affected municipalities, or collaborate with other former JOCV participants to continue to support the countries they were sent to, and others work actively in international organizations.

This program reformed its rule in the fall of 2018. The categorization by age (Youth/Seniors) was changed to a categorization based on whether or not volunteers meet a certain standard of experience, skills, and other requirements.

JICA dispatches experts with specialized knowledge, insights, skills, and experience to governmental agencies and other institutions in developing countries. The experts provide policy advice and transfer necessary skills and knowledge to government officials and engineers. Furthermore, they collaborate with their counterparts to develop and disseminate technologies and systems that are suitable to each country's context. The experts envisage that developing countries will cultivate comprehensive capacity so that the people can handle their development challenges by themselves. The experts engage in their activities, considering regional characteristics, historical background, and language.

In FY2018, 9,874 experts were newly dispatched to 119 countries and regions. The experts actively engage in a wide range of fields, including those addressing basic human needs such as health/medical care and water/sanitation, and those of socio-economic development, such as legal system development and urban planning. The experts contribute to the social and economic development of developing countries and fostering mutual trust with Japan through their activities.

A JOCV dietician providing nutritional guidance in Fiji (Photo: JICA)A JOCV dietician providing nutritional guidance in Fiji (Photo: JICA)
Expert in conducting market research with counterpart from the Madagascar Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (Photo: JICA)Expert in conducting market research with counterpart from the Madagascar Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (Photo: JICA)