Diplomatic Bluebook 2022
Overview of the International Situation and Outlook for Japan's Diplomacy
In order for Japan 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, it is necessary to grasp changes and trends of the international situation, and strategically develop diplomacy by adapting to those changes.
Below is a broad overview of the international situation surrounding Japan and the outlook for its diplomacy.
1 Overview of the International Situation
The international community is currently undergoing an era-defining change. Under the free, open, and stable international order, China and other emerging and developing countries are building up power and increasing their presence, benefiting from globalization. As a result, the world is entering into an era of competition between the United States and China as well as competition among nations, shifting from the era in which the U.S. exerted its leadership together with the advanced democratic countries to support the stability and prosperity of the international community through its overwhelming political, economic, and military power.
Furthermore, Russia launched aggression against Ukraine in February 2022. A state demands another state to change the latter's policy and regime based on the former's own unique view of the world and history, and the instant the former sees that these demands would not be met, it invades the latter's land by the use of force, inflicts damage that has led to a serious humanitarian crisis causing the deaths of many civilians, and attempts to change border lines and to expand its own sphere of influence - this is an outrageous act that shakes the very foundation of the international order that human beings have built up over the past century, including the prohibition of the use of force, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, and it is completely unacceptable. The aggression against Ukraine not only fundamentally overturns the structure of security in Europe, but also threatens the post-Cold War world order and could be called a major turning point in history.
At the same time, addressing global issues such as climate change, the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as rebuilding the COVID-19 affected economic order, continue to be urgent issues for the international community. While there is a growing importance for international cooperation and coordination more than ever, an intensifying struggle for leadership among nations in these fields can also be seen.
(1) Developments Concerning the Existing International Order
A Military Buildup Without Transparency and Unilateral Attempts to Change the Status Quo
The basic principles of international relations, including the rule of law, which have underpinned the peace and stability of the international community, are increasingly being challenged. In particular, the security environment surrounding Japan is becoming more testing and uncertain at a remarkably faster speed, as Japan is surrounded by countries with strong military capabilities, and further reinforcement of military capabilities and acceleration of military activities are becoming more prominent.
Russia's aggression against Ukraine is a serious violation of international law prohibiting the use of force, and is an outrageous act that shakes the very foundation of the international order, not only in Europe but also in Asia. Under the Putin administration, Russia has made a series of moves to undermine the territorial integrity of its neighboring countries in order to reclaim the sphere of influence it lost after the Cold War, and this has raised serious concerns in the regions surrounding Russia.
China continues to increase its defense budget, and is strengthening and modernizing its military power extensively and rapidly. It also aims to secure superiority in new domains, such as outer space, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum. Based on its own assertions that are inconsistent with the existing international order, China continues its unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force at sea and in the airspace in areas such as the East and South China Seas, expanding and intensifying its military activities. This gives rise to strong concerns over the security of the region and the international community, including Japan.
In addition, 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 United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. In 2021, North Korea launched missiles four times using ballistic missile technology in violation of relevant UNSC resolutions. Since the beginning of 2022, North Korea has repeatedly launched ballistic missiles with extremely high frequency and in new ways. It launched ballistic missiles six times in succession in January. On February 27 and March 5, North Korea launched intercontinental ballistic missile-class (ICBM-class) ballistic missiles, although not at their maximum range. Furthermore, on March 24, it launched an alleged new ICBM-class ballistic missile, which is estimated to have fallen within Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) about 150 kilometers off Japan's mainland. North Korea's series of actions, including the launch of ballistic missiles that have further aggravated the situation, threaten the peace and security of Japan, the region, and the international community, and are absolutely unacceptable.
B Expansion of the Scope of National Security
The full-scale transition to a digital society has expanded the scope of national security from the traditional military-centric focus to encompass economic and emerging technological fields. These are becoming increasingly important as they expand to involve non-state actors as well.
Firstly, the protection and promotion of critical and emerging technologies are having a significant impact on national security. Technological innovations such as the fifth-generation mobile communications system (5G), artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and quantum technology are not only bringing about substantive changes in society and daily life, but are also directly linked to national competitiveness, as well as to moves to strengthen military power as dual-use technologies for both military and civilian applications.
Secondly, with the expansion and sophistication of global supply chains, there is an increasing risk of coercion through leveraging economic dependency. Arbitrary trade restriction measures are a risk to fair exports and imports, and from the perspective of economic security, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure the stable supply of commodities that are critical to the survival of citizens and their livelihoods and economic activities. Countries are taking economic security measures to ensure strategic autonomy and strategic indispensability, while keeping in mind the maintenance and expansion of free and fair economic zones and consistency with existing international laws. There is also a trend toward expanding cooperation among like-minded countries to increase the resilience of supply chains.
Thirdly, new threats have emerged, such as malicious activities and attacks in cyberspace, as well as the disruption and manipulation of public opinion by spreading disinformation. In particular, the influence of disinformation through social media and other means on elections is recognized as a serious threat to democracy. Measures are being put in place in democratic societies, out of a sense of crisis that daily exposure to disinformation can impede proper decision-making by the public, not only against direct intervention in elections.
Fourthly, international terrorism remains a great threat. The widening disparity and poverty caused by the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and the social divisions brought about by racial and ethnic issues have been increasing the risk of the spread of terrorism and violent extremism. In addition, terrorists are taking advantage of the increasing dependence on the internet and social media to spread extremism and acquire funding for terrorism.
C Challenges to Universal Values
Universal values such as freedom, democracy, and human rights, which have provided the foundation for the prosperity and stability of the current international community, are also facing challenges. Amid the growing problems of inequality and poverty accompanying globalization, the rapid progress of digitalization, while contributing greatly to improving convenience in daily life, has also resulted in accelerating such negative aspects of globalization. At the same time, it has also caused the division of public opinion along the ideological lines by exposing people to biased information without them realizing it.
D Trends in Addressing Global Issues
The international community shares the seriousness of climate change and other global challenges, and efforts are underway to resolve them through multilateral cooperation. Climate change is an area that will be the focus of the international community's political and economic resources for a long time to come, and could become the core of innovation and economic growth. Because of this, there is also accelerated competition among major countries for leadership in the formation of international norms and standards and in the development of investment environments. At the 26th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), held from October 31, 2021, the Paris Rulebook for the implementation of the Paris Agreement was finalized after two weeks of intense negotiations.
In regard to the response to COVID-19, international cooperation for equitable access to vaccines is advancing, including through vaccine supply by the COVAX Facility to low-income countries and others, which has reached one billion doses in January 2022. At the same time, in the response to COVID-19, the political voice and influence of each country in the international community are increasingly dependent on their response to urgent global issues such as a pandemic.
(2) Socioeconomic Changes and Diplomacy
A Domestic Social Conditions and Diplomacy
As mentioned above, globalization, which has supported world prosperity and served as a backdrop for the rise of emerging economies, has also brought about negative realities such as widening disparities and poverty within various countries. The dissatisfaction of citizens who feel that they have not sufficiently benefited from globalization has aggravated divisions within countries, creating a dichotomy between two sides that is also triggered by ideology. In addition, the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has further strengthened inward-looking trends stemming from the anti-globalization movement. While the benefits of digitalization have made people's lives more convenient and society's values more diversified, it is also said that people's confirmation bias1 has increased amidst information overload, and tolerance in society has decreased. These domestic social conditions are having a greater impact than ever on the process of foreign policy formation and the formation of consensus on policy.
New domestic economic policies have been announced one after another in various countries in an effort to recover from COVID-19 and to overcome domestic divisions. In the U.S., the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was passed in November, and the “Build Back Better” Act, a social security and climate change-related spending bill, continues to be coordinated in Congress (as of March 2022). In addition, the EU also began operating its “NextGenerationEU” (recovery fund), an economic recovery plan following COVID-19, from January. Attention is focused on how these new policies will affect the social conditions and foreign policies of each country.
- 1 Confirmation bias: Refers to the tendency, when testing a hypothesis, to have a bias for selecting information that supports the hypothesis from among many pieces of information and to devalue or ignore information that does not support the hypothesis. (Source: imidas)
B Rebuilding the Economic Order
The global economy, which has been severely damaged by COVID-19, has shown signs of recovery, turning from negative growth of 3.1% in 2020 to a positive growth estimate of 5.9% in 2021 (both announced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF)). However, the situation of the global economy continues to be unpredictable, as there are still uncertain factors such as concerns over the emergence of new COVID-19 variants, and there is also widespread unevenness in recovery across countries and regions.
The supply chain vulnerabilities that have emerged due to the impacts of COVID-19 are not only the main cause for delaying economic recovery, but are also contributing to unilateral trade restriction measures by countries that prioritize securing essential goods domestically.
While the emergence of new growth markets that drive the growth of the global economy, such as the digital sector and the climate change countermeasures sector, is promising for the global economy, it also reveals challenges that must be addressed. In the digital sector, to harness the full potential of the digital economy, there is an urgent need to establish international rules to realize “Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT)” and to take cyber security measures for risk management. In addition, as countries are proceeding with policy changes to make the transition to a decarbonized society into a new economic opportunity, issues such as the stable securing of necessary energy and mineral resources are also becoming apparent.