Diplomatic Bluebook 2022

Opening Special Feature

The Fight Against the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in 2021

3 Diplomacy During the COVID-19 Epidemic

In 2021, the global spread of COVID-19 continued to impose significant restrictions on the diplomatic activities of countries, including Japan.

Even under these circumstances, Japan actively held summit and foreign ministers' meetings via video conferences and telephone calls. In 2021, Prime Minister Suga held over 40 video conferences/telephone calls, Prime Minister Kishida held more than 20, Foreign Minister Motegi held more than 60, and Foreign Minister Hayashi held more than 20. On the other hand, it goes without saying that in-person diplomacy is important to strengthen relationships of trust with the leaders and foreign ministers of various countries, and high-level overseas visits were conducted after taking thorough measures to prevent infection, taking into account the infection conditions in and outside Japan at the time. Prime Minister Suga visited the U.S. in April, the UK in June (for the G7 Summit), and the U.S. in September (for the Japan-Australia-India-U.S. Summit). Prime Minister Kishida visited the UK in November to attend the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26). There were even more overseas visits at the foreign minister level. Foreign Minister Motegi visited a total of 27 countries, beginning with his visits to Latin America and the Caribbean as well as Africa in January, and his visit to the U.S. to attend the UN General Assembly in September. Foreign Minister Hayashi also visited the UK in December to attend the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers' Meeting.

Many international meetings were also held in online or hybrid (combination of in-person and online) formats. Japan held the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (commonly known as “Congress”) in Kyoto in March (see Chapter 3, Section 1, 3 (7) (B) on page 214), which had been postponed from 2020. The Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit 2021, which had also been postponed, was held in Tokyo in a hybrid format (see the Special Feature on page 271).

The Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 (“the Tokyo 2020 Games”), which had also been postponed by one year, were held from July to September with thorough infection prevention measures being taken. They brought excitement to many people and symbolized global unity as humanity faced great challenges (see the Special Feature on page 327). In addition, on the occasion of the Tokyo 2020 Games, in-person summit meetings and foreign ministers' meetings were held with dignitaries from various countries and organizations visiting Japan. It was a valuable opportunity amidst restrictions on in-person diplomatic activities(Note 4).

  • (Note 4) On the occasion of the Tokyo 2020 Games, 18 summit-level dignitaries from 14 countries and two international organizations, as well as sports ministers and other minister-level dignitaries from 92 countries and regions visited Japan. Prime Minister Suga held 14 meetings and Foreign Minister Motegi held six meetings.