First Meeting of the “Panel of Experts on Strengthening Sport Diplomacy”
On February 13, commencing at 10:00 a.m. for approximately 90 minutes, the first meeting of the “Panel of Experts on Strengthening Sport Diplomacy” was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. An overview of the meeting is as follows:
1. At the beginning, Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobuo Kishi said that the decision to hold the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo has once again made him awared of the power that sport possesses. Vice-Minister Kishi said the “Sport for Tomorrow” program has already been set up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games and it will be implemented steadily forward, but he said that the power of sport reaches various fields, including development, peace, women, disabled people and the elderly, and so he hopes the Panel will undertake lively debate on how to harness that power to strengthen Japan’s foreign diplomacy in a broad range of sectors. Panel chair Kazuo Ogura (Advisor, Japan Foundation) also gave a greeting at the opening of the meeting.
2. Following that, Naoko Saiki, Director-General for Cultural Affaires, gave a report on the current state of sport diplomacy. Additionally, Mr. Ogura presented the chair’s awareness of the issues with a presentation that centered on sport and development, sport and peace, etc.
3. During the discussion, each panel member presented valuable opinions based on their experiences in the field and from the standpoint of international politics. In particular, the panel members emphasized the importance of strengthening measures and policies on the intangible front, such as human resources development via sport, in addition to the importance of providing support on the tangible front, such as through the construction of sports facilities. It was also noted that there is a need to coordinate the tangible front (infrastructure development) with the intangible front (human resources development, improvement of competitivity of each country etc.) Furthermore, the panel members pointed out that Japan has one of the world’s leading school physical education models, and that there would be considerable meaning in transmitting and exporting the Japan model to other countries. It was also noted that for support for the sporting sector to be appreciated, one premise is that Japan’s competitivity is of a high level internationally. It was also noted that sports communities around the world acknowledge Japan for its lack of match-fixing, doping and corruption.
4. Regarding an implementation structure of sport diplomacy, panel members emphasized the importance of cooperation between the government, JICA and other concerned organizations, and the private sector etc., in order to pursue ongoing initiatives under a Japan-wide framework. It was also noted that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games should be events for contributing to the realization of peace in the international community, and that repeatedly sending forth the message that Japan wants to host the events as a country with dignity will also contribute to improving Japan’s image abroad.
5. This Panel will meet around once every two months, and is scheduled to submit recommendations, including specific measures, to Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida by the end of the year. The next meeting will be held on March 10, on the theme of “development and sport.”