"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama's Foreign Policy Speech to the 118th Session of the National Diet

[Date] March 2, 1990
[Source] DIPLOMATIC BLUEBOOK 1990, Japan's Diplomatic Activities, pp. 288-298
[Full text]

I would like at the opening of the 118th Session of the National Diet to set forth my views on the basic foreign policy of Japan.

Introduction: Japan's Response to a Changing World

The international community stands on the threshold of a period of historic transformations, both political and economic. In particular, the political situation in Europe is changing at a faster pace than anybody could have imagined. The countries of Eastern Europe are shedding their old ideologies and setting out on the path of democracy and market economies, and the Soviet Union, 70 or so years after the communist revolution led by Lenin, has taken steps to renounce the dictatorship of the Communist Party and introduce a market economy.

In addition to moves toward the integration of Western Europe, there have been rapid developments on the issue of German unification. Moreover U.S.-Soviet relations appear to be moving from an era of confrontation toward expanded dialogue and, further, to the building of a new relationship that transcends the Cold War approach. Naturally, these historic developments are going to have an enormous influence on the world as a whole.

We should welcome these changes, which show that more and more people are accepting the principles of freedom, democracy, and market economies.

At the same time, however, the sheer pace of the changes taking place in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe brings with it uncertainty, and many destabilizing factors remain in the international community. In the Asia-Pacific region alone, tension and instability remain on the Korean Peninsula, in Cambodia, and elsewhere.

Ideology is not the only cause of conflict among countries around the world; we should not overlook conflicts that have their roots in history, culture, or other factors. Arms control and disarmament certainly enhance national security, but it will not be possible to realize peace immediately through these measures alone.

In the international economy, meanwhile, mutual interdependence is growing at a tremendous rate, but the framework of the postwar international economy, including the mutilateral{sic} free trade system, stands at an important junction, with various structural changes taking place and protectionism raising its head. Moreover, the accumulating debts of developing countries pose a major problem for the world economy.

At such a time, it is extremely important for Japan to develop an active diplomacy geared toward ensuring the peace and prosperity of the world. After all, Japan now has an economic power that accounts for 14% of the world gross national product, tremendous technological strength, and a wealth of experience as a nation that has developed from economic backwardness to become an advanced industrial country.

Being aware of our responsibilities and role in the international community, adopting a new outlook, and making sacrifices ourselves when necessary, we must maintain our determination to contribute to the prosperity and stability of the world. I believe this is the only way for us to become a reliable member of the international community in the future.

With these perspectives in mind, allow me to state my opinions on the main foreign policy issues facing Japan today.

Relations with the United States and Europe

To overcome conflict and build a new international order based on dialogue and cooperation, the whole world, and especially the industrial democracies, must join hands and tackle the problems together. For this purpose, it is necessary to strengthen relations among Japan, the United States, and Europe.

As allies that are becoming ever more interdependent and have the common values of freedom, democracy and market economies, Japan and the United States enjoy a basically firm relationship. While the issues on which Japan and the United States must cooperate are becoming global in scale, the Japan-U.S. relationship itself is having an increasing influence on the international situation. In this sense, it is important for Japan to engage in policy coordination with the United States on the main bilateral problems facing us and to strengthen our joint endeavor with the United States on ,global problems.

On the economic front, Japan-U.S. relations face a difficult situation, with bilateral trade still running up an enormous imbalance. The most important issue on the bilateral agenda at the moment is the Structural Impediments Initiative talks. I intend to do all I can to achieve progress in these talks so that they contribute to improving Japan's standard of living and to strengthening American competitiveness.

At the foundation of our relationship with the United States are the Japan-U.S. security arrangements. Despite the recent developments in East-West relations, the balance of power and deterrence continue to be the underpinnings of international politics. In these circumstances, the Japan-U.S. security arrangements will continue to be indispensable as we strive to ensure the peace and security of our country through effective deterrence and active dialogue and to contribute broadly to the stability and development of the Asia-Pacific region. While developing a moderate defense capability, the government is determined to firmly maintain the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and continue to work to ensure its smoother functioning.

The government intends to enter the Japan-U.S. summit meeting, scheduled for March 2 and 3, with this awareness of the importance of Japan-U.S. relations firmly in mind. With the approval of the Diet, I hope to accompany the Prime Minister on his visit to the United States and do my utmost to further strengthen the cooperative relations between our countries.

With regard to our relations with Europe, I believe that a marked strengthening of our cooperative ties with countries in this region is needed. Believing that the creation of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Europe is essential to the formation of a desirable international order in the future, I am paying close attention to developments in East-West European relations, including the moves toward integration of the European Community, developments in the relationship between the EC and the European Free Trade Association, and progress toward German unification. As Europe takes on increasing importance, it is vital for Japan to forge close ties with the region in a broad spectrum of areas, including politics, economics, and culture. When the Prime Minister and I visited Europe in January, we concurred with European leaders on the need to strengthen the bonds between Japan and Europe.

The broad expansion of the trilateral relationship among Japan, the United States, and Europe can contribute enormously to the creation of a new international order. On the occasion of our visit to Europe in January, the Japanese Government announced economic assistance programs for Poland and Hungary to help their economic reconstruction and development, which is the key to the success of their efforts to democratize and improve their standards of living. This assistance stemmed from our awareness that the events now taking place in Eastern Europe are directly related to the peace and prosperity of the world as a whole, including Japan. It was a clear indication to both the Japanese people and the rest of the world of our determination to cooperate with Europe and the United States in building a bright future for the international community. Our intention is to keep a close eye on the progress of reforms in other East European countries, as well as Hungary and Poland, and to respond actively in cooperation with the United States and European countries.

Relations with the Asia-Pacific Countries

Next I would like to talk about our relations with the Asia-Pacific countries.

In view of the international situation that I have just described, it is more important than ever that we make efforts to eliminate the destabilizing factors in the Asia-Pacific region, ensure its prosperity, and build a region that is dynamic and open to the rest of the world.

With regard to the Korean Peninsula, I hope that the dialogue between North and South will make progress, and I intend to make an appropriate contribution toward creating a climate conducive to this purpose.

With the Republic of Korea we hope to build a cooperative relationship based on a global perspective and oriented toward the twenty-first century. We will also make a good-faith and all-out effort in the talks that we are now holding with the Republic of Korea on the problem of the legal status and treatment of descendants of Korean residents in Japan. In addition, we very much hope that South Korean President Roh Tae Woo will visit Japan as early as possible.

The improvement of our relations with North Korea is also an important task. To this end, we will continue to persevere in our call for dialogue, and provide lateral support for exchanges between Japanese and North Korean people in various fields.

For the peace and stability of both the Asia-Pacific region and the world as a whole, it is extremely important that China maintain and develop cooperative relations with other countries, rather than isolating itself. The Japan-China relationship has a major role to play in this respect, and it is very important to maintain and strengthen friendly and stable ties between our two countries. When Chinese State Planning Minister Zou Jiahua came to Japan in January, we stated clearly once again that the improvement of relations between China and Western countries requires efforts on both sides and that we especially hope for even greater efforts on the Chinese side. I believe it is important for both Japan and China to make efforts to restore our bilateral relations as soon as possible.

In general the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are securing peace and stability and attaining spectacular economic development. Japan puts great emphasis on the role of ASEAN and intends to build cooperative relations with the organization. It was with this in mind that I paid a visit to Thailand and Malaysia at the beginning of the year.

The coup attempt in the Philippines that occurred last December was extremely unfortunate, but Japan intends to continue to support that country's efforts to consolidate democracy and reconstruct its economy by participating in the Multilateral Aid Initiative for the Philippines and other means.

With regard to the Cambodian problem, which is the biggest destabilizing factor in Southeast Asia, certain developments have been seen, such as the international agreement on the strengthening of the United Nations' role in the period leading up to an election. It is to be hoped that further progress will be achieved in the discussions among the parties concerned on the makeup of a provisional administration, which is the key to peace in the country. In these circumstances, we intend to contribute in concrete ways to the peace process itself and also to actively consider providing human and financial cooperation after the attainment of peace.

On the Indian subcontinent, we intend to continue to cooperate in promoting the region's stability and development and to make efforts to further broaden and deepen our relations with countries in the region.

In Oceania, we will continue to further expand and strengthen our relations with Australia, New Zealand, and the island nations of the Pacific.

In November of last year the first ministerial-level meeting on Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation took place, at which Japan proposed a specific initiative for cooperation and emphasized that such cooperation should not aim at the creation of a regional bloc but should be open to the rest of the world. Japan intends, in tandem with the activities of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, to continue its efforts toward the further development of Asia-Pacific cooperation.

Relations with the Soviet Union

Let me now go on to our relations with the Soviet Union.

For the changes taking place in East-West relations to become truly global, it is essential to achieve the normalization of Japan-Soviet relations, which are an important factor in East-West relations in the Asia-Pacific region. It is Japan's policy to achieve development of the overall relationship between our two countries in a balanced manner in line with the basic policy of establishing stable relations through resolving the Northern Territories issue and concluding a peace treaty. We are making efforts according to this policy, which has gained Soviet understanding in principle. We support the perestroika policy of President Gorbachev, while we Hope that the Soviet Union's "new thinking" diplomacy will be actively applied for improvement of Japan-Soviet relations and for peace and prosperity in the Asian and Pacific region.

I intend to further develop the dialogue between our two countries toward President Gorbachev's visit to Japan next year.

Relations with the Middle and Near East, Africa, and Latin America

I believe it is essential for Japan to make efforts to geographically broaden its diplomatic activities and pursue a global foreign policy.

Following the favorable turn in U.S.-Soviet relations, there are signs of stabilization in some regions, for example, the achievement of independence in Namibia. Generally speaking, however, there are many countries in the Middle and Near East, Africa, and Latin America that are suffering from not only accumulating debts and serious development problems but also unstable political situations. The international community must continue to pay close attention to these countries. For its part, Japan intends to make efforts toward the solution of these problems by providing these countries with as much positive support as possible and cooperating in various international initiatives.

The situation in the Middle East remains unpredictable. We invited the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Foreign Minister of Israel to Japan last year and called on them to make further efforts toward peace, and we intend to continue to make a positive contribution to the achievement of peace in the region. We also strongly hope for the achievement of true peace and unification in Lebanon. As for peace negotiations between Iran and Iraq, we fully support the efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to bring about a settlement, and we intend to offer all possible cooperation.

The international community, including Japan, has for a long time been calling on the South African Government to abolish apartheid, and recently we have seen major progress in the domestic situation in South Africa, including the release from prison of Nelson Mandela. Japan highly appreciates these changes and advances toward reform. We will support moves toward the achievement of a peaceful settlement of the apartheid problem through negotiations between those concerned, and at the same time we intend to provide assistance to the victims of apartheid and extend economic cooperation to South Africa's neighboring countries, thereby enhancing our contribution to the stability of the region as a whole.

In recent years we have seen progress toward democracy in many Latin American countries, and just recently Nicaragua staged a free and fair general election under international supervision. Our country welcomes this as an important step toward the achievement of real peace in the region. We will continue to contribute as much as we can to true stability and development in Latin America.

Contributing to the World Economy

At a time when the world economy faces such problems as the large external imbalances among the major countries, the intensification of protectionist pressures, and the debt problem, the maintenance and strengthening of policy coordination is required. Through the annual economic summit and other forums, we must take an active role in promoting policy coordination among the major industrial democracies and make efforts to ensure that our external economic relations are managed smoothly. To harmonize our domestic economy with the world economy as a whole, we must, above all else, rectify our external imbalances by continuing to manage the economy so that growth is led by domestic demand and by taking comprehensive steps to increase imports by, for example, further improving access to our markets, carrying out deregulation and other structural adjustments, and introducing tax incentives for corporations that import manufactured goods.

With regard to the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade talks, in November last year I invited ministers concerned from the main participating countries to Japan for informal discussions aimed at bringing about progress in the negotiations. This year, as the negotiations enter their final stage, it is expected that Japan will have to make some difficult domestic adjustments. As a nation that has achieved its prosperity under the free trade system, however, we are determined to do all we can to ensure the success of the negotiations, because we realize that the maintenance and strengthening of the multilateral free trade system is essential to the future prosperity of not only Japan but the world as a whole.

Since the world economy cannot really prosper unless the developing countries achieve sound economic development, it is especially important that the industrial democracies and the developing countries strengthen their cooperative relations. We intend to take steps to tackle the debt problem and expand and strengthen Japan's official development assistance (ODA).

Contributing to World Peace and Prosperity: Promotion of the International Cooperation Initiative

In 1988 Japan, looking for specific ways to make contributions to the international community commensurate with its international standing, proposed the International Cooperation Initiative, which we are now promoting. The three pillars of the initiative are cooperation for peace, the expansion of ODA, and the strengthening of international cultural exchanges.

With regard to the first pillar of the initiative - cooperation for peace - we will continue to make diplomatic efforts toward building a firm foundation for peace and strengthen our cooperation with United Nations peace-keeping activities. In particular, last year we dispatched a group of 27 people to Namibia to supervise that country's election for a Constituent Assembly. Our first such full-scale dispatch, this contribution was much praised by the United Nations. Last month we also dispatched personnel for the observation of the election in Nicaragua. As well as continuing our financial contributions, we intend to take steps to improve our arrangements for dispatching personnel overseas.

Furthermore, by sharing our technological know-how and experience, we intend to make a concrete contribution in the field of inspection to the multilateral efforts toward arms control and disarmament taking place at such forums as the United Nations and the Geneva Conference on Disarmament.

The expansion of ODA represents an important pillar of our diplomatic effort to make a positive contribution to the international community through nonmilitary means. Looking back, Japan was once a developing country that received assistance for its economic development from the World Bank, the United States, and other countries. Today Japan is proud to be one of the largest, if not the largest, donors of aid, providing a total of ¥1.2 trillion.

Japan's ODA contributes effectively to economic development, raising standards of living, mitigating poverty, and fostering human resources in developing countries .in regions that now extend around the world, including Asia, where much of our aid goes, Africa, the Middle and Near East, and Latin America. Making full use of our experience as a country that not long ago was on the receiving end of assistance, we are determined to further promote policy dialogue and policy coordination with not only the developing countries but also other donor countries and international organizations. In line with the Fourth Medium-Term ODA Target that is now underway, we are determined to continue to expand. our ODA in quantitative terms, improve its content, and enhance its quality, as well as strengthening our system for implementing assistance and taking positive steps to tackle new problems as they arise. We also intend to make further efforts to strengthen the evaluation system so as to ensure that assistance projects are implemented effectively and efficiently and to obtain the understanding and support of the people for our ODA policies.

With regard to the strengthening of international cultural exchange, it is important for us to respond in a positive manner to the growing interest in and expectations of Japan in other countries, to deepen understanding of Japan, and to cooperate actively in various international cultural efforts. I intend to encourage the creation of new forms of culture through wide-ranging cultural exchanges and to make further efforts to preserve cultural heritages around the world.

Since exchange among people lies at the foundation of cultural exchange, there is a need to increase exchange among people at all levels; such exchange also serves to promote mutual understanding among countries. At present there are about 30,000 foreign students studying in Japan. Exchange among people also contributes to the internationalization of Japan, and I intend to actively promote such exchange.

In all countries of the world, humankind faces the task of overcoming a host of problems before people can lead healthy, fulfilling lives in more affluent environments. It is important for Japan to act as a responsible member of the global society and tackle such global problems as destruction of the environment, drugs, international terrorism, human rights, and refugees.

On global environment issues, such as global warming, we will, by drawing on our wealth of experience and technology, cooperate even more than before in building an international framework for the solution of these problems and in helping developing countries solve their environmental problems.

On drugs, we will provide support for the activities of the United Nations and other organizations toward solving the drug problem, which poses a threat to the whole of humankind.

On terrorism, we are resolutely opposed to all forms of terrorism, including the bombing of passenger airplanes, whatever the reason. With the objective of guaranteeing the security of the international community, we will strengthen our cooperation in international efforts toward preventing acts of terrorism.

Japan was a participant in the Declaration on Human Rights issued at last year's economic summit of industrial democracies, in which we reiterated our respect for human rights. And we intend to increase our cooperation in solving refugee problems, including our financial contributions to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other organizations and our cooperation in accepting Indochinese refugees for settlement in Japan.

As well as providing the driving force behind economic development, the amazing advances that have taken place in science and technology recently have unlimited potential for solving the common problems confronting humankind. With this in mind, Japan, which has the goal of becoming a full-fledged technological state, desires to make an international contribution in the field of science and technology, in which we possess prowess, by encouraging, for example, exchanges among researchers, joint international research, and the exchange and transfer of technology. We will also make efforts to ensure that science and technology are used in appropriate ways.

In particular, to enable people in developing countries to enjoy healthy and fulfilling lives, we will make full use of our experience as a nation that has achieved the longest average life span in the world to actively promote international cooperation in the field of medicine.

Strengthening the System for Implementing Diplomacy

As I have said, Japan has a rapidly expanding role to play in the international community today. We need to strengthen our system for implementing diplomatic activities so that we can respond correctly to new situations, carry out our diplomatic policies in a positive manner, and enhance our safeguarding of the increasing number of Japanese living overseas, which includes taking speedy action in time of emergency. I will do my utmost to achieve this.


As should be clear from my speech, diplomacy is taking on increasing importance for Japan these days. Foreign policy is the other side of the domestic policy coin, and vice versa. Japan cannot have peace and prosperity unless the world as a whole enjoys peace and prosperity, and Japan's behavior now exerts a major influence on the peace and prosperity of the world. In view of this, I am keenly aware of the magnitude of my duties, and I am determined to be active on the diplomatic front line and to make the utmost effort to do what is best for Japan and for the peace and prosperity of the world. In this, I appeal for the support and understanding of the people and of my colleagues in the Diet.