- Foreign Affairs
In the international arena, decisions are made by leaders, who are people of emotion and will. There are two powers that influence these people of emotion and will: one is communication and the other is personal networks. However, a low awareness of the importance of communication and weak international networks are traits of many Japanese. It is necessary to enhance these to increase the country’s influence on the international stage.
Action 21. ODA Power: Clarify ODA Strategies and Actively Develop Relationships of Trust with Other Countries!
Following the Great East Japan Earthquake, a total of 163 countries and regions, 43 organizations and more than 670 NGOs announced that they would provide Japan with support. This can be viewed as an expression of approval and gratitude for Japan’s long years of official development assistance (ODA) and other forms of international cooperation. However, Japan’s ODA budget, which maintained the rank of world No. 1 for eight years from 1993, has dropped to fifth place at present. ODA is without doubt a powerful force for Japanese diplomacy and therefore should be increased.
Alliance (alliances and partnership) is the key to diplomacy. China has adopted a proactive stance in developing alliances, including the establishment of the AIIB and the implementation of the sea and land Silk Road initiatives, as well as through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, BRICs, China-ASEAN Summit Meetings, the China-Africa Forum, and economic and military aid to Pakistan and Myanmar. Japan needs to make more strategic use of its alliances, primarily with its ally the United States, as well as bilateral partnership ties with friendly countries and multilateral frameworks.
The acquisition of important posts in international organizations has a direct impact on the influence of a country. Diplomatic objectives that cannot be realized by a country alone can be achieved through the deliberation and resolution of international organizations that possess legitimate power, resulting in the promotion of national interests. The quality, amount and positions of people involved in the process of agenda setting and rule making in international organizations affect diplomatic power.
Soft power is “the ability of a nation to attract other nations to one’s side, to win the trust of international society, and gain a greater voice not through coercion but through obtaining understanding, appreciation and support for one’s own culture and values, without depending on military and economic power.” In today’s international society, while hard power, such as military force, continues to play an important role, the importance of soft power has been increasing as a result of the spread of information and democratization, and the expansion of players other than governments.
The action of the Chinese government in sabotaging the supply of rare earth metals was taken in retaliation for the arrest of the captain of the Chinese fishing boat that deliberately rammed a Japanese Coast Guard patrol boat off the Senkaku Islands. This is a clear indication of China’s intent to use access to resources to enhance its diplomatic power. We must never forget that the embargo of oil exports to Japan lead to this country’s participation in World War II. When told, “We are stopping exports,” if Japan can take a “do as you wish” attitude instead of pleading against this, it can demonstrate its diplomatic power.
Action 16. Enhance Diplomatic Infrastructure that Serves as the Foundation to Achieve the National Interests in Diplomacy!
Diplomatic infrastructure must be developed to enable Japan to clearly express its will as a nation, set its own diplomatic agenda, take a leadership role, and increase its presence within the international community. It is important for the government to play a role as the command center and prioritize the resources of the Foreign Ministry through selection and concentration. It is also important to make effective use of all available resources, including politicians and private parties, as part of the “infrastructure” of Japanese diplomacy.
1. Establish a National Security Council and Strengthen the Intelligence-related Functions that Will Serve as its Foundation!
The first thing to do to develop diplomatic infrastructure is improve the command center residing in the government and systems to support it. The Abe Cabinet inaugurated at the end of 2012 established a National Security Council (NSC) and developed a system to accumulate information collected from different ministries at the NSC, based on which the council makes decisions on security policy. I have no objection to commending this effort. However, information is only provided by the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office and the information department of the Public Security Intelligence Agency, as it has always been. Japan should establish its own version of the Central Intelligence Agency in order to enhance its intelligence-related functions, which play a vital supporting role in formulating strategies and implementing policies.
2. Enhance the Diplomatic Power of Politicians!
The second effort needed to develop diplomatic infrastructure is to enhance the diplomatic power of politicians. It is worth mentioning that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum and the ISSI Asia Security Summit in 2014. His delivery of these speeches has significantly improved the way other countries view Japan.
Many leading Japanese government officials and cabinet ministers are tied down by the demands of parliamentary debate and are left with insufficient time to participate in diplomacy. To improve this dysfunctional system, the practice of demanding the presence of all cabinet ministers in sessions of the Budget Committee should be rectified and an environment created wherein the Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and other related cabinet ministers can participate in diplomacy with due flexibility.
3. Reform Diplomatic Organizations and Embassies!
The third effort needed to develop diplomatic infrastructure is to enhance the systems of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic establishments abroad. The amount of human resources that can be allocated to diplomacy should be limited. However, since this is an area that directly affects the national interests of Japan, I think it is necessary to invest resources in emerging economies and other nations whose power is increasing in order to strengthen the system to implement diplomacy. As of the end of FY 2013, the number of Japanese diplomatic establishments abroad was 204, which is less than those of other major countries, namely, the 277 diplomatic establishments of the United States and the 254 of China. Japan needs to increase the number and improve the quality and systems of overseas diplomatic establishments to protect Japanese people in response to the recent increase in the risk of international terrorism as well as enhancing the capability for intelligence collection.
4. Utilize Private-Sector Expertise and Human Resources!
The last effort needed to develop diplomatic infrastructure is to expand the use of private-sector expertise and human resources. The government should expand the scope of the political appointee system to allow experts in foreign relations, economic diplomacy, and national security policy to participate in the processes of policy formation and coordination. The U.S. Ambassador to Japan, John Roos (2009-2013), and the U.S. Ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey Bleich, are both friends of President Obama. It is said that they underwent three months of training before assuming their ambassadorial posts. Their private-sector backgrounds have served them well as ambassadors to friendly countries, as was amply proven by “Operation Tomodachi,” the relief program launched by the United States after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
To formulate and execute excellent foreign policy strategies, the government needs to develop policy research institutes (including universities) and policy-related human resources (researchers and practical experts). In addition to the improvement of the overall level of Japan’s diplomatic policies, strengthening of the international human networks, and stimulation of policy debate, these institutes are expected to provide a space for “revolving doors” that link the government, the bureaucracy, private companies, and academia, serve as a talent pool of policy experts who can function as political appointees, and offer an arena for Track II diplomacy.
Action 15. Diplomacy that Enhances the National Power of Japan, Actively Contributes to the World, and Ensures Japan’s Voice is Heard!
What are Japan’s “national interests”? Let us define them as the: preservation of the Japanese territories; protection of the lives and property of the Japanese people; prosperity of the Japanese economy, businesses, and people; and dignified preservation of Japanese values, culture and historical perspective; as well as the acquisition and retention of the kind of influence and voice that are needed in the international arena to secure the aforementioned interests for the nation. Having redefined “national interests,” we need to enhance the national power that supports foreign policies and actively practice diplomacy that contributes to the world.