"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] Statement by Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama to the General Session of the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference

[Place] Kuala Lumpur
[Date] July 22, 1991
[Source] DIPLOMATIC BLUEBOOK 1991, Japan's Diplomatic Activities, pp. 463-471
[Full text]

Your Excellency, Mr. Datuk Abdullah, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia and distinguished delegates:

I am most pleased to be able to participate in this Conference again, subsequent to my attendance last year. I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the Government of Malaysia for hosting this Conference, and to my colleagues from ASEAN countries for their cordial invitation.

Since its inauguration in 1978, the Post Ministerial Conference has been adding to its importance year after year. At the beginning, its central task was to increase the resilience of its entire region through promoting economic development of the ASEAN countries, but in recent years, the discussions in this forum have come to encompass a wider spectrum of issues, including in particular, political issues. The fact that much importance is attributed to dialogues on political issues, I believe, reflects the increasing matureness in dialogues among PMC participating countries through the accumulation of over 10 years of dialogue, as well as the willingness on the part of each participating country to be an actor in responding to the changing times and changing international relations.

Against these backdrops, I believe that this Conference has come to bear the significance of the most important forum for dialogue regarding the stability and development of the Asia-Pacific region. In this context, the participation of the Republic of Korea in this Conference for the first time this year is most timely, and Japan welcomes this development whole-heartedly.

I wish to relate to you today how I perceive the problems affecting peace and stability in Asia and the Pacific.

Mr. Chairman and distinguished delegates,

Needless to say, in contemplating the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, it is imperative to think comprehensively, taking into account political, economic and military situation. Yet the most important issue for the stability of countries in this region is economic development. In this region, where many countries are still in different stages of development, the pursuit of economic development has the paramount importance in enhancing the political and social resilience of the countries in this region and increasing the stability of the region. As is widely recognized, unstable livelihood is at the root of many of the problems in this region, and therefore, pursuing stability and improvement in the living standards through economic development will help to avoid confrontation and conflict as well as relax tensions.

In this connection, I am pleased to observe remarkable economic advances in recent years in this region. ASEAN countries, notably, have become a major factor for stability in Southeast Asia and Asia and the Pacific at large through their mutual cooperation based on improved domestic political stability by virtue of their economic development. Furthermore, the activities of APEC are also expected to contribute to achieving further stability and development of the region. It is with this recognition that Japan will do as best it can to expand its cooperation, centering on the economic field, with Asian countries.

While the Cold War between the East and West is coming to an end and the relaxation of tensions is in progress in Europe and elsewhere, we cannot ignore the issues of security. The Gulf Crisis is a prime case in point. Furthermore, as the London Economic Summit also pointed out the "New Thinking" in Soviet foreign policy has not been applied in the Asia-Pacific region as visibly as in Europe.

In this connection, it should be underscored, first of all, that the presence of the United States is an indispensable element for stability in this region. In my view, the importance of its presence is only increasing in today's changing international political situation. In this respect I welcome the amicable resolution of the U.S.-Philippines bases negotiations. I am convinced that the U.S. forces stationed in Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Philippines contribute not only to the security of the host nations, but also to the peace and stability of the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Under the Mutual Cooperation and Security Treaty with the United States, Japan is providing more than 140 facilities and areas to U.S. forces, and shouldering the financial burden of more than $3 billion annually in the form of host nation support. I should like to add that by 1995, this host nation support is projected to cover approximately 70% of the expenses of U.S. forces stationed in Japan, excluding the salaries of military personnel and civilian components.

The Soviet military presence in this region show some favorable developments on the one hand, such as certain force reductions in Mongolia, Cam Ranh Bay and along the Sino-Soviet border, but on the other hand, continues the upgrading of its military capabilities in the Far East. It is Japan's ardent hope that the Soviet Union will apply its new thinking diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region in the same manner as in Europe, where drastic transformation of East-West relations was realized, and thus contribute to achieving further stability and prosperity of the region.

In this connection, I regard the resolution of the Northern Territories issue, which is a legacy of Soviet postwar expansionism, as a test case in judging whether or not Soviet new thinking diplomacy has indeed come to be applied on the global basis. In this context, my Government was pleased to reach an understanding with the Soviet Union during the Japanese-Soviet summit meetings in April to accelerate the process of concluding a peace treaty by resolving the Northern Territories issue, and to expand multi-faceted Japanese-Soviet relations. It is the policy of my Government to continue its efforts toward achieving a dramatic improvement in its relations with the Soviet Union, while soliciting understanding and cooperation from the Soviet side.

China, needless to say, is an extremely important entity for the stability and security of the region. China has been moving forward with its reform and open door policies in recent years, and I expect that progress of these policies will lead to the stability of China as well as of the region. Bearing this in mind, Japan has been extending as much cooperation as possible to support the progress of these reform and open door policies.

As we all know, the recent Gulf Crisis has brought home anew the importance of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and regulation of international transfer of conventional weapons. This issue was also high on the important political agenda in the London Economic Summit. In this regard, China's participation in the Paris meeting of the Five major arms-supplier countries on arms transfers and non-proliferation is a welcome development, and I would like to encourage China to exert further efforts in this regard.

Mr. Chairman and distinguished delegates:

The Cambodian problem, the situation of the Korean Peninsula and other regional conflicts and confrontations need to be resolved as well if we are to secure peace and stability in this region.

As for the Cambodian problem we most welcome the positive signs among the Cambodian parties themselves, at long last, to get down to a realistic dialogue to achieve the settlement of the conflict after twelve long years. The important progress recently seen in Pattaya and after is the direct result both of Prince Sihanouk's active initiative as the leader of Cambodia, and of the spirit of compromise and flexibility exhibited by the different Cambodian factions. Japan believes that the most important factor in achieving a comprehensive settlement is for all countries involved to continue to give their support to Prince Sihanouk, who has assumed the chairmanship of the Supreme National Council, in these final stages of the talks for Cambodian peace. And Japan strongly supports ASEAN's position on this problem.

I visited Laos under the present regime last year, and Vietnam in June this year as the first official trips to these countries as Foreign Minister and found myself favorably impressed by the efforts both countries are making towards the acceleration of economic liberalization.

As Prime Minister Kaifu emphasized in a recent policy speech in Singapore, Japan believes that the time is now right to strengthen the ties between ASEAN member states and other countries in Indochina, thereby making Indochina part of the dynamic economic development that is taking place in the Asia-Pacific region. In order for this to happen, however, Cambodia needs to accept the involvement of the United Nations and restore its peace and stability as quickly as possible. I will spare no effort to see this realized, in close cooperation with those concerned, especially H.E. Mr. Ali Alatas who has demonstrated excellent statesmanship as co-chairman of PICC.

Reducing tensions further on the Korean Peninsula is another critically important factor for stability in the Asia-Pacific area. We are therefore extremely pleased with the prospects for realizing the United Nations membership of North and South Korea, as well as for reopening talks between the prime ministers of those two countries. It is Japan's policy to support those moves leading to the progress in North-South dialogue and, ultimately, the peaceful unification of the peninsula, working in close cooperation with countries concerned and doing our utmost to reduce tensions on the peninsula.

The suspicions that North Korea may be developing nuclear weapons are a cause for security concern not just for Japan but for the whole of Asia and the Pacific, and in fact, entire world. We have called upon North Korea for the early conclusion and implementation of the safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since that is the obligation upon North Korea under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In this connection, I appreciate the recent agreement between North Korea and the IAEA on the draft text of the safeguards agreement as a positive step. My feelings are that we should act in concert to further encourage North Korea to conclude the safeguards agreement and to completely fulfill the obligations that it will incur.

In the fourth round of talks recently decided to be held in Beijing in late August as well as in subsequent talks for the normalization of relations between Japan and North Korea, Japan intends to continue to negotiate with good faith in a manner that will contribute to peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.

Mr. Chairman and distinguished delegates,

I have briefly reviewed with you Japan's perception of some of the major issues impinging on peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Given this situation, Japan has maintained steadfastly the Japan-U.S. security arrangements while developing gradually our defense capabilities to the minimum level required to defend our nation with strict adherence to the basic policy of maintaining a purely defensive posture and never again becoming a military power. While the size of the Japanese defense budget seems to have elicited expressions of concern from some countries, I would like to point out that the structure of our forces and the weapons systems we have been acquiring are entirely defensive in nature. We do not, for example, have any offensive aircraft carriers or long-range strategic bombers. And it is common knowledge that we defend our sea-lanes only out to 1,000 nautical miles. Civilian control is firmly established in our country. There has been no change nor will there be any change in Japan's security policies.

As Japan's position on the international stage arises, however, there have been calls from both inside and outside the country for us to take on responsibilities and roles more befitting our position and power not only financially but through personnel participation as well. Our dispatch of minesweepers to the Persian Gulf after the war was part of our program to discharge our peacetime responsibilities to the international community. Japan's post-Gulf War international cooperation has also extended to other areas, including the dispatch of five teams including International Disaster Relief Teams to the Gulf area. The 57 experts in these teams have been charged with recovering the oil spill in the Gulf, protecting the desalination plants and combating the air pollution. Japanese experts in the forecasting of air and water pollution are now stationed in the region, and we have also sent six medical teams comprising doctors and nurses to Iran and Turkey to help the Kurdish refugees.

Japan is now trying to make changes in its legal framework in order to cooperate in U.N. peacekeeping operations, which is also a step toward making domestic preparations to shoulder more responsibility in the international community.

Japan has traditionally taken a comprehensive approach to security that bas focused on three areas: the smooth operation of the Japan-U.S. security arrangements, the maintenance of self-defense capabilities, and the use of diplomatic initiatives. And in order to secure stability in the region around us, we have attached importance to providing support to the United States to keep U.S. forces on our soil, and extending economic cooperation to promote stability and development among our neighbors.

As you are aware, playing a more active political role, meanwhile, has taken on an increased importance recently as another major pillar in our diplomatic efforts for ensuring regional stability. A series of diplomatic efforts such as convening the Tokyo Meeting on Cambodia is a good example of this development.

It is also true, however, that this expansion of the Japanese political role in the Asia-Pacific region has caused anxiety and concern among other countries, as to how far our role would expand and whether or not it would take on military dimensions. That is why, I believe, it is increasingly important both for Japan and our fellow Asian nations to have opportunities on a constant basis enabling Japan to listen to the anxieties and concerns that other countries in Asia express regarding our foreign policy orientation and objectives, and, in turn, for Japan to provide our neighbors in Asia with direct, forthright explanations of our thinking. As we fulfill our political obligations in the Asia-Pacific region in the future, a vital part of our diplomatic activities will be to participate earnestly in a process which I might call "political dialogue designed to increase the sense of security felt by all parties."

Mr. Chairman and distinguished delegates,

Japan continues to maintain that the geopolitical conditions and strategic environment of the Asia-Pacific region are vastly different from those in Europe, and that the processes and mechanisms that developed in Europe under the CSCE are not appropriate for securing stability in this region.

What the Asia-Pacific region needs to do is, in the first instance, to ensure its long-term stability by utilizing the various arrangements for international cooperation and fora for dialogue that exists today in an integrated and multilayered manner.

Such arrangements and fora already in place first and foremost refer to the fora for economic cooperation, that is most vital element in regional security. They would include: ASEAN, ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference, APEC and PECC.

Second, I am referring to the frameworks that are now emerging from the diplomatic efforts to solve conflicts and disputes in this region. Examples are the approach taken by the countries concerned for a comprehensive settlement of the Cambodian problem and the framework for international cooperation centering on North-South dialogue on the Korean Peninsula.

And third, I am referring to the many agreements and cooperative relationships that exist in this region in the area of security. The Japan-U.S. security arrangements and numerous other mechanisms are forces for stability in our rapidly changing times.

If there is anything to add to the mechanisms and frameworks for cooperation in the three fields of economic cooperation, diplomacy and security, the first would be a forum for political dialogue where friendly countries in this region could engage in frank exchanges of opinion on matters of mutual interest. I think, for example, that the afore-mentioned concerns and apprehensions about the future direction of Japanese foreign policy are a worthy topic for such types of political dialogues.

I couldn't agree more with the statement in the Joint Communique that came out of the ASEAN Ministerial Conference the day before yesterday that cites the ASEAN PMC as one of the appropriate bases for addressing the regional peace and security issues. The dialogue we engage in here for the purpose of increasing the sense of reassurance felt by the friendly countries is intended to strengthen the political foundation of our mutual cooperative relations. In that respect such political dialogue is by nature different than confidence building measures which aims at easing military tensions.

With such a recognition, I believe it would be meaningful and timely to use the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference as a process of political dialogue for mutual reassurance among us. In order for such dialogue to be effective, it might be advisable to organize a senior officials' meeting which would then report its deliberations to the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference for further discussion.

I have commented today on various issues regarding peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. I would like to close my remarks by emphasizing the importance for ASEAN member states and their partners to intensify cooperation for achieving common policy objectives through various fora for consultation, in particular, through this forum of the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference.

Thank you.