"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] Speech "Asia: Building the International Stability" by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Masahiko Koumura at the Munich Conference on Security Policy 44th Conference

[Place] Munich
[Date] February 10, 2008
[Source] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

Dr. Teltschik,

Distinguished Panelists,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to begin by saying that I am delighted to be here as the first Japanese cabinet minister attending this conference.

When we discuss today's international community, we should not limit ourselves to discussions on traditional security or military aspects. I think we also need to address regional or global challenges beyond national borders.

Issues that the world economy is facing today, such as the current subprime-loan issue, also have to be keenly watched as they closely relate to security issues.

In this perspective, although I hesitate to raise it as a security issue, environmental issues including global warming also constitute threats that the entire world has to work together to deal with. Prime Minister Fukuda attended the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos last month and pointed out that climate change is a real problem with significant effects on our day-to-day lives and economic activities. In his speech, Prime Minister Fukuda proposed the "Cool Earth Promotion Programme," announcing for the first time Japancs determination to set a quantified national target for the greenhouse gas emissions reductions to be realized from now on, along with other countries. Also, Prime Minister Fukuda showed Japan's concrete resolve by announcing to assist developing countries on the scale of 10 billion US dollars. I think it is partly taken for granted that Japan will play an initiative role in the field of the environment, but how about security? Today, I would like to provide an overview of Asia and discuss Japan's role in the security arena.

So, now let's take a look at Asia, which is the most dynamically changing region in the world. Not to mention the rise of China and India, ASEAN is acquiring more and more confidence both politically and economically. Russia is hoping to develop its far-east and east-Siberian region by promoting its links with Asia. When I say "Asia," I include Oceanian countries such as Australia, which has been increasing its international role including in the security field. Approximately 25% of the entire world's GDP is concentrated in this region.

Stability and prosperity of Asia is crucial for stability and prosperity of the world. Japan, as the region's oldest democracy that has been nurturing ideas such as "the rule of law" and "compliance with contracts" for hundreds of years, and as the world's second largest economy constituting approximately 40% of Asia's total GDP, has been contributing to building stability in this region.

However, there still exist remnants of the Cold War in the region. These factors cast a shadow on the great potential of the region, and may even lead to instability in the region. In particular, the North Korean issues have made the regional security environment extremely difficult since the beginning of the 1990s. Currently, these issues are being addressed in the framework of the Six-Party Talks. The international community must continue to be united in demanding North Korea to provide "a complete and correct declaration" of all its nuclear programs including nuclear weapons, to disable all existing nuclear facilities, and eventually to completely abandon its nuclear programs. Improvement in North Korea's human rights situation, including the resolution of the abduction issue, is also essential.

With regard to the Taiwan Straits, there must not be any unilateral attempt to change the status quo, which would heighten cross-strait tensions and cause harm to regional stability.

Both understanding and cooperation of our European friends continue to be extremely important.

Under such circumstances, we need to increase transparency in the region through political and military confidence building, thereby lowering the risks that lead to instability. There are three important pillars in order to achieve this goal. First, continued U.S. engagement in the stability and development of Asia is indispensable. The presence of U.S. forces is a lynchpin for the stability of the region. Also, we should not forget that the Asian economy is substantially dependent on the U.S. market. Second, constructive and future-oriented relations have to be built among Asian countries, and third, frameworks for a multi-layered, open and interest-sharing regional cooperation have to be promoted.

Based upon this idea, the Fukuda administration proposed the idea of "synergies" between the Japan-U.S. Alliance and it's diplomacy toward Asia. Needless to say, the Japan-U.S. Alliance provides an essential foundation for maintaining the U.S. presence in the region. By reinforcing this alliance, the foundation for peace and prosperity in Asia will be strengthened. Also, realizing a stable, open, prosperous and developing Asia will be of mutual interests of Japan and the U.S. Particularly, expanding the scope of Japan's activity in Asia will enhance the value of its alliance with the U.S., which will lead to further strengthening of the alliance. In the context of the first pillar that I referred to, which is U.S. engagement, I do not think that I need to go on explaining how close our relationship with the U.S. is. I would just like to mention that Japan's MSDF Aegis destroyer "Kongo" successfully intercepted a ballistic missile target in a Japan-U.S. bilateral joint flight test last December. This was the first successful test conducted by any country other than the U.S.

In my statement today, I intend to focus on the second pillar--relations among Asian countries, particularly Japan-China relations, which I expect most of you to be interested in--and on the third pillar--regional cooperation in Asia.

Ladies and gentlemen,

China is now a key player not only in Asia but also in the international community. The economic rise of China brings a huge opportunity for the international community. China plays an active role as chair of the Six-Party Talks. Japan welcomes such a constructive role of China in East Asia.

Japan and China now share great responsibilities for the stability of Asia and the world. We are working together to establish "a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests." In early December last year, I visited China to attend the First Japan-China High-Level Economic Dialogue, where I had fruitful discussions with my counterparts including Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. In the meeting, I proposed to work together in tackling global challenges, such as the environment, saving energy, climate change and provision of assistance to Africa.

Near the end of this past year, Prime Minister Fukuda also visited China and agreed to keep working to give concrete form to the "mutually beneficial relationship."

At the same time, Japan and China will exert their wisdom in resolving the resource development issue in the East China Sea, an issue of mutual concern for both countries. We believe that such efforts by our countries will ultimately contribute to the stability and prosperity of the entire region and the global community.

President Hu Jintao is scheduled to visit Japan around this spring. We will take advantage of such high-level visits to further enhance a constructive relationship between our two countries.

On the other hand, we believe that China's military modernization is still not sufficiently transparent. For example, we expect to hear a more detailed explanation about the composition of its military expenses, which has performed a double-digit expansion for 19 consecutive years. Ensuring military transparency fosters mutual confidence and leads to regional stability. Military modernization and expansion of military expenses with a lack of transparency will result in increased regional concern. Again, we expect to see China's efforts in this regard.

With regard to movements toward the presidential election in Taiwan in March, we expect both China and Taiwan to act in a calm and peaceful manner.

Japan has also been cooperating with other key countries of the region towards the stability of the region. For example, with India--the world's largest democracy leading the growth of Asia--we have established a firm partnership, including the commencement of an annual leaders' exchange since Prime Minister Singh's visit to Japan in December 2006, and have been deepening cooperation on a variety of regional and global issues including security.

Furthermore, we should endeavor to reach a final resolution on the unsettled territorial issue with Russia, and must upgrade Japan-Russia relations to a higher dimension.

We will continue our efforts to realize the region's peace and prosperity in cooperation with countries of the region including Australia and Korea.

So far, I have explained the existing hopes and concerns in Asia. Let me remind you that European countries have a significant influence on this region. We ask all the European countries to understand the realities of Asia and to play a positive role for the stability of the region.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Now, let me move on to the third pillar of my statement, which is promotion of frameworks for regional cooperation. Asia is a region where countries of diverse ethnicities, religions, cultures, political systems, social structures and values, all coexist. Asia, a region with even greater diversity than Europe which is nonetheless diverse, does not have "The Asian Institution," comparable to the EU, NATO, or OSCE.

However, we have a common recognition in Asia today that we should cooperate as a community to tackle the various challenges we face. We have a number of regional frameworks such as ASEAN+3, ARF and APEC that exist in a multi-layered fashion. The East Asia Summit has also been held since 2005. These regional frameworks complement each other and constitute a multinational system in which concrete cooperation is promoted while common values and interests are fostered.

From the eyes of Europe and America, regional cooperation in Asia may seem to be progressing much too slowly. You may even feel frustration on the lack of speed in decision-making in the various fora. However, regional cooperation in Asia is all about steadily accumulating functional cooperation in respective areas, patiently and firmly cultivating the roots of cooperation. Such is the way in which community building in Asia works.

The ASEAN Charter was adopted last November, under the able leadership of Singapore as ASEAN Chair. Japan highly welcomes the adoption of the Charter as a demonstration of the will of the member countries toward an integrated ASEAN.

Universal values, such as fundamental freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, are enshrined in the ASEAN Charter. These values are achieved in the true sense by attaining economic prosperity which leads to the creation of a large middle-class capable of shouldering a free and democratic system. This is why Japan is committed to continuing its support for the development of other Asian countries, making full use of its own experience and knowledge earned through its long history of democracy and market economy.

It would be most useful if European countries also provide cooperation and assistance, so that universal values will be further promoted as the foundation of our regional community.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have been focusing on Asia, but as I mentioned at the outset of my speech, security can no longer be maintained just by one country or within one region. Japan, as a country which owes its prosperity to the peace and stability of the international community, fully recognizes this. This is why Japan, as a "Peace Fostering Nation," is committed to fulfilling its responsibility by playing an active role in building peace in the international community.

Under a firm resolve that Japan should never drop out from the "fight against terrorism," we passed a new law on January 11th based on which Japan's Maritime Self Defense Forces are about to resume their replenishment activities at sea in the Indian Ocean. In Iraq, Japan's Air Self Defense Forces are continuing their air-lift support to assist the reconstruction efforts by Iraq.

With the aim of realizing global peace and prosperity, together with extending assistance through ODA, Japan has participated in peacekeeping operations and other international peace cooperation activities in Cambodia, Timor-Leste and elsewhere. Regarding participation in peacekeeping operations, we believe that there is still room to do more in view of Japan's capacity, and intend to actively promote participation in UN missions under the present legal framework. We also intend to utilize our past experience and enhance our study on a legal framework necessary to make most of Japan's human resources in a more flexible manner for international peace cooperation activities.

As underlined in the recent G8 Summit meetings, peacebuilding is one of the key challenges for the international community. In light of this, Japan has started a pilot program to develop human resources in Asia in the field of peacebuilding. The trainees of the inaugural class are engaged, under challenging living conditions, in practical work in the actual field of peacebuilding in locations such as Kosovo, the Sudan, Timor-Leste and Sri Lanka. Recently, Japan has decided to extend assistance to PKO training centers in Africa. Up until now, Japan has provided little assistance to military-related projects, even when the recipient institution is working on peacekeeping operations. However, with the growing needs, we decided to start extending assistance in this area. We would like to expand this kind of assistance to Asia as well in the future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Japan has hosted the Tokyo International Conference on African Development since 1993, jointly with UN and other organizations inviting leaders from African countries. In this coming May, we will hold the 4th conference (TICAD IV) in Yokohama, Japan. Also, in July, as the G8 Chair, we will host the G8 Summit in Toyako, Hokkaido. Furthermore, at the UN, Japan has been fulfilling the duties of the chair of the Peacebuilding Commission.

By making use of these opportunities, we hope to tackle various important issues facing the international society, such as peace building, development and global environment, and to send out a robust message to the world.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.