"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 by H.E. Mr. Koichiro Gemba, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, at the 9th CSIS/Nikkei Symposium "Changes in Leadership and the Future Course of Japan-U.S.-China Trilateral Relations""Building Order and Making Rules in the Asia-Pacific Age"

[Date] October 26, 2012
[Source] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

Thank you for the kind introduction.

This symposium is indeed timely, almost too timely. In light of today's topic and the speakers and panelists at this symposium, I feel particularly honored to have been invited as I realize there are many possible speakers and important leaders whose ideas are worthy of being covered by the media. In any event, I look forward to seeing the kinds of positive and beneficial prescriptions this symposium will propose.

Since being appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs about 14 months ago, I have spoken of creating prosperous and stable order that is based on democratic values in the Asia-Pacific region. We are at an extremely important moment now that will define the international order for coming decades, namely, order that will enable the Asia-Pacific region and the entire international community to enjoy peace and prosperity. In that regard, I have been making efforts to create open, multilayered networks and rules consistent with international law. Now indeed is the time to strengthen such efforts.

Japan-U.S.-China relations are the theme of today's symposium. These three countries are the ones most responsible for building order and making rules in the Asia-Pacific region. Bright outlook for the future of the region can unfold only if each of the three nations becomes aware of its responsibilities and joins hands with the other two. We are coming to an age where harmonization based on trilateral responsibility and strategic dialogue designed to achieve this have never been more important. Today, I would like to speak about Japan's initiatives in this area and elaborate a little bit on the desirable form of relations between Japan and the U.S., between Japan and China, and finally among all three nations in the Asia-Pacific age.

Needless to say, the Asia-Pacific region stands today as the important growth center in the world economy. This is supported by the region's abundant human resources, and the rapid expansion of the middle class is particularly striking. The Asia-Pacific region can be expected to continue to act as a driving force in the world economy in the future. As rapid growth of the countries in the region is augmenting their national power, however, there is growing temptation for expansionism, and the countries of this region are more likely to experience a clash of interests with neighboring countries. Any attempt to realize a country's ideology or claims by the threat or use of force, however, is inconsistent with the fundamental spirit of the UN Charter.

With the aim of playing an important role in building world order and making rules for the international community, Japan has been promoting bilateral and multilateral dialogue and cooperation with the countries of the region, including China, the Republic of Korea, ASEAN, Australia, India, Russia while maintaining the Japan-U.S. Alliance as the linchpin of Japan's foreign policy. At the G8 and other international fora, Japan and the United States have been playing an important role in the process of building world-wide order and making international rules. As the largest emerging economy, China is starting to perform such a role today. Currently, however, maritime issues and other problems have become a touchstone in determining whether China can act as a responsible and stable player in the international community in accordance with international law.

Japan will continue to fulfill its responsibility to create rules and will play the role it needs to. I would like to express my gratitude for the recommendations in the third Armitage-Nye Report. We accept the Report sincerely as recommendations given to Japan by our true friends. Japan will remain a "tier-one nation." In the course of the recent ordinary session of the Diet, the first firm step was taken toward achieving comprehensive reform of social security and tax. Implementation of the Comprehensive Strategy for the Rebirth of Japan is also critical. We must accelerate measures to substantially increase the birthrate and women's participation in the workforce in particular. It was reported in the media that, at the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group held in Tokyo recently, IMF Managing Director Ms. Lagarde said that women could save Japan. I think this is truly the greatest key to the rebirth of Japan, and I have been saying that since the days when I was Minister of State for National Policy before I was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs. In accordance with the National Defense Program Guidelines, the Government of Japan is developing appropriate defense capabilities and formulated the Guidelines for Overseas Transfer of Defense Equipment, etc. in December 2011. In addition, I have a keen awareness of the issue of the right of collective self-defense. In my view, the most important thing is now to develop our defense capabilities in a responsible manner.

Japan has worked with the countries of the region to build order and create rules for the prosperity and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. For instance, Japan has made efforts to establish rules that support free economic activities. We must promote regional economic partnerships, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, aiming to realize high-level liberalization of trade and investment. In the area of democracy, Japan has made a unique contribution to the support of the efforts of Myanmar and other countries toward reform as their long-time friend and continues today to offer wide-ranging assistance. In the field of maritime security, Japan will continue to contribute to building maritime order through the development of frameworks including the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum. The Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum, which Japan proposed, held its first meeting this month. Cooperation is moving forward through such efforts, and I would like to make note of that.

I would like to turn now to the Japan-U.S. relationship. To build order and create rules, we must first of all further enhance Japan-U.S. relations in order to strengthen U.S. engagement in the Asian region. The Alliance between Japan and the United States as major powers sharing common values is the foundation for peace, security, and stability in the region. Japan welcomes the rebalancing of the United States toward the Asia-Pacific region. We expect the United States to continue to play a major role for the prosperity and stability of the region, and look forward to further cooperating in this endeavor.

When Prime Minister Noda visited the United States in April, the two countries released a joint statement titled "A Shared Vision for the Future." This document is a declaration of Japan's commitment to fulfilling its roles and responsibilities in a wide range of fields mainly security, economy, and cultural and people-to-people exchange for the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the world. We are currently engaged in adding concrete details to the Shared Vision. Given the severe security environment that prevails today, Japan will endeavor to develop appropriate defense capabilities, as I mentioned earlier, and will fulfill additional roles and responsibilities within the Japan-U.S. Alliance. Japan will enhance its security cooperation with the United States in a broad range of fields, including ballistic missile defense, space, cyberspace, and the high seas. The Government of Japan, including Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is enhancing its organizational structure in the field of space and cyberspace. Also, both countries should accelerate the process of shaping dynamic defense cooperation, including joint training, joint surveillance and reconnaissance activities, as well as joint and shared use of facilities. Regarding the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, we must reduce the burden on Okinawa as soon as possible, while maintaining deterrence. In the 2+2 Joint Statement of April 2012, Japan and the United States decided to delink the relocation of the Futenma Air Station from the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps from Okinawa to Guam and the land returns south of Kadena Air Base and to move issues forward from where progress can be made. At the end of last year, both governments agreed on the improved implementation of the Status of U.S. Forces Agreement in two issues in the criminal field, which constitutes one of the fundamental parts of that agreement. Meanwhile, another heinous and cowardly assault by U.S. military personnel took place in Okinawa last week. In order to keep such incidents from ever occurring again, we will continue our efforts with the United States to develop effective preventive measures that are convincing enough.

The true value of our Alliance is tested by specific challenges in the region, such as the issue of North Korea and various matters related to the sea. As a recent example, Japan-U.S. cooperation to promote the observance and strengthening of international laws and common rules related to maritime issues in the Asia-Pacific region provides a model for the future. Japan and the United States must continue to closely coordinate their strategies and policies related to regional conditions and maintain monolithic solidarity while at the same time building regional order in cooperation with other countries in the region.

Next I would like to turn to Japan-China relations. China's national leadership is expected to undergo changes soon. However, there is no change in the objective reality that, as the world's second and third largest economies today, Japan and China have a major impact on and share a solemn responsibility for the peace, stability, and development of the Asia-Pacific region and the entire world.

We do not at all wish for the situation surrounding the Senkaku Islands to influence the broader picture of Japan-China relations and to thereby affect stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Japan-China relations are extremely important to both countries. While maintaining our basic position, it is necessary to avoid unforeseen developments, to calm the situation peacefully, and to further deepen the ‘Mutually Beneficial Relationships based on Common Strategic Interests' so that economic, cultural, and people-to-people exchange remains stable. Japan and China should calmly consider what must be done to achieve these objectives. The recent violence against Japanese companies operating in China cannot be tolerated. Such violence is detrimental to China itself too, as it exposes the business risks in China to the entire world.

As a responsible player in the region, Japan will respond in a level-headed manner under all circumstances. We maintain and will continue to maintain communication with the Chinese side to calm the situation. Japan calls for China to respond in a level-headed manner and to exercise self-restraint. It is Japan's heartfelt hope that it will share with the new Chinese leadership a common awareness of the importance of Japan-China relations and will work toward further developing our bilateral relations.

The engagement of the United States in this region will continue to be important. Robust Japan-U.S. relations are also indispensable to the stability and development of Japan-China relations.

China is a major power today and a nation capable of constructively participating and contributing to the creation and development of the international order. The Asia-Pacific region and other parts of the world will benefit from the further deepening and stabilization of Japan-U.S.-China trilateral relations. The Japan-U.S.-China trilateral dialogue that I have suggested should be considered in this context. There are many challenges that the three countries must face and tackle together. It is my belief that the trilateral dialogue will result in the promotion of cooperation in many fields.

Such trilateral cooperation among Japan, the U.S., and China will certainly benefit our three countries. But beyond that, our trilateral cooperation will offer important suggestions for consensus building among the countries in the region and will greatly contribute to the development of the regional order. Furthermore, combined with partnerships with the other countries of the region, the Japan-U.S.-China trilateral dialogue can certainly be expected to make a major contribution to deepening cooperative relations throughout the entire Asia-Pacific region.

A time of change in leadership frequently brings about inward-looking tendencies and populism, in other words a choice of policies aimed at winning popular support. And it is a time where it is vitally important to avoid being swept away by the tides of nationalism and to keep a firm hand on the rudder taking a mid- to long-term perspective. A stable international order contributes to the internal stability of nations, and foreign policies that contravene the international order will falter and will in fact undermine domestic stability.

The United States faces fiscal difficulties. Japan is confronted with the problems of a declining birthrate and the aging of society, as mentioned earlier. In time, China will also in fact come to experience the difficulties of a decreasing birthrate and the aging of society. In other words, none of these countries can expect a bright future without making effort. Each country in the region faces issues. Fostering cooperative trilateral relations and creating a stable order in this region today constitute necessary and indispensable preparations for addressing the various difficult challenges that are likely to emerge in the future.

I would like to close my remarks today by emphasizing once again that Japan, the United States, and China bear a heavy and solemn responsibility for the future of the Asia-Pacific region, the growth center of the world economy. It is my sincere hope that this symposium will provide fruitful discussions on the trilateral relationship as well as Japan-China, U.S.-China, and Japan-U.S. relations, and as I said at the beginning, will offer us positive and beneficial suggestions.

Thank you.