"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] Keynote Speech by Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs on the occasion of the 3rd Tokyo Global Dialogue, The Prospects for Japanese Diplomacy in an International Community Marked by Deepening Division and Conflict: "Oval- shaped Diplomacy"

[Date] March 2, 2022
[Source] Ministry or Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Notes] Since this keynote speech was recorded in mid- February, in light of the subsequent changes in the situation, the latest position of the Government of Japan on the situation in Ukraine, Japan-Russia relations, and the temporary detention of a Japanese diplomat in China in the annex was read out after the keynote speech.
[Full text]

0. Introduction

President Sasae, distinguished attendees,

Let me begin by offering my sincere congratulations on holding this 3rd Tokyo Global Dialogue and my heartfelt thanks for the opportunity afforded me to give today's keynote speech. My deepest respects go out to President Sasae, whose leadership has fostered this dialogue into one of Japan's leading international symposiums in only a few years, as well as to everyone else whose hard work has made this event possible.

This is the first occasion since assuming the post of Minister for Foreign Affairs last November that I have spoken at a venue featuring such intellectual capital from around the world. With international circumstances rapidly becoming more challenging and complex and with division and confrontation spurring a growing sense of crisis at home and abroad, I would like to take this opportunity to speak about the diplomatic approach I am advocating that Japan pursue: "Oval-shaped Diplomacy".

Let's start by taking a bird's-eye view across multiple time frames and domains of the international circumstances on which this diplomatic approach is premised.

1. Two modern turning points for the international community and Japan's response

Our story starts at the end of the Cold War, a historical turning point that occurred in the waning years of the 20th century.

In the early 1990s, as the liberal camp was celebrating its victory following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the end to the Cold War declared by the United States and the Soviet Union, I spent time as a "knight-errant" in the U.S., which sat at the very center of these events, in pursuit of my aspiration to enter politics. I still vividly recollect the elated feeling the society shared, as the protracted Cold War and East-West confrontation wound down, that the world would at last be able to enjoy the prosperity of globalization under a liberal democratic order led by the U.S.

However, this euphoria did not last long. The post-Cold War international order morphed in the face of complex and diverse practical challenges and, thirty years later, we no longer live in an era in which the U.S. exerts leadership through overwhelming political, economic, and military might and supports international stability and prosperity on its own.

The political and economic rise of emerging nations has relativized the influence of major developed countries and altered the power balance within the international community. In addition, the universal values and principles of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, as well as the international order which was established during and after the Cold War era and has been led by liberal and democratic nations with the U.S. at their head are being subjected to many challenges.

The 9-11 terrorist attacks confronted us with the reality that the world is threatened by more than just wars between nations. And now, threats are taking on a variety of guises even beyond physical violence and materializing as cyber-attacks and disinformation campaigns. The emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) or the Internet of Things (IoT), which make our lives more convenient, can also pose security risks if diverted to military use.

In the economic realm as well, the globalization that promised to bring prosperity to the world has produced numerous contradictions and challenges. The rapid economic growth achieved under the neo-liberal approach has widened domestic disparities and poverty and shrunk the middle class. Advances in digitalization have had an effect of accelerating the negative aspects of globalization while facilitating fragmentation by making it possible to provide people with only the information they want. The resulting social division has even affected the diplomacy of democratic governments that is presumably being pursued with public understanding. This has created a space into which authoritarian ideas can slip in.

Meanwhile, supply chain networks extended worldwide through the development of logistics suffer from vulnerabilities arising from their own inherent imbalances, as has become clear during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is also growing global concern about coercive policies and practices by abusing economic interdependencies and about influence being wielded through development financing lacking transparency and fairness.

Now let's turn our attention to Japan. As international circumstances have once again become turbulent, the environment surrounding Japan has also become extremely challenging.

China is seeking for an international order that is incompatible with the existing one and would be more advantageous for it, and its expansion of military capability lacking transparency, unilateral actions to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas, and the expansion and increased vigor of its military activities are strong security concerns for the region, including Japan, and in the international community. The cooperative relation between China and Russia is becoming more and more apparent these days, ranging from joint exercises in the seas and airspace around Japan and other military activities to collaboration in the international arena, including at the UN Security Council.

North Korea has been launching missiles at an unprecedented frequency, especially this year, on seven different occasions in less than four weeks including the cruise missile launches that North Korea is claiming to have conducted. These launches include the launch of an IRBM-class ballistic missile and launches in a new manner such as what they claim hypersonic missiles, heightening the security threat.

The environment has proven just as challenging in the economic sphere. Japan has become the first major developed country to enter the phase of population decline, and it is essential that Japan tap into global growth through free and fair trade to ensure its own growth. A stable, rule-based, multilateral trading system that guarantees a stable supply of resources to Japan, a country with scarce natural resources, through the elaboration of supply chains and that enables Japanese companies to grow remains as crucial as ever. Therefore, pushes for protectionism resulting from dissatisfaction with globalization and newly surfacing supply chain vulnerabilities constitute clear-cut risks to Japan's prosperity.

2. The Prospects for Japanese Diplomacy: "Oval-shaped Diplomacy" to Address Contradictory Issues

(1) What is "Oval-shaped Diplomacy"?

We have now looked at the very difficult situation in which Japan and the entire world have been placed at this new historical turning point. Diplomacy takes on an even greater role during trying times for the international community, but diplomacy today faces many conflicting issues that appear at first glance to be irreconcilable: individual freedom and social stability, market economics and the correction of disparities, competition and cooperation, and autonomy and interdependence. Leading the international community through diplomacy is impossible unless these issues are addressed.

Masayoshi Ohira served as Japan's Foreign Minister and Prime Minister during difficult times that saw the normalization of Japan-China relations, a new Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and two oil crises, and his political philosophy embraced a concept known as the "Oval Theory" that deemed an administration a successful one if it had two foci like an oval and managed to keep these two foci in a tense but balanced relationship. In an era of heightened division and conflict, there tends to be a separation between two differing positions on issues or, as Ohira would say, between the foci, even in the realm of diplomacy. A typical example might be the protection of the global environment and the promotion of economic activities. I believe the role of diplomacy is not simply to take one side or other but rather to endeavor somehow to form these two circles into a single oval.

There are, of course, principles that must not be compromised and positions that cannot be yielded even in the world of diplomacy. Universal values and principles such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law are prime examples of these. Safeguarding Japan's peace and stability is a non-negotiable mission for the Japanese government. Diplomacy that calmly assesses constantly changing international circumstances and then encompasses positions that at a glance are contradictory into a single oval in a gradualist manner tailored to the relevant realities and time frames is the approach that best accomplishes this mission and helps discover genuine solutions to issues.

I think of this Japanese-style "Oval-shaped Diplomacy" approach as one particularly suited to Japan, which has earned the trust of its region and the world at large as a democratic nation that has consistently sought peace since the end of the Second World War.

(2) The application of "Oval-shaped Diplomacy" to actual diplomatic issues

How exactly does one apply approaches based on "Oval-shaped Diplomacy" to actual diplomatic issues? I would like to use examples from four areas – security, a rules-based international order, the economy and human rights – to answer this question.

First, it goes without saying that the Japan-U.S. Alliance is as important as ever as the linchpin of Japan's foreign policy and security. The Japan-U.S. Alliance is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity not only for Japan itself but for the entire Indo-Pacific region, and it is vital that Japan as its ally encourages and ensures the robust and sustained involvement of the U.S. in the Indo- Pacific region. At the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (Japan-U.S. "2+2") and Japan-U.S. Summit Video Teleconference Meeting in January, the two leaders concurred to further strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. The launch of what is called ministerial Economic "2+2" was also announced. We intend to further strengthen ties between Japan and the U.S. in economic terms as well.

Coping with the severe security environment surrounding Japan requires strengthening the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and fundamentally reinforcing Japan's own defense capabilities. To that end, newly formulating the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Program Guidelines, and the Mid-term Defense Program will be extremely important.

As we consider "U.S.-China competition", one of the topics of this third dialogue, it is clear in light of its current security situation that Japan can neither dismiss this topic as a bilateral issue between the U.S. and China nor refuse to acknowledge China's true picture branding it as inherently different from Japan and the U.S. We need to consider how to face and deal with China in this severe security environment.

China, whose political system is different from our own, has set out long-term national goals under the Chinese Communist Party, targeting 2049, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, and for 2035, a midpoint between now and 2049. Ohira once remarked, "Japan and China have different systems and different styles and will thus often have different intentions and different interests, and this is precisely why they need to assess each other coolheadedly." There is a profound meaning to his words. We need to thoroughly assess not only the long-term goals China has set forth but also the reality of China as it changes, and gradually but soundly build more desirable Japan-China relations for the sake of our own interests.

Accordingly, we need to firmly maintain and assert our position. Any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea, including the waters around the Senkaku Islands, pose a challenge to the existing order and, are entirely unacceptable as a matter of principle that Japan cannot afford to compromise. We will continue to take a calm yet resolute approach to the situation. Regarding the issues concerning the South China Sea, Japan has strongly opposed any actions that would increase tensions and has emphasized to China the importance of peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, not by force or coercion. Furthermore, the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is important. We have also expressed serious concerns about the situation in Hong Kong and human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region at a number of opportunities.

At the same time, the Japan-China relationship is important not only for the two countries, but for the peace and prosperity of the region and the international community. As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China relations, we aim to build a "constructive and stable relationship" with China by firmly maintaining and asserting our position and strongly requesting China's responsible actions, while at the same time cooperating on matters of common interest.

From a security perspective, Russia's moves are also of great interest for Japan. Of particular note at the moment is that Russia has increased its military presence and raised tensions around Ukraine. Japan has consistently supported Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and we will be working with the G7 and the rest of the international community in this regard. Attempts to change the status quo by force anywhere in the world are unacceptable. We need to bear in mind Russia's moves in Asia that have raised security concerns, with Russia acting in concert with China militarily and engaging in demonstrational actions such as joint flights by Russian and Chinese bombers from the Sea of Japan to the East China Sea. At the same time, it is important that we forge a stable relationship with Russia in order to negotiate a peace treaty and stabilize the security environment in the region, so we need to consider our diplomacy with Russia in light of these various factors.

Second, as we face the global power balance in flux, and challenges to the existing international order coming to the surface, we need to maintain and reinforce a rules-based international order. "Free and Open Indo-Pacific", or FOIP, is Japan's vision in our efforts to achieve that goal.

FOIP is to achieve peace and prosperity for the entire region. We are looking to ensure a rules-based international order in the Indo- Pacific in comprehensive and transparent manners and then to further develop such free and open order. The rule of law and freedom of navigation will be integral part of it. Recognizing that there are different countries at different stages of development, Japan will work together with partners to promote what is important to all and, in that vein, will undertake initiatives designed to realize a FOIP in cooperation with any and all countries that share this vision. This inclusive approach is undoubtedly consistent with the Oval-shaped Diplomacy I mentioned earlier.

The United States is our most important partner in realizing this vision. On February 11, the Biden administration announced its "Indo-Pacific Strategy", making clear its long-term commitment to the Indo-Pacific. With respect to the collaboration among Japan, the United States, Australia and India (Quad), the Fourth Foreign Ministers' Meeting was held in person in Melbourne, Australia, where the ministers of the four countries, sharing the same values, reaffirmed the strong commitment of our countries to the FOIP and concurred to further advance wide- ranging practical cooperation toward the achievement of the vision.

ASEAN plays a central role in realizing the FOIP, and Japan has consistently supported ASEAN unity and centrality. In June 2019, ASEAN adopted the "ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific," which shares fundamental principles with the FOIP. Next year will mark the 50th year of friendship and cooperation between Japan and ASEAN, and Japan will continue advancing concrete cooperation that contributes to realizing the FOIP and the ASEAN Outlook.

Europe is also intensifying its involvement in the Indo-Pacific. Last September, the EU released a Joint Communication on the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific that identified seven priority areas. Another very welcome and historic development was that the joint statement from the latest Japan- EU summit made clear the commitment of the EU and its 27 member states to actively cooperate with Japan in ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific.

At the NATO Summit Meeting of last June, NATO expressed its will to enhance cooperation with Asia-Pacific partner countries including Japan, and we welcome this move as well.

Third, we are confronted in the economic realm with the questions of how to deal with the pluses and minuses of globalization that I touched on earlier and how to handle the new issue of ensuring economic security.

Addressing the negative aspects of globalization has become a key domestic issue in countries across the globe. Since becoming the mainstream approach worldwide in the 1980s, neoliberalism has been the driving force for world economic growth. However, the resultant overdependence on market mechanisms had led to such problems as disparities and widening poverty due to imbalances in distribution, inadequate medium- to long-term investment in basic technology and other sectors, and a mounting impact on the global environment. Internalizing the costs of such market failures and external diseconomies as soon as possible is an issue that must be tackled not by individual companies but by the public and private sectors working together in pursuit of a shared vision of socioeconomic change.

Japan, too, has been undertaking efforts under the Kishida Cabinet to realize a sustainable economy and society through a "new capitalism" that will create a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution. Rather than fighting over the pie we have at the moment, our goal is to achieve both growth and distribution over a ten- or twenty-year time frame, and we will lead the world forward with this philosophy.

For the Japanese economy to achieve sustainable growth, further expanding the free and fair economic sphere in the world is indispensable. Japan has been exerting leadership as a flag- bearer of free trade. The TPP saw some major developments last year, with the UK starting the accession process and economies such as China and Taiwan submitting their accession requests. The TPP serves as one of the important frameworks for Japan to promote the FOIP from an economic perspective. Japan will continue cooperating with the countries involved to maintain the TPP's high standards. Also, the U.S. presence is essential to the region's economic order, and we will continue to urge the U.S. to return to the TPP. I myself have strongly encouraged Secretary of State Blinken as well as Secretary of Commerce Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Tai on this matter.

The WTO must also be maintained and strengthened as the foundation of a multilateral trading system. Japan has been advancing negotiations as a co-convener with like-minded countries to create international rules for e-commerce that include Data Free Flow with Trust, which will play an integral role in economic growth in a post-pandemic era. We remain committed to leading WTO reforms.

At the same time, we need to strengthen the international economic order against economic coercion and other behavior that infringes on the sovereignty and interests of states and nations.

Economic security is an issue of great urgency, and I have been deeply involved in discussions on this issue within the Liberal Democratic Party, coordinating the discussions on economic security initiatives to ensure our strategic autonomy and strategic indispensability. One product of these discussions is the bill we plan to submit to the current ordinary session of the Diet.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been expanding and deepening cooperation with like-minded countries by utilizing frameworks such as the Quad and the G7 to make supply chains more resilient and to foster and protect critical and emerging technologies. This is because initiatives in the interest of economic security, such as maintaining technological advantage, are also important for Japanese diplomacy. The ministry will continue to work actively on improving cooperation with ally and like-minded countries and shaping international norms that address new issues in its capacity as the government body overseeing security policy, foreign economic relations, and international law.

Fourth is the issue of human rights. Human rights are a universal value and protecting these rights is the most fundamental responsibility of any nation. At the same time, we must also consider that the processes and speed of improving human rights situations are different from country to country.

While speaking out firmly against serious violation of human rights, Japan has pursued human rights diplomacy by encouraging voluntary efforts through dialogue and cooperation, rather than condescendingly imposing demands on countries trying to make improvements. For example, Japan has conducted bilateral dialogues with various countries. With regard to Cambodia, at the UN Human Rights Council last year, the resolution on the situation of human rights in Cambodia submitted by Japan, after consultations with Cambodia itself and with various related countries including EU, was unanimously adopted. Japan has made such cooperative efforts to improve human rights in other countries. These initiatives are only possible due to the historical background that Japan, being part of Asia, is the first country to advance promotion of democracy and human rights in Asia.

It is important to have a clear understanding of the realities in partner countries, encourage their efforts according to their actual circumstances to promote human rights through a gradualist approach, and build up little by little a track record of success. Going forward, we will continue pursuing our human rights diplomacy.

3. Conclusion

Of the two turning points experienced by the international community in contemporary times, the end of the Cold War brought hope to humanity of a final victory by liberal democracy and worldwide economic prosperity through globalization. By contrast, no simple solutions to the problems of today's world present themselves in the face of apparently contradictory issues and deepening conflicts and divisions.

The issues that confront us at present include dissatisfaction with democracy in even the most democratic countries, growing poverty in countries with remarkable economic growth, risks inherent to emerging technologies that will revolutionize the world, and failure to improve human rights despite repeated efforts by the international community. None of these issues can be solved by viewing them as simple dichotomies and discarding one side. No matter how difficult and time-consuming the process may seem, arriving at a genuine solution requires ensuring that issues are not divided into two distinct and conflicting circles, and combining these two circles into one oval.

Japan has long engaged in broad-minded diplomacy based on the realities in partner countries and thereby gained the world's trust. As Minister for Foreign Affairs, I am determined to take a gradualist approach that gives due consideration to realities on the ground and realistic time frames, all the while unmistakably advocating universal values and expressing my determination to safeguard world peace and stability, in my pursuit of "Oval-shaped Diplomacy".

Thank you for your attention.


The position of the Government of Japan on the situation in Ukraine, Japan-Russia relations, and the temporary detention of a Japanese diplomat in China.

1 The situation in Ukraine and Japan-Russia relations

Russia's recent aggression against Ukraine is an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force. It is an act that undermines the very foundations of the international order. It constitutes a clear violation of international law, and is totally unacceptable. Japan strongly condemns it in the strongest terms. Now is the time for us to unite in taking resolute actions in order to fully defend the foundations of the international order. Japan will decisively act to demonstrate this stance and show clearly that this kind of outrage comes with high price.

The international community believes that, because of Russia's aggression, it can no longer carry on relations with Russia as they have been. Japan, together with the G7 countries and the international community, will impose stringent sanctions against Russia.

With regard to Russia, Japan has persistently advanced negotiations under the policy of resolving the Northern Territories issue, the most outstanding issue between the two countries, and concluding a peace treaty. However, we must act resolutely in response to Russia's recent aggression against Ukraine in solidarity with the G7 and the international community.

There is no change in Japan's stance regarding the issue of the Northern Territories and in the desire to respond to the wishes of the elderly former island residents. However, in light of the current situation, I am not in a situation where I am able to make any statements regarding the prospects for peace treaty negotiations.

I hope that the day will come soon when Russia will take the condemnation of the international community seriously, stop aggression, work toward a diplomatic solution to the problem, and return to normal relations with the international community, including Japan.

2 Temporary detention of a Japanese diplomat in China

Recently, a Japanese diplomat was temporarily detained by the Chinese authority against its will in Beijing. This is a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and cannot be overlooked. It is absolutely unacceptable. The Government of Japan strongly urges China to express apologies and take concrete measures to prevent recurrence.