"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 Foreign Minister Hayashi, at the 2022 CJEB Annual Tokyo Conference, Challenges Facing Japanese Diplomacy: Frontier of Japanese Diplomacy in the Age of Competition among Nations

[Date] May 25, 2022
[Source] Ministry or Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

0. Introduction

Director Weinstein and all participants,

I would like to offer my congratulations on holding the first CJEB Annual Tokyo Conference in three years.

Since I assumed the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs last November, the international situation has been changing at an even faster pace, and we are facing issues that cannot be addressed through conventional diplomatic measures. Under such circumstances, this conference is held on a timely theme of "Japan in the Uncertain World". I feel greatly honored to give a keynote speech as the first speaker of the event.

Today, I will talk about challenges for Japanese diplomacy under the theme of "Frontier of Japanese Diplomacy in the Age of Competition among Nations."

1. International community entering the Age of Competition among nations

(1) International situation

First, let us look at the international situation surrounding Japan.

The world has come to the first turning point since the end of the Cold War at the end of the 20th century. In the post-Cold War era, the United States has supported a free, open and stable international order based on the rule of law with its overwhelming political, economic and military power. China and emerging countries have enhanced their power and achieved political and economic growth under this international order. And their growth has resulted in relativizing the influence of major advanced countries. Due to this change in the balance of power in the international community, it can be said that the age in which the United States alone supported the peace and prosperity of the world has come to an end, and the international community has entered an age of competition among nations.

The Russia's aggression against Ukraine, which started on February 24, made such a shift to a new age clear to all people. This aggression is an outrageous act that threatens not only the post-Cold War order but also the very foundation of the international order which humankind has built up over the past century. Moreover, the Russia's aggression has also disrupted the world's energy and food supplies and brought to the surface economic problems that extend beyond the countries and region directly involved.

It will be a touchstone for the next age whether or not the international community can unite together and respond resolutely to this atrocity to defend the international order.

(2) Challenges for Japanese diplomacy

Then, in such an age, what are the challenges that Japanese diplomacy must address?

When I was inaugurated as foreign minister, I pledged to open a new frontier of Japanese diplomacy. Specifically, I expressed my determination to foster diplomacy to support and strengthen the international order that is desirable for the peace and prosperity of Japan and the world amid the new reality faced by the international community, namely, the beginning of the age of competition among nations. In the past six months, toward fulfilling it, I have actively engaged in discussions with my counterparts in various countries, including online, and also resumed face-to-face diplomatic activities including joining in the G7 foreign ministers' meeting held in Germany this month.

In the foundation of our international order, there must be universal values such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Japan has consistently upheld these values since the end of World War II, and thus, they form the basis of "trust" in Japan from the international community today. The determination to defend these universal values is the first one among the three "determinations" that Prime Minister Kishida has been upholding as the basic diplomatic policy of Japan.

In the face of the reality that peace and prosperity are destructed by unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, the international order Japan supports has to be based on the rule of law which never allows such outrage. Even in the age of competition among nations, gaining more support from other countries for the international order based on the rule of law is an indispensable condition for world peace and prosperity.

For our diplomacy to support and strengthen the international order,first, we must lead the efforts to reconstruct a framework that will not allow any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force and to expand and strengthen support for the international order based on the rule of law. Second, we need to strengthen Japan's own response capabilities and resilience to match the new reality.

Let me describe these two points more specifically.

2.Strengthening the international order based on the rule of law

(1) Rebuilding a framework to support the international order

At present, Russia's aggression against Ukraine is the gravest threat to the international order based on the rule of law. For the world to make progress in the right direction in the new age, it is extremely important that the international community unite to make it clear that Russia must pay a high price for what it has been doing.

At the same time, to advance diplomacy towards the future of the era, it is also a matter of urgency to review the existing frameworks that supports the current international order, which has failed to stop Russia, acknowledge the defects of these frameworks, and consider a model of international frameworks or global governance that will not allow another outrage to take place.

In addition to the recent aggression by Russia, the international community is currently facing new challenges such as unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, economic coercion directed at changing other countries' policies, the spread of disinformation and cyberattacks. These are challenges to the basic rules of the international community that are also backed by the UN Charter. It is important for us to strengthen our system to prevent and deter these challenges and to respond to them promptly and minimize their impact once they occur.

Since the end of World War II, the United Nations has played a central role in this global governance. The recent blatant acts of aggression by a permanent member of the UN Security Council have yet again exposed the inherent limitations of the UN and the Security Council. Even worse, the aggression could significantly undermine even the UN Charter, the very foundation of the UN, indicating an urgent need to review the UN system. For the UN to continue to maintain its universality and legitimacy, and to contribute to the peace and stability of the international community and to the solution of global issues, it must be reformed and strengthened, compensating for its limitations, including, of course, the reform of the Security Council, to which Japan attributes particular importance. Having said this, in addition to the Security Council, it is also important to strengthen the UN as a whole, including further utilizing the UN General Assembly and adopting a conflict prevention lens.

(2) Strengthening the international order itself

a. Strengthening unity and increasing the number of like-minded countries

In addition to the enhancement of the frameworks that support the international order, it is also important to strengthen the order itself that is based on the rule of law. The resilience of the order depends on the number of countries supporting it and the strength of their commitment. Therefore, Japan needs to strengthen cooperation with like-minded countries that share a strong commitment to support the order, while further increasing the number of such countries.

For example, G7, a group of like-minded partners working together to lead international efforts to counter attempts to change the status quo by force, has been the most effective framework in dealing with the Russian aggression against Ukraine. G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting have already held seven times this year alone, which is an unprecedented frequency. At the recent Meeting in Germany, I had candid discussions with my counterparts of the G7 members on different issues, including the situation in Ukraine and various challenges in the Indo-Pacific. It is important that we continue to strengthen cooperation with our partners, especially the G7 members, and to demonstrate leadership jointly with them in addressing strategic issues.

Furthermore, we also need to enhance cooperation with like-minded countries that do not belong to the G7. Traditionally, in terms of regional security, Europe embraces NATO as an organization for collective defense, while in the Asia-Pacific region each country has formed a bilateral alliance with the United States, and regional security has been maintained under the so-called "hub and spoke" system.

Last month I attended the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs, as the first Japanese foreign minister to participate in the Meeting. At the event I emphasized that security issues in Europe and Asia cannot be discussed separately and shared this recognition with other participants. I also welcomed NATO's efforts to enhance its relationship with Asia-Pacific partners and confirmed the promotion of concrete cooperation between Japan and NATO.

Japan has thus been leading the promotion of inter-regional cooperation for security as well as a wide range of cooperation beyond the security domain, and has been working to strengthen cooperation with like-minded countries that are willing to support the international order.

Finally, it is also important to increase the number of like-minded countries. At the emergency special session held by the UN General Assembly in March, resolutions on "Aggression against Ukraine" and on "Humanitarian consequences of the aggression against Ukraine" were adopted by a large majority of more than 140 countries. This shows that the UN Charter and the international order backed by the Charter are supported by a wide range of countries. However, the countries that voted in favor of the resolutions include those facing difficulties due to COVID-19 and those suffering from the economic crisis caused by the situation in Ukraine. It is essential to listen to the views of these countries to further expand support for the international order.

b. Expansion of support for the rule-based international order

Today, even in the international community of the 21st century, it is an undeniable fact that there still exist leaders who demand changes in the policies and regimes of other countries based on their own perspectives of the world and history and do not hesitate to use force when their demands are not realized. Also, there are countries that are skeptical about the existing international order or are objecting to it, although they are not explicitly challenging the existing order. In such an international community, the international order that counters dogmatic regimes and gains more extensive support has to be universally appealing and inclusive.

The vision that Japan has recently been promoting and has gained support from many countries is a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific" (FOIP). FOIP is essentially a vision for peace and prosperity for the entire region. Japan is working to ensure a rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific in inclusive and transparent manners and then to further develop such free and open order. The rule of law will be the foundation of such order.

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 to realize a FOIP in cooperation with any and all countries that share this vision. The United States is our most important partner in realizing this vision. After recording of this message, Japan will host the Quad Summit on the 24th of this month, inviting the leaders of the United States, Australia, and India here in Tokyo, and will reaffirm our commitment to the vision of a FOIP from Tokyo.

ASEAN is the linchpin of our efforts to realize FOIP. Japan has consistently supported the unity and centrality of ASEAN. In 2019, ASEAN adopted the "ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific", which shares fundamental principles with FOIP. During Prime Minister Kishida's visit to Southeast Asia this month, he confirmed with the leaders of Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand their cooperation for the realization of the FOIP.

At the aforementioned Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs, I confirmed to strengthen cooperation towards realizing a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), in order to promote concrete cooperation for NATO's further engagement in the Indo-Pacific and to establish a new international order based on the rule of law. Moreover, on occasion of the 8th Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the "Central Asia plus Japan" Dialogue and visits to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Mongolia, as well as to Fiji and Palau in the past two months, I confirmed with the ministers that we will strengthen our partnership with these countries. Cooperation for a free and open international order based on the rule of law is thus expanding steadily.

c. Leading the solution of a wider range of diplomatic issues

For Japan to lead the enhancement of the international order in cooperation with like-minded countries, in addition to the universal appeal of the order we uphold, it is also important to lead the efforts to find a roadmap for solution to the challenges faced by the international community and to take the lead in formulating new rules and standards.

Russia's aggression against Ukraine is causing energy and food supply strains and sharp price increases across the world. Many Middle Eastern and African countries depend on Russia and Ukraine for much of their grain imports and are facing food security crisis. In response, Japan is working for the stabilization of energy and food prices and giving support to vulnerable countries in cooperation with other G7 members and international organizations. In addition, at the recent G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting, we discussed this matter, where we confirmed the "Commitments on the Global Food Security Consequences of Russia's War of Aggression against Ukraine".

For the global economy, it is also important to exclude economic coercion and unfair trade practices, and to realize recovery from the damage caused by COVID-19 and achieve new growth through the expansion of a free and fair economic sphere. As a flag bearer for free trade, Japan will continue to work to maintain the high standards of the TPP and to revitalize the WTO, the foundation of a free and open multilateral trading system.

Although people are paying more attention to the crisis in Ukraine, we must not slacken our pace in addressing issues concerning human security such as climate change and international health. For some vulnerable countries, the damage caused by the COVID-19, combined with the difficulties resulted from Russian aggression, has made the crisis all the more pressing. For such countries, our continuous serious commitment to these urgent agenda would form the basis of the trust in the order we promote. Through strategic and effective ODA projects and others, Japan will accelerate its efforts for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and for the realization of "Free and Open Indo-Pacific."

Furthermore, against the backdrop of Russia's reference to the possible use of nuclear weapons, as well as the continued development of nuclear and missile weapons by North Korea, the international community is facing difficulties in its efforts to achieve "a world without nuclear weapons." In the recent meeting, G7 foreign ministers "reiterated that a meaningful outcome at the NPT Review Conference later this year is our priority." Japan, as the only country that has suffered atomic bombings during war, will continue to make efforts to serve as a bridge-builder between nations in different positions and will pursue realistic and practical measures, taking into consideration national security aspects.

3. Enhancement of Japan's response capabilities and resilience

(1) Diversification of threats posed to Japan

So far, I have mentioned Japan's diplomatic measures to lead the enhancement of the international order. On the other hand, Japan itself is also facing a series of changes at this turning point of our era. Let us look at how Japan is dealing with the risks posed to itself in the new age.

The threats posed to Japan are becoming diversified and it is urgently required that the country enhance its own response capabilities and resilience to match the new reality.

First, the security environment in East Asia is becoming even more severe. In a nutshell, Japan is facing three major challenges, namely, Russia, China and North Korea. While dealing with the issue of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, we should not let any entity be misled into believing that a window of opportunity has opened to pursue unilateral attempts to change the status quo or to take further provocative actions.

Second, we are facing more risks in the expanding information space. Threats posed by "hybrid wars" involving cyberattacks on important infrastructure and the spread of disinformation via social media are becoming even more evident following Russia's aggression against Ukraine. In particular, these threats have become widely known due to Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and their suspected intervention in the U.S. presidential elections in 2016, and has emerged as a serious threat in the present Ukraine crisis. This is a challenge to the very foundations of democratic societies, both in contingencies and in peacetime.

Third, security risks are expanding in the economic domain, which means economic security. Cutting-edge technologies such as AI and quantum, could also pose security risks if they are used for military purposes. Also, the pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine have made clear that the unbalance in global supply chains could make logistic operations unstable and vulnerable. Moreover, disruptions in the supply of core goods such as energy and food have caused surges in international prices, leading to security risks. The fact that there are countries that do not hesitate to put pressure on other countries by taking advantage of their economic dependence is implying that these risks are not transitory.

(2) Japan's efforts

In response to these circumstances, Japan has steadily been pressing forward with its efforts.

Even in the increasingly severe security environment, the Japan-U.S. alliance continues to be the linchpin of Japan's foreign policy and security. I have held a series of meetings, including phone calls, with Secretary of State Blinken, and we are working closely together to further strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the alliance, which is stronger than ever before in history.

At the same time, it is also necessary to fundamentally strengthen Japan's own self-defense capabilities. To this end, we are working to update the National Security Strategy and others.

Also, with respect to issues involving both the economy and security, Japan widely recognize them as issues of "economic security," or as a new challenge for its national security, and gives priority to resolving them. As for the bill passed in the current Diet session, Minister Kobayashi will refer to it in his speech day after tomorrow. At any rate, for the implementation of economic security measures, it is critical that Japan cooperate with its ally and other like-minded countries.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been working to expand and deepen cooperation with like-minded countries, which include Southeast Asian countries, utilizing frameworks such as Japan-U.S.-Australia-India cooperation and G7. This is because initiatives for economic security, such as establishing strategic autonomy of economic structure and achieving technological superiority, are also important for diplomacy. In light of recent situation in Ukraine, it is becoming increasingly important for Japan to collaborate and cooperate with like-minded countries. We will continue to take proactive measures to enhance cooperation with our ally and other like-minded countries and to shape international norms to address new challenges, from the standpoint of our jurisdiction over security measures, external economic relations and international law.

(3) Overcoming our domestic vulnerability

So far, I have talked about how we should respond to external risks in the changing world. However, for the promotion of diplomacy in this new age, we also need to deal with our domestic vulnerability.

The rapid economic growth achieved under the neo-liberal approach has widened domestic disparities and poverty and shrink the middle class. Also, along with the benefits of increased convenience of life, the progress of digitization has 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. Furthermore, if this social division is regarded as weakness of our democratic society, it might cause additional risks.

Adam Smith, known as the father of economics, wrote "The Theory of Moral Sentiments," on the order and morality of civil society based on sympathy, as a counterpart to "The Wealth of Nations" that introduced the "invisible hand of God". In this work, he demonstrated that a capitalist economy cannot exist without a base of healthy civil society supported by sympathy, while he warned against the danger of excessive pursuit of wealth that would damage social order and prosperity.

To solve this difficult proposition from the age of infancy of the capitalist economy, now, countries around the world are working. The U.S. Biden administration is supporting the growth of the middle class through large-scale economic policies setting the target of economic growth from the bottom up and the middle out. EU also strives to achieve economic and social reform including the correction of inequality through its "NextGenerationEU," an economic recovery plan after the COVID-19.

And in Japan, under the Kishida administration, we are pushing ahead with initiatives to create a sustainable economy based on a "new form of capitalism" that is founded upon a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution. We will work to increase the size of the middle class once again and work to provide citizens with detailed explanations of our diplomatic and security measures so that we can promote them with the support of the people.

4. Conclusion

Learning lessons from the two world wars, humankind has built up an international order based on the rule of law despite twist and turns, being determined not to repeat the horrors of war. Under this international order, Japan has also achieved recovery and prosperity from the devastation caused by World War II. Now, the world has reached another turning point for the start of a new age. Even in the age of competition among nations and increasing uncertainty, Japan regards it as its mission to support the international order based on the rule of law by increasing the number of like-minded countries, as a country that owes its own prosperity to that order.

Since the end of the war, Japan has consistently followed the path of a peaceful nation and has contributed to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region and the international community. The country has provided development assistance cooperation based on the principle of human security and has worked on the formulation of international rules. It has also made contributions to the building of peace through efforts for disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Japan has earned trust from the world as a result of making these efforts and this trust propels us to open up a new frontier for Japanese diplomacy. I am determined to lead Japan's diplomacy so that we can increase and enhance support for the international order that brings peace and prosperity to the world by embracing the will and legacy of our predecessors and by cooperating with like-minded countries to gain new strength toward the future.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.