What are Japan’s “national interests”? Let us define them as the: preservation of the Japanese territories; protection of the lives and property of the Japanese people; prosperity of the Japanese economy, businesses, and people; and dignified preservation of Japanese values, culture and historical perspective; as well as the acquisition and retention of the kind of influence and voice that are needed in the international arena to secure the aforementioned interests for the nation. Having redefined “national interests,” we need to enhance the national power that supports foreign policies and actively practice diplomacy that contributes to the world.
1. Enhance Japan’s National Power!
To address diplomatic issues, we need to enhance the following seven powers:
(1) Hard power (military, economy, technology, access to resources, etc.) (Actions 17 & 23-26)
(2) Soft power (culture, education, tourism, etc.) (Action 18)
(3) Legitimate power in international organizations (influence and acquisition of important posts in the UN Security Council, the IMF, etc.) (Action 19)
(4) Alliance power in the form of multilateral cooperation and partnership (creating frameworks for APEC, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Japan-U.S.-Australia-India
Quadripartite Dialogue, etc.) (Action 20)
(5) ODA power in the form of official development assistance, Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, etc. (Action 21)
(6) Communicative power in the form of the ability to communicate with and convey information to the world (Action 22)
(7) Networking power in the form of global networks for both the government and private sector (networks in international conferences, networks of senior overseas volunteers, etc.) (Action 22)
The basics of diplomacy consist of nothing more than enhancing each of the powers listed above. Japan needs to get behind the perspective of “Diplomacy is made up of the accumulation of power.”
2. Fundamental Elements of Japanese Diplomacy: Contribute to the World and Express the Nation’s Voice!
The basic efforts that Japan should make in its diplomacy after having strengthened its power are to actively involve itself in various issues facing the world, win the world’s trust, and actively contribute to world peace and prosperity (basic principles for “100 Actions”). To fulfill these efforts, the following three actions will serve as the fundamental elements of diplomacy:
(1) Contribute to spreading universal values, such as freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and basic human rights, throughout the world.
The power of the United States, which has led the world since World War II, is declining. The world has become more and more multi-polar, and nationalism has emerged in many countries. Under these circumstances, Japan should actively take a leadership role in world affairs to materialize these universal values by making effective use of its democratic traditions and practices developed over the past 70 years since World War II.
(2) Actively contribute to peace-building around the world by dispatching the Self-Defense Forces overseas
The global security environment has changed and no country can be indifferent to the issue of world peace and stability. It is necessary for Japan to practice “proactive pacifism” to actively contribute internationally. In 2015, the Abe Cabinet and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party approved bills related to Japan’s security legislation, expanding the roles of the Self-Defense Forces abroad. This should be highly commended. Japan should now, in cooperation primarily with the United States but also with other countries, take specific actions for peace-building around the world.
(3) Continue diplomacy that expresses Japan’s voice
In order for Japan to win the world’s trust, it must pursue diplomacy that expresses Japan’s voice. If a misconception about Japan were to become rooted, all possibility of being appreciated and trusted by other countries would be lost. In particular, to pass along a fair understanding of contemporary history to future generations, Japan should patiently continue its efforts to resolutely convey facts with verified accuracy to the world. In the Japanese government, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko is taking the initiative in the dissemination of information about Japan to the world. He and his group have been making proactive efforts, such as producing an easy-to-understand video regarding Japanese territorial issues over Takeshima and the Northern Territories, which have been illegally occupied by foreign countries. This video has been posted on YouTube. It is my hope that they will continue their untiring efforts to (1) argue against foreign media that perpetuate erroneous perceptions about Japan and (2) identify erroneous understandings of historical issues contained in textbooks and literature.