Copyright GLOBIS

The acquisition of important posts in international organizations has a direct impact on the influence of a country. Diplomatic objectives that cannot be realized by a country alone can be achieved through the deliberation and resolution of international organizations that possess legitimate power, resulting in the promotion of national interests. The quality, amount and positions of people involved in the process of agenda setting and rule making in international organizations affect diplomatic power.

1. Activate Diplomatic Initiatives for Gaining a Permanent Seat on the Security Council!

In 2006, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution in response to the North Korean missile launch, but it was because Japan was serving as a non-permanent member of the Security Council that a resolution condemning North Korea was adopted. If Japan had not been there, it is doubtful whether the Security Council would have gone so far as to issue a condemnatory resolution. In January 2016, Japan was elected as a non-permanent member (with a term of two years) of the UN Security Council for the 11th time, which is more times than any other UN non-permanent member. It is important to take this opportunity to launch full-scale diplomatic activities to promote reform of the UN Security Council and be elected as a permanent member so that Japan can gain a level of position, power and influence that reflects its contribution.

2. Execute Legitimate Power through Investments and Equity in International Organizations! Exert Again the Leadership that was Demonstrated when the ADB and APEC were Established!

Japan’s “equity” in the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank and other major international organizations is the second largest in the world, following the United States. It is necessary for Japan to maintain this equity and ensure its voice as a partner corresponds to its value. In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan, during its growth period, exerted its leadership. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) was established in 1966 under the initiative of the Ministry of Finance of Japan. Japan, as well as the United States, accounts for the largest investment ratio and all of the presidents up to now have been Japanese. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a forum launched in 1989 under the initiative of the then Ministry of International Trade and Industry. The forum has discussed economic cooperation in the region ahead of the TPP. China is building its power through the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Japan needs to once again exert the kind of leadership that was demonstrated when the ADB and APEC were established.

3. Expand Power by Actively Hosting International Organizations and International Conferences!

Switzerland is home to many international organizations located in Geneva and other cities with a population of just some 100,000. The headquarters of international organizations are concentrated in Switzerland for the reason that it is a permanently neutral state, in addition to its historical background and external factors. The accumulation of these organizations has served as an advantage in helping the country attract many more international organizations. At present, there are only two UN agencies headquartered in Japan: the United Nations University and the International Tropical Timber Organization. Efforts should be made to bring more international organizations to Japan and to hold an increasing number of international conferences here so they may be turned into opportunities for Japanese diplomacy.

4. Expand Power by Gaining Top Posts at International Organizations

There are still very few Japanese who serve as high-level staff members at the United Nations and other major international organizations. It has been a tacit agreement that the President of the World Bank is elected from the United States and the Managing Director of the IMF from Europe. Appointments to top posts at international organizations can be said to constitute the epitome of international politics. All the more so, the Japanese government should make serious efforts to strategically work on gaining more appointments to top posts at international organizations.

At the same time, it is necessary to strengthen the power of the Japanese human resources, which has been regarded as weak. Sadako Ogata, who served as president of JICA, should be the role model. Her achievements while she was serving as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have received extremely high praise from the international community. The persistent development of individuals like her who can play an active role at international organizations is expected.

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