Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Proactive" Diplomacy (Japan Times)

Hirofumi Nakasone, Japan's Minister of Foreign Affairs, gave a speech on Jan. 28 to the Japanese Diet detailing Japan's "dynamic" public diplomacy push in the future. This push calls for a more "mature" partnership with South Korea, resolution of the Kuril Island/Northern Territories border issues with Russia, as well as continued assistance in Afghanistan and Pakistan. An article on Japan Times called this "Proactive Diplomacy."

Specifically addressing PD in his speech, Nakasone said:

Strengthening Public Diplomacy and Exchanges with Other Countries

Increasing the understanding and trust that other countries have in the basic orientation of Japan's foreign policy, such as in the policy areas I have just discussed, contributes to the smooth advancement of our foreign policy. For this reason, Japan will undertake dynamic public diplomacy. In addition, Japan will strategically engage in public relations regarding points of cultural appeal, from traditional culture to pop culture, while promoting the Japanese language and intellectual exchanges as well. In addition to proactively providing assistance with the bidding activities that will bring about the holding of the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2016, we will further promote exchanges in the area of sports.

Strengthening Japan's Diplomatic Infrastructure

Last but not least, I would like to emphasize the importance of strengthening Japan's diplomatic infrastructure. To respond swiftly to the numerous diplomatic challenges and to protect appropriately the lives and property of Japanese nationals overseas, it is vital to improve its diplomatic infrastructure, including diplomatic missions and staffing, as well as information gathering and protection, in ways reflecting the demand. We will develop Japan's diplomatic foundations and further enhance Japan's diplomatic capacity winning the support of the Japanese people.


I have visited a large number of countries and interacted with the people of each of those countries since before I began my tenure as Foreign Minister and up to the present day. What I have felt in common in all my travels is that, in every country, regardless of a country's size, people love their own country and hold pride in it. Our Constitution proclaims, "We desire to occupy an honored place in an international society." I believe that in just that way, it is important to be trusted and respected by other countries and to build a nation of which Japan's citizens can be proud.

As I stated at the beginning of my remarks, diplomacy aims at ensuring Japan's national interests, namely the security and prosperity of Japan and the lives and property of the Japanese people. I believe that diplomacy also means maintaining the nation's honor and prestige and ensuring that citizens can hold pride in their nation.

Japan's science and technology capabilities, its human resources, and its history of overcoming numerous difficulties are all points of pride on the world stage. Now, as the international community faces a growing number of challenges, Japan is pursuing proactive diplomacy. I firmly believe that Japan's proactive diplomacy and its accomplishments in the international society will lead to the Japanese people gaining confidence and pride in their own nation. I believe that the ruling and opposition parties should pursue our diplomatic goals fully in concert, as diplomacy transcends party interests. I therefore ask for the support and cooperation of the Japanese people and of the honorable members of the Diet, transcending party lines.

Looking at the goals Nakasone would like to accomplish, how feasible do they seem? Given that he calls for diplomacy through pop culture (or pop diplomacy) [In addition, Japan will strategically engage in public relations regarding points of cultural appeal, from traditional culture to pop culture, while promoting the Japanese language and intellectual exchanges as well.] are these goals that are likely to been fulfilled in the near future or will they not be fulfilled until 10+ years down the road?

Do you see the idea of cultural goods transmission as form of the passive audience assumption where Japan gives its message to other nations and they then understand the message the same way it was sent? How effective do you think government directed pop diplomacy really is?

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