Japan Must Repay the World's Kindness with
"Since the earthquake, over 170 countries and global institutions have expressed support or provided aid to Japan. ... Learning from these catastrophes, providing specific recommendations for international cooperation and leading the discussion - that is how we will repay the kindness that the world has shown us."
What form should Japanese diplomacy take after the
devastating earthquake? It is crucial that Japan does not retreat into its
shell, but actively involves itself in global society, particularly with a view
to rebuilding and invigorating the country.
On April 21, Prime Minister Kan held talks
with his visiting Australian counterpart, Julia Gillard, and agreed
to strengthen cooperation in the areas of energy and disaster relief. On such
occasions, it is vital that Japan clearly communicates its resolve to rebuild.
On April 9, a special foreign ministerial meeting between
Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was held in Indonesia.
Indonesia convened the meeting “to express solidarity with Japan, a country
that has supported us for so many years.”
Since the earthquake, over 170 countries and
international institutions have expressed support or provided aid to Japan, all
because Japan has worked with other nations, providing financial and other
forms of support.
The reconstruction of affected areas will require vast
amounts of capital and manpower. However, this is not the time to be
preoccupied with domestic issues and forget our international role and
First, we must strive not to reduce our foreign aid
budget. The government considered a 20 percent cut to the 573 billion yen ($7.6
billion) foreign aid budget to help fund the first supplementary budget for
reconstruction. It was a simple, not particularly well thought out idea to take
money from an area that is easy to take from. In any case, objections erupted
and a compromise was agreed to for a 10 percent reduction instead.
Japan’s foreign aid budget has declined for 12 years
in a row, and it is now half of what it was at its peak. Japan has tumbled from
being the leading provider of foreign aid to number five. Meanwhile, with the
rise of the emerging economies, Japan’s foreign influence has declined. To
maintain its voice on the global stage, Japan needs to continue making
contributions commensurate with having the world’s third largest economy.
The issue of whether to join the Trans-Pacific
Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP)
should not be put off. The Kan cabinet has said it will make a decision in
June, but no work has been done since the earthquake. Japan must reform its
agricultural industry and make progress in talks with its neighbors to avoid
being left behind by the TPP's nine member states, including the U.S. and
Australia, which seek a deal by November.
Posted by WORLDMEETS.US
It is also important to stay involved with U.N. peacekeeping
operations. The Self
Defense Forces achieved a great deal in the aftermath of the earthquake,
but it should also actively consider participating in international operations,
such as those in southern Sudan.
On the agenda for leading nations this year will
certainly be joint efforts to prevent disaster and ensure that nuclear power
plants are safe. In particular, as a country that has experienced both an
earthquake and a nuclear emergency, Japan’s actions will attract wide attention.
Learning from these catastrophes, providing specific recommendations for international
cooperation and leading the discussion - that is how we will repay the kindness
that the world has shown us.
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