‘Proactive diplomacy’ pledged

by Jun Hongo

Japan will demonstrate its leadership through “proactive diplomacy,” including sending civilian aid to Afghanistan and passing new laws for antipiracy activities in Somalia, Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said Wednesday.

In his major foreign policy speech to the Diet, Nakasone said the world faces a rash of problems, including economic turmoil, terrorism, regional disputes and climate change.

“This is the time for us to express our views on such issues and develop a positive and a proactive diplomacy that will lead the international community,” he said.

Echoing favorable comments about Japan by the new U.S. administration, Nakasone said the U.S.-Japan relationship is the foundation of Tokyo’s diplomacy as it strives to build peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during her Senate confirmation earlier this month that Japan is “a cornerstone of American policy in Asia.”

“We aim to solidify the Japan-U.S. alliance” through frank and specific propositions, Nakasone said.

He expressed hope that the six-party talks will make progress on the denuclearization of North Korea and urged Pyongyang to swiftly start its promised investigation into the Japanese abductees and let any in the hermit state come home.

Japan will aim to strengthen ties with its Asian neighbors, he said, including forging a “strategic mutual relationship” with China and a “mature partnership” with South Korea.

On relations with Russia, Nakasone said Moscow and Tokyo will advance negotiations to achieve a “conclusive settlement” on the territorial dispute over the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido.

The two sides have reportedly been laying the groundwork for a summit next month.

Nakasone said Japan will dispatch civilian workers to reconstruct infrastructure in Afghanistan and provide economic aid.

He revealed earlier this month that the Foreign Ministry will dispatch two to three civilian officials this spring to work under the International Security Assistance Force. They are expected to join the Lithuanian provincial reconstruction team dealing with reconstruction projects in Chaghcharan, central Afghanistan.