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In response to a variety of threats to international peace and security, Japan last year carried out foreign policies characterized by top-level initiatives, according to the Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic blue book for 1999 released Friday.

The ministry’s annual report on Japan’s foreign policy and overseas activities describes Japanese diplomacy in the past year as “comprehensive and unique” in dealing with a variety of issues such as nuclear nonproliferation, missiles, new types of economic crises and preventive steps for armed conflicts.

Summarizing world events that occurred last year and foreseeing a new trend toward the 21st century, the report addresses concern that the “menace to the world is increasingly diversified.”

The number of regional conflicts is increasing and the use of force is becoming more varied, as witnessed in the rise of international terrorism, while a regional economic crisis may pose an immense threat to global peace and stability, it says.

According to the report, Japan last year actively demonstrated top-level initiatives by increasing the level of cooperation with the United States, Russia, China, South Korea and other countries in areas that include security and economics.

Citing North Korea’s missile launch last August as a “grave concern toward peace and stability in Northeast Asia,” the report says Japan’s response to the incident was immediate and made in close cooperation with South Korea and the U.S.

Following Pyongyang’s missile launch, Tokyo promptly suspended talks for normalizing bilateral relations with the country and cooperation with the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization. Japan also asked the U.N. Security Council to issue a statement condemning the North.

On nuclear tests conducted by India in May and subsequent tests by Pakistan, Japan promptly condemned these moves as a “bold challenge toward the international regime of nuclear nonproliferation” and suspended further grants-in-aid and yen-denominated loans to the two countries, the report says.

At the U.N., Japan proposed that the Security Council adopt a series of resolutions and statements urging India and Pakistan to promptly sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, it says.

The report underlines three elements at the core of Japanese foreign policy: maintaining security ties with the U.S., increasing the nation’s defense capacity and making diplomatic efforts to resolve international conflicts.

On updated Japan-U.S. defense guidelines, bills for which are currently under Diet scrutiny, the report says “it is essential to secure the feasibility of the guidelines.”

Regarding Japan’s defense capacity, further cooperation with the U.S. in the areas of technology and equipment is needed, the report says. It also addresses Japan’s concern over a variety of issues centering on U.S. bases in Okinawa.

The report also highlights the Asian economic crisis, which started in 1997 with Thailand’s financial collapse and spread to other Asian economies, as a new type of threat to stability in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

The report says Japan demonstrated a strong aid initiative to promote the recovery of crisis-hit economies, as highlighted in the so-called Miyazawa Plan, a $30 billion aid package to resuscitate troubled Asian nations named after Foreign Minister Kiichi Miyazawa.

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