• Kyodo


The Foreign Ministry on Monday requested a 10.4 percent rise in its budget for fiscal 2016, partly to fund the opening of eight new diplomatic missions abroad.

To bolster Japan’s diplomatic clout, the ministry’s request of ¥756.8 billion includes establishing embassies in four countries — Mauritius, Macedonia, Samoa and Albania — and consulates in Cebu, the Philippines, Recife, Brazil, Bangalore, India, and Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The ministry said it also wants to increase its workforce by around 156 from the current 5,869.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said at a news conference on Friday that establishing new missions is part of Japan’s efforts to “advance a diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the global map.”

As of the end of March, Japan had 207 embassies and consulates general, according to the ministry. The figure compares with 250 for China, 258 for the United States and 252 for France, among other major countries.

The draft request for the fiscal year starting next April includes an increase of ¥46.7 billion from last year to ¥470.5 billion for official development assistance.

By adding diplomatic missions and increasing ODA, the government hopes to increase its protection for Japanese living and traveling overseas and strengthen public relations efforts to better communicate Japan’s views to the international community, the ministry said.

One of the government’s priorities is to ensure citizens’ safety, drawing on the lessons of a recent spate of attacks that included the hostage crisis that resulted in the beheading of two Japanese by Islamic State militants in Syria and a deadly shooting at a Tunisian museum, a ministry official said.

The ministry said it also hopes to allocate ¥17.6 billion for logistics and other costs for hosting the Group of Seven summit next May in the Ise-Shima area of Mie Prefecture.

Under its policy of “strategic communication overseas,” the ministry is seeking outlays for expanding Japanese-language education programs, boosting youth exchanges and setting up Japan House centers in major cities to popularize the nation’s culture, technology and diplomatic stances abroad.

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