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Japan vows proactive agenda, revival of Aso's value-oriented diplomacy+
[January 27, 2009]

Japan vows proactive agenda, revival of Aso's value-oriented diplomacy+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) TOKYO, Jan. 28_(Kyodo) _ Japan will engage in proactive diplomacy and exercise leadership in the world in the face of the economic crisis and other global issues, especially by strengthening its relations with the United States, neighboring nations and others who "share common values," Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said Wednesday.

In a foreign policy address to parliament, Nakasone also reiterated Japan's pledge to step up assistance to Afghanistan, including its first dispatch of civilian officials, give support to Pakistan to fight terrorism and stabilize its economy, and establish legislation to enable antipiracy operations abroad by the Self-Defense Forces.

Highlighting three pillars for this year's foreign policy agenda, Nakasone placed top priority on boosting Japan's alliance with the new administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, noting that Tokyo will make "frank and concrete proposals" in order to foster close cooperation and jointly tackle bilateral and global issues.

"As part of that, we shall steadfastly implement the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan in order to reduce the burden on Okinawa and other (base-hosting) areas while maintaining deterrence, and uphold the Japan-U.S. security alliance," Nakasone said, emphasizing the alliance as the "cornerstone" of peace and stability in the region.

As for neighboring nations China and South Korea, with which relations have continued to improve in recent years, the foreign minister pledged to further promote ties through high-level exchanges and seek to expand joint efforts in the international arena while working to resolve pending bilateral disputes.

"The joining of hands by Japan, China and South Korea to promote coordination and cooperation bears significance for the future development of the Asian region," Nakasone said.

Meanwhile on North Korea, Japan will continue to make "serious" efforts in pressing Pyongyang to reinvestigate as promised its past abductions of Japanese nationals and return all who remain missing to Japan, and for progress in the six-party denuclearization talks.

"We will continue to seek to comprehensively resolve the abduction, nuclear and missile issues, to settle the issues of the unfortunate past and to normalize relations with North Korea, in line with the Japan-North Korea Pyongyang Declaration," Nakasone said, in an apparent message for the North to act on its promises.

With "important neighbor and partner" Russia, Japan will advance negotiations including at the foreign ministerial level with a "strong determination" to move toward a final solution to the territorial dispute over the Russian-held Northern Territories while expanding cooperation in Far East Russia and Eastern Siberia.

Nakasone's speech also placed emphasis on cooperation with "countries which share basic common values" with Japan, reviving a policy which was widely promoted when Aso was foreign minister under then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration.

While stopping short of using the infamous phrase "Arc of Freedom and Prosperity," which was coined by Aso and used in his foreign policy speech in January 2007 but was later dropped under Abe's successor Yasuo Fukuda, Nakasone repeatedly referred to the "basic common values" such as with India, Australia and European Union members.

"Japan will also continue dialogue and cooperation with nations moving forward to market economies and democratization, such as the Baltic states, Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus, and South Asia," Nakasone said.

Such "value-oriented diplomacy" involves placing emphasis on so-called "universal values" such as democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law and the market economy. Some critics believe the policy was aimed at keeping China and Russia in check.

On overall international affairs, Nakasone pledged to further expand Japan's contributions to international peacekeeping operations.

Japan will also play an "active and constructive" role during its 2009-2010 term as a nonpermanent member of the U.N. Security Council, while also making utmost efforts to realize its bid for a permanent seat through U.N. reforms, the minister said.

With Tokyo running as a candidate to host the 2016 Olympic Games, Japan will also step up efforts to promote itself in other countries, including through strategically presenting Japan's traditional and pop culture as well as fostering Japanese language learning opportunities overseas, Nakasone said.

Copyright ? 2009 Kyodo News International, Inc.

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