Thursday, May 3, 2018

"New dimension of Japan’s public diplomacy"

Maham Akhtar,

Image from article, with caption: The Japan Times; Japan tells Pakistan not to allow ‘loopholes’ in North Korea sanctions

Public diplomacy [JB emphasis] is the way in which government and private sector directly or indirectly influence public positions and opinions in such a way that these opinions influence the international political decision-making process of another government. Diplomatic activity is meant for progression of national interests with practices of persuasion.

The Japanese government is in the process of making a more practical and coordinated approach to public diplomacy. Recently, stable leadership has helped in this regard. One of the steps towards the development of this approach was the increased $500 million allocation of the budget for strategic communications, by Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Cautious of China’s and South Korea’s growing hold over historical and territorial disputes, Ministry of Foreign Affairs approved this increment in the budget to get on the front foot in international politics.

Japanese culture has diplomatic applications. Japanese are called ‘soft power’ because their focus is not on military strength. They are regarded as an economic superpower and leading high-tech nation. A mix of cultural and public diplomacy is a powerful tool that can improve public image and also helps in bringing economic investment and tourism opportunities.

Last year Pakistan and Japan celebrated the 65th anniversary of their diplomatic ties. For past years, Pak-Japan diplomatic ties are not very warm. Both the countries have disagreements over the issues that are not even directly related to them. Pakistan had shown some friendly gestures towards Japan in the 1950s. Now, the ball is in Japan’s court to show similar gestures towards Pakistan to cozy up to the diplomatic ties. After Pakistan conducted a nuclear test in 1998, Japan suspended its aid to Pakistan. Japan also suspects Pakistan on having nuclear relations with North Korea. Provision of nuclear technology by Japan to India is adding further fuel to the fire. Japan repeatedly rejects the idea of providing nuclear assistance to Pakistan.

Recently, Pakistan and Japan have agreed to strengthen their diplomatic ties, especially in economic and national security spheres. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono’s paid a two-day visit to Pakistan where he called on Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to reinvigorate diplomatic ties. Japanese Foreign Minister also appreciated Pakistan’s efforts for the establishment of regional peace.

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