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Japan: Objectives for the Summit
(1997 Denver Summit)

Japan does not want to draw attention to economic issues, particularly trade issues and deregulation process at the summit. Basically, Japan wants to get the United States off their back concerning economic issues. Japan prefers to resolve its macroeconomic problems domestically rather than in an international forum at the summit level. However, despite Japan's preference in avoiding economic issues, economic issues will likely be raised by the United States at the tete a tete bilateral meeting between prime minister Hashimoto and president Clinton. In which case, Hashimoto will politely engage in the discussion. But don't expect any resolutions or substantive decisions arising from their bilateral meeting. Japan's official statement would be vague - that further talks will be held at a future date outside of the summit forum.

Japan will come to the summit with its own list of issues. They would be non-economic, “feel good” global issues such as the environment, development, Africa, social welfare and terrorism. They will also likely be an extension of Hashimoto's “caring world” and “global partnership in development” initiatives from Lyon. This year, the “caring world” initiative will likely include social welfare and the aging population, a serious concern for Japan. We can also expect Hashimoto to contribute actively in discussions on terrorism by “sharing” Japan's recent experience with terrorism in Lima, Peru.

Japan will represent itself as the “voice of Asia” at the summit. Being the only Asian member of the summit group, Japan has designated itself as the Asian representative in previous summits. This year, we can expect Japan to stress their role even more. An important factor this year is the ascension of Russia into the summit as a full member. With Russian membership, Japan will be even more isolated in a predominantly Eurocentric summit forum. We can expect Japan to seek support in helping to integrate China further into international forums such as the WTO.

As in past summits, we can expect Japan to bring up issues concerning North Korea. Japan will seek support for multi-lateral aid to North Korea. In particular, Japan will seek a firm financial commitment by the European Union for the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO). This attempt was unsuccessful in Lyon, and we can expect Japan to try again in Denver.

Finally, Japan will seek for support or commitment to UN reforms. The issue of UN reforms is an important one for Japan, and one which they have continued to promote since the Halifax summit. However, it is unlikely that Japan will achieve its goal at Denver. UN reforms will likely continue to be an ongoing issue for future summits to come.

Contributors: Elizabeth Adams, Sachiko Shimizu

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