Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Japan)
The is a cabinet
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

 level ministry of Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 responsible for the country's foreign relations
Foreign relations
Foreign relations refers to the ongoing management of relationships between a public policy administrative organisation of a state and other entities external to its authority or influence...


The ministry is due to the second term of the third article of the National Government Organization Act, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Establishment Act establishes the ministry. According to the law, its chief is a minister of the cabinet, and "its mission is to aim at improvement of the profits of Japan and Japanese nationals, while contributing to maintenance of peaceful and safe international society, and, through an active and eager meansure, both to implement good international environment and to keep and develop harmonic foreign relationships."

Policy formulation

Under the 1947 constitution
Constitution of Japan
The is the fundamental law of Japan. It was enacted on 3 May, 1947 as a new constitution for postwar Japan.-Outline:The constitution provides for a parliamentary system of government and guarantees certain fundamental rights...

, the cabinet
Cabinet of Japan
The of Japan is the executive branch of the government of Japan. It consists of the Prime Minister and up to fourteen other members, called Ministers of State. The Prime Minister is designated by the Diet, and the remaining ministers are appointed and dismissed by the Prime Minister...

 exercises the primary responsibility for the conduct of foreign affairs, subject to the overall supervision of the National Diet
Diet of Japan
The is Japan's bicameral legislature. It is composed of a lower house, called the House of Representatives, and an upper house, called the House of Councillors. Both houses of the Diet are directly elected under a parallel voting system. In addition to passing laws, the Diet is formally...

. The prime minister
Prime Minister of Japan
The is the head of government of Japan. He is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the Diet from among its members, and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office...

 is required to make periodic reports on foreign relations to the Diet, whose upper
House of Councillors
The is the upper house of the Diet of Japan. The House of Representatives is the lower house. The House of Councillors is the successor to the pre-war House of Peers. If the two houses disagree on matters of the budget, treaties, or designation of the prime minister, the House of Representatives...

 and lower houses
House of Representatives of Japan
The is the lower house of the Diet of Japan. The House of Councillors of Japan is the upper house.The House of Representatives has 480 members, elected for a four-year term. Of these, 180 members are elected from 11 multi-member constituencies by a party-list system of proportional representation,...

 each have a foreign affairs committee. Each committee reports on its deliberations to plenary sessions of the chamber to which it belongs. Ad hoc committees are formed occasionally to consider special questions. Diet members have the right to raise pertinent policy questions—officially termed interpellations—to the minister of foreign affairs
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Japan)
The of Japan is the Cabinet member responsible for Japanese foreign policy and the chief executive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Since the end of the American occupation of Japan, the position has been one of the most powerful in the Cabinet, as Japan's economic interests have long relied on...

 and the prime minister. Treaties with foreign countries require ratification by the Diet. As head of state, the emperor
Emperor of Japan
The Emperor of Japan is, according to the 1947 Constitution of Japan, "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." He is a ceremonial figurehead under a form of constitutional monarchy and is head of the Japanese Imperial Family with functions as head of state. He is also the highest...

 performs the ceremonial function of receiving foreign envoys and attesting to foreign treaties ratified by the Diet.

As the chief executive and constitutionally the dominant figure in the political system, the prime minister has the final word in major foreign policy decisions. The minister of foreign affairs, a senior member of the cabinet, acts as the prime minister's chief adviser in matters of planning and implementation. The minister is assisted by two vice ministers: one in charge of administration, who was at the apex of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs structure as its senior career official, and the other in charge of political liaison with the Diet. Other key positions in the ministry include members of the ministry's Secretariat, which has divisions handling consular, emigration, communications, and cultural exchange functions, and the directors of the various regional and functional bureaus in the ministry.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff includes an elite career foreign service corps, recruited on the basis of a competitive examination and thereafter trained by the ministry's Foreign Service Training Institute. The handling of specific foreign policy issues is usually divided between the geographic and functional bureaus to minimize overlap and competition. In general, bilateral issues are assigned to the geographic bureaus, and multilateral problems to the functional bureaus. The Treaties Bureau, with its wide-ranging responsibilities, tend to get involved in the whole spectrum of issues. The Information Analysis, Research, and Planning Bureau engages in comprehensive and coordinated policy investigation and planning.

Long a profession of high social prestige, diplomatic service from the Meiji period
Meiji period
The , also known as the Meiji era, is a Japanese era which extended from September 1868 through July 1912. This period represents the first half of the Empire of Japan.- Meiji Restoration and the emperor :...

 through World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 was a preserve of the upper social strata. In addition to formal qualifications, important prewar requirements for admission were proper social origin, family connections, and graduation from Tokyo Imperial University (the present-day University of Tokyo
University of Tokyo
, abbreviated as , is a major research university located in Tokyo, Japan. The University has 10 faculties with a total of around 30,000 students, 2,100 of whom are foreign. Its five campuses are in Hongō, Komaba, Kashiwa, Shirokane and Nakano. It is considered to be the most prestigious university...

). After World War II, these requirements were changed as part of democratic reform measures but foreign service continued to be a highly regarded career. Most career foreign service officers had passed the postwar Higher Foreign Service Examination before entry into the service. Many of these successful examinees were graduates of the prestigious Law Faculty of the University of Tokyo. Almost all ambassadorial appointments since the 1950s have been made from among veteran diplomats.

Diplomacy in postwar Japan was not a monopoly of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Given the overriding importance of economic factors in foreign relations, the ministry worked closely with the Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Finance (Japan)
The ' is one of cabinet-level ministries of the Japanese government. The ministry was once named Ōkura-shō . The Ministry is headed by the Minister of Finance , who is a member of the Cabinet and is typically chosen from members of the Diet by the Prime Minister.The Ministry's origin was back in...

 on matters of customs, tariffs, international finance, and foreign aid; with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry
Ministry of International Trade and Industry
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry was one of the most powerful agencies of the Government of Japan. At the height of its influence, it effectively ran much of Japanese industrial policy, funding research and directing investment...

 (MITI) on exports and imports; and with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Japan)
The ' a cabinet ministry in the government of Japan responsible for oversight of the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries. Its acronym is MAFF.-History:...

 on questions of foreign agricultural imports and fishing rights. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also consulted other agencies, such as the Defense Agency
Japan Defense Agency
The is a cabinet-level ministry of the Japanese government. As a result of a law enacted on December 15, 2006, it became a ministry on January 9, 2007. Prior to that, it was the Japan Defense Agency ...

, the Fair Trade Commission
Fair Trade Commission
Fair Trade Commission may refer to:*Fair Trade Commission *Fair Trade Commission *Fair Trade Commission...

, the Japan Export-Import Bank
Japan Bank for International Cooperation
The , also known by its acronym, JBIC, is a Japanese public financial institution and export credit agency, and was created on October 1, 1999, through the merging of the Japan Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund ....

 (JEXIM), the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO
is an independent government agency established by Japan Export Trade Research Organization as a nonprofit corporation in Osaka in February 1951, and reorganized as the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in 1958 to consolidate Japan's efforts in export promotion...

), the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund
Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund
The term Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund can refer to:*the Economic Cooperation Organization , which was funded in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey to improve socio-economic development....

, and the Overseas Technical Cooperation Agency. On many issues affecting the country's foreign economic activities—and thus its diplomatic relations as well—the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and sometimes MITI and the Ministry of Finance were known to favor liberalizing import restrictions. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries and other domestic ministries, however, took a more protectionist
Protectionism is the economic policy of restraining trade between states through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, restrictive quotas, and a variety of other government regulations designed to allow "fair competition" between imports and goods and services produced domestically.This...

 stand, evidently because of pressures from special interest groups.

The vital importance of foreign affairs expanded to affect virtually every aspect of national life in postwar Japan, and the multiplicity of agencies involved in external affairs continued to be a source of confusion and inefficiency in the formulation of foreign policy. Yet as the postwar generation of leaders and policymakers began to assume a greater role in government decision making and as public attitudes on foreign policy issues matured, there were indications that foreign affairs were being conducted on the basis of a more stable consensus.

The current Minister for Foreign Affairs is Kōichirō Genba
Koichiro Genba
is the current Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs. He belongs to the Democratic Party of Japan and is a member of the House of Representatives in the Diet...


Main branches

  • Minister's Secretariat
  • Chief of Protocol
  • Secretariat for the Japan APEC Meetings in 2010
  • Press Secretary/Director-General for Press and Public Relations
  • Public Diplomacy Department
  • Foreign Policy Bureau
  • Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department
  • Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau
  • Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department
  • North American Affairs Bureau
  • Latin American and Caribbean Affairs Bureau
  • European Affairs Bureau
  • Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau
  • Director-General for Sub-Saharan African Affairs
  • Economic Affairs Bureau
  • International Cooperation Bureau
  • Director-General for Global Issues
  • International Legal Affairs Bureau
  • Consular Affairs Bureau
  • Intelligence and Analysis Service
  • Foreign Service Training Institute, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

See also

  • Foreign policy of Japan
    Foreign policy of Japan
    The primary responsibility for the Japanese foreign policy, as determined by the 1947 constitution, is exercised by the cabinet and subject to the overall supervision of the National Diet. The prime minister is required to make periodic reports on foreign relations to the Diet, whose upper and...

  • Foreign relations of Japan
    Foreign relations of Japan
    Foreign relations of Japan is handled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.Since the surrender after World War II and the Treaty of San Francisco, Japanese diplomatic policy has been based on close partnership with the United States and the emphasis on the international cooperation such as...

  • Japanese diplomatic missions
    Japanese diplomatic missions
    This is a list of diplomatic missions of Japan, excluding any honorary consulates. Japan had been sending ambassadors to the Tang Chinese court in Xian since 607 AD, as well as to the Koryo and Joseon Dynasty of early Korea but for centuries early modern Japan did not actively seek to expand its...

  • gaikoku bugyō
    Gaikoku bugyo
    were the commissioners or "magistrates of foreign affairs" appointed at the end of the Edo era by the Tokugawa shogunate to oversee trade and diplomatic relations with foreign countries...

  • Katsuhiko Oku
    Katsuhiko Oku
    Katsuhiko Oku was a Japanese diplomat who played rugby for Oxford and Waseda University...

  • International parental abduction in Japan
    International parental abduction in Japan
    International child abduction in Japan refers to the illegal international abduction or removal of children from their country of habitual residence by an acquaintance or family member to Japan or their retention in Japan in contravention to the law of another country...

External links

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