Former diplomat Noriyuki Shikata shares goals and challenges for Japan’s Diplomacy in 2030

February 26, 2020

Japan’s strategy for international diplomacy has been remarkably stable despite the geopolitical challenges and instability of its alliance partner, the United States. At an event at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute on February 26, 2020, Noriyuki Shikata, an associate in the Program on US-Japan Relations at Harvard University, discussed Japan’s goals for diplomacy heading into the next decade, drawing on his years of diplomatic expertise as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Japanese embassy in Beijing and Spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office.

At the event, titled “Japan’s Diplomacy in 2030,” Shikata discussed five issues for Japan in 2030: Japanese Society and the Sustainable Development Goals, Japan’s external environment in Asia and beyond, the US-Japan alliance and the goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific, China, and North Korea.

“Society is the foundation of sustainability,” Shikata said. As Japan faces a declining and aging population, he explained, technology is becoming increasingly more important. He noted that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals give Japan an opportunity to realize new innovations.

By 2030, four of the five biggest economies are projected to be in the Asia-Pacific or Indo-Pacific region. Among them, only one is a United Nations Security Council member. Shikata asserted that reform of the Security Council is necessary by 2030.

The US-Japan alliance on “a free and open Indo-Pacific” is critically important, not only for global stability, but for the world economy as well. As the Indo-Pacific becomes the center of the global economy, how the US engages this region is of particular importance. Shikata added that the US-Japan Alliance is the “cornerstone of Japanese security policy,” and highlighted the celebration of the alliance’s 60th anniversary.

Turning to China, Shikata noted concerns over the East China Sea and intellectual property rights. By 2030, Japan-China relations will depend on China’s political landscape and the fate of US-China relations, he said.

He also touched upon North Korea, explaining the Japanese view that, “if issues of concern such as abduction, nuclear missiles are comprehensively resolved, Japan will aim to normalize its relations with North Korea.”

This event was organized by the School of International and Public Affairs and moderated Professor of Modern Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy, Takako Hikotani, and featured commentary by Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Gerald L. Curtis.