The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan welcomed the Honorable Yuriko Koike, former minister of defense, to speak on November 27 at an event titled, “Japan’s New Diplomacy in Asia.”

Koike began by asking the crowd if they wanted a formal or “frank and straightforward” presentation.

The audience showed support for the latter, after which she shared a picture of her standing among a group of foreign bodyguards wearing full body armor and carrying automatic rifles. She had recently been invited to Iraq by the Iraqi parliament as chair of the Japan–Iraq parliamentary friendship group.

Now in her eighth term in the House of Representatives, Koike has also served as minister of state for Okinawan and Northern Territories affairs, minister of environment, and special advisor to the prime minister on national security issues. Interestingly, she is also chair of the Japan Weightlifting Association.

During her speech, she discussed the importance of bilateral relationships among Japan, China, and South Korea; the intrinsic connection between a nation’s security and economy; and the need to take climate change seriously.

She described four pillars for Japan’s future prosperity: freedom of speech, a sustainable society, rule of law, and a sound economy.

As a former news anchor for TV Tokyo’s World Business Satellite, she is aware of differences in the way news is portrayed in different regions of Japan.

As an example of differing perspectives on China, Koike showed articles from Okinawan and national newspapers on the same day, highlighting differences in their coverage of a US destroyer’s October 27 entry into an area claimed by China in the South China Sea. While major national newspapers ran the story on page one, an Okinawa newspaper relegated it to page seven.

Koike’s detailed discussion of the complex relationships among key Asian countries also included comments on the Japan-China-ROK (Republic of Korea) Trilateral Summit, which took place in Seoul on November 1.

This was the first meeting between the leaders of Japan and South Korea since South Korean President Park Geun-hye entered office, appearing to signal the possibility of rapprochement between the nations.

Meanwhile, Japan and China (and the United States, to some extent) are grappling with their evolving national security frameworks, including responding to China’s heightened maritime activities and claims in the South China Sea.

Koike posed some important questions for Japan, namely how will Prime Minister Shinzo Abe develop his relationships with the rest of Asia, and what are other countries in the region expecting of Japan now that Abe’s national security legislation has been passed?

The event was hosted by the ACCJ Globalization, Government Relations, and Women in Business committees.

Bryan Norton is chair of the ACCJ Globalization Committee and CEO of T-Mark Inc.
[Koike] discussed . . . the intrinsic connection between a nation’s security and economy