Reorienting Foreign Policy: Caribbean-Japan Relations - Núm. 37, Enero 2023 - Revista Oasis - Libros y Revistas - VLEX 925465737

Reorienting Foreign Policy: Caribbean-Japan Relations

AutorKavita Johnson
CargoPh.D. Lecturer. Department of Government. The University of the West Indies, Mona (Jamaica). []; [htpps:// 0000-0001-7141-8082].
Kavita Johnson
OASIS, ISSN: 1657-7558, E-ISSN: 2346-2132, N° 37, Enero - Junio de 2023, pp. 171-190
to other developing countries. As a result of
this, Caribbean countries have seen a reduc-
tion in the allocation of aid which is mostly
directed to low-income countries and in-
creased stringent conditions attached to loans
from international funding agencies. This has
also prevented them from benefitting from
international debt relief. Caribbean leaders
have argued that “per capita income was the
wrong way to measure development” as it
obscures the many challenges faced by Carib-
bean small states (UNGA, 2013, para. 67).
Among these challenges are environmental
vulnerabilities such as frequent threats from
hurricanes which impact infrastructure, tour-
ism, and agriculture.
China’s growing influence in the Carib-
bean has been perceived as a hegemonic chal-
lenge to the US. As a result of this recalibration
of power, there are opportunities for countries
like Japan to position themselves in order to
play a more influential role and to strengthen
the relationship with Caribbean countries.
This relationship is one which spans areas of
investments, trade, ODA and cooperation in
international fora. Japan has been trying to
play a more active role in world affairs and
global governance which aligns with its as-
pirations for a permanent seat on the United
Natio ns (UN ) Secu rity C ouncil. The C arib-
bean region, therefore, represents an area for
mutually beneficial exchange and to garner
political support from Caricom’s voting bloc.
For Caribbean states, the relationship with
Japan is an opportunity to cooperate and
receive assistance on a wider range of areas
directly related to their vulnerabilities as small
states, such as climate change and sustainable
development. Caricom states are cognizant of
the political capital they hold as an important
bloc of fifteen votes in international bodies.
The 20th anniversa ry of Japan-Cari com Con-
sultations was commemorated in 2014. The
Japanese government designated the year as
“Japan-Caricom year” and asserted that this
was a demonstration of its commitment to the
cooperation and development of its relation-
ship with the Caribbean region. As of 2022,
there have been seven (7) Ministerial Confer-
ences and fifteen (15) Japan-Caricom Consul-
tation meetings which inter alia demonstrates
Japan’s commitment to deepen its relationship
with the Caribbean region in international fora
such as the United Nations (UN).
At the first Japan-Caricom Ministerial-
Level Conference held in Tokyo, “A New
Framework for Japan-Caricom Cooperation
for the Twenty-first Century” was adopted
on November 8, 2000 (MOFA Japan, 2010).
The framework outlined a number of politi-
cal, economic and social areas of collaboration,
placing emphasis on cooperation
1. for the economic and social development
of Caricom member states; and
2. for integration into the global economy;
active economic interaction and exchang-
es between member states and Japan.
Following this, the Japan-Caricom Friend-
ship Cooperation Fund was established to
strengthen friendly and cooperative relations
between Japan and Caricom countries. It is
Reorienting Foreign Policy: Caribbean-Japan Relations
OASIS, ISSN: 1657-7558, E-ISSN: 2346-2132, N° 37, Enero - Junio de 2023, pp. 171-190
made up of a contribution from the Govern-
ment of Japan’s fiscal budget as well as dona-
tions from the private sector.3 A scheme for
the management and operation of the Fund
was proposed to the Caricom Secretariat, for
which all Caricom member countries were
consulted, and the proposal accepted in No-
vember 2001. The program has supported
development in agriculture, tourism promo-
tion, waste management, export promotion,
support to small and medium enterprises,
education, and health. Up to 2012, under the
program, over US$500 million in technical as-
sistance and ODA had been disbursed. More
recently, during the pandemic, US $300,000
was donated to the Caribbean Public Health
Agency (Carpha) for COVID-19 PCR test
collection kits (Embassy of Japan in Trinidad
and Tobago, 2021).
During his visit to Latin America in
2004, Japan’s former Prime Minister, Junichiro
Koizumi prop osed a “Vision for a New Japan-
Latin America and Caribbean Partnership
(the Koizumi Vision)”, which called for the
creation of a new, future- oriented relation-
ship between Japan and the countries of Latin
America and the Caribbean (MOFA, 2004).
This address would have marked a key mo-
ment in the reactivation of Japan’s general
foreign policy with developing countries. It
would have represented the move to strengthen
ties with the developing world, and hence,
with Latin America and Caribbean states. The
timing of Koizumi’s vision was in line with
China’s growing ascendancy not only in Asia
but in Latin America and the Caribbean. In
this vein, the “renewal” of Japan’s diplomacy
aligns with the need to maintain its regional
and global status.
In keeping with the Japan-Caricom
framework, a “Partnership for Peace, Devel-
opment and Prosperity between Japan and
the Member States of the Caribbean Com-
munity (Caricom)” document was prepared
in September 2010. It was asserted to give
further direction to future Japan-Caricom
relations (MOFA, 2010). Since then, there
have been regionally implemented projects in
thematic areas of poverty reduction, disaster
management, information technology, trade
and investment promotion, development of
small and medium enterprises, agriculture
and fisheries, and tourism and culture. Sup-
port was also given for the establishment of
the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and
the construction of the headquarters of the
Caricom Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana
(Caricom Secretariat, 2002).
The three pillars of Japans Caricom poli-
cies are as follows:
1. Cooperation towards sustainable develop-
ment, including overcoming the vulner-
abilities particular to small island states.
2. Deeping and expanding fraternal bonds
of cooperation and friendship.
3 The contribution from the 2001 fiscal budget amounted to US$100,000.

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