Japan’s Tech: Forging International Collaborations

Science and technology play a key role in Japan’s foreign policy. However, Japan lacks coercive capacity and must use persuasion rather than force to advance its national interests.

Toward that end, it is vital to expand international collaborations for scientific research. This article will explore Japan’s efforts to do so, particularly in the area of tech diplomacy.

How Japan is Embracing Tech Diplomacy

Embracing tech diplomacy means promoting and implementing diplomatic initiatives from a wide range of fields and in close coordination with other countries and regions. It is an opportunity to expand cooperation in areas ranging from the environment, resource management and security, to education and public health, to foreign policy goals like peacebuilding and economic development.

For example, the global challenges of climate change, disaster risk reduction and energy transition can only be addressed through international cooperation, so Japan is working to foster international engagement. As part of this effort, in 2016 it led international discussions on energy, mineral resources and food security as G7 presidencies (See Special Feature “G7 Ise-Shima Summit & G7 Hiroshima Foreign Ministers’ Meeting”).

In addition, the government is working to promote overseas travel by easing visa requirements. As a result, in 2016, 24 million people from overseas visited Japan, spending 3.7 trillion yen.

Another area of active diplomacy is U.S.-Japan subnational engagement, such as regional partnerships and people-to-people exchanges. For example, as western U.S. states struggle with wildfires and Japan confronts population aging, local governments are using creative strategies to support economic inclusion. This includes entrepreneurship networks that engage dislocated workers as small business mentors, and “workation” facilities that bring urbanites to rural communities in need of revitalization. Moreover, in the field of international security, former Prime Minister Abe promoted the idea of Japan joining the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network in 2020 (See Special Feature “Five Eyes and Beyond”). This would further enhance Japan’s capabilities as an active member of the world community.

The Role of the Government

The Japanese government plays a key role in fostering tech diplomacy. In this sense, it is no different from any other country. It must take the lead in promoting policies to engage with other countries, winning public support for those efforts. This task is particularly important for Japan, given that it has historically tended to shy away from initiatives that require significant political risk.

The post-Cold War world has brought a host of new issues that require proactive diplomacy, including nuclear proliferation, terrorism and ethnic conflict. Similarly, the United States has sought increased burden-sharing from Japan when it comes to addressing security-related issues. As a result, global, regional and sub-regional consultations have become appropriate for Japan.

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This has forced Japan to step up its research collaborations. It has also made it more necessary for scientists to communicate with international researchers in English. Shaw of Keio notes that most students and senior researchers have a poor grasp of the language, which can make it difficult to present international scientific papers or attend conferences abroad.

As such, it is critical that the Japanese government fosters international cooperation by leveraging its unique strengths in science and technology. For instance, the government must take steps to strengthen its cooperation with developing countries in the area of cybersecurity. The growing number of major cyber incidents around the globe has prompted Japan to increase its commitment to this cause.

The Role of the Private Sector

For Japan to fully leverage science as a foreign policy tool, it must enlist the private sector. Private companies own and operate much of the research infrastructure, develop and commercialize technology and possess the business savvy to foster partnerships. They can help to establish new types of citizen-to-citizen exchanges that promote intellectual dialogue and address issues such as democratization, environmental problems and infectious diseases.

The Japanese government has been making an effort to raise its international profile as a scientific power by encouraging its researchers to conduct overseas research and encouraging foreign researchers to visit Japan. For example, the government-funded Japan Society for the Promotion of Science organizes exchange programs for young scientists and has helped to create “globally visible” research centres that attract leading academics from abroad.

But if Japan’s science diplomacy is to become more effective, greater coordination and a clearer division of duties among the ministries involved in this initiative will be necessary. This can be done by appointing a science and technology adviser to the minister of foreign affairs whose function would be to support the development and implementation of foreign policy through science and technology.

The Future of Tech Diplomacy

Japan is a global leader in technology and has much to offer its international partners. By promoting Science and Technology Diplomacy, it can contribute to the development of science and technology in its own country and abroad, the promotion of relations with other countries, the peace and stability of the international community, and the resolution of global challenges.

For example, while a number of the world’s nations are struggling with issues related to climate change, Japan is at the forefront of research into environmental change technologies such as nuclear power and clean energy. As a result, it has the ability to provide direct solutions for these problems.

In addition to implementing projects in its own backyard, Japan has begun engaging with other governments on international research collaborations through initiatives such as the Belmont Forum and TICAD7. It is also working to promote a multi-stakeholder approach to internet governance.

However, there is still work to do. As Shaw points out, “One major issue is that many Japanese researchers have a poor understanding of English.” The language barrier can be overcome to some extent with the help of young generations who are more fluent in the language. In addition, there is a need to build stronger networks between Japanese and foreign ministries. This will produce more efficient coordination on capacity-building activities and will reduce the instances where ideas are lost in translation.

Author Bio:

This is Aryan, I am a professional SEO Expert & Write for us technology blog and submit a guest post on different platforms- Technoohub provides a good opportunity for content writers to submit guest posts on our website. We frequently highlight and tend to showcase guests.

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