Foreign relations of Japan

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Since the surrender after World War II and the return to the international community by 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 the United Nations. In the Cold War, Japan took a part in the Western world's confrontation of the Soviet Union in East Asia. In the rapid economic developments in the 1960s and 1970s, Japan recovered its influences and became regarded as one of the major powers in the world. Japanese influences are viewed as highly positive, except by two countries: China and South Korea.[1]

During the Cold War, Japanese foreign policy was not self-assertive, relatively focused on their economic growth. However, the end of the Cold War and bitter lessons from the Gulf War changed the policy slowly. Japanese government decided to participate in the Peacekeeping operations by the UN, and sent their troops to Cambodia, Mozambique, Golan Heights and the East Timor in the 1990s and 2000s.[2] After the September 11 attacks, Japanese naval vessels have been assigned to resupply duties in the Indian Ocean to the present date. The Ground Self-Defense Force also dispatched their troops to Southern Iraq for the restoration of basic infrastructures.

Beyond its immediate neighbors, Japan has pursued a more active foreign policy in recent years, recognizing the responsibility which accompanies its economic strength. Prime Minister Fukuda stressed a changing direction in his recent policy speech to the Diet: "Japan aspires to become a hub of human resource development as well as for research and intellectual contribution to further promote cooperation in the field of peace-building."[3] This follows the modest success of a Japanese-conceived peace plan which became the foundation for nationwide elections in Cambodia in 1998.

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