The Japan Forum on International Relations, Inc. (hereafter The Forum) was established on March 12, 1987 to study international affairs and to advocate policy recommendations from the standpoint of a private, non-profit, independent and non-partisan foreign policy think tank. A quarter of a century later on April 1, 2011, the Forum is being refreshed as it is reincorporated as a "public interest foundation" with the authorization granted by the Prime Minister in recognition of its achievements.
A quarter of a century ago when there was an atmosphere in Japan which made people think that public issues like foreign policy should better be entrusted in the hand of the rulers --- as a matter of fact, almost all of the non-profit policy-oriented think tanks in Japan at the time were Government-affiliated --- the inauguration of the Forum reminded people of the departure of a ship setting sail against a head wind. However, as I retrospect on the course of the twenty four years of the Forum since its establishment, the Forum has undertaken many study programs on problems of foreign policy alternatives for Japan and on how to resolve global issues confronting mankind, and has published a number of policy recommendations on the basis of such studies as undertaken.
Particularly, the policy recommendations announced independently by each of the "Policy Council" and the "Emergency Policy Council" of the Forum have played an important role in the formation of public opinion and government's policy in Japan, also at the same time emitting Japan's voice to the outside world. The word "independently" was used because the Forum has chosen the topic by itself and financed the program for itself. The reason why it was possible for a non-profit organization like the Forum is explained by the fact that the Forum adopts a membership system and is supported by its corporate and individual members.
Five years ago, taking advantage of the advent of the era of Internet, the Forum started the BBS "Hyakka Seiho"(which means "Hundred Flowers in Full Bloom"), an interactive forum on the website of the Forum for discussions on foreign policy and international affairs. Thanks to the voluntary participation of not only the Forum's members but all those who are interested within and without Japan, the BBS "Hyakka Seiho" expanded the scope of activities of the Forum both in quality and quantity. This, much to my delight, is expected to greatly contribute to the enhancement of "public interest," that is the fundamental purpose of the Forum. Before closing my remarks, I would like to extend my gratitude to the friends and members of the Forum for their continued support and assistance to the Forum.