High hopes for the new Polish ambassador to Japan

Piotr A. Głogowski
November 5, 2019

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High hopes for the new Polish ambassador to Japan

What happened? On October 1st, 2019 the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Jacek Czaputowicz nominated Paweł Milewski as the Polish Ambassador to Japan. He replaced on this position Mr. Jacek Izydorczyk, who had served since February 2017.

The brief description. The bilateral relations between Poland and Japan could be described as model ones in terms of a volatile international environment. The contacts within the network of established formal channels have been smooth and without any controversies. In the recent four years, two meaningful and important agreements between the countries have been signed. In 2015 Poland and Japan signed The Working Holiday Program (ワーキング・ホリデー制度に関する). To date, the agreement is recognized as a special one and Japan already has signed it only with 23 countries/regions. What’s more important at the time of inking the agreement in 2015 Poland was a 13th country (7th among EU members) partner country in this framework

Two years later in 2017 Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida and his Polish counterpart Witold Waszczykowski signed the 2017-2020 Action Plan for the implementation of the Strategic Partnership between Poland and Japan, that could result in various opportunities and extend areas for cooperation. The actual results of this bilateral framework are still to be seen. Nonetheless it must be remembered that every single pact or agreement starts from scratches at the lowest levels of official diplomatic missions and needs time to bring fruits.

The backstage activities at the state-to-state level in the last few years were productive – two important agreements within 5 years between countries who aren’t crucial allies for each other can be as a good achievement – the question is if the results should be better? The problem could be seen with the dynamics of relations and cooperation development at the lower levels. The financial means for diplomatic and para diplomatic operations in Japan provided by Polish MOFA are also insufficient. As it was described in a few previous analyses the Embassy could become a bridge for not so obvious cooperation and the Ambassador can play a major role as a skillful initiator and leader.

Why it matters for Poland?

This short review proves, that Paweł Milewski inherited a stable (in terms of international relations) environment to extend and intensify Polish actions and bilateral cooperation. His abilities to break through and lobbying within structures of Polish MOFA can turn out very helpful.– His previous experience as the director of the Asia-Pacific Department of the MOFA (2017-2019) and Ambassador to Australia (2013-2017) could be priceless not only to increase the importance of Japan Polish MOFA strategy, but also maybe to rise concerns of insufficient budgetary spending provided for Polish official diplomatic missions in the whole East Asia region. Even though he doesn’t have direct previous experience of serving in Japan, his international background should have made him a valuable representative for promoting Polish interests. Currently there are two main questions: 1) about a potential length of his mission – especially in a country like Japan where personal connections are more than crucial to establish a useful arrangement; 2) his future in the context of the promising initial conditions.