As Japan begins to articulate its roles and responsibilities as a full-fledged member of the world community, increasing consideration is being given to the direction of its foreign policy. However, discussions about foreign policy matters are still relatively new to Japan. This is partly because Japan has become a major economic power only since the 1970s and because of the changing global environment of increased interdependence. Therefore, in discussing Japan's foreign policy background, a distinction should be made between the quarter-century following World War II and the period since the early 1970s.