Overview of the 11th "Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan" Forum

  • Date:
    Saturday, August 7 2010
  • Location:
    Awaji Yumebutai International Conference Center
    (1 Yumebutai, Awaji-shi, Hyogo)
  • Theme:
    "New East Asian Region
    ―Vision of Asian and Japanese Societies―"
  • Details:
    • Yutaka Katayama
      (Professor, Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, Kobe University)
    • ○Keynote Proposal
      "The Road to Japan's Survival"
      Tadao Ando (Architect)
    • ○Working Sessions
      1 Lessons from Korea
      Coordinator: Masao Okonogi
      (Professor, Faculty of Law and Politics, Keio University)
      Discussion Leader: Dukmin Yun
      (Professor, Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security in Korea)
      2 Lessons from China
      Coordinator: Kenichi Sudo
      (Director-General, National Museum of Ethnology)
      Discussion Leader: Kazuko Mohri
      (Professor Emeritus, Waseda University)
      3 Future of Japan
      Coordinator: Shigeyuki Abe
      (Professor, Faculty of Policy Studies, Doshisha University)
      Discussion Leader: Toshihiko Hayashi
      (Professor, Graduate School of Policy and Management, Doshisha University/Director of Research, Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute)
    • ○General Plenary Session

      Picture: Forum 2010

After the address from Awaji Conference Representative Director Satoshi Iue, the program progressed to Professor Yutaka Katayama of Kobe University Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, and then the keynote proposal was provided by architect Tadao Ando under the theme "The Road to Japan's Survival."

Picture: Forum 2010In his proposal, Mr. Ando stated that: "Japan has lost its vigor due to prolonged economic downturn, which was aggravated by a global financial crisis, the road ahead appears dark. The country is also poor in natural resources, and there are shortages of both energy and food. We are now approaching a period where we must seriously consider what we can do to revive the country.” His proposal included the suggestion that, amidst these circumstances, one possibility would be to designate certain waters such as the Seto Inland Sea and the Sea of Japan to be used as a marine farm by releasing juvenile fish into them and raising them to increase the size of future catches. Along with this, he proposes that "by raising sensitive children, there will be a next generation of Japan," in reference to the fund-raising activities to plant trees on trash landfill areas in Tokyo Bay.

Following the keynote proposal, the participants were divided into three sessions titled "Lessons from Korea," "Lessons from China," and "Future of Japan." In the afternoon, the coordinators of each session gave a report to the general plenary session.

Session 1 (Key Points of "Lessons from Korea")
Report delivered by coordinator Masao Okonogi (Professor, Faculty of Law and Politics, Keio University)

Rather than looking back on the history of Japan-Korea relations, the focus of the discussion was on what sort of relations we might expect between Japan and Korea twenty years from now. The keywords of the discussion were "competition" and "cooperation." In terms of competition, the possibility that Korean people will not be satisfied unless they exceed Japan, whether an alliance of Japan, the United States and Korea is possible, and in terms of cooperation, considering the threat of North Korea, the cooperation of both countries is indispensable, plus the position of Japan-Korea with respect to China and the fact that interchange on the citizen level through cultural interchange including Korean dramas was vigorous as the results of establishment of democracy and economic growth were discussed.

Where did Korea's current success come from? According to Professor Yun, Korea has not always been an open nation, but the currency crisis of 1997 provided a good opportunity for change in Korea. People became eager to make Korea free and open. The crisis effected significant change in Korea. He also pointed out that Korea's great leap forward to the World Cup in soccer may have caused people to study the importance of openness.

From Japan's perspective, Korea's rapid progress in telecommunications and information equipment and success with hub airports are striking. Openness policies, globalization that seeks to be the world standard and the government's dynamic adjustment of industries have driven growth, and the state has played a leading role in Korea's success. In this sense, Japan lacks dynamism and needs to exhibit more political leadership. Korea's growth has both light and dark sides; the country still faces many issues and the darker side needs to be addressed. In twenty years from now, Japan and Korea will probably be much alike. It is therefore necessary for the two countries to deeply consider "competition and cooperation."

Session 2 (Key Points of "Lessons from China")
Report delivered by coordinator Kenichi Sudo (Director-General, National Museum of Ethnology)

China has been involved in modernization as part of its national strategy. It initially succeeded in catching up and that has brought the country to its current stage of development. Like Japan and Korea, however, it faces the problem of a shrinking percentage of young and growing percentage of elderly, plus a collapse in morality and social order.

There has been echelon growth inside China. While some cities are economically stagnant, there is growth in other ones. On the whole, the features of growth can be seen. Concerning the fear that an economic bubble may soon be produced, it was pointed out that the Chinese government controls its policies to maintain balance rather than having a true market economy, so an economic bubble is not likely to occur.

In the case of China, members of the communist party are of superior quality, and superior human resources become politicians. In this sense we could learn from their human resources system. Compared with introverted Japan, Chinese people are more equipped to migrate outside the country. According to European researchers, "Chinese people can be comfortable anywhere in the world, i.e., they make their surroundings comfortable for them." The opinion that Japan could learn from this way of living was expressed.

Concerning what force, foreign or domestic, would be the key to democracy in China, Professor Mori pointed out that domestic forces had the most power, and that power may eventually bring about democracy in China.

Concerning an East Asian consortium comprised of Japan, China and Korea, or China's involvement in politics, economy and soft power, Professor Mori pointed out that China has shifted from the philosophy of power on the national level to regional or global influence. On the other hand, she pointed out that it would probably be difficult to realize an East Asian consortium without a movement to produce common assets through cooperation.

In conclusion, China is currently in a period where an effort is being made to implement domestic reform with leverage from external impact and pressure. A mechanism to properly treat distortion and collision produced by rapid growth that exists inside the country has not yet been established. The conclusion to the discussion was that to what extent such domestic crises can be solved is currently a significant problem for China.

Session 3 (Key Points of "Future of Japan")
Report delivered by coordinator Shigeyuki Abe (Professor, Faculty of Policy Studies, Doshisha University)

The session involved a discussion of the suggestion that Japan has lost its vitality because it has lost sight of its goals, and what sort of new goals should therefore be established.

One of the goals put forth was "global governance." Japan has technologies such as environmental technologies that serve as a model for the rest of the world. We need to expand on this and marketize it, and we need to realize a high welfare society by introducing human resources from overseas through revision of the national examination system for foreign nurses.

Concerning internationalization, companies like Samsung of Korea have attracted superior human resources from all over the world. Japanese firms are unable to do this, so one goal proposed would be to internationalize such firms. It was also said that it is important to educate and train the necessary human resources as well as recruiting them. The opinion was also expressed that, concerning agriculture, creating special agricultural zones and exporting Japanese food culture would help revitalize the agriculture industry.

One bright aspect of the future of Japan is its unique culture. We need to find a way to make money by bringing Japanese culture to the world while also contributing something good to the world. It was also pointed out that obtaining a doctorate often does not provide many opportunities in Japan, and that we should foster an intellectual industry in Japan that enables PhDs to take advantage of their abilities.

It is also important to have regional goals as well as national goals. We need to work on clarifying a system for and vision concerning disaster-resistant cities and security. Also, concerning Japan's policies including its exchange policy, we are currently in a period where there is no plan. The problem of the country not taking a stand to protect its companies was discussed, and it was pointed out that Japan sometimes goes too far concerning compliance.

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