Overview of the 16th “Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan” Forum

Picture Symposium 2015

  • Date:
    Saturday August 1 2015
  • Location:
    Awaji Yumebutai International Conference Center
    (1 Yumebutai, Awaji-shi, Hyogo, Japan)
  • Theme:
    "Asia’s Future:Politics,Economy and Culture"
  • Details:
    • Sachiko Kubota
      (Professor,Graduate School of Intercultural Studies,Kobe University)
    • ○Keynote Proposal
      1) The Possibility of Dialogue between Japan and the Rest of Asia
      • Akio Takahara(Professor,Graduate School of Law and Politics,The University of Tokyo)
        2)A New Era of Japanese FDI ――A Proposal for Monozukuri Partnership with Asia
        Izumi Ohno(Professor,National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies(GRIPS)/ Distinguished Senior Research Fellow,Asia-Pacific Institute of Research(APIR))
        3)Significance of Cultural Exchanges in Asia:from Historic and Civilizational Perspectives
        Seiichi Kondo(Director,Kondo Institute for Culture & Diplomacy /Former Commissioner of the Agency for Cultural Affairs)
      • ○Parallel Sessions
        Group 1: Reestablishment of Political Communication in East Asia
        Moderator:Yutaka Onishi
        (Professor,Graduate School of Law,Kobe University)
        Group 2: Economic Ties and Networks
        Moderator: Shigeyuki Abe
        (Professor,Faculty of Policy Studies,Doshisha University)
        Group 3: Human and Cultural Interactions between Japan and the Rest of Asia
        Moderator: Yutaka Katayama
        (Vice President,Kyoto Notre Dame University)
      • ○Plenary Session
        Coordinator: Koji Murata
        (President,Doshisha University)
      • ○Summary & Acknowledgements

        Makoto Iokibe (President,Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute / Former President,National Defense Academy)

The Forum opened with a welcome message by Awaji Conference Representative Director Satoshi Iue and subsequently keynote proposals by 3 speakers,coordinated by Sachiko Kubota,Professor,Graduate School of Intercultural Studies,Kobe University were provided.

After that,participants broke up into 3 sessions where active discussion on selected themes ensured.

The plenary session that followed lunch began with session moderators reporting on the discussion of their respective sessions and was followed by deep discussion by all in attendance,coordinated by Koji Murata,President,Doshisha University.Finally,to close the two days of events,Awaji Conference Executive Director Makoto Iokibe gave a summary of events and made acknowledgements.

Overview of Keynote Proposals
The Possibility of Dialogue between Japan and the Rest of Asia
Akio Takahara / Professor,Graduate School of Law and Politics,The University of Tokyo

The end of the Cold War a quarter century ago drastically transformed the structure of the international community.We are now in the 21st century,and it has been 70 years since the end of World War II.The international order established at the end of the war has recently been shaken to its very foundation.Some of its signs are former U.S.President George W.Bush’s unilateralism,China’s ongoing attempts to recover “lost”marine territories,and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.Against such a backdrop,Japan must be willing to engage in dialogue with its Asian neighbors to identify the kinds of ideals and principles that should form the foundation of a new international order.It goes without saying that the lessons learned by humanity from World War II should form the basis for such dialogue.The first lesson is that no country may impose its will on any other country or any ethnic group by resorting to force.The second is that international disputes should be settled through peaceful means,in conformity with international rules.The third one is that there should be a rule-based process for changing such rules.

The key to the creation of a new order in Asia lies with China,which has overwhelmingly greater economic and military power than any other country in the region.In order to maintain peace in the region,it is necessary for Japan to 1) create a mutually dependent relationship with China,for example,through economic exchanges and non-traditional security cooperation;2) foster trust with China through dialogue between citizens,between governmental leaders,and between military leaders of both countries,while strengthening the Japan-US alliance;and 3) work hard so that the peoples of both countries are able to share common values,consciousness, and rules.In addition,Japan should promote public diplomacy;specifically,it should promote private-sector exchanges in the real sense of the term,through which accurate information can be presented to the general public in China.

Japan must never forget that it was a party at fault in World War II.By looking back on the history of World War II and the 70-year history of postwar international order through dialogue with its Asian neighbors,Japan will be better able to dispel their suspicions about Japanese recognition of its past history and work together with its Asian neighbors to shape the future.


A New Era of Japanese FDI ――A Proposal for Monozukuri Partnership with Asia
Izumi Ohno / Professor,National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies(GRIPS)/ Distinguished Senior Research Fellow,Asia-Pacific Institute of Research(APIR)

Faced with a new wave of globalization,an increasing number of Japanese SMEs have sought business opportunities abroad,making decisions to establish overseas production bases in ASEAN countries and elsewhere,independent of their parent(keiretsu)companies.This move has been triggered by structural factors,e.g.,shrinking domestic markets,disintegration of Japanese production system,and problems of skill succession.

To cope with the severe reality,from late 2010,both central and local governments began to support actively the expansion of SME overseas business ― changing their previous cautious attitude(due to possible “hollowing-out”).Nevertheless,apart from quantitative targets,there have been limited discussions over the future vision of Japan’s monozukuri in Asia.

We would like to propose Japan’s monozukuri partnership with Asia,consisting of five pillars:(1) creation of new industries,(2) succession and diffusion of Japanese monozukuri in Asia and elsewhere,(3) making the leap from small factories to global companies,(4) building equal partnership with latecomer countries,and (5) selecting monozukuri partner countries and providing comprehensive support for their industrial capacity building.It is important to foster promising small factories(machikoba)in Japan with excellent technology through various forms of support,so that they can grow into global companies.At the same time,it is necessary to strengthen capacity of local human resources,supporting industries and related institutions in Asia by mobilizing ODA and economic cooperation programs,thereby enabling them to serve as key players in promoting Japanese monozukuri in Asia.Japan should build co-creative“monozukuri partnership”with Asia ― by supporting the internationalization of Japanese SMEs and by transferring the essence of quality-focused Japanese monozukuri to its Asian partners in parallel.It is also essential to build the deeper networks with local human resources and institutions which are already familiar with Japanese monozukuri spirits.

Significance of Cultural Exchanges in Asia:from Historic and Civilizational Perspectives
Seiichi Kondo / Director,Kondo Institute for Culture & Diplomacy / Former Commissioner of the Agency for Cultural Affairs

We refer to regions,states,people and culture without necessarily paying attention to their relations in human history.It may be useful to take a moment to look into them.

Humanity has produced,over millions of years,numerous kinds of nations and cultures with distinctive characters.Cultures have preserved important commonalities at their essence,while borders between them are always ambiguous.Power struggles between rulers then led to the artificial construction of“states,”ignoring the cultural landscape that had developed spontaneously.The whole surface of the earth has been divided up by these states.

The concept of“states”that are built on violence and supreme rule has been consolidated through the development of“modern”sovereign states since the 17th century,and is today taken for granted.Now that the European concept of modern civilization centered on sovereign states seems to be facing a deadlock,it seems appropriate to re-visit the concept of“states,”and the relationship among states,people,and culture.

If each of us brings out the goodness from our hearts and shares it with one another,we could overcome the limitations of sovereign states.We need to establish a system that can further promote human goodness in Asia.Specifically,all across Asia,we should launch programs like Erasmus,a European Union student exchange program,as well as artist-in-residence programs that are designed to invite young artists to a time and space away from their usual environment,to enable them to interact with one another and freely engage in creative activities.

Overview of Discussions in Parallel Sessions
Group 1: Reestablishment of Political Communication in East Asia
Reported by Yutaka Onishi(Professor,Graduate School of Law,Kobe University)

Firstly,the discussion focused on what public diplomacy strategies Japan should develop and promote in the future.Referring to the fact that Japan’s domestic information has not been adequately disseminated to overseas countries,participants stressed the necessity to actively send out information on Japan’s state of affairs through the Internet worldwide,particularly to China and South Korea.

Secondly,the necessity to understand China’s complicated and unique position in global society was pointed out.In spite of being a developing country,China has been an extremely influential superpower.Still taking pride in its past glory as the center of the world,China has a strong tendency toward extreme dependence on its national power even in the present day.At the discussion,it was stressed that these complicated situations peculiar to China need to be taken into consideration.

Thirdly,participants discussed how to reestablish political communications with overseas countries in the future. As part of such efforts,it was suggested that Japan should start with the achievement of national consensus on a wide range of controversial political issues nationwide.To this end,Japan should expand its domestic “infrastructure”for interactive discussion.For example,considering the fact that ill feeling against wartime enemy nations has not yet been completely eliminated at the general-public level in Japan,some participants stressed that Japan needs to enhance education on history throughout the country to help remove this antagonism.

Fourthly,the discussion focused on general-public level initiatives that could help ensure constructive political talks in the future.Participants stressed that stronger mutual trust between Japan and other Asian nations will not be created by top-level meetings and efforts alone;grassroots-level activities are also essential to form the basis of beneficial political talks in the future.

Group 2: Economic Ties and Networks
Reported by Shigeyuki Abe(Professor,Faculty of Policy Studies,Doshisha University)

At the start of the session,it was reported that it is important to secure opportunities for small and midsize business entities to become well aware of local business practices and risks before expanding into overseas markets.Without such prior learning opportunities,they are likely to become entangled in difficulties in their target countries.

As a discussion point associated with“commonality”among the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN),participants focused on the automobile industry,an absolutely vital industry to Japan.It was pointed out that one of the factors for the success of made-in-Japan vehicles in the global market is largely attributable to the system of“ASEAN Industrial Complementation.”Under the leadership of Japanese car companies,a kind of give-and-take system has successfully functioned among the ASEAN members,based on the division of roles such as“engine production in Thailand,” “transmission production in the Philippines,”etc.The continued necessity and importance of the industrial complementation system was pointed out.

Participants also focused on a recent trend in which Thai enterprises,Japanese business entities and Chinese national companies have accelerated collaboration to make inroads into the global market.Amid such an environment,individual East Asian nations’natural comparative advantages have become increasingly clear in recent years;to make the use of such comparative advantages,an increasing number of collaborative research and development programs in the field of agribusiness(for example,the development of chemical products using local native palm oil as a component)have been conducted.In light of these trends,participants discussed how Japan should be involved,and what Japanese technologies can be utilized in these research and development initiatives.

The difference in the demand for made-in-Japan products and made-in-China products was also discussed.As for construction equipment,made-in-Japan machinery sells better than that made in China;it will become important for Japan to continue increasing the brand strength of made-in-Japan equipment.On the other hand,the situation is different with computers.For critical computer devices,high quality products are expected to enjoy continued favorable demand thanks to the consumers’concerns regarding security and safety.However,for devices with an assumed life span of 2 to 3 years,consumers practically prefer middle quality products,helping create increased demand for made-in-China products.As discussed by participants,in the field of manufacturing,it will be necessary to strike a balance between high quality,middle quality and low quality products in the future,taking these consumer needs into account.

Other points discussed at the session were as follows:

  • Although most business collaboration and cooperative initiatives have been concentrated on the manufacturing industry,they should focus more on agriculture.
  • Due to the insufficiency of credible information sources,small and midsize companies have faced difficulty securing financing in emerging nations.Encouraged collection and sharing of credible financing information in emerging countries will contribute to the further development of those companies in the future.
  • Because even outdated technologies in Japan are extremely useful in most Asian nations,technology transfer should be actively promoted.
  • As a developed country,Japan will be able to contribute to the development of less developed Asian nations,by providing a wide variety of useful advice,including advice on know-how in the management of expressways.

The most important point of discussion throughout the session was the significance of the development of multiple and multilayered network systems.Collaborative initiatives by various entities are also essential for not only manufacturing but also urban development.In light of these factors,participants pointed out the necessity to increase tangible network systems that ensure information sharing and interaction among governments,municipalities,embassies and local communities,and to develop intangible network systems as well to avoid any risks in advance.

Group 3: Human and Cultural Interactions between Japan and the Rest of Asia
Reported by Yutaka Katayama(Vice President,Kyoto Notre Dame University)

The first point of discussion was how to increase the numbers of both Japanese students studying abroad and international students from Asian nations studying in Japan.As a recent trend,the numbers of these Japanese/international students has been on a plateau,or rather,on the decrease.As background factors of this trend,participants pointed out:In Japan,experience in studying abroad does not necessarily bring an advantage to students in job-hunting activities(it may be considered as a handicap in some cases);In terms of“human interactions,”some personnel systems in Japan are inflexible;Japanese company’s decision-making systems have a tendency to unintentionally exclude persons obtaining Western ways of thinking and perspectives;there is no consistency in the policies of the Ministry of Education,Culture,Sports,Science and Technology(MEXT)on this problem.

Next,Japan’s decreasing influence and presence in global society was discussed as a serious problem.In the case of China,its government has actively encouraged emigration and studying abroad,striving to increasingly extend Chinese people’s networks throughout the world.It is expected that after two to three generations,China will become extremely influential in the formation of public opinion in Western countries.In contrast,the number of Japanese people in overseas countries,including students and emigrants,is relatively small,which was identified as a reason for Japan’s decreasing international influence and presence.

As to the acceptance of overseas human resources,it was reported that not only small and midsize businesses but also information and communication technology(ICT)businesses and convenience stores have employed an increasing number of overseas human resources in recent years.As another interesting point,some participants pointed out that although contemporary young Japanese people lean towards Western countries when starting to study English,they can gradually come to interact with other Asian people on an equal footing because they have less preconceived opinions and prejudices against Asian nations than are found among older generations.

Then,as one of the fields that Japan can become competitive in,or take on a leadership role in the world in terms of human and cultural interactions,disaster mitigation efforts were taken up.The ultimate goal of disaster mitigation is to save the lives of people in case of a disaster;it is essential to fully understand the ways of life and culture in every local community when developing disaster mitigation programs.In terms of“human interactions,”Japan has been playing an active role in the field of disaster mitigation education,by hosting a large number of overseas trainees and dispatching many experts to overseas countries.Therefore,some participants stressed that Japan does not necessarily feel pessimistic over the number of international students.

Finally,the necessity to increase the diversity in Japanese society was discussed.The fact that human interactions have not yet been satisfactorily conducted as expected at both the student-level and other people-level may prevent Japan from turning into a diversified society.It may also cause slow progress in the expansion of opportunities for females to play active roles in Japanese society,in which a male-dominant social structure still remains.It was pointed out that to increase strategic alternatives to survive in increasingly globalized society,and develop into a more diversified society,Japan is required to actively host overseas students/people,and send out Japanese students/people to the world.The close relation between the task of increasing social diversity and national immigration/emigration policies was also discussed.

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