Overview of the 13th "Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan" International Symposium

Picture Symposium 2012

  • Date:
    Friday, August 3 2012
  • Location:
    Awaji Yumebutai International Conference Center
    (1 Yumebutai, Awaji-shi, Hyogo, Japan)
  • Theme:
    "Japan's Future and the People to Build It"
  • Details:
    • ○Opening Address
      Satoshi Iue
      (Representative Director, Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan)
    • ○Welcome Tribute
      Toshizo Ido
      (Governor of Hyogo Prefecture)
    • ○Prize Giving Ceremony for the 11th Asia Pacific Research Prize(Iue Prize)
    • ○Explanation for the purpose of the Awaji Conference
      Yutaka Katayama
      (Professor, Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, Kobe University)
    • ○Commemorative Lectures
      "An Experiment in World Civilization"
      Speaker: Masakazu Yamazaki
      "Recreating Japan as a “Platinum Society”"
      Speaker: Hiroshi Komiyama
      (Chairman, Platinum Network / Chairman, Mitsubishi Research Institute. / President Emeritus, University of Tokyo)
      "The Future of the Region:“Future City”Initiative for Awaji Island"
      Speaker: Toshizo Ido
      (Governor of Hyogo Prefecture)
    • ○Coordinator:
      Koji Murata
      (Dean, Faculty of Law, Doshishya University)

Following an opening address from Representative Director Satoshi Iue, a welcoming tribute from Governor of Hyogo Prefecture Toshizo Ido, and the Asia Pacific Research Prize giving ceremony, an explanation for the purport of holding Awaji Conference was provided by Yutaka Katayama, Professor, Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, Kobe University.

Summary of Commemoration Lecture "An Experiment in World Civilization"
Speaker: Masakazu Yamazaki (Playwright)
  1. Forming a unified world view and civilization

    A civilization requires a world view that all parties can agree to in order to establish and assert itself. The people living along the Pacific Rim today share a common world view based on a broad definition of the natural sciences. The five major religions of the world as well have a fellowship backing, which, like the Shintoism native to Japan, coexist in peace. Today, civilizations worldwide are heading towards unity, but the Pacific Rim has taken the lead in doing that.

  2. Coexistence and evolution of differing civilizations

    Western civilization is the product of two completely different civilizations. One was Hellenism with its pragmatic view of society born in Greece. The other was a Judaist-like belief that the only absolute is truth. From this union came Christianity, the only religion to possess these two lines of thought at the same time. While professing that God created the heavens and the earth on the one hand, Christianity has drawn much interest for its inconsistencies in explaining Mother Nature on the other. The sudden contradiction this caused repeatedly fueled heated discord between Christianity and early science. Nonetheless, science itself has taken over the unitary faith of Christianity of there being only one correctness. For this reason, many scientists gave their life in martyrdom like Giordano Bruno who was burned at the stake for espousing the Copernican theory.

    Moreover, Europe had, unlike other large spheres of civilization, civilization of many small coexisting countries. This is a very advantageous situation for a civilization to evolve. By migrating to other countries and there either being accepted or persecuted, civilizations ardently apply themselves and grow strong. Accordingly, importing civilization from another country is something to be proud of, not ashamed of.

  3. The road to forming a Pacific Rim civilization

    Japan's greatest historical contribution to the world has been perhaps their being the first in Asia to accept the "modern civilization" of the West and shape it into something fruitful. China took a Sinocentric position that recognized solely Chinese civilization while negating all others. Japan, on the other hand, welcomed China's magnificent civilization while endeavoring to create a hybrid with it. Because of that experience, Japan welcomed civilizations from around the world that it was thought Western. Conversely, Western civilization became a civilization of the world when Japan accepted it.

    After WWII, Japan worked aggressively to deepen its friendship with the nations of the Pacific Rim and, because of the growing relationships with North America and Oceania, attracted many people to Asia. Moreover, Japan has strongly promoted harmony and cultural exchange within the region via its ODA to emerging economies and the activities of JICA and The Japan Foundation. Furthermore, Japan has encouraged emerging nations of the Pacific Rim via the transfer of capital and technology in the private sector. In fact, looking at the global economy of today, the top three GDPs are from the Pacific Rim.

    Continuing and more intensely promoting this course is the future path Japan should pursue. What comes to attention in this regards is the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). Within Japan, there is strong opposition because of the threats posed by TPP to agriculture and the national health insurance system for the whole nation, but those problems can be overcome depending on how the negotiations are handled.

    With regard to agriculture, the popularity of Japanese beef and rice amongst the wealthy of the world can be strategically used to increase productivity and convert those commodities to export. With regard to insurance system, the "harmonizing up" strategy that Denmark used to forge a harmony on a higher level when joining the EC (European Community) could be applied. This is a negotiating strategy to raise a target that being difficult to realize but unquestionably ideal and make it a common goal. At the time, Germany and France led the EC and, being a latecomer to the community, Denmark was worried about being forced to swallow free trade and no duties as conditions for membership. In exchange for accepting economic liberalization, Denmark, which was second to none in Europe when it comes to environmental protection, pressured Germany and France to introduce environmental protection as important restrictions. No one could oppose this and environmental protection is now being handed down as one of the important precepts of the EU just as Denmark wanted.

    There are various ways to go about this, but the ultimate objective is to advance a Pacific Rim civilization. The counter argument of Chinese hegemony must never reappear. It is not my intention to attack China's one-party rule, but we cannot overlook their behavior of sending their military to other countries and threatening the territory of others. For this reason, Japan must keep the military might of the USA in the background as a deterrent. In that sense, TPP is not just an economic problem pure and simple, but also a choice between Chinese hegemony and a Pacific Rim civilization. Japan's future is the latter.

Summary of Commemoration Lecture "Recreating Japan as a 'Platinum Society'"
Speaker: Hiroshi Komiyama (Chairman, Platinum Network / Chairman, Mitsubishi Research Institute Inc. / President Emeritus, University of Tokyo)

"Platinum Society" vision for the 21st century

In industrialized nations, everyone has clothing, food, shelter, mobility and access to information. However, their economies will come to an end if the people do not have desires. I have defined the type of society where that would not occur a "platinum society." That society would allow all, including the elderly, to participate, there would be jobs, no worries over energy and resources, and, most importantly, it would be eco-friendly.

Aging populations are an issue common to many nations of the 21st century, not just Japan. Not only are industrialized nations faced with this issue, but it is becoming an issue of all mankind and will draw in emerging nations as well.

To materialize a platinum society, the first thing that is necessary is a beautiful eco-system. We must not only stop at simply overcoming pollution but must also protect and maintain a diversity of eco-systems. Moreover, Japan, not having resources of its own, relies on energy imports, but it must work towards self-sufficiency. A self-sufficiency rate of 70% is not a wild dream if we diversify our energy mix and introduce new energies. The hot water generated in power production by a large thermal power plant is dumped into the sea, but if that is the case, it would be more efficient to introduce cogeneration to one million households. New innovations for the energy-saving market are thinkable here.

Also, demand for the forestry industry will grow with the spread of insulated homes. Cutting down trees to secure wood materials also helps neglected forests to recover, besides the fact that the energy of five nuclear power plants can be supplied by burning chips produced from lumbering and milling. Moreover, a marked reduction in heat shock amongst the elderly and prevalence due to mildew comes from living in insulated homes. In short, insulated homes not only reduce energy consumption but also contribute to health and reduce the cost of medical care.

Metal recycling has been raised as one way to increase energy self-sufficiency and reduce consumption. When digging for gold, prospectors find just 5 grams in 1 ton of earth, but a ton of cellphones use 250 grams. It would be more efficient to recover those phones and recycle the gold. As a nation with culture and technology but no resources, this is Japan's chance. Japan can be a role model for the world by changing from the "first nation in the world to encounter problems" to "the first nation in the world to solve problems."

Being able to enjoy a long life has been raised as a condition for a platinum society. Today, 20% of the elderly population requires long-term care, while the rest is maintaining their health. Therefore, we should focus on what to do with this other 80%. Creating a good society for the elderly will lessen the burdens borne by that society and will create new industries.

A platinum society requires (1) ecology (overcoming pollution, protecting biodiversity, preserving the global environment), (2) freedom from resource concerns (energy conservation, new energies, primary industries, recycling-centric lifestyle and business patterns), (3) social participation by all regardless of age or gender, (4) affluence both in spirit and materialistically, and (5) job security. Moreover, the creation of this kind of society should be promoted by willful local governments rather than a central authority. It is hoped that people willing to create a platinum society will emerge amidst the cycle of structuring the examples from across the country, sharing this knowledge and immediately putting these ideas into action.

Summary of Commemoration Lecture "The Future of the Region: 'FutureCity' Initiative for Awaji Island"
Speaker: Toshizo Ido (Governor of Hyogo Prefecture)

"FutureCity" Initiative for Awaji Island

Because Awaji Island is an "island," regional development has lagged behind the rest of Hyogo Prefecture. Even after the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge was completed, much did not happen because the expensive tolls were prohibitive. The situation is bleak with population having declined by 10% over the past ten years and GRP decreasing by about 15%. Yet, Awaji Island has great potential in a plethora of cultural and historical assets such as folklore explaining the birth of the nation and Japanese puppetry, a high level of food self-sufficiency and a fertile farming environment. Moreover, it offers excellent access to the greater metropolitan area of Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe, and plans are to reduce tolls over the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in 2014. When considering ways for the elderly to lead rewarding lives in this large metropolitan area where the population is rapidly aging, Awaji Island with all of its potential lying so close by offers many possibilities.

1. Aims

First of all, our thoughts look to a sustainable growth model that pursues quality of life and affluence, as an antithesis to the efficiency-based growth model that was dependent on a large metropolitan area where the emphasis could be placed on efficiency and convenience. Furthermore, the idea is for residents, businesses and government to cooperate and coordinate in creating industries and sustaining the region. Awaji Island is a miniature of Japan in that farming and fishing villages border urban areas and the issues common to all parts of the nation – a dwindling birthrate juxtaposed by an increasing elderly population, rising unemployment and a lack of successors to take over trades - are found. Therefore, we want to incite a wave of change away from "cities" to "villages" on Awaji Island so as to overcome the dependency on the metropolitan area (super aged society, high costs).

2. Pillars of the initiative

The three pillars of the initiative are "energy sustainability," which aims to optimize energy consumption in proportion with affluence via the best mix of locally available renewable energies, "food and agricultural sustainability," which aims to make Awaji Island a food production and supply source for ensuring food security and good health, and "living sustainability," which encompasses all of that. To promote the project, "special areas" were designated where people from Japan and abroad can gather, interact and inject vitality, and anyone can lead a safe, long and rewarding life.

3. Major projects

To achieve energy sustainability, the idea is to make Awaji Island energy self-sufficient by utilizing diverse renewable energies to the fullest. This includes building a large solar power plant, conducting studies into wind farming using the strong westerly winds and tidal power generation using the strong tides, and developing smart farming and fishing villages with binary cycle power plants and multiple uses of a diversity of biomass. To achieve food and agricultural sustainability, programs are underway to train people to take over farming, which addresses both the shrinking population and growing number of elderly people, ensure a stable supply of agricultural and marine products, and promote local production for local consumption. Within those efforts, there is a challenge farm project for training people in agriculture, schools that have been closed are being used as ecological farms to grow medicinal herbs, and the fisheries are being made more eco-friendly by running boats entirely on electricity or hybrid power sources. And, to achieve living sustainability, plans are to build a public transportation system that is easy and convenient for elderly people to use in anticipation of the Awaji Island serving as a welcome center for elderly people from the city who want to live out long, healthy and rewarding lives.

Though Awaji Island is behind in social infrastructure building, plans are to unite residents, businesses and governments in raising awareness of the local flavor, attracting people by lowering tolls on the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge and injecting vitality into the island.

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