Overview of the International Symposium of the 20th Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan

Picture Symposium 2019

  • Date:
    Friday, August 2 2019
  • Location:
    Awaji Yumebutai International Conference Center
    (1 Yumebutai, Awaji-shi, Hyogo, Japan)
  • Theme:
    "Perspectives on Asia-Pacific Society in the 21st Century"
  • Details:
    • ○Opening Address
      Satoshi IUE
      (Representative Director, Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan)
    • ○Welcome Tribute
      Toshizo IDO
      (Governor of Hyogo Prefecture)
    • ○Awards Ceremony for the 18th Asia Pacific Research Prize(Iue Prize)
    • ○Explanation for the purpose of the Awaji Conference
      Makoto IOKIBE
      (President, Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute)
    • ○Commemorative Lectures
      ◆Commemorative Lecture1
      "Living to 100 - Coexisting with One Another"
      Speaker:Tadao ANDO (Architect)
      ◆Commemorative Lecture2
      "‘Power of Culture' and Regional Development"
      Speaker:Tamotsu AOKI (Senior Fellow, GRIPS ALLIANCE, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies)
      ◆Commemorative Lecture3
      "Asia Pacific Economy in the 21st Century"
      Speaker:Narongchai AKRASANEE (Doctor of Philosophy in Economics / Former Minister of Energy and Minister of Commerce of Thailand)
    • ○Coordinator:
      Shigeyuki ABE(Advisor, Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute)

The symposium began with the opening address by Representative Director Satoshi Iue of the Awaji Conference Japan, followed by a welcome tribute by Governor Toshizo Ido of Hyogo Prefecture, the awards ceremony for the Asia Pacific Research Prize, and then an explanation of the purpose of the Awaji Conference Japan by Makoto Iokibe, President of the Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute. Afterwards, commemorative lectures were held with Shigeyuki Abe, Advisor of the Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute, serving as coordinator.

The summary of the commemorative lectures are as follows.

Commemorative Lecture 1:“Living to 100 - Coexisting with One Another”
Speaker: Tadao Ando(Architect)

The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art displays Green Apple, an approximately 3-meter-high artwork created by Mr. Tadao Ando as a symbol of youth. According to Mr. Ando, many people remain a Green Apple until the end of their school days,when they are filled with hopes and look forward to a new world. He says that people need to remain a Green Apple until they turn 100 years old, and this means that people need to continue considering what they can do for their families and society, rather than simply living to be 100 years. This is the message that he strives to present through Green Apple.

Mr. Ando himself did not receive an education at university or specialize in architecture. At the age of 18, he decided to continue studying for the rest of his life, and he still reads a book every day and considers what he should do next.Few young people in Japan read books after graduation from university, so he emphasizes the importance of continuing to learn by reading many books with curiosity.

In his lecture, he introduced many architecture works that he had designed, such as Awaji Yumebutai, as well as a wide variety of greening projects in which he engaged as his lifetime work, including planting trees on islands in the Seto Inland Sea that had become bare as a result of overdevelopment and planting cherry trees along the Okawa River, which runs through the center of Osaka(Sakura-no-kai and Heisei-no-torinuke Project).

(Note)The summary above has been provided by the secretariat office of the Awaji Conference.



Commemorative Lecture 2:“‘Power of Culture’and Regional Development”
Speaker:Tamotsu Aoki(Senior Fellow,GRIPS ALLIANCE,National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies)


1. Age of Culture in East Asia

The 21st century is seeing a remarkable change in East Asia. Many governments and communities have begun to place a particular focus on culture. For example,in Singapore, Esplanade was constructed in 2002 as a complex of an opera house,a concert hall and a drama theater. Today, a wide variety of orchestra performances, dramas and operas are held at the facility. Another example is the National Gallery in Singapore, founded about four years ago as one of the largest museums in Asia. In the 20th century, almost nobody could have expected that the Singapore government would establish these facilities. National governments in Asia have begun to be aware that investment in universities and cultural facilities will lead their countries to be highly recognized in international society and generate national benefits in a wide variety of aspects. Similar cultural facilities have also been constructed in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.


2. Common Feelings in East Asia

In East Asia on the whole, the presence of the middle class in terms of their economic status and other aspects is increasing. Society used to consist of a small cadre of multi-billionaires and a host of ordinary people, accounting for 90%. Even in China, however, the presence of the socially middle-class has increased.

The growth in the presence of the socially middle-class is followed by the establishment of attractive cultural facilities, the development of universities in a globalized and internationalized society in the 21st century, and the formation of common feelings among people irrespective of where they live, which leads to the generation of common elements in movies, TV dramas, music, and fashion. For example, UNIQLO is very popular, whether in Shanghai or Bangkok, and almost everybody wants to wear similar outfits. For food, people can purchase similar items at convenience stores. Even if Japanese people suddenly need to go to another Asian country, they can live in the country without any hesitation as if living in Japan. And vice versa, those from other Asian countries can live in Japan as if living in their home countries. One of the factors contributing to this phenomenon might be an increase in the number of highly educated people with a bachelor’s degree, but the main factor is probably the formation of common feelings among the general public in East Asia.


3. Cultural Interaction

About 10 years ago, the annual number of foreign tourists to Japan was about 5 million, but the government is now striving to attract as many as 40 million foreign tourists. This is unprecedented. Although there are many problems, it is important for Japan to attract many people from abroad and ensure that they know more about Japan and develop an affection to the country. In the age of great tourism, both the Japanese government and people in Japan need to do what they are supposed to do.

Since people with different cultural backgrounds visit Japan, people in Japan need to adopt the perspective of cross-cultural understanding. However, a mere understanding of different cultures is insufficient, and people in Japan need to engage in even more practical cultural interaction on a continuing basis. Japan had many problems with East Asian countries in the pre-war time, and it actually still does, especially with Korea and China. A lack of mutual understanding resulted in the war. Of course, behind the war were political problems, national border strategies, economic issues, and Imperialism. However, if cultural interaction on a basic level had been more burgeoning, different relationships between the countries might have been formed and the problems currently found in East Asia might not have been prolonged.


4. Shift from Culture to “Power of Culture”

The terms “political power,” “economic power,” and “military power” are frequently used, but the term “cultural power” is not. In 2011, I released the book “An Era of Power of Culture.” Even though the Agency for Cultural Affairs has been using the term “power of culture” for a while, it is seldom used by the general public. I feel that the term should be used by many more people.

When discussing culture, many people normally assert the importance of each country or region’s distinctive culture and then proceed to the topic of how to ensure mutual understanding regarding different countries and regions’ cultures. Today,however, I feel that such an approach will no longer work. I believe that each country or region needs to enhance its own cultural power to realize mutual understanding. Culture has been so far regarded as something static, and the main theme concerning culture has been the preservation of cultural properties. I would like to raise public awareness of the significance of “power of culture,” focusing on the comprehensiveness of culture, including the dynamic aspects of culture.


5. What is “Power of Culture” ?

But what is power of culture? The elements of cultural power in a region or country include the following:1) historical heritage and cultural assets:2) traditional expression culture, such as festivals, noh, kabuki, etc.:3) cultural facilities, universities and other schools:4) architecture and structures:and 5) city systems. I would like to use “power of culture” to refer to all of these elements collectively. For example, in Tokyo, almost all streets are too systematically designed, making them less attractive to those who love strolling around. Such streets cannot provide the joy that people can feel when strolling around in narrow and crowded streets. I feel that it is necessary to make streets in Tokyo even more attractive for strollers. What is good about Paris is that they have streets where people can enjoy strolling around. It is said that Paris became what it is now in the reign of Napoleon III. I feel that many streets in Japan have been established without being examined from a cultural perspective. Cultural power has other elements as follows:6) attractiveness of creative culture, meaning an environment in which artists can create a wide variety of works, thereby making arts and entertainments even more attractive:7) attractiveness of cultural facilities for consumers, showing that not only arts but also consumption culture, such as shopping centers, largely determines the relevant city or region’s attractiveness:8) excellence of the life culture, meaning wonderful dishes and other elements that make it fun to live in the relevant city or region:9) the beauty of nature, which people in Japan make a good use of when establishing, for example, a hot spring resort and trying other things:and 10) sophiaticated and pleasant lifestyle and hospitality.


6. Regional Promotion and Development of Power of Culture

Today, priority is placed on image, making it necessary to focus on image.Cultural power helps the creation of a good image. If a region reinforces its cultural power, the region can improve its image, making the region look even more attractive when seen from the outside. In this age of mass consumption,reinforcement of cultural power is truly influential. Accordingly, if a region wishes to achieve promotion and development, the region needs to be clearly aware of the perspective of cultural power.

However, it would be insufficient to establish, for example, a good museum alone, and such a facility should be accompanied by a shopping center, a restaurant street, etc. Esplanade in Singapore, which I mentioned before, is part of a huge shopping center, enabling visitors to enjoy shopping and eating before or after going to the theater. It is necessary to provide a combined space of a shopping center, a museum, a concert hall, etc.

The separation of such facilities decreases the attractiveness of their cultural power.


7. Asia Pacific Global Cultural and Academic Life Center in Kobe as a Large-Scale Institute in Hyogo Prefecture

Kobe is at the cutting edge in the fields of shopping and fashion. Regrettably,however, the city does not have sufficient cultural power to clearly indicate that status. The city has the Kobe Fashion Museum, but there is no telling what it will become of in the future. I believe that, actually, the city should have a huge,state-of-the-art fashion museum that is not elsewhere in the world. But there is no such a facility now, and I hope that the city will establish it. If such a new institute not only serves as a mere academic research center but also contains a cultural facility and a shopping mall, it will attract tourists and they can enjoy shopping there. Even though the city is home to the Kobe Port and draws many visitors,many of them head to Osaka by bus without staying in Kobe, which is truly regrettable. I hope that some center is established to display Kobe’s cultural power to attract all of these visitors. When people in Japan try to establish such a facility,they tend to create a smallscale one, but it actually means almost nothing, and a structure that cannot be seen elsewhere in the world needs to be constructed. I hope that the revitarization of a new Kobe will be accomplished through culture power.



Commemorative Lecture 3:“Asia Pacific Economy in the 21st Century”
Speaker:Narongchai Akrasanee(Doctor of Philosophy in Economics / Former Minister of Energy and Minister of Commerce of Thailand)


1. Industrialization and Trade in Thailand and the Asia Pacific Region:Rise of ASEAN and APEC

In the 1950s, Japan was the only industrialized country in the Asia Pacific region.The Korea War gave Japan an impetus to recover from the damage of the Second World War, and the path cleared by Japan was gradually followed by other countries in the region. This is the Flying Geese Model, proposed by Dr. Kaname Akamatsu of Hitotsubashi University. Based on the model, Japan can be described as the leading goose, while other Asian countries as geese following the goose. Japan was first followed by Asia Newly Industrialized Economies(NIES),such as Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, and then by members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations(ASEAN).

ASEAN was affected by the Vietnam War, but the end of the war in 1975 saw an acceleration of economic cooperation within ASEAN. In 1976, ASEAN designed an economic cooperation scheme, and it put it into practice in the 1990s and the 2000s. Since industrialization requires economies of scale, we emphasized the importance of economic cooperation, thereby achieving economies of scale. In those days, China was not involved yet in such economic cooperation. The Chinese economy had been closed since 1948, when they began to adopt communism. Meanwhile, India was also promoting its industrialization, but the initiative was still led by the national government.

These trends began to change in the 1980s. The three countries of Japan,Australia and the U.S. tried to promote regional cooperation, especially through the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation(APEC). In 1989,APEC was established and the Eminent Persons Group was organized, and actually I was a member of the organization. In 1993, the first APEC Leaders’ Meeting was held and economic cooperation was launched.

Around that time,China had already opened its market and started economic deregulation.India also began economic deregulation in 1991, when Manmohan Singh took the position of the Minister of Finance.

In 1989, when the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the Cold War, fell down, General Secretary Gorbachev dismantled the Soviet Union. Afterwards, a market economy was introduced in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and other ASEAN countries where state-sponsored industrialization was underway. A wide variety of critical changes thus occurred in and after the 1980s, including the collapse of the Soviet Union and the introduction of an open-door policy in India. In 1993, I served as advisor to the Prime Minister. My counterparts and I concluded negotiations on the ASEAN Free Trade Area(AFTA)in only six months. Such a short-term conclusion was unprecedented in the world. Those concerned with AFTA aimed to “Agree First and Talk After.” Although it took a while to persuade the Philippines, the country finally agreed.

In and after 2000, we enjoyed prosperity, but the situation has changed drastically.


2. Imbalance in Politics and Economy:From Cooperation to Conflicts

In 2016, Donald Trump took the presidency. When considering the factors behind it, I think the long-term imbalance played a key role. Imbalance was a political issue, and he made good use of it in winning the election.

When looking at the gross domestic product(GDP)of APEC, we find that in 1980, the western part of the Pacific occupied one third, while the eastern part of the Pacific, including the U.S., occupied the remainder.

Today, however, as a result of a rapid growth of the western part of the Pacific, its share outweighs that of the eastern part of the Pacific. The current account balance shows a surplus in the western part of the Pacific and a deficit in the eastern part of the Pacific, with the gap increasing further and further. The U.S. election was held in such an environment, which was difficult to accept from a political perspective. In 2006, a financial problem was already emerging in the U.S., which was eventually hit by the subprime mortgage crisis in 2007.

According to FRB Chair Alan Greenspan, people in Asia simply saved money without using it, but there was a surplus of money in the U.S. ;people spent too much, and this generated subprime mortgages, but it eventually collapsed. He said so humorously, but I think that it is true in a sense.

Even if a country suffers a deficit in bilateral trade, it will not be a big problem as long as the country does not have a deficit in its overall trade. However, this was not applicable to the U.S. According to an economic theory, a trade deficit is supposed to be adjusted with exchange and eliminated gradually. Since the U.S. dollar is the key currency, however, no adjustment with exchange is available.

In the 1980s, there was a trade conflict between the U.S. and Japan. Today,such a problem is found between the U.S. and China, with the friction between the countries escalating. Many years have been spent on APEC realizing economic cooperation in the Asia Pacific. But President Trump suddenly appeared, leading to the review of the North American Free Trade Agreement(NAFTA)and the annulment of some other agreements. He is not cooperative with APEC, either. Economic cooperation is thus being challenged now.


3. Destructive Technology:Conflict or Cooperation?

It is expected that the current situation surrounding the U.S. and China will continue for a while. If so, it might be difficult to find appropriate solutions because the U.S. and China have different forms of economic management. We need to understand this point. The Chinese economic system features state-led capitalism and a centrally managed economy. In 2000, China joined the World Trade Organization(WTO), but since the WTO advocates an economic system led by Western countries, it does not fit well with the Chinese system.

Although China has now become influential enough to affect the rest of the world,the country still has the problem of how to adopt its systems to global standards.China is now beginning to be more open to foreign currencies, but the present trade conflict is expected to continue for a while.

At the same time, the world is now facing another problem-the rise of destructive technologies. Such new technologies are changing a wide variety of things rapidly.The rise of technologies is further intensifying the rivalry between the U.S. and China. So, the world is now experiencing a trade war and a technology war. This is not a Cold War, but a Code War.

Regardless of the state of international competition, a digital evolution is underway around the world, whether in Japan or Korea. The U.S. and China are competing in the fields of 5G, autonomous driving, etc. Recently, the new field of economics “exonomics” has appeared. Conventional economics insisted that diminishing returns were entailed by an increase in marginal costs. Presently,however, there are more and more declines in marginal costs.

The current trend is dematerialization, and it has become possible to manufacture a wide variety of products using less quantity of materials. Another trend is the departure from monetization. Popularization is also underway,and everybody can sell their own services and products online, using digital technology. This trend is also found in the field of entertainment. We are in the age when everybody can do anything. The invention of 3D printers has enabled us to make products on our own, meaning that intermediaries are no longer necessary. What will become of these new technologies 20 years from now?


4. Will the Asia Pacific Region Be Decoupled?

Presently, I’m conducting research on a new chapter of the Asia Pacific region. I expect that the western part of the Pacific will be decoupled from the eastern part of the Pacific. The global value chain integrated by APEC is now breaking down partly due to problems between the U.S. and China. At the same time, led by Japan, Korea and China, countries in the western part of the Pacific are improving their technologies rapidly. This means that a wide variety of technological options are available in the western part of the Pacific, enabling them to use various technologies without cooperation with the eastern part of the Pacific. I think that the world today is in a new paradigm in terms of trade and technologies and that the rivalry between the eastern part and the western part will destroy the existing global value chain. I also expect that the western part of the Pacific will be integrated by political and economic power and technological development power.

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