Awaji Conference Statement 2015

Awaji Conference Statement
The 16th Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan
Saturday, August 1, 2015

The 16th Awaji Conference was held based on the common theme of “Asia’s Future: Politics, Economy and Culture.” Almost every member of the audience recognized that selection of this theme was based on drastic changes in the international environment, especially following the end of the Cold War. Although during the Cold War the two camps of the U.S. and the Soviet Union were supposedly engaged in a face-off, the unexpected reality was that these superpowers actually maintained world order. After the end of the Cold War, the system collapsed in the 1990s, followed by the spread of the market economy and liberal democracy all over the world, as well as by the economic and social globalization realized through new IT technology.

However, the effect of globalization was far from changing the world into a homogenous environment. The spread of globalization throughout the world encouraged many ethnic groups to become more aware of their identity, leading to revival of geographical and historical conflicts. In a wide variety of regions, historical conflicts that had been controlled by the two superpowers became prominent, stirring up ethnic and religious conflicts on a continuing basis. The world is now observing the simultaneous occurrence of two extreme trends, progress in globalization and an explosion of regional identities.

As discussed with much emphasis at this year’s forum, the long-term imbalance in development, as well as the governance of the world based on the order created by developed countries, mainly the U.S., European countries, and Japan, has been shaken greatly. Instead, China and many other emerging countries have begun to make their presence felt. This has led to considerable changes in the power balance. In 1990, the G7 countries accounted for 65% (about two-thirds) of the world in terms of the GDP. In 2018, however, it is estimated that the figure will decline to 45%, and that emerging countries will account for 41% of the world in terms of GDP, a more than doubled increase from 20% in 1990. Thus, people today live in the age of such world-level structural changes and upheaval in balance. In other words, we live in a world whose stable order has been lost during a time of increasing globalization and the rediscovery of ethnic identity, and in a world where changes in the power balance are affecting not only the economy, but also politics and security.

It goes without saying that the future of Asia depends on the future of emerging countries in Asia. Of particular note is China, whose development is making a great impact. In 1978, the country launched the Economic Reform led by Deng Xiaoping, and in the 1980s, the country began its dramatic growth. In 1990, when the Cold War ended, China’s GDP still accounted for only 1.7% of the total in the world, and the country’s economic power was much smaller than Japan, whose GDP accounted for 14% of the world total. However, it is now expected that in 2018, China’s GDP will account for 14.2% of the world total, indicating that the country has realized remarkable development over about 30 years. On the other hand, although Japanese GDP used to account for 14% of the world total, the figure is expected to fall to 6%. Overtaking Japan, China has become No.1 in terms of GDP in Asia with a decisive lead from other countries. It is said that by maintaining that momentum, the country will catch up with and overtake the U.S. in the 2020s.

At this year’s symposium, Prof. Thangavelu provided us with truly in-depth and elaborate analyses on Southeast Asia. The region itself has already realized considerable growth, with the recent percentage of the region’s GDP in the global total increasing to more than double that of 1990. Prof. Thangavelu indicated that despite such growth, there are still problems to be addressed in a wide variety of aspects. For example, the region is experiencing a worsening gap, difficulty in enhancing productivity in the enhancing field of services, obstacles to technology transfer, lack of appropriate education and staff training, and difficulty in increasing the middle-class workforce, including skilled workers. In the future, unless the region achieves a well-balanced redistribution and an appropriate correction of the gap while enjoying its growth, there is a risk that the region will experience a political breakdown at the moment that the region’s growth stops. As indicated by Prof. Shiraishi, if the problem of a gap becomes linked to a problem of ethnical and religious identity, an extremely severe explosion can occur. In this regard, it is necessary to develop the philosophy of “inclusiveness” so that poor people can be incorporated into society.

While Prof. Thangavelu emphasized that in order to establish a sustainable society, nothing is more important than developing human resources, Prof. Ohno stressed that Japanese small-and-medium size enterprises are expanding their business into a truly wide range of fields in Southeast Asia and ASEAN countries, and promoting a wide variety of activities there. Although indicating problems regarding the current situation, Prof. Thangavelu also suggested that there is hope and he sounded optimistic about the future, which was impressive to the audience.

With this as background, China still presents difficulties. Regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the U.S. is demonstrating its initiative and has a strong voice. However, if the agreement is concluded, even the U.S. will be placed under the control of the agreement. In the end, the country will follow the principle of making rules based on multilateralism. On the other hand, after establishing its territorial sea law domestically in 1992, China began to tend to extend its area of influence to the Senkaku Islands and to the South China Sea by force. China, where the top leadership is an extralegal existence, acts as if the country were an extralegal existence to its neighboring countries. Since ancient times, China has believed that the territories and resources that the country would like to have should belong to the country, and that its neighboring countries must accept this. It is a truly troubling problem that the country taking such an approach is at the center of Asia. International society needs to somehow discuss this problem with China and to address the situation. Without this, the future could be disastrous.

Out of the age of war and revolution, one legacy of the 20th century was generated, the establishment of the United Nations to prevent the occurrence of wars of aggression and to ensure that conflicts are solved in a peaceful manner. Prior to the occurrence of the Second World War, Japan and Germany advocated “justice for the have-nots.” These countries insisted that they did not have either resources or markets because haves controlled them exclusively, and thus there was no option but to use force to extend their sphere of influence. This insistence led to the eruption of the war. In response to this, the U.S. and the U.K. played the main role in forming the basic agreement at the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, held in 1944 in New Hampshire, and establishing the Bretton Woods System, in order to prevent the emergence of any second version of Germany or Japan. Based on this system, the postwar free trade system was established, characterized by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), and the IMF(International Monetary Fund). In a way, the basic rule has been changed into the one to realize unprecedented free trade, as well as to enable even countries without resources like Japan to buy resources as long as they can pay for them, and to sell as much as they wish as long as they make high quality products. After paying the high price of the Second World War, human beings have obtained the public benefit of the common use of resources and markets.

In his commemorative lecture, Japan’s former Prime Minister Fukuda spoke about the recent relationship between Japan and China in a very considerate and mild manner. Indicating that some Japanese people tend to blame China for what it is today, he referred to what Japan used to be and stated that China is now so absorbed in modernization and industrialization that it is difficult for the country to realize that it is threatening its neighboring countries. In the 1960s and the 1980s, Japan’s economy grew at a great speed, and the country was about to take a position of dominance in the world economy. Japanese people did not realize that this was threatening other countries, and became overconfident. Mentioning this example, former Prime Minister Fukuda suggested that China today is like what Japan used to be. Moreover, Prof. Takahara stated that while it is difficult for a country to recognize its own problems, it is easy to recognize other countries’ problems.

Accordingly, we need to make efforts to ensure that Chinese people understand their own problems through international interaction and dialogues. In addition, Japanese people need to work on an appropriate resolution of the wartime past. Without transcending the past and engaging in deep dialogues, it would be impossible to establish a future jointly.

Prof. Shiraishi indicated that unlike Europe, Asia is now experiencing a growing and significant deviation between economy and security. In the field of economy, China is emerging at remarkable speed, showing the possibility that the country will overtake even the U.S. Regarding security, however, the U.S. has maintained order based on the concept of “hub and spokes,” preserving its overwhelming position. Only recently has the U.S., the only country by which China feels threatened, begun to call the world’s attention to China’s attempts to change the current situation by force, including the South China Sea Issue. It is expected that the U.S. administration following the Obama presidency will probably become harsher towards China in handling this problem. The U.S., of course, does not intend to begin a war, but if no efforts are made to prevent unilateral control, it will not be easy to maintain order in Asia. Although island countries and continental countries in Asia differ in their attitudes to China, order in the region will be threatened if the solution to the problem is left only in the hands of neighboring countries without sufficient power to compete with China.

The problem is how Japan should react. At discussions made at parallel sessions, a majority of participants said that it will be necessary to make appropriate self-help efforts and to limit deterrence to a certain level. Explained in military terms, deterrence is the ability to shoot through the key part of the target. The theory of deterrence is based on the assumption that this ability prevents the target from attacking you. In that sense, Japan does not have or does not intend to have the ability to shoot through the key part of the target. Japan does not have deterrence aimed at any countries, and all it can do is say “No” to other countries. Although the country has a very high-level ability to protest, all it can do is simply demand to other countries that they should not attack it. Today, when China is expanding its military strength at tremendous speed, Japan needs not to expand its armaments in rivalry with China in order to pursue deterrence, but to stay calm and maintain a certain level of an appropriate self-support ability.

Another important thing is international cooperation. It is significant to develop the influence over China and the ability to persuade China through international cooperation, especially with the involvement of Australia, ASEAN countries, and India. In addition, it is necessary to make the Japan-U.S. alliance even closer, in order to help the U.S. maintain world order, which benefits the international society. What is more crucial than that is to forge positive ties with China to generate common benefits, and this is a great responsibility of political leaders. Without the Japan-U.S. alliance, plus Japan-China entente, it would be impossible to ensure safety of Japan in the 21st century. Ultimately, it is crucially important to establish a relationship based on common benefits with China.

If a misjudgment is made on a national level, it will lead to serious problems. Before the beginning of the war, the Japan Society was established in the U.S., while the America-Japan Society was founded in Japan. Added to these were meetings with an emphasis on interaction between Japan and the U.S. in the private sector, as well as the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR), which consisted of experts. In those days, the trade and economic relations between Japan and the U.S. were growing remarkably. Despite the efforts made in the private sector and the closer economic relationship, war broke out between the two countries. Once launched, war destroys everything from the roots. We must never forget the disaster that is generated by war.

In this regard, countries and politics have grave responsibilities, although they do not solve all the problems. As emphasized constantly at this conference, it is essential to ensure interaction between citizens in the private sector, as well as between cities, regions, and NGOs in a wide variety of fields. In fact, such interaction contributed greatly to stabilizing the Japan-U.S. relationship after the countries’ desperate combat in the Pacific Ocean. The International House of Japan was established in Roppongi, Tokyo, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation. Young, ambitious Japanese people were invited to the U.S. under the Fulbright Program. As stressed at this conference, these forms of interaction in the private sector underpinned the establishment of the postwar Japan-U.S. relationship. In relation to the significance of such interaction, the former Commissioner for Cultural Affairs, Mr. Kondo, referred to the European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students (ERASMUS) and the Artist in Residence system, while Prof. Takahara spoke about public diplomacy. These concepts are favorable to Japan.

I would like to conclude this statement by mentioning Japan’s postwar reconciliation. Japan signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty and ended the war, before rejoining international society. While the U.S. and other developed countries renounced the right of compensation from Japan, it was decided that Asian countries that had suffered aggression from Japan would individually conclude compensation agreements with Japan. However, when working as Advisor to Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles insisted that an excessive amount of compensation, beyond Japan’s economic capacity, should not be demanded. This was based on the fact that the astronomical amount of compensation claimed from Germany after the end of the First World War had destabilized the postwar world and led to eruption of another world war only 20 years later. Recognition of this fact proved very fortunate for Japan. Although there were conflicts over compensation amounts claimed by war-damaged Asian countries, Japan eventually accepted many of the demands from such countries, thereby reaching agreement with them.

Furthermore, the Second World War was soon replaced by the Cold War, and Japan joined the U.S. camp, consisting of liberal democratic countries. As rivalry with the Soviet communist camp became increasingly fierce, the U.S. refrained from interfering with Japan in handling its postwar problems.

The consequence is that some countries began to place the issue of compensation from Japan on the table once again after the end of the Cold War. Such countries are divided into three types. One of those is countries in Southeast Asia. Japan expressed its feelings toward countries in Southeast Asia that had not concluded compensation agreements, by providing ODA under economic cooperation agreements.

In 1977, the then Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda delivered a speech, called the Fukuda Doctrine, at an ASEAN summit held in Manila. In the address, he stated that Japan would not become a military superpower, if it became an economic superpower. He also said that Japanese people hoped to establish amicable, heart-to-heart relationships with people in Asian countries, and that Japan would do its best not for the development of each country, but for the development of the entire Southeast Asia. The Fukuda Doctrine was supported not only by words, but also in deeds. The amount of Japanese ODA doubled over the three years following the announcement, and the increased figure further doubled over the five years after that. Although Japan was placed under pressure from the U.S. to re-arm, Japan ensured that its military budget accounted for 1% or less of its gross national product (GNP), maintaining its attitude of contributing to the growth of Southeast Asian and other developing countries. Japan has become an economic country based on the generation of profits. Added to this characteristic is the country’s attempts to contribute to developing Asian countries, and this addition has been made possible by postwar Japanese civilization. Such acts of kindness were behind peaceful reconciliation with countries in Southeast Asia.

However, this did not apply to China or Korea. Placed under colonial rule for 35 years, people in Korea were forced to be mobilized as labor force during the war and to change their names, which was totally unbearable to them. In China, people continued to suffer from a very long-term war for eight years. As those who caused the damage, Japanese people tend to regard the significance of the harm as merely that of a prewar event. However, the war continued until 1945 and victims never forget so easily. We must somehow address this problem, and this is the “resolution,” about which former Prime Minister Fukuda spoke.

In case of Korea, in 1998, the then President Kim Dae-jung visited Tokyo and offered a historic reconciliation. The then Japanese Prime Minister Obuchi appreciated that offer and wrote an apology for Japan’s annexation of Korea as a colony. Thus, a future-oriented agreement between Japan and Korea was concluded.

However, this case did not apply to the then Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who visited Japan in the following month. Japanese people were truly upset that he denounced Japan for its wartime past in a wide variety of opportunities during his visit to Japan, even at a court banquet, triggering a movement in Japan to protest against Japanese kowtow diplomacy. Afterwards, the then Prime Minister Koizumi visited Yasukuni Shrine, which prevented a summit between Japan and China from being held. Amidst this trend, even in Korea, those assuming the presidency after President Kim Dae-jung caused an adverse tide. Thus, the relationship between Japan and China, as well as between Japan and Korea, has reverted to a very difficult situation that is still continuing today.

The current Prime Minister Abe delivered a very good speech at a joint session of the United States Congress. The address comprised three parts: reflection on the war; Japan’s peaceful way of living in the postwar period; and an active alliance of hope based on the reflection and the way of living. The strategy worked very well. However, the statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of the war will be announced not in Washington, but in Asia, which means that Japan must present its current recognition concerning its wartime past. The problem is not a discussion from a narrow perspective, such as whether the four words “aggression,” “colonial rule,” “apology,” and “reflection” will be used in the statement or not. It is necessary to express a sincere apology and heartfelt sympathy to those who suffered so severely during the war, to clearly criticize ourselves, deny war, stress our peaceful way of living after the war, and obtain future cooperation. It will not work if we run away from the past and demand that China must not change the current situation by force. The statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of the war should include both the expression of a deep apology for the past and the indication of an admonition to China.

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