Awaji Conference Statement

Forum of the 20th Asia Pacific Forum,Awaji Conference Japan
Saturday, August 3, 2019

The reports and discussions over the last two days were truly dense. Although some of us might feel that the discussions were somewhat insufficient,I think that we have spent an extremely challenging,inspiring two days. Dr.Satake has said that he could not marshal the opinions presented at the sessions,but I believe that such a wide variety of opinions themselves are invaluable,and I do not think that we need to marshal them unreasonably. Dr.Satake himself has indicated the main points at the beginning of his excellent report,so I feel that I have nothing to add to his remarks,but let me present my own review of what we have done over the past two days.

In his commemorative lecture yesterday, Dr.Narongchai indicated that although Asia lagged behind other regions in development in the 20th century,the area has now been advancing so rapidly that the 21st is called the Century of Asia. At the same time,he referred to the risk of the decoupling of the western and eastern parts of the Pacific region but stated that Asia would overcome the risk by incorporating scientific technology.

It goes without saying that technology innovation is presently underway at a great speed. I feel that it is significant to clarify what technology innovation is expected to bring to society. AI and other types of new technologies have drastically changed the existing business manner. You may not feel such a change fully in Japan, but as indicated by Dr.Narongchai, such technologies have altered businesses and also universities.

This April, the University of Hyogo newly launched the Global Business Course,featuring a new international dormitory in which a few dozen international students and a few dozen Japanese students live together.In the course,all the classes are held in English. Until September,when international students are enrolled,Japanese students intensively study English in the Philippines to obtain a good command of English. In addition, the university also established the School of Social Information Science,whose admission quota is 100 students, this April in order to accommodate the need to foster experts underpinning society using AI. As shown by these examples, even a local prefectural university is making various efforts, and I assume that universities in other Asian countries are promoting efforts at a much greater speed.

However, technology innovation entails the risk of military use. Actually, a war nearly broke out due to an Iraqi attack of an unmanned U.S. vehicle. All innovative technologies will eventually be used for military purposes. As indicated by the relationship between Nobel’s invention of dynamite and his establishment of the Nobel Prizes, technology innovation has both positive and negative impacts. The more innovative a new technology is, the more highly likely it will be turned into military technology, meaning the generation of highly lethal force. We must be on the alert for this point.

Another discussion theme was new technologies serving as highly efficient management instruments for an authoritarian regime. Today,China is demonstrating its excellent economic power and boasting its advanced technologies, as indicated by Made in China 2025. A digital society unexpectedly goes well with an autocratic regime. Some people feel that if new technologies are used not in the West, where an annoying lecture on liberal democracy is always given,but in China, they will help to control citizens and the generation of appropriate economic results. The Chinese government, believing that its own model is superior to other modes, places all the citizens under its control and grasps all the information through a facial recognition system. This situation is scary to those who are used to a free society, like us, but is unexpectedly welcomed by people in China. I hear that many people in China feel that such control by the government has enhanced the safety level of their disorderly society,in which they used to have no idea of when their wealth would be taken away and where violence would occur. They regard it more significant to ensure safety in their daily lives than to protect their financial information being leaked. New technologies can thus be used for full control of citizens under an autocratic regime and an authoritarian regime.

However, such a possibility was not the focus of the two-day discussions.In his keynote proposal, Mr.Arimoto introduced many cases in Japan where SMEs cooperate with one another to work on new forms of gardening by using new technologies. He has emphasized over the last two days that new technologies should be used as support for humans and as valuable tools for a friendly society.Meanwhile, Dr.Sugimoto’s remarks have made us aware of the astonishing progress of new technologies in the medical field. I’m impressed especially by the cutting-edge technology for 3D virtual real telemedicine. In addition, Ms.Takenaka reported that new technologies can be applied to take care of the disabled. I was truly moved by her report. Dr.Kubota reported that parallel session 2, for which she served as moderator, featured an in-depth discussion on this topic.

Technologies themselves are neutral, but they have great potential in terms of both positive and negative aspects. How should we utilize them for society? We should use them for businesses and universities,but at the same time, we should further develop Japanese people’s original manner of supporting one another and being generous to one another. Established in the Heisei era, this manner should be further evolved in the Reiwa era. I believe that this feeling is shared by many people.

One of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was to decrease the poor population by half, and this goal was successfully accomplished. This is a tremendous achievement, but it owes mainly to China. Hundreds of millions of poor people in China have almost disappeared due to the country’s economic development, resulting in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal.Spurred by this accomplishment, the target of eradicating poverty in 15 years has been newly set, but I do not think that the target is feasible. This is because it will be difficult for various countries in Africa and some other regions to achieve innovative economic development as China has done.

Placed under historical and traditional restrictions,each country has its own growth path. It might be good for everyone to encourage and support poor countries to make progress, but we cannot eradicate poverty by denying each country's own path. This is why the 17 Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs),which should be shared by all humans, do not force each country to completely achieve all of them but encourage each country to realize advancement by following its own path while featuring the impressive slogan “Leave No One Behind.”

One of the factors making it difficult to accomplish the SDGs is that President Trump of the U.S. ,the world’s largest superpower, is fairly hostile to the SDGs.Since he takes the stance of opposing almost all of the SDGs, he is always criticizing them. Considering that the presidency of the largest power has been taken by a person who has decided to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP)and quit the Paris Agreement, we can understand that it would be unreasonable to expect the SDGs to be achieved easily. I feel that we should be aware that we live in a sinful society.When the Ten Commandments were presented, we were told to observe fundamental ethics, such as do not murder or steal, but the history of humans has never seen full compliance of the rules.

Nevertheless, humans have not given up or lowered their goals but try to make betterments, though step by step, and help at least individuals standing in front of them or at least local communities. I think that such efforts are truly valuable, but at the same time, I’m slightly worried that the expectation that all poverty can be eliminated lacks a realistic view regarding humans and history.

Previously,there was mention of the severe U.S. -China economic conflict and other national conflicts. I did not say anything at that time, but I actually feel that Japanese military forces cannot be taken lightly. Despite the fierce expansion of Chinese military power, Japan has continued to follow pacifism, making the Self-Defense Forces remain a mere power for a certain level of self-protection.But why hasn’t China taken the Senkaku Islands away from Japan, even though China seized Mischief Reef and Scarborough Reef from the Philippines and six reefs from Vietnam? This is because Japan has a certain level of capabilities to act against intrusion. The Japan Coast Guard is so highly capable that vessels from the agency always arrive before official Chinese boats every time they make an intrusion into Japanese territorial waters. Such Japanese vessels run side by side with the Chinese boats and push them out of Japanese territorial waters. The Japan Coast Guard never fails to perform operations like aircraft scrambles. Japan is the only country with such capabilities in the neighborhood of China.

Moreover,the Maritime Self-Defense Force has the world’s most silent submarines.Although Chinese submarines have improved a lot, Japanese submarines have accumulated voice prints of Chinese submarines in their computers to identify which voice print belongs to which submarine from China. On the other hand, Chinese submarines cannot detect Japanese submarines even if they pass each other, posing a threat to China in case of emergency. Furthermore, Japan has many ship-to-ship missiles(SSMs),mainly operated by the Ground Self-Defense Force. These cruise missiles are highly sophisticated and capable of hitting any vessel approaching the Senkaku Islands. China knows that Japan possesses such weapons, preventing China from acting recklessly and looking down on Japan. This is why China has not done what it has done against the Philippines and Vietnam.

However, today, China has been raising the level of its military power stronomically to catch up with the U.S. In this environment, what should Japan do? My answer is, though it might sound abstract, to be equipped with a certain level of military arms. The concept “deterrence” means to prevent other countries or regions from attacking your country by featuring a capability with which you could pierce them through the brain or the heart.

Japan does not have such a deterrence, and the only thing available to Japan is the power of denial. If some country tries to attack Japan, Japan can force the country to withdraw from Japan. Unlike in the prewar times, Japan is now a relatively weak country. It is impossible that such a country will launch a war, but it is not appropriate to let other countries feel that they can engage in war with Japan without any costs. The previous discussion has made me think that the cases of the Philippines and Vietnam serve as a lesson indicating that we need to make some preparation and enhance our power of denial.

Presently, I’m concerned about the Japan-South Korea relationship. The impoliteness of Moon Jae-in’s regime is too much to tolerate. Stating that South Korea soon breaks agreements and says selfish things, Prime Minister Abe is very harsh on the country. He once said to me: “I don’t support the so-called Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal View. Japan didn’t do anything wrong. ”I objected to this,saying: “You’re wrong. Japanese people should deeply reflect on the war.Without doing so, Japan could not earn the confidence of the world.” I continued:“We should not deny our own postwar manner of following pacifism, being generous to other people, and placing more emphasis on official development assistance(ODA)and cultural interaction than on military power. We should play an even more active role based on our own manner.” He agreed with me.

In his statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, he showed his great cordiality to China, but he was very icy to South Korea and did not express his apology or regret over Japanese colonial rule of South Korea. I criticized that omission, but since the statement was prepared by the Prime Minister himself,there was nothing else that I could do. He said:“South Korea inconsistently brings forward a wide variety of claims. I don’t want to do anything until it becomes certain that South Korea is determined to never go back on an agreement with Japan. If so, I think that it will be OK to provide a drastic amount of money for the comfort women problem.”

At the end of the last year of the administration of Park Geun-hye, Japan and South Korea reached an agreement, leading Japan to provide 1 billion yen based on the mutual pledge that the provision was an irreversible resolution. Although Japan had not easily agreed to provide such money despite repeated claims by South Korea, Japan finally did so based on that mutual pledge with South Korea.This made me realize that Prime Minister Abe had not given me an evasive answer and that he took the plunge when it became certain that South Korea would never go back on the agreement. I respected him for that.

Nevertheless, the agreement regarding the comfort women problem was withdrawn under the administration of Moon Jae-in. It is unclear what will become of the remaining money that could not be provided for comfort women. After this impolite behavior was the problem regarding the flag of the Rising Sun and then the dispute of the radar lock-on involving a Self-Defense Force aircraft. Although Japan filed a protest over the lock-on, South Korea answered that they did not know about it.

The most difficult is the wartime laborer problem. The agreement concluded in 1965 states that the problem shall be fully resolved by Japan’s economic cooperation of 500 million dollars. The agreement also says that if any problem should occur, it should be discussed and meditation with a third party should be held. So, Japan has proposed to South Korea that we should discuss the problem based on the agreement, but the administration of Moon Jae-in has made no response.

As a result,not only the Abe administration but also the general public in Japan are becoming very harsh on South Korea. But we must note that there is a decline in anti-Japanese sentiment among the general public in South Korea. In the past,people in South Korea felt stronger antipathy toward Japan. Actually, when I went to Seoul and spoke Japanese carelessly, I felt that I might be suddenly attacked.Today, however, Korean people speak broken Japanese with smiles. Moreover,there are many very considerate, good initiatives to establish an amicable relationship between the two countries, including the private Campus Asia Program for student exchange, the regional interaction between Busan and Fukuoka, and interaction programs on the levels of universities and businesses.But there is a problem with politics. In addition, there are some other problems,such as hate speech. The administration of Moon Jae-in is icy and too insensitive toward Japan, causing criticism even among the South Korean media and politicians.

With this background, the Abe administration, which can no longer put up with South Korea, has excluded it from the list of white countries. This is probably the first postwar case where Japan has responded aggressively to a foreign country.Considering what has been going on so far, I feel that South Korea should have acted slightly more reasonably. Japan can no longer tolerate the situation and has finally taken action. But Japan should not act emotionally and needs to consider a strategic path and an expected solution.

If South Korea were more aware of an expected solution of the wartime laborer problem, the country might say, “OK, let’s start a discussion and get some advice from the U.S. ? ”But South Korea is too furious to control itself or to consider how to clear the way for a solution. Be that as it may, South Korea is historically used to such mudslinging matches, possibly giving the country some advantages.

At one of the sessions held today, Dr.Narongchai indicated that postwar Japan features neutrality and is globally recognized as qualified to serve as a meditator based on a fair footing without partiality to a particular religion.

This is a merit that Japan has cultivated in the postwar period, and Japan should not discard it in the mudslinging match with South Korea. If Japan should discard it,Japan could not only be prevented from rearranging the order between the U.S. and China but also be driven into a corner as a plaintiff once again. Japan is so annoyed by South Korea that there might be no other options but to stay away from the country during the administration of Moon Jae-in, though this might sound too radical. I guess South Korea might have acted similarly even in the age of Seikanron, a political debate mainly instigated by Takamori Saigo. Asserting that an exercise of force was the only option available, Japan in the Meiji era took steps toward colonial rule and annexation of Korea. The sentiment felt in those days can be imagined from public opinion today. However,the exercise of force has resulted in a long-term grudge, prompting Korean people’s anti-Japanese sentiment and further worsening the relationship between the two countries.

In light of these things, we need to establish a sufficient system in which constant advice is offered to South Korea from sensible persons, though such a task is incredibly difficult.

In this two-day event, Prof. Aoki in his lecture has emphasized that we should place more emphasis on culture, beyond the age of the mechanisms of power and benefits. He said that in this age of globalization, Japan should compete on culture and academic capabilities and that an impressive cultural center should be established in Hyogo Prefecture. I think that his proposals are truly worth noting.

Indicating the fundamental problem related to how Japanese people should live,Prof.Ando has proposed that Japanese people should be more ambitious and take action that will benefit local communities, society, and the entire world. He also insisted that while having more self-respect and becoming more self-reliant,Japanese people should remember to live together with foreign countries and remain a “Green Apple” filled with hopes.

His lecture was very convincing. Actually, he is the designer of this Awaji Yumebutai and is one of the founding members of the Awaji Conference. His messages are truly appropriate for celebrating the 20th anniversary of this event.Prof.Ando’s doctor said to him “I’ve never seen a patient without five or six organs get better,” but he has shared with us his messages probably as his living will,making me take off my hat. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the event, he spoke to us with all his strength. The two days for celebrating the 20th anniversary of the event were very significant.

By considering each of the opinions extended from all of you, I’ve made my own review of the two-day event. I would like to conclude by expressing my respect and appreciation for your excellent contribution. Thank you very much.

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