Table Speech

The East Asia Common Body and Japanese-American Relations

September 28th,2005

Vice Chancellor of the Political Policy Research College Post Graduate School
Mr.Takashi Shiraishi

Vice Chancellor Takashi Shiraishi of the Political Policy Research College Post Graduate School spoke on the East Asia Common Body and Japanese-American relations at the meeting of September 28:

The recent elections and the one preceding were called elections without issue, but there were clear issues regarding foreign policy. The Liberal Democratic Party with its ‘Brave Foreign Policy’ and the Democratic Party’s ‘Foreign Policy in Pursuit of Open Japan’s Merit’.

The two differ in terms of Japan’s alliance with the United States. The Liberal Democratic Party takes the standpoint that the Japan-American alliance is the basis for Japan’s diplomacy while the Democratic, while allowing for the importance of the Japan-American alliance, cannot support the idea of global partnership unconditionally.

Another issue is the attitude towards the East Asian Common Body. The Liberal Democratic Party supports it in its manifesto, while the Liberal Democrats expresses its whole hearted support, which shows that whereas the former is somewhat hesitant in its support, the latter goes all the way.

I believe that one can go all the way in support of the East Asian Common Body while doing the same with the Japan-America Alliance. What is the East Asian Common Body? Today, it consists of Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the ASEAN nations. 20 years ago, on September 22, 1985 the Plaza Agreement took place and the yen arose against the dollar, and Japanese companies moved their factories abroad in order to remain competitive. The Korean and Taiwanese currencies also rose in value.

The business network in this region expanded, and created an economically unified area, which we started calling East Asia.

In Europe, after 2 world wars, Germany and France created a common market for their coal and steel which has developed into the EU.

The question “Who are the members of the Asian Common Market?” arises from time to time. For currency, its members are the ASEAN nations plus Japan, China and Korea. For the East Asian Summit, they are the above 13 plus Australia, New Zealand and India. Although it is a more loosely knit organization than the EU, economic unification is progressing quickly.

A currency crisis arose in 1997, and the IMF imposed strict conditions for the rescue. Voices were raised that regional troubles should be resolved by the regions involved. A summit of the ASEAN nations +3 was born, and the East Asian Vision Group was created by an idea from President Kim of Korea.

In January 2002, our Prime Minister Koizumi visited Singapore and in a speech mentioned that Japan-ASEAN Economic Agreement be made as a first step towards an East Asian Common Body.

With Japan taking the leadership, this movement progressed from 1997 to 1992. A currency swap plan called the Chiangmai Agreement was formulated by Japan and signed in 2002. China became active in the economic area, while this worried the Americans who brought in Australia, New Zealand and India as a counterweight.

In the beginning, Japan took the lead in the East Asian Common Body, but China made great efforts to take the leadership, but it was the ASEAN who took over.
Today, it is ASEAN who are the hub of the East Asian Common Body.

Although it was the currency crisis that gave momentum to the creation of the East Asia Common Body, there are 2 reasons why it has kept going. First is the economic growth of its member nations. Indonesia, with a total population of 210 million, has 2.5 million persons joining the work force every year, and in order to accommodate them must grow its economy by 6-7% a year. China has 10 or more million persons joining the worder’s market annually.

At this time, if we can make a regional rule on energy cooperation which the Chinese can accept it will be good for Japan. In order to prevent the Chinese from taking action unilaterally rules should be made regionally or globally in order that the Chinese will accept them. Therefore, a regional organization such as the East Asian Common Body becomes important.

I do not believe that the a body whose purpose is economic conflicts with security systems being made by the Japan-America agreement, or those between the U.S. and Korea nor that between the U.S. and the Philippines, should be made.

There is no problem in America or ASEAN becoming the hub of various networks, and there are issues in which we need American participation such as energy cooperation and they can be the hub of our efforts.

For Japan, we must use the framework of APEC, the Asian Regional Forum, and the 6 Nation Talks to induce the Americans to our regional cooperation efforts. In step with this the American should review the role of Japanese in the field of sea pirates, terrorists, narcotics, trade in humans, weapons export etc. in which we cooperate, with the help of East Asian countries being vital.

Such regional efforts have ASEAN in the center. With this in mind we should support the activities of Japanese firms active in the Region, and we must be the invisible hand playing an important role from behind.