Table Speech

“Asia and Japan in the 21st Century” 

September 26, 2007

Mr. Tadao Chino,
Former President, Asia Development Bank,
Senior Advisor, Nomura Research Institute, Ltd.

 After the World War II, Japan had served as an engine for the economic growth in Asia, and one Asian country after another achieved remarkable growth. Around 1960, Asian countries, including Japan, accounted for roughly 12% of the world’s GDP. By 2000, this share grew to 25%. On a purchasing power parity basis, it is over 30%. Japan was the leader for the postwar Asian development.

 With the expansion of Asian economic power, the influence of Asia is becoming stronger. Asian culture and Asian ways of thinking are becoming wide-spread and accepted. The presence of Asia in the world and its responsibilities are growing simultaneously. This is the meaning of “The 21st Century will be the Asian Century.”

 I will discuss each of the “vigorous Asian countries”.
1) Singapore
The per capita income of the country in $28,000 and ranks along side Hong Kong in terms of wealth, but the Singaporeans are not self-content and always carry with them a sense of crisis and tension and thinking of the future of the country.

The strategy set out by the Singapore government is vitalization of the economy through actively attracting investments from foreign corporations and to become a financial hub, aviation hub, educational hub, and medical hub in the region. Deeming mastery of the English language as an essential element in successfully competing internationally, although the national language is Malay, they have made English the language used in education from primary school through to university.

Singapore, while a small country, has a significant presence in Asia and in the world. While it enjoys high per capita income of $28,000, the rate of growth of GDP has been maintained at a high level of around 8%.
2) China
The Chinese economy has shown double-digit growth each year since the year 2003. The size of the GDP has surpassed France in 2004, and in 2005 it surpassed the United Kingdom and has become the 4th largest following the United States, Japan and Germany. In 2007, it is possible that it will rank 3rd, overtaking Germany.
Stable development of China, our neighbor, will also coincide with Japanese national interests. The question has been posed as to how Japan can cooperate with China.
3) India
India’s GDP rose 9.4% in fiscal 2006 and surpassed the $1 trillion mark for the first time. The government is targeting an annual average growth rate of 9% over the next 5 years.
India’s IT industry is well known. The biggest issue for the future is the development of the manufacturing sector that would create large employment opportunities, and in order to achieve this, attracting direct investments through the further liberalization of restrictions and establishment of infrastructure will be needed.
4) Central Asian Countries
In the first week of September, I visited Central Asia to renew old acquaintances. Central Asian countries, after becoming independent from the Soviet Union in 1991, had warmly looked to Japan as an Asian associate. Japan needs to respond to such warm overtures.
In order to do this, there are many things that need to be done. The most important of these is the shaping of Japan and Japanese people with virtue and style. There are a lot of things to be done and require considerable time, but there isn’t much time remaining.
Giving energy-saving and environment-related technology is certainly important, but the expectations held by Asian countries toward Japan as a developed country are greater than what has been forecasted. The 21st century will clearly be an Asian century. Japan created that trend. Therefore, for Japan, there will never be the foolish choice of becoming isolated and separated from Asia that has finally begun to grow.
Recently the global framework has transformed and new countries have emerged one after the next, but since ancient times Japan has been a peace loving country where “harmony is nobility”. Japan has desired friendly, cooperative and mutually beneficial relationships with many countries, but the base should always be an “Asian emphasis” and “harmony with Europe and the Americas”.