Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Japan and Friends: Foreign Relations

"Last Wednesday at the Grand Prince Hotel, the Japan Institute for International Affairs convened a symposium on the East Asian Community. With the opening speech delivered by Hatoyama himself, and a promise to broadcast the entire proceedings both domestically within Japan and overseas, the event was quite high profile," writes Joel Rathus in his recent article Japan’s early moves on the East Asian Community. "The presenters themselves represented the cream of Asia’s Track II diplomacy. This was underlined by the fact that, in addition to handshakes with Prime Minister Hatoyama, Foreign Minister Okada met with the international guests over dinner at the Foreign Ministry’s official guest house that evening. The conclusions of the symposium will surely find a place (at least informally) in the policy-making process of Japan, and perhaps more broadly."

In his weekly editorial on East Asia Forum, Peter Drysdale adds, "A crucial question is whether the United States should be invited to join the enterprise. No step forward in consolidating East Asian regionalism can be taken without consideration of trans-Pacific economic and political security interests and the US interest is welcome. But the US is not a natural fit in the economic integration agenda that East Asia needs to work up in detail within EAS and US participation within EAS itself would be awkward logistically. Which is where Australian Prime Minister Rudd’s Asia Pacific Community idea comes into play. If, and as, EAC moves forward it makes good sense to tie its development in tandem with entrenching a comprehensive (Asia Pacific Community) dialogue between Asia and the United States (and probably Russia). And that is where there would seem to be a great deal of complementarity between Mr Hatoyama’s and Mr Rudd’s thinking about the evolution of regional architecture. In the coming weeks we shall post contributions from top analysts from across the region on these and related issues."

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