The ICAS Lectures

No. 2000-0211-TxK

 Japan's Role for Peace and  
Prosperity in the New Century

  Takekazu Kawamura

ICAS Winter Symposium
Asia's Challenges Ahead
University of Pennsylvania
February 11, 2000

Institute for Corean-American Studies, Inc.

965 Clover Court, Blue Bell, PA 19422

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Biographic Sketch: Takekazu Kawamura



"Japan's Role for Peace and Prosperity in the New Century"

Dinner Speech by Ambassador Takekazu Kawamura
At the Institute for Corean-American Studies
Winter Symposium
Faculty Club of the University of Pennsylvania
February 11, 2000



Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Good Evening.

It is truly a great honor and pleasure for me to be here with such distinguished scholars like Professor Martin Meyerson and Professor Lawrence Klein. I would like to especially thank Madame President Kim. She gave me this precious opportunity to share with you some thoughts about Japan's role in ensuring peace and prosperity in the new century.

Since its establishment in 1973, the Institute for Corean-American Studies provided an excellent forum for the discussion on a wide range of issues. Special attention has been paid to relations between the United States and the Asian-Pacific rim nations. The ICAS has contributed significantly to intellectual exchange. People from the academic, cultural, educational, and international fields participate in its work. I am sure that today's symposium, with the attendance of many distinguished guest speakers, was thought provoking and exciting.

During my childhood, my father used to say to me at the table, "Chew your food well." This meant that I should concentrate on eating in order to have good digestion. But here in the United States, meals have had different significance for some time. You have breakfast meetings, luncheon speeches and working dinners, like tonight, not for socializing, but for serious talks. And yet, you seem to digest well. So, I sincerely hope that my speech today will serve you as a good dessert.

In December 1998, Prime Minister Obuchi, in his policy speech delivered in Hanoi, Vietnam, proposed, "a Century of Peace and Prosperity built on Human Dignity" as the vision for Asia in the 21st Century. In my remarks, I would like to elaborate on Japan's thinking toward the realization of this vision. Then I will speak briefly about the issues relating to the Korean Peninsula.

I. Revitalization of the Asian Economies

In the summer of 1997, the Asian economy, hit by the currency crisis, had begun to face unprecedented difficulties, with negative economic growth. Japan itself has been compelled to implement stricter management of its economy during this recession. However, Japan has pledged assistance to Asian countries struggling from the economic crisis, totaling approximately US$80 billion until today. It is true that the recent economic recovery of the Asian countries is due mainly to their own efforts. We believe, at the same time, that this Japanese assistance has been one of the very effective and useful tools for these countries to kick off their recovery. This assistance has been pledged successively to cope with varying economic situations during the period of crisis. Japan, naturally, has been implementing all of its assistance measures steadily. I must point out that other members of the international community have also provided emergency assistance measures.

However, if there is to be a fundamental recovery and sustainable growth of the Asian economy, more profound transformation of the economic and social structures of these countries may be called for.

It was in order to understand what approaches Japan and the Asian countries would be required to take for that purpose that Japan dispatched the Mission for Revitalization of Asian Economy from late August to early September of 1999. The mission was headed by Mr. Okuda, Chairman of the Japan Federation of Employer's Associations and Chairman of the Toyota Company. The Mission visited six East Asian countries, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Based on the discussions with the people responsible, both in the public and private sectors of those countries, the Mission presented its report. The Japanese Government, following the findings of the report, developed a new comprehensive plan for future development in the countries of East Asia. Prime Minister Obuchi announced this plan at the Meeting of the Heads of State and Government of ASEAN + China, the Republic of Korea, and Japan held at Manila, Philippines in November 1999. The plan is designed to build a foundation for medium to long-term stable economic development, with a particular emphasis on "people."

The Plan focuses on three areas:

First is the development of highly specialized human resources in the sectors of finance and higher education.

Second is human resources exchange at the civil level, such as the dispatch of senior volunteers and the building of an ASEAN-Japan Non-Governmental Organization network.

Third is assistance for student exchange. We regard this exchange to be very important. It will certainly enhance future relations between Japan and the East Asian countries and also as an intellectual contribution to the international community.

In total, $500 million is reserved for this plan.

Furthermore, from its past experience and analysis of the situation, the Japanese Government considers that there are four other important issues for the future development of these countries.

First, we better focus our attention on the importance of building social safety nets. The Asian economic crisis has had direct impact on the socially vulnerable-the poor, the elderly, women, children, and the unemployed. Although the Asian economy is showing signs of recovery, the social impact of the economic crisis has been extremely grave. If we neglect this aspect, substantial recovery and stable growth of the Asian economy will become difficult. The building of social safety nets is also important in order to give human elements to globalization.

It was for this reason that Japan decided to make strenuous efforts to extend aid to the socially vulnerable, particularly in the areas of medical relief, food assistance and rural development. Japan will continue to address this issue. I would also like to stress that Japan is active in appealing to countries outside Asia to take note of the social impacts of the Asian economic crisis. At the Japan-US Summit meeting held in May 1999, both Japan and the United States reaffirmed that they will cooperate toward recovering the Asian economy. In making such efforts, they agreed to take into account the necessity of providing assistance to build effective safety nets in Asian countries.

Second is ensuring the consolidation of ASEAN. Since its establishment in 1967, ASEAN has literally functioned as a driving force for the realization of peace and prosperity in a region of diversity.

Now, with the membership of Cambodia in April 1999, ASEAN brings together the entire Southeast Asian region under one roof. ASEAN is also promoting intra-regional cooperation towards recovery from the economic crisis. Such measures include the acceleration of processes to establish the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and the ASEAN Investment Area (AIA). Thus, ASEAN, as an institution, will play a pivotal role for peace and prosperity in Asia. Enhancement of the organizational capacity of ASEAN will be of paramount importance.

The third focus is in response to globalization. As you know, it was recognized that large-scale and abrupt outflows of short-term capital were a significant element, from which the Asian currency crisis stemmed. From this perspective, it is important to develop, as early as possible, discussions on the strengthening of the international financial system at a global level, with emerging -market economies participating.

Fourthly, Japan fully understands the extreme importance Japan's economic recovery has for the recovery of the Asian economies. I do not think it necessary to elaborate on the co-relations between the Japanese and Asian economies. Instead, let me explain very briefly the most recent policy package the Government of Japan adopted last November. The package, named "The Policy Measures for Economic Rebirth," has two objectives.

One is to generate new demand to facilitate the smooth transition from public-sector-led growth, as well as to steer the economy toward a full-fledged recovery led by private demand. The second objective is to solidify the direction of Japan's socio-economic structural reform and to achieve economic rebirth.

Under this package, overall projects will be promptly implemented through social infrastructure augmentation, financing of small and medium enterprises, financing for housing, as well as employment measures. The package amounts to approximately 17 trillion yen.

We believe that the implementation of the Policy Measures for Economic Rebirth and other necessary measures will lead the economy to a path of a private-demand-based full-fledged recovery in the second half of fiscal year 2000 (from April 2000 to March 2001), thus achieving real GDP growth of about 1.0% in FY 2000.

The economic crisis has not deprived the Asian countries of the fundamental elements that have underpinned the high economic growth of Asia. These elements include, among other things, high saving rates, a strong work ethic, and craftsmanship. In our view the Asian currency and economic crises were caused in part by distortions created during the process of rapid economic development. They were also caused by an adjustment necessary as a result of the delay in structural reforms. The nations of Asia are asked to build on the lessons of these crises to keep up their reform efforts. The international community needs to maintain its assistance for such efforts. I am convinced that with these efforts the Asian economies will definitely achieve recovery and will once again enjoy steady growth.

II. Peace and Stability in Asia

Let me touch upon, now, some of the political aspects of our vision for Asia in the 21st Century. In order to achieve a prosperous social structure, it is also important to create an environment of peace and stability in Asia. And yet, as you are aware, elements of instability and uncertainty have been present in Asia even after the end of the Cold War.

Under such circumstances, what is required to ensure peace and stability in Asia? First of all, countries that play significant role in ensuring peace and stability within the region must strengthen relationships of trust through close dialogue and cooperation. The most important for Japan in this respect is, without any doubt, the relationship of trust with the United States. At the same time, we have been strengthening mutual trust with China, Russia, the Republic of Korea and the ASEAN countries. These efforts have been made in various frameworks, ranging from Summit level to security and defense dialogue at the working level. In particular, in terms of policy toward North Korea, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States are closely cooperating with each other. Building a new network of dialogue between Japan, China and the Republic of Korea, or between Japan, the United States and China will also contribute to peace and stability in Asia.

Secondly, we must re-recognize ASEAN as an important political partner for ensuring peace and stability in Asia. Since its establishment in 1967, it has played an important role for the peace and stability in this region, giving priority to dialogue and striving to foster mutual trust.

It is our strong hope that ASEAN, now consisting of 10 countries, will further develop into a stabilizing power in Asia. Japan will continue to cooperate, and strengthen its ties with ASEAN to this end. We would also like to urge other countries, including the United States, to do the same.

Thirdly, as a premise to such efforts for peace and stability, the presence and engagement of the United States in the region are both important and essential. When Prime Minister Obuchi visited the United States in May 1999, he and President Clinton reaffirmed that Japan and the United States will continue to cooperate in order to realize peace and prosperity in Asia. The presence of the United States in Asia serves as a deterrence to prevent contingencies from occurring. At the same time, it also provides measures to resolve such contingencies if they were unfortunately to occur. One of the pillars of such presence and engagement of the United States in the region is the Japan-US Security Treaty. Its significance is appreciated by many countries in the Asian region. Laws related to the New Guidelines for Japan-US Defense Cooperation were passed and approved in the Japanese Diet in May 1999. I believe that this will contribute to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region by strengthening the credibility of the Japan-US Security Arrangements

III. The Korean Peninsula

Now, let me briefly touch upon Japan's relations with the Republic of Korea. Then I will speak about recent developments and Japan's position in relation to North Korea.

[A. Republic of Korea]

Japan and the Republic of Korea normalized their diplomatic ties in 1965. Since then, the two countries, which have maintained exchanges and cooperation throughout a long history, have developed close, friendly, and cooperative relations. However, at the same time, there have been also political, and sometimes emotional, tensions and frictions between the two countries, because of their unfortunate history and mutual distrust.

In this regard, President Kim Dae Jung's visit to Japan as a State Guest in October 1998 marked a new epoch in the history of Japan-Republic of Korea relations. During his visit, the leaders of both countries put the issues of the past behind them and defined a new, future-oriented Japan-Republic of Korea partnership for the 21st Century.

[Specifically, during the meeting between Prime Minister Obuchi and President Kim, Prime Minister Obuchi regarded in a spirit of humility that Japan caused, during a certain period in the past, tremendous damage and suffering to the people of the Republic of Korea through its colonial rule. He expressed his deep remorse and heartfelt apology for this fact. President Kim, in response, accepted the Prime Minister's statement and recognition of history. He also expressed his view that both countries should overcome their unfortunate history and to build a future-oriented relationship.

Then, the two leaders shared their common determination to raise the close, friendly relations between the two countries built thus far to a higher level, so as to build a new partnership for the twenty-first century.]

The results of the meeting between Prime Minister Obuchi and President Kim Dae Jung were confirmed in the form of the Joint Declaration called, "A New Japan-Republic of Korea Partnership towards the Twenty-First Century."

Since President Kim's visit to Japan, Japan and the Republic of Korea are on the threshold of a new era in their relationship. However, not only the government, but also the people of both nations, must make tireless efforts to realize solid and sustainable relations based on mutual understanding and trust. I am happy to note that there are some good signs that they are moving toward this direction.

In this regard, Japan and the Republic of Korea are going to host jointly the Soccer World Cup in 2002. The preparations have already begun, and people from both countries are working together to make it a big success. A lot of related events are also scheduled. An intensive and big movement of people between the countries will follow. It is expected that such events and cooperation will result in the further promotion of exchange and mutual understanding and bring the two countries even closer together.

[B. North Korea]

Now let me turn to the issue of North Korea.

When we think of political stability, not only in Northeast Asia, but also in the entire Asian region, the situation in the Korean Peninsula has always been of our utmost interest. In the past few years, a number of incidents have occurred, of which many of you are well aware.

Contrary to those negative incidents, however, Japan has made every effort to break through the difficulties of Japan-North Korea relations. For example, regarding the suspected nuclear development by North Korea, Japan has fully supported the efforts of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, or KEDO. It is Japan's view that KEDO is the most realistic and effective framework through which to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. Therefore, Japan will continue to maintain and strengthen its strategic cooperation with Executive Board Members as well as every party concerned with the issue, such as the Republic of Korea, the United States and the E.U.

Japan, the U.S. and the Republic of Korea, have been in close contact with each other. They have been exploring ways of reducing "threats," that the three countries and North Korea perceive in each other. Such efforts have been made along the approach jointly elaborated by the three countries, based on the initiative taken by Dr. Perry of the US. In the course of time, certain positive moves have been witnessed. They include progress in the U.S.-North Korea Talks, and the announcement by North Korea of moratorium on missile launching last September. In response, Japan announced the resumption of chartered flights between Japan and North Korea last November.

At this juncture, a mission of Japanese parliamentarians of all major political parties, led by former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, visited North Korea in early December last year. The climate for dialogue fostered by this mission offers a good opportunity for proceeding with Japan-North Korea talks. With a view to making the most of these opportunities, the Government of Japan has decided, on December 14th of last year, to lift the suspension measures that it took in response to North Korea's missile launching in August last year. These measures were to suspend, for the time being, negotiations for the normalization of relations and food and other forms of assistance.

After the decision, talk between the Red Cross organizations of the two countries was held in the middle of last December. This talk was immediately followed by preliminary talks for resuming normalization negotiations. These preliminary talks were the first official consultations between both nations in the past two years. During these preliminary talks, both sides frankly exchanged their views on various issues between the two countries and also agreed to meet again early this year. The meeting, by the way, is yet to take place.

Our basic position toward North Korea is to make an effort, through dialogue, to redress the anomalous Japan-North Korea relation, existing after World War II in a way to ease the tension in, and to serve the peace and stability of, the Northeast Asian region. It is also our basic position to have close policy coordination with both the United States and the Republic of Korea regarding North Korea. Based on these positions, Japan will continue to make patient efforts to improve our relations while seeking positive responses from North Korea.

Finally, I would also like to add that Japan is advocating the establishment of 6 party talks to discuss the Korean Peninsula situation. We propose that Japan, the United States, China, Russia, the Republic of Korea and North Korea participate in these talks. We strongly believe that the building of this new network of dialogue will significantly contribute to peace and stability in North East Asia.

IV. Conclusion

Before I conclude my remarks, let me refer to the "Five C's" advocated by Prime Minister Obuchi, in his foreign policy speech as Foreign Minister in Singapore in May 1998. He mentioned five words that begin with the letter "C" as key elements that had made the economic growth of East Asia possible and that were also required to overcome the Asian economic crisis. The Five C's are Courage, Creativity, Compassion, Cooperation, and Confidence. After the Asian economy began to show signs of recovery, Prime Minister Obuchi, in his speech at the International Conference on the Future of Asia made in June 1999, added two more C's. They are Commitment and Continuity. Like the Prime Minister, I hope that Asia's leaders focus on these seven essential themes as they work to build a bright future for Asia.

However, even though 7 is a lucky number, it is a bit too many. If we were to strive for a "Century of Peace and Prosperity built on Human Dignity" as I quoted in the beginning, the one key word will be compassion. I choose this word without permission of my prime minister, but I am confident that he will welcome my choice.

Thank you.


This page last updated 2/22/2000 jdb


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