Posted by: gppn | 13/11/2009

Economic Reforms – East Asian Community as Japan’s Grand Strategy

Speakers: Takushi Sasada and Yumeto Ito, Tokyo University, Japan

Moderator: Aneliya Nazirova (LKYSPP) – Naomi Jacob (LKYSPP)


Can the East Asia Community be a means for improving cooperation and integration in the region? How will this improve Japan’s foreign policy? Will this regionalism improve relations between the East and West or cause further tension?

This topic had a more geo-political theme than an economic reform theme.


  • The speakers looked at economic and security reasons for Japan to pursue East Asian Community integration.
  • The region contains 49% of the world population, saw 8.8% of economic growth
  • The summiteers do more than 57% of total trade with each other
  • 150 billion US$ of military expenditure

Solutions and Strategies

  • Status Quo: Japan-US relations as the Grand Strategy
  • But there is a need for a new strategy, given the increased relations and fast pace of development of the East Asia region
  • Pursue BOTH: Japan-US Alliance and East Asian Community
    • Fostering market economy mechanisms through trade liberalization   (a region-wide FTA)
    • Maintaining an effective means of policing nuclear non-proliferation
    • Bilateral efforts in the region to restore credibility of global institutions such as G8 summit or the UN Security Council

Questions and Answers

Does Japan’s position on the FTAP in the APEC Summit go against or contradict its new stance towards East Asian Community?

Not really. Japan has a new administration, which plans to actively promote the East Asian Community regionalism. Previous policies may change based on this new foreign relations strategy.

What will be the impact of regional free-trade agreement (East Asia Community) on Japan-US trade relations?

Japan EAC doesn’t hamper Japan-USA economic relations, thus it the two-pronged strategy is possible and practical.

What is Japan’s attitude towards the rise of China?

Japan seeks to greater collaboration with China. They see the rise of China as beneficial for the region over-all. However, it is true that there is a tension between Japan and China due to historical context. These are being managed through soft diplomacy.

Is the East Asia Community strategy related or different from Japan’s greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in the 1940s?

It is different. What happened in the 1940s is used as a propaganda by the military regime. The East Asia Community regionalism has a different goal and spirit.

What is the ordinary American’s view on the rise of China or tension between Japan and China?

On one hand, Americans are apathetic or have no opinion on this issue. Basically, this is because the issue is “too far” from their everyday reality. However, there are some who view the “rise of China or rise of India” as a threat. Some students say that “the rise of” concept tends to be a caricaturish or overly simplified. For example, despite the supposed rise of India, there is high incidence of poverty in the country. The “fear” of the “rise of Asia” is unnecessary. The concept of the “rise of Asia” needs to be understood in a nuanced way.


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