General Overview -
The International Community in 1995
Regional Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region
The Asia-Pacific region, to which Japan belongs, is an area in which political and social stability have provided the background for economic growth made up of a rapid expansion of intra-regional trade and investment and for an increasing interdependence in various fields. At the same time, the members of this region boast great historical, cultural and ethnic diversity. In this region, effective utilization of comprehensive and multi-tiered frameworks for regional cooperation, such as APEC and ARF, is extremely important, as it strengthens the relations of mutual trust among the members of the region, creates a sense of community for the future and, as such, will lead to greater stability and peace throughout the region. Japan must be even more active in making contributions toward the achievement of this goal.
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
a) The Development and Significance of APEC
Since the first APEC Ministerial Meeting held in Canberra, Australia in November 1989, APEC has achieved steady and substantive development. The annual Ministerial Meeting, which is the core apparatus of APEC, has been held every year, and, since 1993, when the Economic Leaders Meeting was held back to back with the APEC Ministerial Meeting in Seattle, there has been an annual gathering of leaders - in 1994 in Bogor, Indonesia, and in 1995 in Osaka, Japan.
What lay behind the establishment and steady development of APEC was the rapid growth of the Asia-Pacific economy, driven primarily by the developing economies of East Asia, and the ensuing deepening of interdependence among the members of the region. As Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama stated at the APEC Leaders Dinner which he hosted in Osaka, this Asia-Pacific development is of historic significance in that it represents a departure from the old pattern of North-South relations, and APEC, regional cooperation among diverse economies seeking to sustain their development, can serve as a new model of international cooperation. APEC has great significance for Japan in the following areas: 1) securing long-term development of the Japanese economy; 2) further strengthening mutual trust with other parts of Asia; 3) contributing to political stability with other parts of the region by securing economic growth in the Asia-Pacific; 4) providing an environment for active participation of the United States in Asia-Pacific affairs; 5) promoting the smooth participation of China in frameworks for international cooperation; 6) strengthening relations between Australia and New Zealand, and the economies of East Asia; and 7) strengthening ties between Japan and Central and South American countries. In light of these points, promoting cooperation within APEC constitutes a major pillar in Japan's Asia-Pacific foreign policy.
The APEC Economic Leaders' Declaration of Common Resolve issued at the November 1994 Bogor Meeting (the Bogor Declaration) adopted the goal of achieving free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific no later than the years 2010 for industrialized economies and 2020 for developing economies, as well as that of intensifying development cooperation. As the Chair of the 1995 APEC Meetings, Japan's major responsibilities were the formulation of the Osaka Action Agenda for Implementation of the Bogor Declaration, as well as guiding the 7th Ministerial Meeting held on 16-17 November and the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting held on 19 November successfully to conclusion. Indeed, fulfilling these responsibilities was one of the highest priorities among Japan's foreign policy objectives for 1995. The adoption of the Osaka Action Agenda and the Osaka APEC Economic Leaders' Declaration for Action were among the many successes achieved. The following section provides a detailed outline of the achievements of the Osaka APEC Meetings.
b) The Achievements of the Osaka APEC Meetings
The foremost achievement of the Osaka Meetings was the adoption of the Osaka Action Agenda which brought APEC from the stage of "vision" to that of "action." The Action Agenda will serve as the framework for specific endeavors for the liberalization of trade and investment, the facilitation of trade and investment, and economic and technical cooperation to be undertaken in APEC, aiming at the realization of the long-term goals specified in the Bogor Declaration. Japan has long maintained the stance that, in order to ensure balanced development in the Asia-Pacific region, it is essential that the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment be pursued in tandem with the promotion of economic and technical cooperation as two wheels of the same axle. The Action Agenda was compiled based on precisely this spirit.
The Action Agenda is quite unique in that, in pursuing the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, it incorporates, in a characteristically Asia-Pacific way, the combined use of concerted unilateral actions taken by each economy and collective actions taken by all members. This method, which was selected in light of the strong aspirations of all members of APEC to proceed with liberalization, is a practical and effective approach to liberalization in the region, given the great diversity among the members in such matters as their respective economic situations.
The role that Japan played as the APEC Chair throughout the 1995 APEC process was highly commended by the other member economies. Specifically, in formulating the Action Agenda, Japan listened to the diverse views of all members, whose stages of economic development and economic situations vary greatly, and after carrying out thorough consultations, displayed leadership in reaching consensus among all members. The members will individually prepare Action Plans for the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment in their economies based on the Action Agenda. These Action Plans are to be submitted to the 1996 Ministerial Meeting in the Philippines.
The next major achievement of the Osaka APEC Meetings was a set of Initial Actions put forward by the leaders for the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment. These Initial Actions included: acceleration of the implementation of Uruguay Round commitments, including those on tariff reductions, and deepening and broadening of the outcome of the Uruguay Round to the extent currently possible; and deregulation. As such, these Initial Actions are of great significance in demonstrating clearly to the international community the firm resolve within APEC to proceed with liberalization.
The third major achievement of the Osaka APEC Meetings came in the field of economic and technical cooperation. The Ministerial Meeting formally adopted the Partners for Progress (PFP) proposal, which had been put forward by Japan at the 1994 Ministerial Meeting. PFP is a new framework for further promoting economic and technical cooperation on the basis of voluntarism and mutual assistance among the members, and as such, goes beyond the traditional donor/recipient framework. It is expected that, at the outset, members will make use of PFP as they focus on cooperative projects to support the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment.
At the Economic Leaders Meeting, Prime Minister Murayama announced that, in order to expand cooperative projects related to the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment and to further promote PFP, Japan would disburse up to a total of billion yen over the next several years in assistance for appropriate projects as necessary through the APEC Central Fund. This announcement was welcomed by the other members.
In terms of progress made towards the further organization of APEC, there was a shared recognition of the importance of such matters as the creation of guidelines for the establishment of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), criteria and principles for non-member participation in APEC Working Group activities, and on measures to strengthen the functions of the Secretariat.
The APEC Economic Leaders' Declaration for Action adopted in Osaka confirmed the achievements outlined above and clarified the new issues which remained to be addressed. In particular, it is noteworthy that the leaders stressed the need for APEC to put the inter-related issues of population, food and energy and the environment on its long-term agenda, as the Asia-Pacific region's quick expanding population and rapid economic growth are forecast to increase the demand for food and energy, and the pressures on the environment.
c) Future Issues
Combined, the members of APEC account for 40% of the world population, 56% of the worlds's GDP, and 46% of world trade (based on 1993 statistics from the Bank of Japan and the International Monetary Fund). Considering the potential for further growth in the Asia-Pacific region, it is certain that the influence which APEC exerts on the world economy will continue to increase. Hence, the steady implementation of the Action Agenda as well as following through on the leaders' resolve to meet the challenges of new issues are essential contributions of APEC, not only to the Asia-Pacific region, but to the entire world economy. It is also vital to maintain the transparency of APEC vis-à-vis extra-regional countries and organizations such as the European Union, which has indicated strong interest in APEC's progress. Japan must do its utmost to see to it that the Action Agenda is steadily implemented and must set an example for other members at the Ministerial Meeting in the Philippines by bringing to the table an Action Plan replete with forward-looking and substantive content.
The ASEAN Regional Forum was established in 1994 as a forum for dialogue at which foreign ministers from Asia-Pacific countries, including those of the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation, gather under one roof to exchange views on political and security issues in the region. At the Second ARF Meeting in August 1995, the participants agreed to advance concrete Confidence-Building Measures within the region. This represented a tangible step forward in terms of qualitative progress in making the ARF a forum for cooperation on security.
At the First ARF Meeting in 1994, the members agreed to continue work toward strengthening and enhancing political and security cooperation within the region. With the new membership of Cambodia, the ARF held the Second ARF Meeting in Brunei, where 18 foreign ministers and representatives from the European Union had a frank exchange of views on security issues such as the South China Sea and nuclear testing. In particular, the participants agreed that the following three-step evolutionary approach should be taken: 1) promotion of confidence-building; 2) development of preventative diplomacy; and 3) elaboration of approaches to conflicts. This was significant in the sense that the participants had a shared view on the medium-term objectives of the ARF. The participants agreed that emphasis should be put on confidence-building, and that they will continue to discuss how best they could proceed with an implementation stage. As for specific Confidence-Building Measures, members agreed to promote the following: 1) enhancing dialogues and consultations on political and security cooperation; 2) encouraging the submission of an annual statement of their defense policy; 3) encouraging high-level contacts and exchanges among defense officials; and 4) promoting participation in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. It was noteworthy that China published in 1995 a White Paper, Arms Control and Disarmament, which was a step towards increasing transparency.
It is of historical significance that a framework for regional cooperation on security is steadily developing in the Asia-Pacific region. As was described earlier, however, in light of the diversity in the region, we should promote these cooperative relations step by step. For the long-term stability of the Asia-Pacific region, all regional countries should join efforts in getting the ARF under way, seeking to promote security cooperation, and continuing to enhance confidence among countries in the region.
In order for Japan to ensure its security and prosperity, it should continue to actively participate in this forum, playing, for example, a central role in implementing concrete Confidence-Building Measures. It was in this context that Foreign Minister Yohei Kono announced at the Second ARF Meeting (Note 1) that Japan was prepared to co-host with the Republic of Indonesia the Inter-sessional Support Group on Confidence-Building Measures. The first meeting of that Group was held in Tokyo in January 1996.
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