North East Asia: New Paradigm for Security

Key Note Speech
Kiyohiko TOYAMA, Ph.D
Vice-Minister (Parliamentary) for Foreign Affairs, Japanese Government
Member, House of Councillors, Diet of Japan (Senator)

Kiyohiko Toyama, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, speeches at the 5th CSCAP

December 2005

1. Introduction

  • Ladies and gentlemen, and distinguished guests. My name is Kiyohiko Toyama, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Japanese Government.
  • Before I begin, I wish to extend my heartfelt respect and gratitude to the two gentlemen serving as joint chairpersons of this gathering -- Mr. Jusuf Wanandi, and Ambassador Qin Huasum.
  • In my key note address today, I wish to briefly examine the recent development of security environment in Northeast Asia, and to suggest four points that I consider to be crucial questions for our discussion . I hope that the following presentation serves as a good introduction and stimulant for the panel discussion to follow.

2. The Recent Development of Security Environment in Northeast Asia

  • When we examine the security environment in Northeast Asia as it is today, we may find three distinct features. First, the region has one of the world's most prominent concentrations of military strength which has continued since the Cold War period.

    Second, compared to other regions such as Europe, this region can be characterized by wide diversity among countries in terms of their stages of development, political and economic systems, and views on security.

    Third, the U.S. retains a fair level of military presence in Northeast Asia based on the alliances maintained by the U.S. with Japan and the R.O.K. Clearly, there is nowhere else in the world where this presence of the U.S. plays a greater role in the maintenance of regional security. One could argue that in Northeast Asia the logics of balance of power and political realism still occupy the central part of security thinking.
  • Against this backdrop, we can observe some recent positive changes in the region.

    First, thanks to the increasing international trade and investment, economic interdependence among the countries in the region has deepened. Over the past 10 years, for example, the amount of trade between Japan and China has four-times larger in US-dollar scale. Between China and the R.O.K., it has increased indeed eight-fold. Bilateral negotiations toward the signing of Free Trade Agreements and Economic Partnership Agreements have also become common, as in the case of such negotiations between Japan and The R.O.K., and others involving also ASEAN countries.

    Ties in the areas of cultural and human exchange are likewise expanding. The number of travellers has doubled between Japan and the R.O.K., and increased eight-fold between Japan and China since the 1990s. This means that exchanges in Northeast Asia are no longer limited to hard products. Human ties are also being strengthened by soft products such as TV dramas and manga (Japanese animation) which are delivered by mass media, Internet, and travellers themselves.

    Progress in regional-based approaches has also been made. Examples include, among others, the ASEAN Regional Forum to address security problems in the region; the Six-Party Talks on North Korea's nuclear development; the East Asian Summit scheduled to be held for the first time in Malaysia this month. These regional multinational efforts are now playing an indispensable role for fostering mutual trust and providing a meaningful platform for resolving various problems of our common concern.

    Under this emerging situation after the end of the Cold War, Japan has decided to take positive steps to share a larger burden in the maintenance of international peace. Starting with the mission in Cambodia, Japan has dispatched its Self Defence Forces to various United Nations Peace Keeping Operations. In addition to those missions of the United Nations authorities, Japan has also sent Self Defence Forces to Iraq and off shore Afghanistan based on special legislations designed to enable Japan to make due contributions in humanitarian and logistic support operations. Our commitment to enhancing 'peace building' function of international community is now very strong and Japan will continue to be an active participant in this endeavour.
  • On the other hand, there are emerging elements of concern.

    First, recent years have seen the rise of nationalism, intolerance toward others, and social introversion in the countries of the region. These trends can threaten to impede progress toward forging cooperative relations among the countries.

    Other major problems include that of the Korean Peninsula, and also now easing but a grave problem of the Taiwan Strait. Although these issues date back to the Cold War years, they continue to be major concerns for our regional security.

    New threats such as proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missiles, and terrorism also render a major impact on the security of Northeast Asia.

3. China and North Korea

Now I would like to briefly focus on issues concerning China and North Korea. These two countries are keys to the security of Northeast Asia, and beyond, to that of the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.

  • China

    China is clearly one of the most important countries to Japan and most of all other Asia-Pacific countries. China's commitment to free market economy enabled remarkable economic growth, not only raising living standard of Chinese people but also contributing to prosperity of the entire region through various opportunities it has provided.

    China becomes more and more influential on peace and stability in this region, and we basically welcome China to play a responsible and constructive role in the regional as well as global context. At the same time, however, we are concerned with the steep growth and modernization of Chinese military forces, and therefore urge China to increase transparency of its national defence policy, including the actual size and content of military expense.

    Japan welcomes the excellent progress, on the other hand, made in its relations with China in recent years, both on the economic and human exchange fronts. The foundation of Japanese policy toward China is to extend mutual benefits between the two nations through dialogue to deepen mutual understanding and trust, and strengthening cooperation in numerous fields. Japan is making every effort to ensure a positive and future-oriented friendship with China.

    From this basic standpoint, it is imperative to prevent specific issues between China and Japan from interfering with the evolution of the overall bilateral bonds. Regarding the issue of the so-called `history recognition, the present Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi expressed Japan's view as follows, at the Asian-African Summit held this April:

    In the past, Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asain nations. Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility. And with feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology always engraved in mind, Japan has resolutely maintained, consistently since the end of World War II, never turning into a military power but an economic power, its principle of resolving all matters by peaceful means, without recourse to use of force.

    Over the years, these feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology have been openly expressed on numerous occasions, including the statement by former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama in August 1995, the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.

    My view is that, at the Government-to Government level, having an in-depth bilateral discussion is vital to prevent individual problems from impeding progress in the overall ties between Japan and China. In this regard, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Japan-China Comprehensive Policy Dialogues have been advanced at the vice-ministerial level, along with other efforts in this direction. It is important to uphold this position, and establish an consolidate a mechanism for policy discussions that generate meaningful fruits for the Chinese and Japanese people alike.

  • North Korea

    With North Korea, our concerns include the nuclear issue, abduction issue, threat of missiles and others. The nuclear issue not only directly threatens the peace and stability of Northeast Asia, but also poses a serious challenge to the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. In addition, North Korea's missile programme severely aggravate the security environment in Northeast Asia. As a member state of the Six-Party Talks, Japan is committed to realizing a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue, the primary objective of this multinational framework.

    On the bilateral front, Japan's basic approach is to resolve these issues comprehensively based on the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration of 2002, and normalize relations between Japan and North Korea in a manner that would contribute to lasting peace and stability for Northeast Asia and beyond. Bilateral discussions between Japan and North Korea also continue with this goal in our mind.

    North Korea must act in good faith to help resolve the pending issues. The resolution of these issues will lead to the full acceptance of North Korea into the international community, and will pave the way for a more peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula, enhancing also the security throughout Northeast Asia.

4. Four Themes for Thought

  • Based on the aforementioned discussions, I wish to propose four themes that I regard to be vital elements in our consideration on the future security of Northeast Asia. I hope they will serve as a stimulant for the panel discussion to follow as mentioned in this session.
  • The first theme is how to achieve an Asian society that is free and open. Naturally, every nation has its own uniqueness rooted in, or resulting from, unique histories and traditions, and it is important to maintain the merits of these foundations. Yet, at the same time, we also live in an increasingly globalized society characterized by sweeping advances in information technology and interdependence. For all peoples to enjoy prosperity there seems to emerge a pressing need to achieve a free, fair and open society, governed in accordance with international rules. The first question is how can we help each other in making our region such an open society?
  • The second theme is how we, Asian countries, should deal with the idea and institution of democracy. The key foundations of democracy lie in basic human rights, selection of government by fair election, and the rule of law. Today, these are universal values, and governments in which theses are not fully ensured cannot be qualified as democracies. On the other hand, many people in Asia seem to retain a certain level of scepticism to the kind of approach in which a particular form of democracy is imposed upon them from outside. Their fear is that, in the process of democratization, good old values of their society may be disposed and their way of life changed dramatically. I would like to express, however, true democracy brings about the greatest degree of tolerance and plurality. It is not, and should not be, a scheme to bring about a uniform society. In my mind, I am fully confident that democracy will succeed in Asia as well. There are countries in Northeast Asia, such as Japan and the R.O.K., where democracy has already taken firm root, and retains traditional values at the same time. The question is can we find any common approach that ensures such a path to democracy in Asia?
  • Thirdly, I wish to propose the importance of promoting functional cooperation in Asia-Pacific, shedding lights on specific fields that demand our immediate attention. Functional approach seems most effective in this region, primarily because the region is characterized by enormous diversity in the stages of national development, political and economic system, and views on security. Of course, this is not a new idea--such existing multinational frameworks as ASEAN+3 have already played a crucial role to that effect in the field of economic and trade cooperation. But my point is if we should build up more efforts in this arena in order to promote intra-regional discussions on such issues as environment, natural resources, arms reduction, nuclear non-proliferation, human rights and even religion, in addition to economic issues.
  • The fourth and final theme concerns about how best we can bolster relationship between governments and non-governmental or civil society organizations. International order guaranteed solely by inter-governmental relations is limited and fragile, whereas that supported by a multi-layer of governments and civil society is broad and strong. Today it is not rare to find, in our respective societies in Asia, good examples of such cooperation between governments and civil society where overall national interests are greatly enhanced. In the aftermath of tsunami disaster in this country last year, international community could carry out a variety of relief activities, thanks to synergy effect created by the combination of governmental and civil society efforts. So it is in my belief that, in economically growing Asian countries, the further promotion of civil society and improvement of government's engagement with it will strengthen our effort toward creating a more stable region.

5. Concluding Remarks

  • In conclusion, easing tensions in Northeast Asia will unquestionably reinforce the momentum toward further dynamism and prosperity for all nations of the Asia-Pacific region. On this point, we owe stellar acknowledgment to Indonesia, the host nation of this conference today, as well as to all other ASEAN countries for excelling as the drivers in promoting intra-regional efforts and cooperation in an open and progressive manner.
  • I would like to close my key note speech by re-stressing the importance of strengthening our efforts to ensure peace and prosperity of the entire Asia-Pacific region through the continuation of fair, open and candid dialogues among ourselves. I wish you that this important two-day seminar ends in fruitful and successful conclusion.

Thank you for your kind attention.


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