Japan must shake off US-style globalization
The likely next prime minister outlines his hopes for a more Asia-focused Japan.
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Unlike Europe, the countries of this region differ in their population sizes, development stages and political systems, and therefore economic integration cannot be achieved over the short term.Skip to next paragraph
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However, we should nonetheless aspire to move toward regional currency integration as a natural extension of the rapid economic growth begun by Japan, followed by South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and then achieved by the ASEAN nations and China. We must therefore spare no effort to build the permanent security frameworks essential to underpinning currency integration.
Establishing a common Asian currency will likely take more than 10 years. For such a single currency to bring about political integration will surely take longer still.
ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Japan, China (including Hong Kong), South Korea, and Taiwan now account for one quarter of the world's gross domestic product. The economic power of the East Asian region and the interdependent relationships within the region have grown wider and deeper, which is unprecedented. As such, the underlying structures required for the formation of a regional economic bloc are already in place.
On the other hand, due to the historical and cultural conflicts existing between the countries of this region, in addition to their conflicting national security interests, we must recognize that there are numerous difficult political issues. The problems of increased militarization and territorial disputes cannot be resolved by bilateral negotiations between, for example, Japan and South Korea, or Japan and China. The more these problems are discussed bilaterally, the greater the risk that citizens' emotions in each country will become inflamed and nationalism will be intensified.
Therefore, somewhat paradoxically, I would suggest that the issues that stand in the way of regional integration can only really be resolved through the process of moving toward greater regional integration. The experience of the European Union shows us how regional integration can defuse territorial disputes.
I believe that integration and collective security in the Asia-Pacific region is the path we should follow toward realizing the principles of pacifism and multilateral cooperation advocated by the Japanese constitution. It is also the appropriate path for protecting Japan's political and economic independence and pursuing our national interest from our position between two of the world's great powers, the United States and China.
We are currently standing at a turning point in global history, and therefore our resolve and vision are being tested.
Let me conclude by quoting the words of Count Coudenhove-Kalergi, the father of the European Union, written 85 years ago, when he published "Pan-Europa." (My grandfather, Ichiro Hatoyama, translated his book "The Totalitarian State Against Man" into Japanese.)
"All great historical ideas started as a utopian dream and ended with reality."
"Whether a particular idea remains as a utopian dream or becomes a reality depends on the number of people who believe in the ideal and their ability to act upon it."
Yukio Hatoyama heads the Democratic Party of Japan. This is an abridged version of an article entitled "My Political Philosophy" in the September issue of the monthly Japanese journal "Voice." © Voice/Global Viewpoint Network. Distributed by Tribune Media Services.