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"JFIR Commentary" presents views of members and friends of JFIR on Japan's foreign policy and other related international affairs. The view expressed herein is the author's own and should not be attributed to JFIR.
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No.103: Restore the Balance of Power before Nuclear Disarmament
By NABESHIMA Keizo
The communique of the Foreign Ministers Meeting of the ASESAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) on July 25 did not mention the judgement by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague that denied the Chinese sovereignty in the South China Sea. The Chairman's Statement of the ASEAN Summit Meeting held in Laos on September 7 did not mention it either. In view of this, there is a growing recognition in ASEAN that the relationship with China needs to be reset.
The ASEAN is managed under the principle of unanimity (ASEAN method), but regarding the South China Sea problem, pro-Chinese Cambodia objected strongly to include the "Hague judgement" into the communique, as a result of blatant Chinese intervention.
China offered a 600 million dollar loan to Cambodia a week before the meeting, and Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed objection to the adjudication of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which gave an impression to the global community that his country had yielded to such a huge amount of Chinese aid. Remember that the ASEAN failed to announce the joint statement in 2012 when Cambodia assumed the chairmanship.
An ASEAN divided by great power intervention will have some impacts on Asia Pacific affairs. As the Sino-American rivalry for regional hegemony grows intensified, liberal democracies such as Japan, the United States, Australia, and India, need to reconsider how to get involved in the ASEAN that stands at the crossroads.
Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan told the media that the series of meetings between the ASEAN and their counterparts "gave us the opportunity to press the reset button and to set ASEAN-China relations back onto a more positive projectory." Though Singapore and Indonesia are not involved in territorial disputes in the South China Sea, both countries are increasingly critical to unilateral reclamation and militarization of reefs by China.
Though the Philippines "won the lawsuit" of the Arbitration Court, Professor Richard Javad Heydarian at De La Salle University, commented critically, "The ASEAN's shortcomings lie in its institutional design of consensus-based decision making, which has handed de facto veto power to each member country to create institutional paralysis" in his article to the Strait Times to represent viewpoints of his country.
As a result, ASEAN has become inclined to "disunification rather than unification" as shown in the last Foreign Ministers meeting. He is critically concerned that such a paralysis would undermine ASEAN influence in South East Asia, and therefore, he argues that ASEAN officials consider introducing a majority rule system, so called an "ASEAN minus X" system.
It is reported that ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh is exploring the way of "more effective process of reaching consensus on important issues." One of such processes is an "ASEAN minus X" model. This method gives an option to member countries to join an ASEAN deal later, if they did not agree to it at first. It is applied to only economic relations, as typically seen in the liberalization deal of telecommunication service between Brunei and Singapore.
The ASEAN has expanded from original five members to ten members, and underdeveloped members of enlargement like Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar are heavily dependent on huge Chinese economic sphere, and they are politically vulnerable to Chinese pressure. If mutual national interests are incompatible among members, as the enlargement goes further, it will be increasingly difficult for the ASEAN to build a consensus, as it happens in the European Union (EU).
The ASEAN will celebrate the 50th anniversary in 2017, and it is a pressing problem for them to build up stable relations with major powers including China, Japan, and the United States, to restore unity and trust for their raison d'etre.
(This is the English version of an article written by NABESHIMA Keizo, Critic, which originally appeared on the e-forum "Hyakka-Seiho (Hundred Flowers in Full Bloom)" of JFIR on August 1, 2016, and was posted on "JFIR Commentary" as no.104 on September 29, 2016.)
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For more views and opinions in the back number of "JFIR Commentary," the latest of which are as follows, please refer to:
No.103 Restore the Balance of Power before Nuclear Disarmament
by SHIKATA Tatsuo, Economist
(29 July, 2016)
No.102: Japan Should Refute Every Lopsided Claim that Russia Makes
by HAKAMADA Shigeki, Trustee, JFIR
(30 May, 2016)
No.101 The NYT's 'Condescending Eyes' and 'Distortion Syndrome' Going Too Far"
by SUGIURA Masaaki, Political Commentator
(11 May, 2015)
No.100 Has Abenomics Lost Its Initial Objective?
by SHIMADA Haruo, President, Chiba University of Commerce
(17 March, 2016)
No.99 "Haste Makes Waste" in Territorial Talks with Russia
by HAKAMADA Shigeki, Councilor of JFIR
(30 November, 2015)
No.98 "Strategization" of the U.S.-Vietnam Relations Worthy of Note
by NABESHIMA Keizo, Critic
(24 September, 2015)
"JFIR Updates" introduces to you latest events, announcements and/or publications of JFIR.
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The Dialogue with the World "The International Order in Europe and Asia-Pacific after the Ukraine Crisis and Japan's Course of Action" to be Convened on November 25 in Tokyo
The Japan Forum on International Relations (JFIR), under the co-sponsorship with the Institute of World Policy (IWP), the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center (BSC) and the Global Forum of Japan (GFJ), will convene "The Dialogue with the World" on "The International Order in Europe and Asia-Pacific after the Ukraine Crisis and Japan's Course of Action" to the following effect.
Date: Friday, November 25, 2016
Time: 13:00 to 16:50
Venue: "Saffron", Ivy Hall, Tokyo, Japan ( https://www.ivyhall.jp/access/ )
The "Dialogue" will feature such eminent panelists as follows:
From the foreign side: Dr. Leonid LITRA / Institute of World Policy (Ukraine), Dr. Daria KHASPEKOVA / Russian International Affairs Council (Russia), Dr. Joerg FORBRIG / German Marshall Fund (Germany), Dr. Robert NURICK / Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center (U.S.).
From the Japanese side: Prof. MUTSUSHIKA Shigeo / Univ. of Shizuoka, Assoc. Prof. SUEZAWA Megumi / Heisei International Univ., Prof. ITO Go / Meiji Univ., Prof. HAMAMOTO Ryoichi / Akita International Univ., Prof. SAITO Motohide / Institute of Policy and Cultural Studies, Chuo Univ.
For more information, please refer to:
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