The 58th Meeting of "Diplomatic Roundtable" on "Capitalizing on the Asia-Pacific's Rise– Working as a Region: An Australian Perspective" Held

JFIR and its two sister organizations, the Global Forum of Japan and the Council on East Asian Community, taking advantage of an occasion of a visit to Japan of a prominent person on international and other affairs, monthly organize a "Diplomatic Roundtable" meeting, which is an informal gathering of members of the three organizations for a frank exchange of views and opinions with the visiting guest. The 58th "Diplomatic Roundtable" was held on 28 April 2010 on the topic of " Capitalizing on the Asia-Pacific's Rise– Working as a Region: An Australian Perspective." An outline of the presentation by H.E. Murray MCLEAN, Ambassador of Australia to Japan, was as follows.

Seeking to build multilateral relations among countries in the Asia-Pacific region for regional development is one of the main pillars of Australian foreign policies. The Japan-Australia relations have lately crossed over traditional economic cooperation, thereby encompassing security cooperation; as exemplified in 2+2 security cooperation. While the strategic significance of Asia-Pacific region in international politics, economics, and security is on its dramatic increase, the U.S. presence and her strategic superiority in the region cannot be overstated. The U.S. is a single and the most powerful actor, not only with strong military and economic power, but also with significant soft power. On the other hand, countries such as China, India, and Indonesia are becoming powerful players in the region. The Asia-Pacific region as a whole requires nations to cooperate in resolving present issues of energy, natural resources, and North Korea's security threat. Large scale natural disasters such as the recent earthquake in China proved that no one single country is able to provide sufficient support. Regional cooperation, therefore, is the way to answer these needs. As for the development of economic integration, worthy of note is the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA), which was enacted in January 2010. While, currently, Australia, Japan, China, Korea, India, and New Zealand respectively have individual FTA with ASEAN within the framework of East Asian Summit (EAS), the next step to be taken should be to integrate these FTAs to a wider regional zone of free trade. The concept of "Asia-Pacific community" is intended as a platform for countries in the region in which dialogues on politics, economics, and other urgent issues are held. Newly emerging concepts such as "expanded EAS" or ASEAN+8 can be a foundation of a highly elaborated regional organization. As Japan has contributed a great deal to initiating the concept of an East Asian community, Australia will continue to keep its eyes on the progress of this initiative, in a firm belief that the integration of the region will enable us to maximize the opportunities and future prospects for both countries.

 

The Japan Forum on International Relations (JFIR)

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