Japan ASEAN International Open Symposium
"Okinawa's Vision:
As an Actor in the Asia-Pacific"

On the proposal of Prime Minister Koizumi in November 2002, Japan and ASEAN leaders agreed to designate this commemorative year 2003 as "ASEAN-Japan Exchange Year" to promote a variety of exchanges that would give further thrust to the building up of the partnership between ASEAN and Japan.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA) in cooperation with Okinawa Peace Assistance Center (OPAC) co-hosted the Japan ASEAN Workshop in Okinawa (Okinawa Convention Center) on January 21 and 22, followed by Open Symposium.

The Workshop was titled "Building a New Japan-ASEAN Partnership-Governance, Human Security & Community Building." The sessions of the workshop were chaired respectively by Prof. Hisashi Owada, President of Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA), Dr. Edy Prasetyono, Head of Department of International Relations, Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Tan Sri Dato Dr. Noordin Sopiee, Chairman of Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS), and Prof. Susumu Yamakage, Professor of University of Tokyo.Participants from both Japan and ASEAN discussed on initiatives for enhancing Governance since the Asian economic crisis, the ASEAN divide, Cross Border Issues and a possibility of cooperation for community building between Japan and ASEAN countries.

This Workshop was also aimed as a follow-up project of the final report of "Toward Vision 2020: ASEAN-Japan Consultation Conference on the Hanoi Plan of Action", which was proposed by then Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi in the ASEAN-Japan Summit Meeting in December 1998. The Workshop confirmed that the new partnership between Japan and ASEAN recommended in the report should be extended to the level of civil society.

Open Symposium, titled "Okinawa's Vision: As an Actor in the Asia-Pacific," was aimed at promoting Okinawa people's understanding for the possibility of Japan-ASEAN cooperation. Participants from ASEAN and Japan including Okinawa discussed the possibility of Okinawa's role as an exchange center in East Asia.

At the outset, Prof. Owada highlighted the significance of Japan-ASEAN relations and went on to elaborate the common geographical and cultural characters between ASEAN and Okinawa. Participants from ASEAN expressed their views on Okinawa's future role, pointing out the importance of further collaboration at the civil society level, of English education, the need for an effort to make Okinawa more publicly known, and to initiate a concrete project to make Okinawa an intellectual exchange center. Question was raised from the floor of the possibility of cooperation with ASEAN countries in the area of the environment which Okinawa's experience and knowledge could be utilized.
Dr. Theo welcomed the idea, citing the Singaporean experience of the green corridor. Dr. Noodin Sopiee, referring to the Asian financial crisis in the Southeast Asian countries, highly appreciated the New Miyazawa Initiative as a lifesaver and appealed to the participants not to forget the values Japan upholds. Finally, Prof. Owada concluded the symposium by saying that the sense of ownership is vital in tackling the confronted issues while the partnership will sustain and assist the efforts being taken.

The Workshop and Symposium were carried by NHK Okinawa and three local TV stations. Newspapers including the Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo carried this news on their top page. The open Symposium on 22th was attended by more than 150 participants.

Prof. OWADA, Hisashi, President, the Japan Institute of International Affairs
Prof. OSHIRO, Tsuneo, University of the Ryukyus
Prof. YAMAKAGE, Susumu, University of Tokyo
Dr. Kusuma SNITWONGSE, Chairperson, Advisory Board,
Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS), Thailand
Tan Sri Dato' Dr. NOORDIN Sopiee, Chairman,
Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS)
Dr. Eric TEO Chu Cheow,
Council Secretary, the Singapore Institute of International Affairs