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Sunday 20 Aug 2017 | 03:14 | SYDNEY
Sunday 20 Aug 2017 | 03:14 | SYDNEY

Hatoyama's East Asian community

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26 May 2010 16:14

As with PM Rudd's ill-fated Asia-Pacific community initiative, many observers have found it hard to grasp what Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama's East Asian community is and what it would entail.

Last week, Hatoyama gave a full speech that helps clear some of the fog around the idea. Alas, this clearing again shows how different Hatoyama's vision is in scope, focus, means and origins to Rudd's APc. Hatoyama's vision is based on a cultural or civilizational view of Asia and its contrasts with the West:

I believe that one characteristic of Asians is that we do not perceive ourselves and others or humans and the environment in a western dualistic manner, but rather attach importance to the sameness between the two.

When it came to identifying the countries that are part of this future community, Hatoyama focused on China, South Korea, India and the countries of ASEAN:

From such perspectives, I have decided that Japan shall boldly advance liberalization of trade and economic partnerships with the countries of East Asia, centered on the Republic of Korea, China, and India, as well as the countries of ASEAN which historically have actively entered into free trade agreements and economic partnership agreements.

No mention is made of Australia and its trade negotiations with Japan.

Hatoyama's regionalism initiative is one that looks north and west towards the Asian continent, not east or south to the Pacific Ocean, as he notes in his conclusion:

It is incumbent upon Japan, which is located at the terminus of the Silk Road and flourished more than any other country by enjoying the blessings of a bountiful sea, to strive for a new departure in East Asia. These efforts represent a repayment made out of thousands of years of gratitude towards this region. As Prime Minister of Japan, I pledge to you that step by step I will make solid the path leading to an East Asian community.

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