An Introduction to The Council on East Asian Community (CEAC)

(1) Inauguration

In 2003, the Network of East Asian Think-tanks (NEAT) and the East Asia Forum (EAF) were launched as track-2 epistemic communities in East Asia under the umbrella of ASEAN+3 (Japan, China and ROK) Summit. Being triggered by this trend, The Council on East Asian Community (CEAC) was inaugurated in Japan on May 18, 2004. The establishment of CEAC was called for by think-tanks such as the Japan Forum on International Relations (JFIR), the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA), the Japan Center for International Finance (JCIF), and scholars such as ITO Kenichi, President of JFIR, TANAKA Akihiko, Professor of the University of Tokyo and YOSHITOMI Masaru, President & Chief Research Officer of the RIETI. The CEAC consists of representatives from wide-ranging fields in Japan who are interested in the concept of an "East Asian Community," including those who represent businesses corporations such as Nippon Steel Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation, and government agencies such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Education. A forum for those who represent industry, government, and academic circles to discuss an East Asian Community was inaugurated in Japan, whose attitude towards the issue tended to be passive until recently.

(2) Purpose

As an all-Japan intellectual platform participated by business, government, and academic leaders, CEAC aims at the strengthening of intellectual collaboration, the building of intellectual foundation, and the sharing of strategic ideas among them. CEAC is not designed to promote an "East Asian community" per se, but to study it. This means that CEAC is not presumptive of any specific definition of an "East Asian community." There being various views on the geographical scope of "East Asia" and the concrete structure of "community," CEAC confines itself to the study of the implications of each of these views and to the pursuance of whatever kind of strategic responses Japan should choose.

(3) Organization

The membership of CEAC consists of Think-tank members, Scholar members and Corporate members as of today. CEAC elected ITO Kenichi, President of JFIR, as Chairman, and ISHIGAKI Yasuji, Councilor of JFIR as President. The basic policy of the management of the Council is directed by the Caucus comprising its President and vice-Presidents. CEAC is governed by its "Managing Plenary Meeting" and Managing Executive Meeting." The "Policy Plenary Meeting," which is attended by the members of CEAC, conducts policy-debate among its members, and produce policy recommendations as occasions demand. The secretariat of CEAC is housed within JFIR. In external relations, CEAC supports JFIR, which is the Country Coordinator of Japan for track-2 NEAT and the National Focal Point of track-1.5 EAF under the ASEAN+3 (Japan, China and ROK) Summit.

(4) Activities

The activities of CEAC consist of the following four pillars: (1) research and policy recommendation, (2) affairs related to NEAT and EAF, (3) public debate, and (4) public relations and enlightenment. All these activities are highly synchronized with each other. CEAC is at the frontline of the various regional activities related to the concept of an "East Asia Community." It thus aims at integrating different opinions in Japan on the said concept and at presenting policy recommendations on what stance and strategy Japan should be taken.