Network of East Asian Think-Tanks (NEAT)

The 4th Annual Conference of NEAT

The 4th NEAT Annual Conference was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on August 21-23, 2006, under the sponsorship of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia. About 70 think-tank representatives and intellectuals from ASEAN+3 (APT) countries participated in the Annual Conference. The 6 participants from Japan were: Prof. ITO Kenichi, President & CEO of the Japan Forum on International Relations (JFIR); Mr. ASAMI Tadahiro, Advisor of the Institute for International Monetary Affairs; Prof. SHIRAISHI Takashi, Vice-President of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies; Dr. YOSHITOMI Masaru, President & Chief Research Officer of the Research Institute of Economy, Trade & Industry; Amb. SUGIUCHI Naotoshi, Councilor of JFIR; and Ms. WATANABE Mayu, Executive Secretary of the Council on East Asian Community (CEAC).

The Annual Conference adopted the Memorandum No.3 of Policy Recommendations, which will be submitted to the APT Summit through the APT Foreign Ministerial Meeting scheduled in December 2006. As there was not much disagreement on the reports from the 7 working groups since the detailed discussions among ASEAN+3 countries had been held throughout the year, the majority of the discussions focused on the “objective, principle and value of an East Asian Community (EAC)” section of the Policy Recommendations.

Since the year 2007 marks the 10th Anniversary of the APT Summit and the adoption of the second “Joint Statement on East Asia Cooperation” (the first Joint Statement, so to say the charter of the APT, was adopted in 1999) has been the big issue for the countries in East Asia, the “objective, principle and value of an EAC” section became a focal point of the discussions regarding the inputs from NEAT to the APT Summit as a prelude of the APT Summit in 2007.

Prof. ITO, the head of representatives from Japan, stressed on the importance of universal values in his opening speech, and argued for the adherence to the five elements—“good governance, the rule of law, democracy, human rights and international law and norms”— which were adopted in the Annual Conference held in Tokyo in 2005. Nevertheless, after the discussions in the Drafting Committee, the phrase “international law and norms” were deleted from the “objective, principle and value of an EAC” section in the draft Policy Recommendations.

Prof. ITO representing Japan stated that, “though ‘good governance, the rule of law, democracy, human rights and international law and norms’ may be impossible to practice right now, they are the goals that we tasked upon ourselves last year. We need to consider very well how the world would perceive if we delete ‘international law and norms’ from the Policy Recommendations.” It was regrettable that Japan’s argument met persistent opposition from some of the ASEAN representatives. Although the Japanese proposal was adopted with Japan’s decisive refusal for compromise, the process revealed that an EAC still has a long way to go.