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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 15th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Hatoyama outlines East Asia bloc –  key concepts include regional prosperity, environmental cooperation.

SINGAPORE (Kyodo) Monday, Nov. 16, 2009, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Sunday highlighted four key areas of cooperation in his concept for an East Asian community — regional prosperity, the environment, protecting human life and maritime safety.

Hatoyama indicated the U.S. is a potential member of his envisaged regional grouping, saying in a speech in Singapore, “The presence of the United States has been playing and will continue to play an important role in ensuring the peace and prosperity of Asia, including Japan.”

Hatoyama said Japan will speed up negotiations for economic partnership agreements with South Korea, India and Australia, and study the possibilities of talks with other countries as a means to pursuing prosperity in the region.

Hatoyama proposed expanding maritime cooperation in Southeast Asia, such as anti-piracy operations in the Strait of Malacca, to other regions as part of efforts to build a “sea of ‘yu-ai’ (fraternity),” noting that “most regional commerce depends on sea routes.”

“The concept behind my initiative for an East Asian community stems from the philosophy of yu-ai,” he said. “Within yu-ai, people respect the freedom and human dignity of others just as they respect their own freedom and human dignity. In other words, yu-ai means not only the independence of people but also their coexistence.

“I set this goal because reconciliation in the real sense of the word is not necessarily believed to have been achieved in the region,” said Hatoyama, whose two-month-old government attaches great importance to Asian diplomacy.

“This is the current situation, although more than 60 years have passed since Japan caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly on the people of Asian nations.”

Hatoyama expressed hope that developing countries will take advantage of advanced energy-saving technologies, water purification techniques and other environment-focused technologies owned by Japanese companies as they aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissionswhile pursuing sustainable growth to achieve a “green Asia.”

He stressed that countries need to ensure the success of the key U.N. climate change meeting next month in Copenhagen, where the world will try to strike a deal on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

Hatoyama said Japan will make a “proactive contribution” to encourage governments and other institutions to register their human and material assets for disaster relief, which would allow the region to conduct more prompt and effective rescue and relief activities in response to disasters.

Along with the four areas, Hatoyama cited nuclear disarmament, nuclear nonproliferation, urban issues, social security and cultural exchange as potential fields of regional cooperation.

“There may also be an opportunity for us to discuss possible political cooperation in the future,” he said.

“It may be possible that countries with the will and the capabilities to cooperate in a particular field may choose to participate in projects initially, and as their efforts bear fruit, other countries could join later.”

While welcoming Washington’s commitment to Asia as stated in President Barack Obama’s speech in Tokyo on Saturday, Hatoyama carefully avoided speaking about Washington becoming a member of his envisaged East Asian community.

As a framework of future regional cooperation, China envisions a grouping of 13 countries — Japan, China and South Korea plus the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations members of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Japan envisages a wider grouping including Australia, India, New Zealand and possibly the United States.

No to two-isle plan
SINGAPORE (Kyodo) Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday that he will not accept the idea of settling the sovereignty dispute over four Russian-controlled islands off Hokkaido by settling for the return of the two smaller islands.

“The (Japanese) public and us (the government) cannot understand (the idea of) returning two islands. I would like you to show a nonstereotypical approach that goes beyond such an idea,” Hatoyama quoted himself as saying at the meeting the Russian president in Singapore.

Medvedev told Hatoyama that Russia truly hopes to advance negotiations on the territorial row while Hatoyama is in office, a Japanese delegation source said.

Hatoyama quoted Medvedev as telling him that Moscow wants to seek a “pragmatic” solution to the dispute without employing an approach based on the thinking of the Cold War era.

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