News December 2001

[ Research Trend ]

Trilateral Trade and Investment after China's Entry into the WTO (First Phase)
Joint Research on Economic Cooperation among Japan, China, and Korea - Report from the Trilateral Summit Meeting

At the ASEAN+3 summit meeting held in November 1999, the first trilateral summit meeting by Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Ronji, Korean President Kim Dae-jung, and then Japanese Prime Minister Obuchi was held in Manila. At that time, Japan, China, and Korea agreed that research institutes of the three countries would conduct joint research on enhancing economic cooperation among the three countries.

NIRA was selected as the research institute representing Japan and was requested by the Japanese government to conduct this joint research with research institutes representing China and Korea. The Development Research Center of the State Council and the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy participated in this project from China and Korea respectively.

This research is for a period of two years, of which the first year is devoted to trade with a focus on trade facilitation issues and the second year will be devoted to investment issues.


[ New Research Projects ]

Cyber Governance as the Foundation for the e-Asia Concept

Under the circumstances where Asian countries are rapidly being computerized, this research project will deal with the issue of governance brought about by an information-oriented society. Assuming the arrival of an e-Asia era when Asian countries will be connected to each other through high-speed communication networks, this research will examine governance issues occurring in cross-border electronic transactions and the flood of electronic information from various angles.

To promote the e-Asia concept full scale, it will be necessary to set details in both aspects of institution and infrastructure in various fields, as seen in e-ASEAN. Taking this background into consideration, this project will propose cyber governance, or the concept that reconsiders information networks not from the viewpoint of computerization, but in a manner of likening them to human nerves.

True cyber governance requires international harmonization. However, it is also necessary to consider the difference in social customs and rules and the existence of the digital divide in Asia.

In conducting this research, a "study meeting on cyber governance" consisting of experts will be established, and a meeting will be held once a month.


Regional Policies Contributing to International Peace - Modeled on Hiroshima as a Representative of Peace in the Twentieth Century

After World War II, Japan has complied with its peace Constitution; Japan has not become an invader, and has centered its diplomacy on the United Nations. Japan has considered this attitude as the basis of peace policies, while such policy was sometimes criticized as "one-country pacifism" or "passive peace efforts."

After the Cold War new threats have appeared, such as internal conflicts or terrorism, and it cannot be said that if there is no war, the world is at peace. Under such circumstances, it is necessary to discuss security issues comprehensively. In addition, the number of civilian victims is increasing, and the significance of discussions on peace and security at the citizen's level is also increasing.

Not only the traditional nations or international organizations, but also civil societies have been considered major players in dealing with international peace and security. Local governments are also important members.

In Hiroshima, a prefecture that was the victim of atomic bombs, mourning the atomic bomb victims and appealing for the abolition of nuclear weapons have formed the majority of its contribution to world peace thus far. However, changing its understanding of the concept of peace from "peace to be prayed for" to "peace which is created," Hiroshima attempts to play a role in realizing security at the citizen's level towards international peace in the twenty-first century.

Modeled on Hiroshima, this research project aims to examine the role that should be played by each region and local government in achieving international peace and security. This research project also aims to study and propose regional policies that will contribute to security at the citizen's level.

In the cooperation with the international community, the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law was established in Japan at the end of October 2001. It is said that this law shows a sea change in Japan's security policies. It is expected that Japan will contribute to peace and reconstruction of Afghanistan. Japan rose from the ashes of war in the past and engaged in peace-keeping operations in Cambodia. This research will also consider how such experience will be utilized in the future international peace.


Research on the Necessity of Introducing Three-Party Method of Execution for Improvement of Transparency and Efficiency in Public Enterprise

With a focus on the methods taken in efforts to maintain social capital and in comparison with similar businesses conducted in other nations, this project explores the optimal means to be taken in implementing public businesses with improved transparency and efficiency.

As stipulated in a standard public work contract, Japan's public businesses are conducted by the owner and contractor, in other words, is conducted under a framework composed of only two actors. The role of the third party constituted by a group of technicians (consultants) remains limited. Their role remains supportive, undertaking only part of the role originally played by the owner (such as "planning," "survey," "design," and "management").

In contrast in other industrialized countries and in the majority of developing countries, a system involving three actors is generally adopted. The framework involving three parties refers to one in which a group of technicians (consultants) are involved with the aim of supervising the project from the standpoint of a third party, in addition to owners and contractors.

Given the drastic reform of the construction industry and the application of WTO agreements, it is essential to introduce a new execution system involving third parties.

In addition, by introducing the third party into the framework, a feasibility study, which is highly accurate and trustworthy, will be conducted, a transparent competition principle will be introduced, and cost reduction efforts will become more efficient.

This project examines the necessity of introducing such a three party method and the problems that may arise.


A Study on Establishing Programs for Making Public Policies and Fostering Personnel

With the aim of supporting efforts to promote policy research, NIRA has endeavored to subsidize policy research projects conducted by other think tanks, to collect, analyze, and disseminate information concerning think tanks and policy research, establishing networks among think tanks.

Article 23 of the National Institute for Research Advancement Act stipulates that it is one of NIRA's tasks to develop activities aimed at "training personnel who will be involved in comprehensive research development and at fostering personnel who will take charge of planning and adjusting comprehensive research and development." In order to implement this task, the OJT ("On the Job Training") method is adopted by NIRA. Namely, NIRA has accepted personnel from various policy research institutions as its temporary staff so that they will be able to experience actual assignments related to policy research.

In addition, through the surveys and analyses on think tanks that NIRA has conducted through the years (such as the "Almanac of Think Tanks in Japan"), it has repeatedly emphasized that personnel is a significant foundation of policy research. In addition, it is being pointed out that Japan's policy research institutions, including think tanks, are not thoroughly developed nor functioning effectively because, for one reason, efforts to foster personnel have not proven successful.

With regard to these issues, this research project will be conducted as NIRA's "basic research and development" project, which is intended to strengthen the necessary foundation for the development of policy research in Japan. The project is aimed at cultivating researchers and government officials involved in policy-making with pioneering views. In other words through this project, NIRA aims to implement the foundation necessary for ensuring the cultivation of personnel which is the most important factor in the development of policy research. Research results will be reflected in NIRA's internal training programs.

It is hoped that the "NIRA seminar on public policy study (tentative name)" will be established as a result of this research project. This basic research project is aimed at establishing training programs that are more effective and practical.


[ Symposium/Lecture ]

[ Workshop ]

Research on Policy Priority in an Aging Society: From the Common Viewpoints of Japan and the United States

NIRA started the "Research on Policy Priority in an Aging Society: From the Common Viewpoints of Japan and the United States" in July 2001.

One characteristic of this project is that it includes joint research with the Urban Institute (UI), a leading American think tank.

Mr. Rudolph G. Penner

Workshop Held on October 1-3
As the first concrete step of the joint research with UI, a workshop was held at NIRA between October 1-3, inviting Mr. Rudolph G. Penner, a researcher from UI. The workshop was held immediately after the Terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, and some researchers of UI, located in Washington, D.C., inevitably sunk into grief. Therefore, in the middle of the opening address by NIRA President Shioya, participants offered a silent prayer preceding the discussions.

The Japanese side presented drastic revision of expenditure structures under way for structural reforms in the Japanese economy. Specifically, they presented sweeping revisions in fields including public enterprises, social security, financial relations between the central and local governments, and a lot of new reform methods. The U.S. side, based on the long-term changes in the U.S. financial balance, explained various efforts (including pay-as-you-go) towards financial reconstruction in the 1980s and 1990s. In addition, the U.S. "policy formulating industry" was explained. Japan is right in the middle of "reforms," and lively discussions were held concerning the desirable mechanism of policy formation. The Japanese side also introduced an attempt to establish an evaluation index, based on the identification of characteristics of assets and liabilities on the government's balance sheet as well as an analysis on the high working rate of the elderly people in Japan.

The Necessity to Improve Policy Formation Ability
Population aging is a fundamental change that will press for a re-examination of basic social systems including pension, welfare and medical care.

For the past several decades, Japan has climbed over waves of structural reforms, sometimes used them as springboards towards growth, and has had a lot of successful experiences. However, it is an urgent task to fundamentally review the policy-formation methodologies that were used previously. How should Japan overcome the next big wave of aging ? It is safe to say that Japan has reached the stage when it has to learn what it can from the U.S. and to explore a new horizon.


International Symposium - NIRA Hokkaido Forum

The 13th Hokkaido Conference for North Pacific Issues

The 13th Hokkaido Conference for North Pacific Issues was jointly held by NIRA and the North Pacific Region Advanced Research Center (NORPAC) in Sapporo, Hokkaido on October 17-19.

The 13th Hokkaido Conference for North Pacific Issues

Researchers from universities and research institutes of eight countries in the North Pacific region (the U.S., Canada, Russia, China, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, and Japan) participated in this conference and actively exchanged opinions.

This symposium consisted of the Hokkaido Conference for North Pacific Issues (closed) under the theme of the "Path for Promoting Cooperation in the North Pacific Region in the 21st Century" on October 17-18 and the North Pacific International Forum (open) under the theme of "Is the Cold War over in North East Asia ?" on October 19. Bearing in mind the solution of the Korean Peninsula issues and the encouragement of the implementation of the North-South Joint Declaration made in June 2000, this conference reviewed the development of regional cooperation in the North Pacific region after one year from the North-South summit meeting. In addition, discussions were made exploring an axis of regional cooperation in the North Pacific region in the new century, bringing the creation of an organization for cooperation into view.


[ Lecture ]

The Possibility of "Dialogues" after the Terrorist Attacks on September 11

Since the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, the feeling of insecurity about the world affairs tends to be told with the simplistic rhetoric "clash of civilizations." Based on this recent trend, NIRA invited Professor Modjtaba Sadria of the Faculty of Policy Studies, Chuo University to speak at a meeting on the above-mentioned topic on October 23.

Professor Modjtaba Sadria

The Limitations of the "Nations State" Type View of the World
The terrorist attacks in September disproved several points of traditional perceptions. The first point is that the actions taken by the terrorists do not fit into the U.S. worldview and global strategies based on the "nation state." In addition, these attacks showed that due to the development of advanced technologies, even a small group, not a nation, could easily employ violence aiming to destroy order. It can be said that the "world without center--the United States" has appeared.

Why can the "Clash of the Civilizations" be justified ?
The Islamic world's distrust towards the United States is not a new phenomenon in a sense. Historically, there is a viewpoint that the Islamic world started declining in 1492. In this year, the Iberian Peninsula under the control of Muslims was occupied by Christians, while the New World was discovered by Christopher Columbus as a Christian. Since then, the Islamic region, which enjoyed prosperity as a trade center, retreated from the world center stage to the periphery because a sea route from Europe to India, without passing the Islamic region, was opened.

On the other hand, among those who are not aware of such history, there are at least some people who feel a contradiction in the gap between the "fairness" of American people whom they have a relationship with in their daily lives and the "unfairness" of the United States in dealing with diplomatic strategies, including the Palestine issue.

"The Clash of the Civilizations," which was advocated by S. Huntington who is not an expert in the theories of culture and civilization, is an extremely political concept in defining national interests of the United States in the post Cold-War era. However, when this concept is viewed from the Islamic side, the "clash" can be justified due to the abovementioned reasons. In this manner, "intolerance" is utilized as political capital, and the theory advocating the possibility of civilization's clash disseminates.

To begin with, as Osama bin Laden is called "Frankenstein created by the U.S.," his existence itself has an aspect that arose from the contradiction of realist politics, and his religious influence is often exaggerated. It can be said that Osama bin Laden is a unique entity that plays a hero who bravely challenges the United States and a martyr who fights against fearful odds simultaneously.

Towards the Possibility for Dialogues
The clash involves not only an economic price but also a social and psychological price. Globalization is a process in which integration and exclusion proceed simultaneously on a global scale. Radical exclusion will become a hotbed of forces aiming to destroy order. First and foremost, making efforts not to produce exclusion is essential for avoiding a clash.

In that case, one thing to notice is the way "information and knowledge" are produced and conveyed. It is expected that the gap in "information" and "knowledge" will have a more serious impact on the world than the economic gap.

For example, how much correct information and knowledge do the U.S. and the Islamic world have for understanding each other ? In addition, as shown in the fact that the Japanese media always broadcast news from the Washington viewpoint, isn't there an overwhelming bias in the production process of information and knowledge ?

"Others" have validity, which is always relative. Recognizing this "relative validity" as a universal value is a starting point for dialogues and will need to be sufficiently reflected in the process of knowledge production and conveyance.

Finally, I would like to point out a problem in the message that "the target of attack is terrorism, not the Islam." This message is nothing but an expression that was made implicitly assuming the equality of "the Islam = terrorists." Won't this equality become more established when it is repeatedly mentioned ? Since the terrorist attacks in September, prejudice and discrimination against Islamic residents has been increasing, even in Japan. In this circumstance, making efforts towards dialogues is also an urgent task for the Japanese society.


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