THE EAST ASIAN CORRIDOR AND THE IMPLICATIONS OF EU'S EXPERIENCE FOR EAST ASIAPREPARED BY THE
EAST ASIA RESEARCH TEAM
NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR RESEARCH ADVANCEMENT (NIRA)1
This paper introduces the preliminary concept about the East Asian Corridor. To deepen the "East Asian Corridor concept" is the subject of current research efforts at NIRA. In addition, the paper will share our views resulted from a workshop held recently on the European experience with regional construction, which offers many useful insights for the "East Asian Corridor concept". We believe that this paper will provide with useful information for exploring the vision of East Asia in the future.
Comprehensive Research Program for the 21st Century
NIRA has recently initiated a comprehensive research program aimed at charting a desirable course for Japan in the first quarter of the twenty-first century. With this objective, NIRA has identified the following three major areas as the fundamental challenges facing Japan in the twenty-first century : 1) Japanese people should become good East Asian citizens who are proud to be Japanese ; 2) proactive pacifism should be placed at the cornerstone of Japanese culture ; and 3) the Japanese archipelago should offer a living environment which is not only attractive to Japanese people but also attractive and open to people from other countries. To address these overarching themes, there are six research projects, under which "The Yen Within the 'EAsia' Common Currency : Monetary Union in East Asia" is identified as one of them.
The Yen Within the 'EAsia' Common Currency : Monetary Union in East Asia
This research project intends to explore "how Japan should act in East Asia" and to pursue "the concept of the Japanese people as good East Asians". With this mission in mind, we are exploring possible courses of action towards the regional construction through the formation of the East Asian Corridor. These courses of action include expansion of regional partnerships, linkage among various economically active sub-regions and vitalization of corporate and individual trans-national activities.
Concretely, under this research project, we are implementing seven sub-projects : 1) Increasing Mutual Interdependence in East Asia from a Viewpoint of Transportation and Other Networks ; 2) A Study of the Plan to Establish a Northeast Asia Union for Energy and Environment Cooperation ; 3) Cooperation among East Asian Countries in the Agricultural and Food Industry Sectors ; 4) Establishing a Network of Research and Development Centers in East Asia ; 5) Monetary Policy Cooperation in East Asia and Its Deepening Relationship ; 6) Building Partnerships for Health and Medical Care Among South East Asian Countries ; and 7) European Construction from the Perspective of European Citizens and Its Implication for East Asia. We believe that these seven areas are mutually dependent and their synergy impact is surely needed to reach "Formation of the East Asian Corridor" and "Regional Construction in East Asia" in the long-term perspectives.
The Preliminary Concept about the "East Asian Corridor"
In the East Asian region, economic development that promotes interdependent economic relationships has solidified the common understanding that each nation should make efforts to engage with one another, rather than trying to contain one another. This understanding should form the basis for future development. On this premise, the following image of the future East Asian Corridor can be illustrated.
The East Asian Corridor will be a huge belt zone ranging from Jakarta (in Indonesia) to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Manila, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Fuzhou, Taipei, Shanghai, Nanjin, Jinan, Tianjin, Beijin, Shenyang, Pyongyang, Seoul, Busan, Okinawa, Kyushu, Hokkaido and the Siberian coast.
According to a United Nations' estimate, the urban population in the world will increase to 5.3 billion in 2025, adding up 2.7 billion from 2.6 billion in 1997. In East Asia, mainly along the above-mentioned corridor, the urban population will increase by nearly 900 million. In Japan, the population in three metropolitan areas - Tokyo, Nagoya and Kansai -- increased by about 30 million over the past 30 years including during the high economic growth period. Over the next 30 years, urbanization will progress along this corridor and increase nearly thirty-fold of the magnitude experienced in Japanese urbanization.
The East Asian economy has grown at an annual rate of 7-8 percent until the recent monetary and economic crisis. Compared with the world average of about 3 percent, this shows a tremendous growth momentum. If such growth continues over the next 20 years, the average national per capita income will be about half as much as that in Japan, and the living standard of peoples in the corridor is expected to catch up with that of Japan.
Of course, this vast belt zone is still far from legitimate integration. However, on this belt, many sub-regional groupings have already been formed. Exchanges are developing among Guandong and Fujian Provinces in South China, Hong Kong and Taiwan; in the SIJIORI Growth Triangle among Singapore, Johore (Malaysia) and the Riau Islands (Indonesia); and in the Greater Mekong Sub-region where countries have recently concluded various cross-border agreements. Various other sub-regional groups exist in the region, such as the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle, the Brunei DarussaIam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines (BIMP) East ASEAN Growth Area, the Bohai Sub-region, the Tuman Kang Sub-region, as well as the Northeast Asia Sub-region. These sub-regions are scattered along the belt and exist in parallel with such world-class cities as Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo (the cities comprising the BESETO concept), as well as other urban cities like Jakarta, Bangkok, Singapore, Shanghai and Osaka.
At the same time that the Shinkansen Lines and expressway networks are expanding throughout the Japanese archipelago, rapid transportation systems linking to the big cities are also being constructed. Shinkansen lines are being planned between Busan and Seoul and between Beijing and Shanghai. Rapid railway systems are also being planned between Malaysia and Thailand although this has been shelved for the time being. Someday, like the Euro Tunnel and ScanLink in Europe, missing links along the Tsushima Straits and the Strait of Malacca will be connected with rapid transportation systems. In the future, it may no longer be just a dream that sub-regions and cities along the East Asian Corridor will be linked.
With the increase of urban population, coupled with rapid economic growth, significant improvements in economic activities and the living standards will be manifest along the belt. This phenomena will have far-reaching consequences.
First, rapid transportation systems will connect to one another, thus each economic sub-region will expand and mutually penetrate into other sub-regions. Furthermore, economic activities will be integrated; artistic, cultural and academic exchanges will be promoted; and leisure zones, shopping zones, as well as zones for other daily activities will gradually overlap. This implies that specific locations which dot the belt will be mutually dependent on one another.
Second, if similar levels of living standards are achieved among countries and sub-regions, society will become more stable, and democratization will advance. Citizens will travel to and from various locations along the belt, and their daily activities will be influenced by different locations.
Third, if an increasing number of people commute to other locations with higher frequency, a deeper mutual understanding among different cultures in different areas will be fostered. With this deeper understanding of cultures among peoples in the region, the potential for confrontation will be reduced, thus creating a more fertile ground for peace and prosperity in East Asia.
One activity that provided many useful insights to the "East Asian Corridor concept" is the workshop on "European Construction from the Perspective of European Citizens and its Implications for East Asia" held in Tokyo on 3-4 April 2000. The Workshop was participated mainly by European, East Asian and Japanese scholars. The workshop identified three major characteristics in East Asia, which underlay the current state of partnership in the region. They are: (i) diversity in many aspects; (ii) acceleration of interdependence; and (iii) recognition of equal rights among the nation states of the region. With these key characteristics in mind, the workshop tried to address two fundamental questions: (i) what conditions and elements made the European construction possible; and (ii) what implications for East Asia we can learn from the European experience. The following is our preliminary findings of the workshop relating to these questions.
- Consciousness of Regional Construction
The European Experience: A "European consciousness" of the need to walk together towards the future has played the most important role in the process of European construction. Such "European consciousness" appeared afresh in the 20th century based on a hatred of war, a refusal of fascism, a decline in the European economies, and a threat of Soviet domination.
Implications for East Asia: Could we expect the emergence of an "East Asian consciousness" through the common need to overcome various threats and constraints against sustainable progress in the region? Could we identify the necessity of regional cooperation in such areas as possible recurrence of the currency crisis, anxiety for energy supply, intensified environmental degradation, alarming urban-rural disparity, declining food self-sufficiency, stagnation in technology development, and deficiency in social safety nets?
- Regional Construction and National Interests
The European Experience: European construction did not surpass the national interest of individual countries, rather, it has come about through accumulation of cooperation which was compatible with national interest. It has also materialized through a realistic and pragmatic approach, in the face of multi-faceted challenges.
Implications for East Asia: Could we expect the establishment of regional construction in East Asia through a multi-layered series of regional cooperation that accommodate each country's national interest, allowing for flexibility to meet actual conditions and practical requirements? Could we identify the regional cooperation to bring about larger profits for all in the region?
- Regional Reconstruction and Exchange of Peoples
The European Experience: European construction, although difficult at the initial stages, was realized on the basis of reconciliation through an honest reckoning with history, deepening of exchanges among European peoples and appearing concrete economic benefits of cooperation as progressed.
Implications for East Asia: Could we expect the evolution of an East Asian consciousness-a sprit of generosity and consensus among people with a common vision of the region's destiny- moving towards true reconciliation based on a deeper insight into their history through more frequent exchanges of peoples and sharing of the benefits of regional cooperation?
- Regional Construction and Diversity
The European Experience: Common religious, historical and cultural elements such as Christianity and the legacy of the Roman civilization have played a limited role in the process of European construction. Diversity has existed in Europe, which has, at times, brought about unrest. In addition, while there has been a movement toward European construction, there have also been various movements toward rediscovering the local cultures of the sub-regions.
Implications for East Asia: Why should we continue to believe that diversity is a hindrance to cooperation and exchanges of peoples in East Asia? Could we recognize that diversity in East Asia could make another "Asian Miracle" possible? Could we also recognize that diversity is a source of dynamism toward the future?
- Multi-layered Transnational Networks
The European Experience: The idea of European construction was promulgated by intellectuals who were also the leaders that brought about their realization. The formation of trans-national networks among politicians, policy-makers, think tanks and other organizations has also played an important role in bringing about regional construction.
Implications for East Asia: Should we form multi-layered trans-national networks among politicians, policy-makers, think tanks, scholars, experts, private corporations, NGOs, and civil societies to provide forums for discussing the future for East Asia?
1 NIRA is an independent policy research body established in 1974 under the National Institute for Research Advancement Act of Japan. NIRA conducts independent researches in many fields including politics, economics, international affairs, technology, and the role of state and local governments, among others. NIRA's activities are carried out both independently and in association with other organizations.
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