The First Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum


Minister Kyoji Komachi

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests: it is my great honor to have this opportunity to address the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum in this very informal but historic setting. My remarks can be, I think, entitled, "Moving Towards Russo-Japanese Partnership in the Context of Asian Pacific Cooperation."

Today I want to speak about our bilateral relationship in the context of the Asia-Pacific region. Today, the Asia-Pacific region is a region full of hopes and optimism. This region can become a region of cooperation and partnership in a totally different manner than during the Cold War. Many drastic changes have taken place on the international scene since the end of the Cold War. Today, at this time of historical transformation in the international system, it is becoming all the more important for the policy-makers and leaders in various parts of the world to engage in serious dialogue for policy coordination on issues of their common interests. With a view to contributing to this process, I should like to make use of this occasion tonight to share with you my thoughts on some aspect of the future prospects for development in the Asia-Pacific region, and the importance of Russo-Japanese relationship therein.

Let me start with some historical overview of the recent developments in Asia-Pacific region for the last decade or two, since the mid-70s. One of the most spectacular developments in the world for the last ten or fifteen years is the fact that the Asia-Pacific region as a whole has achieved a most remarkable economic development and on that basis has largely succeeded in achieving a high degree of social resilience in their respective countries. Strengthened solidarity and dramatic advancement of the ASEAN as a group, has also been a noteworthy major development in Asia since the middle of the 1970s.

Paradoxical though this may sound, it is my humble submission that all this has taken place largely due to the background of the fall of Saigon and the collapse of the Republic of Vietnam in 1975. This dramatic development, happening as it did in the midst of widespread outcry against American involvement in the Vietnam war, in the United States and elsewhere, had a sobering effect on the leaders in this part of the world, to remind them that the specter of the domino theory might come at last true. The ASEAN countries decided to reinvigorate and strengthen solidarity amongst themselves around the Asian Organization for Regional Cooperation. Intensified efforts were underway to reinforce social cohesion within the ASEAN and enlarge the scope of cooperation with outside partners, including Japan and the United States. It is as a result of these efforts that East Asia has succeeded in attaining one of the most dynamic economies and one of the most stable socio-political status in the world, throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s.

One decisive contributing factor that has supported such a development, I believe, has been the role played by the United States. Faced with the possibility of a politico-military vacuum which could have fallen upon this region after the fall of Saigon, and the announcement of the Nixon Doctrine in Guam, the ASEAN countries wanted and welcomed the continued political and military presence of the United States in this part of the world, as a guarantee for security to the countries of the region. What is equally important, if not more important, to my mind, however, is the fact that the United States through these years has served as a major export market for the products of newly independent economies of this region. This undoubtedly contributed to the dynamic economic development of the countries in the region.

Japan, on her part, has also been intensifying her efforts since then to carry out her role commensurate with her economic power for promoting economic development and attaining stability in East Asia. This new policy orientation of Japan was clearly enunciated in the Manila speech of Prime Minister Fukuda in 1977, a policy which came to be known as the Fukuda Doctrine. Japan, in fact, has been extremely vigorous in cooperating with the nation-building efforts of the countries in the region, through increased trade, investment, as well as economic assistance. As a matter of fact, Japan has now taken the place of the United States as the largest investor in ASEAN. In fact, I feel we can safely say that we, Japan, and ASEAN partners have come a long way since the time of the fall of Saigon and the Manila speech.

In addition, with the successful achievement of a comprehensive political settlement of the Cambodian question, Japan is now about to engage in efforts to realize the remaining third pillar of the Fukuda Doctrine, which has not so far been realized. That is, to bring the Indochinese countries into the circle of stability and prosperity of the region as a whole.

While acknowledging all these positive developments that this region has achieved in the course of the past fifteen years, I would suggest that East Asia is now entering into a new phase, and that the relations among us are at an important turning point. The dramatic structural change in East-West relations, on the one hand, and the achievement of economic prosperity and political stability by most of the countries in the region, on the other hand, are two salient features that we have to take note of. With these changes in the background, the member countries in this region are becoming more self-confident and conscious of their national pride. The development surrounding the proposal of Prime Minister Mahathir for Malaysia to form an East Asia Economic Grouping could be seen as an expression of this ambivalence, which has come to the surface in this region.

At the same time, it is also true that these changes have produced a new positive trend, that these countries with increased confidence in the success of their nation-building, have begun to look beyond the narrow confines of their immediate concerns, and started to raise the horizon of their interest to broader issues of political stability and security of the region as a whole. Such an awareness was clearly visible in the ASEAN Summit meeting in Singapore in January of 1992, which called for stronger cooperation among its members towards interregional trade liberalization, and for greater political dialogue.

As the Cambodian conflict has now been solved, and as reconciliation between Vietnam and the ASEAN has seen progress, ground is now being prepared for the ASEAN to expand the scope of cooperative relationship within the entire Southeast Asia, including Indo-China. This new orientation in Asia towards a great degree of integration, and towards an increased interest in the political stability and security of the region as a whole is most welcome.

These developments in the ASEAN that I have touched upon are a challenge and an opportunity at the same time. They are a challenge to which we have to find a positive response, through mutual adjustment to this new situation, in an effort to create a more harmonious environment for cooperation. They are an opportunity in the sense that we can take advantage of this newly created awareness of broader responsibility in the ASEAN to pursue our common purposes. I believe that a more intensified dialogue on this new vista, which is opening up before us, is very opportune at this juncture in history, among friends and partners, including Russia, in this region.

The dramatic changes and crises that have come about to demonstrate the end of the Cold War era have so far been taking place mainly outside the Asia-Pacific region, but the security environment of the region has also been going through changes that require adjustments. Compared with the case in Europe, progress in the military force reduction in the Asia-Pacific region has been slow and less conspicuous. But the landscape in diplomacy, nevertheless, has been visibly changing, as exemplified by such developments as the normalization of Sino-Soviet relations, the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and the Soviet Union-of course, now Russia, as well as those between China and Indonesia, and between China and Singapore; and improvement in the relations between China and Vietnam, and between China and the Republic of Korea. Japan and North Korea are also engaged in talks over the normalization of relations, and negotiations for a peace treaty between Japan and Russia are under way.

Against this background of new developments, questions like the following are increasingly on the minds of many in this region as pertinent questions to be examined and discussed in the common interests of all countries in the region. What are the long-term future prospects of the U.S. presence in this region? What role is Japan going to play in this region, not only in the area of economics and economic cooperation, but also in the political and general non-economic areas? As the framework of East-West confrontation recedes, it does not necessarily create a happy new world order where regional conflicts will also come to an end. On the contrary, the risk of possible conflicts and confrontations on the regional level could come to the fore in this transitional period based on grounds of ethnic or religious reason, and on desires for seeking regional hegemony, or for controlling natural resources, as the dominant feature of the superpowers is receding.

In this new situation, what is growing crucially important is intensified process of dialogue among the partners which share common perspectives in the Asia-Pacific region on issues of broadly defined security interests, as well on issues in the realm of economy and on issues of transnational character. The countries of the region should engage in this process of dialogue with a view to ensuring greater regional stability and consolidating bases for cooperation among them.

The recent very lively discussion about the feasibility and desirability of introducing into the region a mechanism parallel to the CSCE in Europe is a manifestation of the acute awareness of this newly evolving situation. On this score, I am happy to note that a general consensus appears to be emerging among the countries in the region that what we in this region should be seeking for is not the construction of a single concrete architecture for security arrangement, but that the establishment of a framework for security dialogue will be extremely opportune and appropriate. The recent declaration of the ASEAN summit makes this point clear when it states that the ASEAN should intensify its external dialogue on political and security matters by using ASEAN-Post Ministerial Conference. We in Japan commend this approach wholeheartedly, in as much as it corresponds with an approach that Foreign Minister Nakayama suggested in July 1991, when he proposed a new avenue for dialogue aimed at inspiring mutual reassurance among friendly countries within the framework of ASEAN-PMC. I am very happy to see this initiative of Japan resulting in an agreement to hold Asia regional security dialogue within the framework of ASEAN post ministerial conference including China, Russia, Vietnam, and other relevant countries. This is a good start, and we should steadily build upon the result of this dialogue.

While dialogue and cooperation are important in the political sphere, cooperation in the economic sphere also remains very important. In this respect, the APEC, launched in 1989, offers a reservoir of rich potential as a framework for closer cooperation and consultation in a multilateral setting. In fact, this framework has already shown a steady but remarkable progress through three ministerial conferences, including the summit last year in Vancouver, towards promoting the cause of consolidating socio-economic cohesion of this region. The decision taken in August 1991, on the simultaneous participation of China, Chinese Taipei, and Hong Kong is also a significant step forward in this respect.

To fully utilize the potential of this region, it is important to further invigorate the activities of the APEC, on the basis of its philosophy of "cooperation that is open to the world." We are looking forward to the APEC meetings in Indonesia this year and also the next meeting in Japan in 1995.

As the political system based upon the values of democracy and freedom and the economic system based on market-oriented principles gain ground all over the world, including this Asia Pacific region, integration of Japan and the United States as partners into the cooperative efforts of this region for stability and prosperity is acquiring a new significance. It is in this context that our attitude towards China and Russia, as well as the countries on the Korean peninsula, and in Indo-China, will be of prime importance, as they are expected to emerge as prospective partners in this dynamic environment of the region.

China, potentially, has the possibility of developing either into a stabilizing factor, or into a destabilizing factor in East Asia. A China which will follow a path of modernization and development through economic and political reform is obviously essential for the peace and prosperity of the entire region. It is on this recognition that Japan took the position in the past summit meetings in favor of encouraging China to promote a reform and openness policy, while avoiding the danger of isolating herself in the international community. I submit that we should continue to pursue this policy, and I strongly welcome the recent announcement by the President to extend MFN status to China.

Russia in the long run will hopefully be associated with the dynamic economic process of the Asia Pacific region as well. Introduction of market economy and promotion of democracy in Russia would add to the stability of the Asia Pacific region. I am confident that it will be realized. At the same time, for Russia to become a full-fledged member of the Asia Pacific region in this respect, it is important that internationalist outlook of that country, based on the principles of "law and justice", is to be put into practice in relation with the countries of this region. We all look forward to it.

On the Korean peninsula, a number of positive developments have been observed recently. Nevertheless, it still remains a region with unresolved conflicts including the very nerve-wracking nuclear issue in North Korea, afflicting the people on the peninsula. The process of reconciliation between North and South should be pursued primarily by the two Koreas, but also with support from outside parties, which include the United States, China, Russia, and Japan, among others. In fact, it is conceivable that this process could ultimately grow into some kind of sub-regional mechanism for regional stability. The involvement of the international community as a whole in this process is also very important, as evidenced by the recent examples of the simultaneous admission of two Koreas into the United Nations, as well as the activities of the IAEA, relating to the alleged development of nuclear weapons by North Korea.

The settlement of the Cambodian conflict is yet another case of priority for creating a new environment for cooperation in this region. Indo-China has long been left behind the dynamic economic development of Southeast Asia. To ensure the long-term peace and prosperity of Indo-China, it is imperative to bring Indo-China into the cooperative framework of the Asia Pacific region. On this premise, a revitalized Vietnamese economy could be integrated into the prospect of economic development of the region.

Countries in the Asia Pacific region, diversified as they are in terms of the stage of economic development, social background, and cultural heritage, can be constructive partners for common purposes, adjusting differences and overcoming frictions on the basis of their increasingly shared common values. To this end, the existing network of bilateral arrangements for dialogue and cooperation has been and will continue to be useful. In addition, however, multilateral fora for dialogue and cooperation, are also emerging, and are expected to grow. Recent developments in APEC and ASEAN are encouraging in this respect. There is indeed an enormous potential for policy coordination between the ASEAN and its dialogue partners for preventing regional conflicts and tackling transnational problems, like issues of the environment, refugees, and human rights.

In order to promote such cooperation in multilateral fora, the improvement of relations between Japan and Russia and the stability of the Korean peninsula is of the utmost importance. I can only hope for the highest degree of responsible behavior by the leadership of North Korea at this juncture. Even with the solution of this problem, there remains an element of Russo-Japanese relationship in the context of creating a wider cooperative environment in the region of the Asia Pacific.

In conclusion, let me touch upon this most important and delicate relationship between Russia and Japan.

We in Japan firmly support the reform efforts undertaken by President Yeltsin and have provided assistance accordingly. We share the belief, with other industrialized democracies, that it is important to ensure that Russia upholds the same principles and values as we all do; and that she becomes a genuine partner in building a new world order in the post-Cold War era. In particular, we consider the realization of the three following elements to be of special importance as Russia undergoes very critical historic transformation. Number one: a free market based economy. Number two: a pluralistic democracy. Number three: shedding all communist/socialist ideological remnants, and the conduct of diplomacy based upon "law and justice". We intend to help bring about Russia's transformation in respect of these three aspects, and thus facilitate Russia to become a true partner.

In the great socio-economic difficulties that Russia faces currently, conservative and nationalist and other forces are on the rise in Russia, advocating a strong opposition to radical reforms. There is also mounting criticism against too much "tilt" in the present Russian diplomacy towards cooperation and accommodation with the West at the expense of Russia's national interests. However, the existence of such difficulties makes it all the more necessary that we assist Russia so that forces for transformation in that direction described above will prevail, and Russia will become a genuine partner. In this connection I would like to explain the Japanese perspective of our bilateral relationship.

The reason the government of Japan has placed high priority in its Russian policy on the resolution of the Northern Territories issue is that this issue is considered as a symbol of the defunct USSR's doctrine and of the Stalinist expansionism. It is a well known fact that the Soviet Union occupied the four northern islands by force after Japan had accepted the Potsdam Proclamation and surrendered; thus the Soviet military occupation clearly violated the principle of "no territorial aggrandizement" proclaimed by the Allied Powers. In other words, Russian attitude towards the resolution of this issue will be seen as a critical litmus test in order to judge whether and how seriously Russia is prepared to make a clear departure from the old discredited Stalinist policy, especially in this Asia Pacific region.

Of course, right now Russia is gripped with the most serious social, economic and political turmoil in her history. It may take some time for her to overcome this present difficulty. But at the same time it is important to note that Russia is a great power, full of talented people, so I am convinced that she will get over this most difficult time very soon. In the same vein, I am confident that the day will come when we will sign the peace treaty. This will usher in a qualitatively different era in the Asia Pacific region. This already happened here in Portsmouth in 1905. I look forward to that day. Thank you very much for your attention.


Nicholas II and the Russo-Japanese War

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