Is International Cooperation and Japan’s Response Beginning to Move?


Nobody anticipated that the post-Cold War framework of the countries around the Japan Sea would change so dramatically at such an astonishing speed as it has in the last few months. The transition originated from the summit in the Korean Peninsula between the leaders of North and South Korea from July 13th – 14th. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s first visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the DPRK) from November 22nd to 24th, and her two days of meetings with its leader, Mr. Kim Jong Il, from November 23rd to 24th, have pushed the two countries towards reconciliation remarkably and laid the groundwork for a visit by Mr. Clinton.

Moreover, the Third Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) was held in Seoul from October 19th – 21st, where the leaders of 25 countries assembled. It was one of the few international summit conferences which Japan has attended without the presence of a US representative.

Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji participated in the ASEM summit after visiting Japan from October 12th – 17th. He had talks with South Korean President Kim Dae Jung and launched the expansion and reinforcement of bilateral ties between the two countries. They agreed to enlarge their cooperative ties from economic sectors such as trade and investment into “all sectors”, including the military sector, such as Chinese and South Korean military vessels exchangeing port calls. The agreement is another sign that South Korea and China will enhance joint efforts to maintain peace and stability and settle the issue of influence on the Korean Peninsula.

As soon as he returned to Beijin, Premier Zhu Rongji hosted the second China-EU Commercial Dialogue (the Economic Summit Meeting) on October 23. It is reported that nearly 400 enterprisers from China and the EU participated and discussed cooperation in the Information Technology (IT) industry and supporting China’s bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). China demonstrated its preparations in terms of opening the “insurance” market and ratifying the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which is a companion of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Consequently, the country has succeeded in obtaining the support of the EU in its long-running attempt to become a member of the WTO.

[Translated by ERINA]