The 2nd Asia Future Conference, sponsored by Atsumi International Foundation, was held on August 22～24, at Bali, Indonesia and 380 participants from 17 countries, including researchers, having studied in Japan, had hot discussions.
Theme of conference this time was “Diversity and Harmony”. As the conference should be based on academic approach, a lot of sessions and lively discussion on extensive range, such as globalization, peace, sustainability, environment and communication, were held. I, myself, attended 3 sessions regarding main theme “Diversity and Harmony”. And as I co-chaired at the final session, I like to re-study about “Diversity” based on research publication and discussion at the conference.
When we think of the meaning of ‘diversity’ from daily context, we can say “to exist in diversely and differently”. Originally, this word have been used in the field of biology.
But, we use this word very often in the field of sociology, politics and international relations now. Actually, in multiracial nations, a slogan “integration in diversity” is being used as racial integration. Indonesia, where the conference was held, consists of about 17,000 islands and around 228 million of people are living in those 9,000 islands.
Around 490 groups of race are succeeding their own ethnic and diversified culture.
(Official website of the Ministry of Sightseeing Creative Economy, Indonesia)
There were two publications this time regarding ‘BATIK’, Indonesian traditional clothes. It is said Batik, as a symbol of the integration of various races, played an important role when Indonesia became independent as a republic. They created special Batik of their own as a tool for integration of different races, which does not impartial to any races who had their own Batik and were adopted as uniforms of students of junior/middle/high schools and public officials. Indonesian Batik is now acknowledged as the World’s intangible cultural heritages and contributes to an establishment of identity of Indonesia in the world community. It is good example that variety of Indonesia, which have been said to be difficult to overcome, has been overcome by Batik which were the great common factors among variety of races, or by adoption of patterns which impartial to any races. I was impressed by the pointing out of Masakatu Tozu (honorary professor of Kokushikan University), saying “clothes are identities of races” in his speech titled “Trial of Establishment of National Culture in a Multiethnic Indonesia”.
Needless to say, there is an existence of suzerain state as an external factor behind their foundation of country, which urge their standing together of Indonesian ethnics and overcame difficulties of establishing national consent.
The word “Diversity” began to be used, as globalization progress, in the context of regional cooperation and integration among nations. Actually, when we think of the future of Asia in the conference, “Diversity and Harmony” were discussed from various aspects and “Unity in Diversification” became an unavoidable theme on regional cooperation and integration. “Unity and Diversity” is the motto of EU which have accomplished unprecedented deepening of regional integration. EU explained on their official website that European people live and cooperate together for the purpose of our peace and prosperity in the form of EU and become rich by our diversified and different cultures, traditions and languages.
There is a picture card named “a perfect European” which I bought in Brussels as a souvenir in 1980s and have thought a great deal of it even now. This card explain diversity in Europe humorously making fun of characters of EU 15 members of country(at that time) saying paradoxically and ironically “driving a car like French, excel in technics like Portuguese, controlling themselves like Italian, carefully like Danish, humorous like German, being organized like Austrian, talkative like Finnish, famous like Luxemburg people, generous like Dutch, being good at cooking like English, few off duty like Belgian, flexible like Swedish, sober like Irish, and modest like Spanish. Number of member countries of EU is 28 now. They have a customs union, common international trade policy, market integration, introduction of common currency and common foreign policy. They verified toward international societies that it is possible to make an international connection by transferring sovereignties depending on the field of policies.
In Asia too, market integration, in the frame of ASEAN, is going to be accomplished. At Jakarta airport, immigration controls for ASEAN people are separated from non-ASEAN people like EU. It clearly shows harmony in diversity is being realized in Asia. At the sessions which I co-chaired, there were questions about concrete meanings in ‘unity in diversity’ in the context of Asia. Against such questions, presenters explained that each country shall recognize the difference mutually and produce new values which are more than their own. It is common with the motto of EU.
Proposition which I encountered at the 2nd Asia Future Conference was “we cannot cooperate because of our differences” or “we should cooperate each other because of our differences”. Actually, in the case of North-East Asia or East Asia where cooperation or connection on regional revel fell behind most the world stream, people often say that it is impossible to make a framework for systematic connections. Dr. Maria Elena Tisi, University of Bologna, who introduced a trial to produce harmony from a comparison between children’s book of Italy and Japan, said “a word ‘difference’ does not limit to big difference, such as culture, language and religion, and small difference also can be a reason for big reasons, - - - It is important to make the most of such differences not trying to overcome.” It is very suggestive when we think of ‘diversity”.
It is also pointed out at the conference that colors composed of multi-colors bring about complex tone in depth than single color. I talked to one of my friend who is musician about such context in the conference after I returned to Japan. He said promptly and flatly “in the field of music, harmony in diversification is the most basic of basics.” He said also “an orchestra is compilation of harmony of variety of musical instruments” and never forget to add pointing out “for this purpose, existence of conductor as a great leader of an orchestra is absolute condition”.
It weighs on my mind when I re-consider ‘diversity’ in international context.
Can I say the word ‘diversity’ has different meaning such as 多用性(multi-usable) or 他用性 (used in different way) ?
I dare to emphasize that it is important to consider geographical neighborhood when we discuss about ‘diversity’ in the context of Asian region. It is an undeniable fact that there are unavoidable relations among neighboring countries. When we discuss about ‘diversity’, it is also important to have viewpoints whether we understand the relations with neighboring countries positively or negatively.
The 2nd Asia Future Conference was a good chance for me to recognize that domestic political factors in the context of North East Asia and struggles for leadership among nations in East Asia are hazards for forming systematic frameworks for regional connections.
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Mac Maquito
SGRA Kawaraban 421 in Japanese (original)
Right after 3.11, I had the chance to write down my thoughts in a SGRA Kawaraban (weekly online newsletter). Amidst an unprecedented disaster, I was moved at the fighting spirit of the Japanese citizens, and the global citizens that came to help, prompting me to write that this crisis is also an opportunity to review the philosophies that was Japan's very own, and to this day she has presented to the world. This "review" that I propose is not the "drastic reform" which, as shown in the lost decades of Japan, was extremely critical even of the good points of the country. What actually inspired me was the review of Japan's aspects that should be protected, in a way that further activates these aspects. The aspects that should be preserved are: the peace constitution, the three non-nuclear principles, and shared growth, which actually is the subject of my research. These could be further activated through: a Japanese Self Defense Force (SDF) that could swiftly and effectively respond to natural disasters; a non-nuclear principle that includes zero nuclear power generation; and a shared growth that extends outside of Japan.
Japan is now embroiled in a domestic struggle about these three review points. This fight is now spilling beyond her borders, and inevitably has reached Philippine shores.
The super typhoon, said to be the world's largest typhoon, that hit the Philippines on November 7, 2013, dealt a heavy blow from which even now the country is still reeling. We are filled with gratitude for the support of many countries. From Japan, we saw the largest deployment for relief efforts in the history of the Japanese SDF to the most severely hit island, Leyte. As is well known in the Philippines, Leyte was actually the island on which Gen. MacArthur led the landing of Allied Forces to fulfill his promise to the Filipinos "I shall return" during the occupation of the Philippines by Japanese forces. No one would have imagined then that a huge contingent of Japanese forces, aimed at protecting the Japanese citizenry, would be landing on the island to help embattled Philippine nationals. In order to ensure the transparency of overseas assistance, the Philippine government on this occasion created a website (Foreign Aid Transparency Hub), which reported (accessed on December 20, 2013) that Japan was one of the top three countries that have committed assistance for this typhoon disaster. The UK was first at US$96 million, Japan was second at US$74 million, and the US was third at US$ 62 million. This generous assistance is very much appreciated considering that Japan is still recovering from 3.11. It seems that his assistance includes "repayment" for the assistance that the Philippines extended to Japan after their big disaster.
In the Philippines, there is a nuclear power plant the construction of which was suspended about 30 years ago by a civil resistance movement. Given that it was suspended, I was imagining that the buildings are now dilapidated, equipment has been sold or rusting, and the grounds have been overgrown with grass. After the SGRA study tour to Fukushima on October last year, I took a look at the recent discussion about nuclear power plants in the Philippines. I was surprised to know that the nuclear power plant is practically new since it enjoyed a maintenance budget all these decades from the Philippine government. On the last day of the Fukushima study tour, I took advantage of the opportunity to ask the Group for Resurrecting Fukushima, one of the co- organizers of the study tour, to lend me their support as SGRA Philippines strives to keep the Philippines a zero nuclear country. Looking further into the matter, I found out that a group of high school students from Fukushima visited the Bataan nuclear power plant. In a newspaper interview, they remarked that the beautiful landscape of the Philippines should not be put at risk by operating the nuclear power plant. Despite the difficulties that the young of Japan have gone through because of the lost decades and the prospect of being burdened with the nuclear program legacy of their country, it is truly praiseworthy to hear such a mature opinion.
Even with regards to my research subject of shared growth, thanks in part to the entry of Japanese firms, the DNA of shared grow is being transmitted to the Philippines. As SGRA Kawaraban readers would know, Japan was able to achieve the "East Asian Miracle" wherein the rapid growth of GDP was accompanied by a reduction in the gap between the rich and the poor. Unfortunately, the Philippines was not able to experience the East Asian Miracle, but through my research, I was able to confirm the existence of the Shared Growth DNA at the level of economic zones, of a group of firms, and of a firm. My research on Shared Growth, which has been shown by Japan as possible, has continued and received much support since the establishment of SGRA. In the early years, I was doing this research through the “Japan’s Identity Amidst Globalization” Team. It was and still is my belief that Shared Growth is supported by Japan’s identity. In order to transmit what I have learned from Japan, I have been holding the SGRA Manila Seminar on an average of twice a year since 2004. The 17th Philippine-Japan Shared Growth Seminar will be held on February 11th (Tues). Those interested, please consult the following link for more details:
But, to think that the fight in these three areas I mentioned is over would be a big mistake.
Due to global warming, climate change will continue to be a problem as it causes various damages that we might not be able to fully predict. An organization like the Self-Defense Force, which could respond systematically while putting the lives of their members on the line, will continue to be indispensable. However, the geo-political situation in East Asia is deteriorating, and even the revision of Japan’s Peace Constitution, which constitutes the basic philosophy for the establishment of the Self-Defense Force, has now become a possibility.
Even after the occurrence of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, the construction of nuclear power plants in the world has not stopped. In the Philippines, there are powerful parties that seek to push the nuclear power option, despite the huge debt that has been repaid, and the power outages cost incurred by the Philippine citizens.
In the Philippines, shared growth continues to be a La Manchan dream. Income distribution remains to be highly inequitable. The country is mired in a “middle income trap”. Compared to the other Southeast Asian countries, the country is not as popular from the point of view of Japanese investors. Whether within or without the country, growth is not shared with the citizenry.
These three struggles are interconnected. A country that is not able to achieve shared growth incurs a more severe damage from natural disasters and is only able to recover slowly. In such a country, the majority of the citizenry would live in fragile residences, and the social infrastructure would be weak. The machinery and savings needed to recover would be very scarce. A country that is not able to achieve shared growth would be weak against a sweetly packaged nuclear option. There has been a lot of cases where even with a citizenry that has said “NO”, nuclear power plants are constructed where there are decision makers that would benefit from it.
These are issues that would be discussed in the February 11th Manila Seminar. Hopefully, this would lead to action that has been thought out.
SGRA Kawaraban 396 in Japanese
I went home to Manila for about a week for the 14th Annual Global Conference of the Global Development Network (GDN) which was held from June 19 to 21 at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters in Manila. Despite having no paper to present, I decided to adjust my schedule (it was the middle of the summer term) to join the over 400 participants from all over the world, since GDN was taking care of my expenses including plane tickets, and 5-star hotel accommodation, and the GDN theme of "Inequality, Social Protection, and Inclusive Growth" appeared to be related to the SGRA Philippine theme of "Sustainable Shared Growth". (See this link for details of the GDN conference)
In his keynote address, President Benigno Aquino III cited the conditional cash transfer, which was the Philippine government's major program for inclusive growth. There were a number of interesting papers in the conference about this program. (For the President's speech, please see the following link:)
During the conference, as much as possible I took the opportunity to talk with the other participants in search for research and advocacy possibilities. I will be exploring some of them in the future. During the Q&As, there were active discussions, and the session chairs were very busy keeping up with the vitality of the participants, and managing the sessions so as to let as many as possible to ask questions. Due to time constraints, there were some who could not ask their questions, and I was among them. In this case, I tried to catch the presenter during the breaks, and engage them in discussions. Fortunately, I had two chances to participate in the Q&A , which I would like to report here, since I considered these important.
One was in the parallel session where the panel were all ADB researchers, and the theme was on "Operationalizing Inclusive Growth in Asia and the Pacific". Apparently, the audience tended to cluster at the back, so the session chair had to encourage the audience to move to the front so that we could see each other's faces better during the Q&A. As long as space would allow it, I normally would sit towards the front, so there was no need for me to move. But, I think it was a good encouragement from the ADB session chair, given that at an early stage of the conference, I got the impression (wrongly I hope) that the ADB people tended to avoid talking with the conference participants.
While listening to the ADB presentations, I was trying to organize my thoughts on the following: what was the difference between the concept or developmental policy/strategy called inclusive growth, which ADB was pushing, and an earlier concept or developmental policy/strategy called shared growth? I really wanted to confirm this with the ADB panel. "Shared growth" was cited in the World Bank's 1993 "East Asian Miracle" report, wherein the subject of study was the "successful Asian economies" that one of the presenters alluded to in his presentation. Based on its analysis, the report concluded that one of the factors behind the success of these countries, which included Japan, was the strategic industrial policy implemented by the government. While listening to the panel, the two growth concepts or developmental policies/strategies sounded like they covered the same areas, i.e., regional integration through trade, human capital formation, and jobs creation. However, despite the passionate presentation of one about job creation, I couldn't help but get the impression that jobs creation was sort of an after thought. I thought that this was very much evident in the presentation about the evaluation of the ADB inclusive growth program. How you ( ADB) evaluate your program clearly tells me what is important to you. Based on the evaluation presentation, inclusive growth appears to have an emphasis on social protection (= safety net, such as human capital formation and unemployment policies). If we go by this understanding, then we could think of a case such as the Philippines, where we can have more educated nurses, or more educated call center operators, but I for one would doubt very much if this would be good for the Philippines at this point. Such a development trajectory would only aggravate the early de-industrialization problem of the country. I really believe that the Philippines at this juncture should strive to develop its manufacturing sector. (I didn't mention it, but I also feel this way about the agricultural sector)
The ADB presenter who alluded to the "successful Asia", replied that the creation of the right kind of jobs is certainly important for the Philippines, and agreed that it was necessary to deepen the discussions on the early de-industrialization of the Philippines. Another presenter, who seems to be the founding father (apparently not Japanese) of inclusive growth in ADB, replied that the two growth concepts are similar words, but shared growth appears to ignore "equality of opportunity" .
I take this response as confirming my earlier understanding. Providing educational subsidies to those who cannot afford or the rescuing of those who have been laid off from their jobs are important but these do not necessarily provide a solution to the early de-industrialization mentioned earlier, making it more and more difficult for the Philippines to get out of the "middle income" trap.
One more opportunity to participate in the Q&A was in the parallel session organized by the FONDATION POUR LES ETUDES ET RECHERCHES SUR LE DEVELOPPEMENT INTERNATIONAL (Foundation for the Study and Research on International Development) or FERDI Foundation (see the following link for a write up on this session: ) The presentations were about the allocation of Official Development Assistance (ODA) under a performance-based evaluation system that considered the vulnerability to disasters by the recipient country. The designated commentator criticized the evaluation proposal saying that such a system could be too complicated for the policy makers, so that it faces the risk of reducing grant amounts. He emphasized the need for considering the political economy of ODA. In short, the comment was not to complicate things (KISS).
I also have done research on Japan's ODA from a modern economics perspective during my doctoral work at the University of Tokyo and research fellowship at Nagoya University, so in response to the commentator, I pointed out that, even if we consider political economics, ODA does not end with the appointed officials around the negotiation table but at the final beneficiaries which are the citizens of the recipient country. Consequently, the ODA evaluation system that the FERDI Foundation is developing would be highly appreciated by the citizens of the recipient country, myself included. So, I would like to laud the efforts of the foundation to develop such a system. In this sense, the proposed system could also be used as a tool for evaluating international aid agencies, so I asked the question whether this study of the performance-based allocation was also applied to other aid agencies besides the International Development Assistance of the World Bank.
In response to my comment, the designated commentator gave me a smile and conceded that I have made my point. In response to my question, the FERDI economist replied that they have applied their analysis to other international aid agencies, and basically found that they were allocated based on performance. However, they did find agencies that did not allocate this way, so it would be necessary for such agencies to review their allocation process.
On the morning of the third day of the conference, following the advice of SGRA Chief Representative Junko Imanishi, I slipped out of the conference, and made my way to the office of Kajima Philippines. My aim was to solicit the sponsorship of this company for the SGRA 16th Sustainable Shared Growth seminar to be held on August 23rd at the University of the Philippines. I was kindly received by COO Fusaaki Kato and CFO Yukio Saito. After discussing with them the seminar, they consulted each other briefly and decided to go for the largest type of sponsorship. They of course had an interest on the architecture-related presentations in the seminar, but also expressed interest in the reduction of the urban-rural gap, which is the main theme of the seminar. I intend to manage the future seminars while consulting with them.
My other efforts were to invite the conference participants to the 16th Sustainable Shared Growth seminar and to the 2nd Asia Future Conference in Bali, as well as to search for opportunities for joint research projects (especially with India and Vietnam) . It was really a fruitful three days for me, and for SGRA HQ as well, since I used my affiliation with SGRA Japan in the conference list of participants, in the Q&A sessions, and in the discussions with other participants. Of course, my face gave away the fact that I was not Japanese, although I would like to believe that I simply expressed what I have learned in Japan about her admirable thoughts regarding development.
SGRA Kawaraban 380 in Japanese
In my visit to Manila last August, I had interesting discussions with educators at the University of the Philippines (UP) regarding the two concepts of “Shared Growth” (SG) and “Inclusive Growth” (IG). In 1993, the World Bank came out with the “East Asian Miracle” report which used the word SG to summarize the economic performance of eight East Asian countries/economies [led by Japan], which were able to grow rapidly while improving their income distribution. As a graduate student then, I was attracted to this phenomenon, and at every chance I had continued to do my research on this concept. On the other hand, IG was adopted as one of the pillars of this region’s economic development strategy when Japan became the chair country for the APEC summit in 2010, and has become a buzz word in the field of economic development. It can be seen that Japan has played an important role in promoting both concepts.
At first glance, the two concepts appear to be the same, since both seek a growth which would eliminate economic disparities. Moreover, as somebody who has emphasized for many years now that Japan should put importance on its country’s peculiar features, I should be happy that a development strategy that seeks to balance efficiency and equity is once again being proclaimed. But, I seem not prone to be so. The Philippine government’s economic planning agency has even inscribed IG in its medium-term plan, and I have encouraged caution in the use of this term among UP educators. This is because that the two concepts have crucial, albeit subtle, different connotations.
The differences between the two concepts are as follows.
1. SG is an older term than IG, but the former still applies to the current situation. In short, the idea of equity + efficiency is not something that Japan has just recently became aware of. 2. The possibility of SG is based on Japan’s experience, which tends to differ from that suggested by mainstream economics. It was because of Japan’s aggressive lobbying on the World Bank that resulted in the “East Asian Miracle” report. 3. The economic strategy of SG is different from the market fundamentalism that is proposed by mainstream economics, since SG considers as important the role of [a more pro-active] government. On the other hand, IG leans towards market fundamentalism.
Based on the differences above, we can confirm that SG is a more powerful economic strategy than IG. When the SG strategy was published in the “East Asian Miracle” report, Japan was in a financially strong position and was, therefore, able to go against the mainstream. At that time, Japan was being told to “put up and shut up”, but instead it commendably took the position of “putting up [the money = Official Development Assistance] as well as not shutting up”. However, right now, Japan is not really in a good financial position, so it is very much possible that her independent proposals on economic development would be taken lightly. Could such a Japan, as in the past, be able to put forward an effective proposal?
I would like to answer “yes, she can!” Despite a weak financial position, the Japanese economy possesses the SG DNA, which I think she could emphasize when making development strategy proposals.
The SG strategy was coined in the 1993 World Bank report, but it was already being implemented several decades prior to the report. In short, SG was a concept that preceded IG by more than twenty years. I think that this tells us just how natural and important for Japan were the economic goals of efficiency + equity. It is in no way like IG, which seems to have recently popped up. The future of about three-fourths of the world’s population should not be treated as some kind of buzz word popularity contest.
The SG strategy is based on the Japan’s own experience. In economics, balancing efficiency and equity is very difficult, but Japan has showed that this is possible. On the other hand, IG has not been actually achieved, and remains an ideal or an aspiration. Some may say that IG is more appropriate to the present time, but this at best could only refer to the lost decades of Japan, where equity + efficiency were lost.
IG leans toward the market fundamentalism of mainstream economics, wherein the government plays the role of a referee. The government decides and implements the rules regarding the game (competition) in the market. In contrast, SG concedes the government’s selective intervention, wherein the government acts more like a coach. Together with the firms in the front line of competition, this government would mourn over loses, rejoice over victories, and burn with intensity over the contest. Such a government has actually contributed to improving the competitiveness of Japanese firms.
Looking back, it was such a picture of Japan that I was enamored to devote my life’s work. My activities in SGRA started with this plea for respecting such aspects of Japan’s identity. [SGRA’s] Manila Seminars are held under the philosophy of SG. The development concept/strategy of SG, which was cited in the “East Asian Miracle” report, requires further clarification, a task that I have been undertaking through SGRA’s activities.
Thankfully, plans are now underway to hold the 15th Manila Seminar on February 8, 2013 at UP, under the theme “Manufacturing as if People and Mother Nature Mattered”. In this seminar, we will be reporting the results of the survey research of Professor Hitoshi Hirakawa of Nagoya University on “Symbiotic Regional Institution Building Towards a Knowledge-Based Economy in Asia”. Together with Prof. Hirakawa, I had a chance to pay a courtesy call on Dean Sale of the School of Labor and Industrial Relations of UP, who was very encouraging in his active support of the SG concept.
Now more than ever, Japan has to be forthright in speaking of the good aspects of her identity. Wavering at this point is not very “CooL Japan” [a movement in Japan to emphasize the good points of her culture] and would only continue to invite widespread confusion.
During my last visit, we also had the pleasure of the company of Professor Toru Nakanishi of the University of Tokyo during our meeting for the 16th Manila Seminar, among other issues, tentatively to be held on August 2013. Despite the media reports in Spring of this year regarding the cancellation of tours from China to the Philippines, the increased stringency on China’s imports of primary goods from the Philippines, and the plight of Philippine workers in China, I was able to confirm in this meeting that “scholars should go beyond the conflicts of governments, and attend the Shanghai conference [Asia Future Conference] for as long as it is possible to do so”. We go for the sake of scholarly exchange. I was deeply moved by the burning resolve of my Philippine comrades.
For photos related to this Manila Report, please see the links below. Visits [SGRA Photo Gallery] Meeting at the UP College of Architecture [FaceBook]
SGRA Kawaraban 353 in Japanese (original)
The 42nd SGRA Forum was held in collaboration with Kita Kyushu University on October 29, 2011 at Waseda University. I helped in the translations, and was in charge of the panel discussion at the end.
The main issue of this forum was about how to secure energy in order to support high economic growth while protecting the environment. In this connection, enhancing energy efficiency was a common point of discussion by the presenters. In enhancing energy efficiency, adjustment of the energy supply to meet demand becomes possible, while reducing the burden on the environment.
By the way, in the energy field, “3E”, a key term in the forum, seems to stand for Energy Security, Economic Growth, and Environmental Protection. In my field of development economics, I have used 3E to refer to Efficiency + Equity + Environment (please refer to the Manila Report 2010 Spring).
Energy efficiency was such a common point of the discussions/presentations that I prepared a slide compiling the energy efficiency of 120 countries (where energy efficiency = GDP divided by the total energy consumption)—please see slide. Energy efficiency seems to be on average not significantly different between low and high income countries.
Mr. Kritsanawonghong of Thailand and Mr. Ireland of Australia presented an energy conservation method which utilized a market-based mechanism for the environmental evaluation of buildings and electric devices. The actual introduction of such a mechanism led to increasing the environmental awareness of users, and improving energy efficiency. However, even though it is market-centered, the government plays a big role in setting up and diffusing such a system.
Speaking of markets, the correct pricing of energy resources and electricity is important. Ms. Balbarona of the Philippines reported that the electricity rates of the Philippines have overtaken that of Japan as being the highest in Asia. She explained that the distributing company passes all of the cost to the user, and that the Philippine government, unlike neighboring countries, does not provide substantial subsidies for electricity rates. Owing to this, various energy conservation movements naturally take place, such as the project headed by Ms. Gilles, wherein energy conservation was achieved in a Manila building through the creative balancing of daily usage of electricity. Mr. Ireland added that the Australian government’s subsidy on coal has led to the excessive use of this resource.
Next, some methods were reported for improving energy efficiency, which emphasized the importance of a low-cost and low-income (the poor) perspectives. Ms. Paramita of Indonesia raised the concept of urban optimal density. There is the thinking that for the sake of improving energy efficiency various resources should be concentrated in the city, but there should also be the thinking that, once the urban optimal density has been exceeded, problems such as slums arise, wherein efficiency begins to actually go down. Mr. Faisal of Indonesia emphasized that his country is not an exemption, since it has been promoting a concentrated-type of urban development, but what is really needed in fact is “reversed urbanization”. Incidentally, in the first joint forum of SGRA and Kita Kyushu University last year, I referred to this as “ruralization”. The urban problem should not be considered as separate from the rural sector. In addition, Ms. De Asis of the Philippines shared stories of recycling projects in the field of architecture such as the use of containers and plastic bottles. In the Philippines, there are projects such as largescale wind farms (first in Southeast Asia) and environmentally friendly shopping malls, but these are very costly. It is doubtful whether such technologies are really appropriate for developing countries such as the Philippines. Architecture based on recycling seems to have started in the countryside. Mr. Ireland pointed out that the rural-urban gap is also an important problem in developed countries such as Australia and Japan.
Another method that was mentioned for improving energy efficiency was the development of renewable energy. Unlike oil, coal, or uranium, renewable energy relies on unlimited energy resources; hence, the risk of resource costs going up is practically non-existent. In fact, as technologies progress, it is highly possible for costs to go down. The question as to whether renewable energy could replace nuclear energy in the medium- to long-term, was posed to Mr. Iyadurai of India and Ms. Balabarona of thePhilippines, who reported on renewable energies in their respective countries. The two countries also shared the same experience of forbidding the use of nuclear power plants that were being constructed. They shared the opinion that citizen sentiments against the use of nuclear power would continue to be strong. Mr. Kritsanawonghong added that the situation appears to be the same in Thailand. However, there were also participants in the forum who stated that nuclear power will not completely go away.
The above are some of the examples by which each Asian country grappled with the issue of improving energy efficiencies. Taking one step back, with the objective of promoting the consideration of an East Asian regional perspective, I shared with the forum participants a certain Japanese initiative. This initiative is particularly significant given that for the past few decades Japan has not come out with a compelling strategy for East Asia. I first came to learn about this initiative from a Fuji Television program called Prime News Live, where it was referred to as the “Asia-Pacific” Electricity Network” or “The Energy Version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)”. –please see slide
Behind this initiative was the unstable electricity supply situation caused by the Great East Japan earthquake of March 11th. This initiative was proposed by the Japan Creation Council (Nihon Sousei Kaigi), which was headed by Mr. Hiroya Masuda, former governor of Iwate Prefecture (one of the seriously stricken prefectures of March 11th). The issues being addressed by this initiative are the ensuring of energy security, the improvement of the international competitiveness of industries, and environmental sustainability. The ultimate objective is the establishment of a renewable energy state.
This initiative is very ambitious but I think it promotes a balanced integration of East Asia (together with Oceania). I am hoping that it could also be a policy for extricating Japan from its decades of debilitating despair. I refer to such an initiative as regional shared growth, which is a concept based on the Flying Geese Model of Development that I have learned from Japan. For many decades now, Japanese firms going overseas have tended to concentrate on selected countries. This is very disappointing since it actually runs opposite to the diversified-type of division of labor that Japan has earlier espoused. I have actually raised the alarm against such type of division of labor many years ago. No matter how many crises occur due to globalization or climate change, nobody seems intent on learning the lessons.
The current initiative strikes a beautiful image in my mind’s eye: the electricity network flies southward, jumping from one island to another, connecting the three East Asian archipelagoes of Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia, and merging with its sister ASEAN power grid from the western side.
At long last, an East Asian strategy has come out from Japan that is truly Japanese in spirit.
Notes: 1. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Professors Soichiro Kuroki and Weijun Gao for inviting to Kita Kyushu University’s exchange program three graduate students from the University of the Philippines (i.e., Stephanie Gilles, Juvy Balbarona, and Josefiina De Asis) on recommendation by Professors Edwin Quiros (Department of Mechanical Engineering, UP) and Mike Tomeldan (College of Architecture, UP) 2. I would also like to express my thanks to Professors Hidetoshi Nakagami and Hiroto Takaguchi for emphasizing the importance of an energy policy that puts weight on a long-term perspective and traditions.
SGRA Kawaraban 317 in Japanese
The main menu for my last Manila visit was the conference held at the University of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations (UP SOLAIR) on the 24th and 25th of August. As I have announced in previous Manila Reports, our group, consisting of Professor Hitoshi Hirakawa (SGRA advisor) of Nagoya University, Professor Bich Ha of the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi, and Dr. Than Than from Myanmar, presented two papers.
The Keynote Address was delivered by the Vice President of UP, Professor Amante, who was in Japan for further studies at about the same time as I was. After finishing his studies (Keio University), he went back home to UP, taught in a Korean University for a while, and became one of the former Deans of UP SOLAIR. In his Keynote Address, he stressed that since its inception in the 1950s, SOLAIR was a prestigious educational and research institution in Southeast Asia in the field of labor and industrial relations, and suggested the issue of maintaining that status. Faced with the reality of the Philippines being overtaken by other ASEAN countries, he encouraged continued learning from Japan, mutual constructive criticism and new ideas in the School, and efforts towards kaizen (continued improvement).
Although it has been quite a while since I last met Professor Amante, he kindly re-directed a question from the floor to me in the audience, perhaps remembering that my field was in development economics. The question was actually closer to international finance, and was about the establishing of an Asian currency in view of the current world crisis. My reply went more or less this way.
East Asia’s degree of intra-regional trade has become bigger than that of NAFTA, and is expanding to catch up with that of EU. Such economic integration was achieved without any formal institution such as the Euro. The cause, I think, lies in the international division of labor in East Asia pursued by Japanese-affiliated firms such as Toyota. As Mr. Sobrevega of Toyota Motors Philippines (also the President of the PIRS) just pointed out, when dealing with Toyota-related enterprises in other ASEAN countries, it is necessary to strike an exquisite balance between standardization and respect for diversity. ASEAN has relatively done well up to now perhaps because of the principle of non-intervention. The Philippines has been considered as a showcase of democracy in Asia—something that is worth being proud of, but not exaggerating. We should bear in mind that, in ASEAN countries like Vietnam and Myanmar, where governments are strong, as Dean Sibal and Professor Amante have pointed out earlier, could very well just overtake the Philippines, if we become too complacent. Of course, we should be very happy that our neighboring countries are developing, but this must not come at the expense of the Philippines: we must develop with them. Hence, what is important to the Philippines at this moment, I think, is to skillfully get on the international division of labor in the real sector, which is driving East Asian integration, rather than having a monetary institution such as a common currency.
On the encouragement of Professor Macaranas, Professor Hirakawa was kind enough to share his opinion. He pointed out that there was once an attempt to establish a common currency in East Asia, but this ended up failing due to the strong resistance of the US. He sees that the Chinese yuan right now could naturally become a common currency.
Professor Bich Ha of Vietnam also kindly shared her thoughts. Since she was more fluent in Nihongo, I translated into English. Her remark was roughly as follows. There was a time that in Vietnam the development of the Philippines was considered to be very impressive. As I visit the Philippines for the first time, despite the progress in infrastructure, I was surprised to see various problems such as slums, and that the standard of living of ordinary citizens is not that good. The main reason for Vietnam’s relatively good development is direct investment from abroad. It is hitting three birds with one stone. Due to foreign direct investments, employment, technology transfer and the formation of domestic small- and medium-scale enterprises become possible. Moreover, I think that the cooperative relationship between the government and labor unions in Vietnam could be a constructive point of dialogue between the Philippines and Vietnam. I hope to contribute to such a dialogue.
In the afternoon, Dr. Than Than of Myanmar, backed up by Professors Hirakawa and Bich Ha, presented in English the results of their research survey in Vietnam. Prior to her presentation, Dr. Than Than consulted me about some implications to the Philippines, which she kindly added at the end of her presentation. Apparently, in Vietnam, there is a tendency to suppress the outflow of migrant workers, which has actually contributed to the enhancement of the competitiveness of the country as workers are trained within the country. On the other hand, in the Philippines, sending workers abroad is a national strategy, and the country’s competitiveness has not significantly improved. How to keep Philippine workers in the country or to re-integrate OFWs are important policy issues.
The above are some examples of the active participation of our foreign (non-Filipino) guests in the conference. Learning from each other, I think, may be one way by which the road to cooperation among ASEAN countries could be further paved.
Unfortunately, I was in a separate session so I could not participate in their session. I had, however, a different agenda for my session: how to learn from Japan. There were three presenters, and I was first to go. I compared the labor contracts of US and Japanese enterprises, from the point of view of shared growth. I was followed by Mr. Sobrevega, who talked about Toyota Motor Philippines of the manufacturing sector. He was followed by one of the leaders of the labor union of Philippine Airlines of the services sector. In the open forum, I was happy to note that the participants (including the audience) applied, with no great difficulty, the shared growth principles I presented to the cases of Toyota and Philippine Airlines. Indeed, one of the objectives of my presentation was to raise the awareness that the Philippines could be a safe haven for the various shared growth institutions that could be learned from Japan, thus, ultimately contributing to the preservation of institutional diversity.
All four of us joined in the same sessions in the second day of the conference, where we had the invaluable opportunity to think about issues caused by poverty and social inequality, such as child prostitution, Japayuki, gender discrimination, migrant labor, and land reform. It was the first UP SOLAIR conference for the four of us. There is certainly room for kaizen, but I hope that the good presentations/discussions and the warm reception of the UP SOLAIR + SGRA family were able to compensate.
On the day following the closing of the conference, I passed by the hotel of the three guests at 7AM, picked up a collaborating professor at the UP College of Architecture at 7:30AM, and headed for Subic Free Port Zone on the expressway which Kajima Construction helped build (2.5 hours trip by car). Typhoon No. 11 had just hit landfall in the Philippines, and the weather was a bit rough. Nevertheless, we arrived right on time for our 10AM appointment at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) headquarters. We paid a courtesy call on SBMA Chairman Garcia with whom we were able to talk to until 11AM. This was followed by a briefing by his staff up to about 12 noon, at which time we discussed about how to proceed with Professor Hirakawa’s research project on the manufacturing sector. After lunch, we had a brief tour of the Freeport Zone for about an hour, and were back in Manila by 5PM.
During our talk with SBMA Chairman Garcia, I pointed out that, despite a very good start, the Freeport Zone recently seems to be advancing a bit more slowly. The Chairman cited some examples of firms leaving Subic to explain the somewhat sluggish situation. There apparently was, at the start, a plan to build a free trade corridor between Kaohsiung (Taiwan) and Subic, leading to the construction of a 300 hectare Taiwan Techno Park, but this stalled due to reactions from China. The international airport in Subic was also the Asian headquarters for FEDEX, which has since been transferred to China. A US firm operating in the container port built through a loan from Japan has since transferred to Mexico so as to be closer to its NAFTA market.
The common point of the above examples seems to be that the “half-baked” nature of Subic tends to make it lose its prize catches to bigger ships (areas of operation). However, the Chairman pointed out that it is precisely this feature that could be leveraged to develop Subic as a regional warehouse.
Because Subic is about 3 and half hours by plane away from the major East Asian cities, it is also in a strategic position in terms of sea routes. Another reason why it was chosen as naval bases by Spain and the US is its naturally deep port. (In fact, despite the proximity to typhoon no. 11, the waters in the port area were relatively calm). Finally, since Subic is in a Freeport Zone, it has a certain level of independence, legally and administratively, from the Philippine government so that the equation that Subic equals the Philippines may not really hold.
If we consider the above factors, Subic actually has the potential to drive the development of the Philippines. There is in fact a glimmer of hope amidst Subic’s current underutilization. Korea’s major shipping conglomerate, Hanjin, has built and is managing in Subic the fourth largest shipyard in the world. Moreover, it is planning to increase its area of operations by 200 hectares, and to start subcontracting the production of currently imported inputs to local manufacturers. Although there is now a global recession, the ship building projects of Hanjin have not really slowed down. Hanjin is very aggressive in supporting Philippine development.
The Chairman is also hoping on support from Japan.
※Some photos of the conference could be found in PIRS FACEBOOK. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Philippine-Industrial-Relations-Society-PIRS-Inc/19646091 0379580 ※I would like thank Professors Teodosio and Macaranas, my dad (Mac), and sister (Lenie) for taking care of our guests during their visit. I would also like to thank again Professor Hirakawa for inviting Professors Teodosio and Macaranas to Nagoya University last March, and Professor Bich Ha and Dr. Than Than to the UP SOLAIR conference.
SGRA Kawaraban 311 in Japanese
“We Can Take It” (for SGRA Kawaraban #286) Max Maquito
Thank you for all your phone and internet mails from Manila, Toronto, and Alberta.
I was accompanying the educators of the University of the Philippines, who were touring the town in the vicinity of Nagoya Station, when the Tohoku Pacific Earthquake hit. To calm down the surprised educators, we stood at the exit of the building, with me reassuring them that “Japan could take this much of shaking”. After the initial tremor had passed, we continued our tour of the area as if nothing happened. The educators have been walking around a lot since the previous day, so we returned to the hotel relatively early. Before getting on the subway, I got a call in my mobile phone from Professor Hitoshi Hirakawa, who is a SGRA adviser, and we confirmed each other’s safety. Taking lightly the professor’s words “It appears to be quite bad”, we returned to the hotel. It was when I turned on the TV that I first came to realize the severity of the situation. Through my mobile phone mail, I immediately transmitted our safety to my and the visiting educators’ families. Together with educators in the University of the Philippines, I received quite a number of messages saying that they were virtually down on their knees praying for Japan as well as the Philippines, which is also an archipelago.
The day after the big quake, in Nagoya University the workshop on the theme “Towards a Sustainable Shared Growth in Industrial Asia” was held as scheduled after a brief moment of silence on Professor Hirakawa’s request. While being concerned about Japan, the speakers earnestly made their presentations. Around that time, news came about Fukushima Nuclear Reactor No. 1 exploding, which prompted talk about the nuclear power plant that was being built many years ago in the Philippines, but was stopped by resistance from civil society. The next day, getting guidance from Professor Hirakawa, I brought the educators to the Chubu International Airport and saw them up to immigration. The airport was surprisingly peaceful. While mulling over the next week’s classes, I then headed right away to Tokyo on the Tokaido Shinkansen, which was by then running again.
Checking closely the news, I came to understand that a great tragedy has just visited Japan, that magnitude 7 aftershocks have a 70% probability of occurring in the next few days, and that scheduled brownouts will be implemented. On the Monday (13th) after the earthquake, I checked the email announcements of the university, which was still in the midst of Spring semester, for any announcements on class suspension. Having found none, I immediately sent emails to all of my students that they do not have to go to the university for my classes on Tuesday (14th). Several hours later, I found out that the university had suspended all classes, and had made arrangements for a flight for Hong Kong and a bus for Kansai for faculty, students, and others. Since then resumption of classes has been repeatedly postponed. At this point, resumption of classes has been tentatively decided to be on April 4th. Since the weekend after the earthquake, you, my family, have been imploring me to go home. In order to somewhat allay your fears, I have been sending out, through my mobile phone, information that I have picked up from Fuji TV, which has been most prompt in organizing the information, and other sources.
The behemoth finally awoke from its deep sleep where it has been building up its strength for more than half a century. With a growl that could be heard as far away as another island nation, the Philippines, 3000 kilometers away, the behemoth rose from the sea floor off Tohoku. Indiscriminately and in a wide area, it wielded its might. The people bravely put up a fight. With sirens filling the air, the warning “It has attacked! Everyone, quickly get out!” continued until the behemoth reached the shore. The young girl issuing the warning together with the town officials and firemen stationed at the fort’s walls, which was designed to keep out the behemoth and protect the town, lost their lives in the fight. Having been bought some time, the people who were able to make it to high ground held their breath as they watched the behemoth being held back at the fort’s walls. “It’s taking it! It’s taking it!” but this soon changed to screams of “It’s over the wall! It’s over the wall!”
The behemoth left after leveling down the town. At times we could still hear its growl from far away. The behemoth’s poison remains in the island nation, and even now is causing damage. Holding each others hands, everyone is earnestly exerting efforts to suck out the poison.
There’s going to be a lot of hardship in the interim, but I would like to repeat that Japan could take this much of damage. Recovery is inevitable, but I think that we have been given a very good opportunity to think about what form this recovery would take. Shall we return to the lost decades Japan, whom I have found very disappointing? Shall we return to Post-WWII Japan, whom I have come to love?
After the war, about 90% of Japan’s manufacturing capacity was destroyed, causing a severe lack of goods. After the dropping of the atomic bombs, about 250,000 people (including those from radiation) died in the first four months. Japan was remarkably able to achieve recovery to such an extent that it came to be called an “East Asian Miracle”. Moreover, from the burning fields of the war was born several visions, which have caught the imagination of a large number of global citizens, including myself: the Peace Constitution, the Three Non-Nuclear Principles, and my research theme of Shared Growth, among others.
This time around, the attack on Japan’s mainland was not from the armies of foreign lands, but from Japan’s ancient foe, the behemoth. From the scars of war would hopefully emerge, among others, a new Peace Constitution, a new Three Non-Nuclear Principles, and a new Shared Growth. A new Peace Constitution which strengthens the Self Defense Forces and the private sector’s abilities to protect the lives and properties of citizens of Japan and other Asian countries which are also weak against earthquake and tsunami. A new Three Non-Nuclear Principles which makes a fundamental review of the nuclear energy program. A new Shared Growth which also considers the genuine division of labor in East Asia and the promotion of a safe and secure ecological system. I am filled with excitement by simply imagining these alternatives.
It is not clear which recovery path Japan will eventually take, but I would like to put my stakes on the strong determination and wisdom of the Japanese people not to waste this tragedy.
Please continue to support me as I shuttle between Tokyo and Manila for my research about Japan.