Formulation of a regional network Security framework
8 月 03

Northeast Asia has hidden potential for both conflict and development. The history of conflict shows that tragic events have occurred repeatedly over a long period, some of which have yet to be fully resolved. Establishing stability in the region has to come first for the prosperity of Northeast Asia. It is desirable to achieve regional stability by creating a “symbiotic community” that respects diversity in the region. In this section we shall discuss how to achieve this from a security perspective.

The history of the last hundred years in Northeast Asia, particularly the area that borders China, North Korea and Far East Russia, has been one of heated conflict. In the early 20th century, Northeast Asia was in the process of establishing a foundation for prosperity with a certain level of infrastructure development including the opening of the Trans-Siberian Railway. However, the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, the China-Japan War, the Pacific War, and the Korean War erupted one after another. This sequence of wars combined with the Cold War structure has hindered the development of Northeast Asia. Although it has been over ten years since the Cold War ended, the Cold War structure still exists on the Korean Peninsula, and the border between North and South is still maintained in readiness for war. Conflict is held off through “balance of power” security.

The question is whether there is a way to prevent conflict and build a symbiotic community for stability and development of the region. Before the Pacific War, Foreign Affairs, an American journal on foreign policy, published a paper about Northeast Asia. The basic thesis of the paper was that cooperation between Japan and the United States could help develop northeastern China (formerly Manchu), particularly to help form an “open economic bloc” through infrastructure development by multi-national companies. This, the paper argued, would lead directly to the creation of trust in the region and therefore prevent conflicts before they happen.

One event that corroborated and presented a background to the argument of the Foreign Affairs article was the arrangements by which the Manchurian Railway was managed. Edwin Harriman, who was called the “Railway King” of the United States, had suggested that the Manchurian Railway be developed through the joint management of Japan and the U.S. with the intention of creating an around-the-world transportation network over land and sea as an extension of transnational railroads.

However, the memorandum for the joint management, which was at one point agreed upon, was nullified partially because of the Treaty of Portsmouth. As a result, Japan refused to cooperate with the U.S and adopted isolationist policies. Although difficult to achieve with the prevailing international relations at that time, had Japan decided to cooperate with the U.S. to promote the development of Northeast Asia, it could have avoided the isolation that ensued and changed the course of history. There is no “if” in history, but it is valid to observe that an avenue by which war could have been avoided was in the public domain, as suggested by the article in Foreign Affairs.

After World War II, the United States supported Japan in both security and economy through its communist containment policy. This was triggered by an article published in Foreign Affairs by George F. Kennan, a young official at the U.S. Department of State. Titled “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” it outlined the likely Cold War structure of the globe, and, as a result, Northeast Asia, including Japan, was located in the Cold War system. In the Cold War system, East and West would confront each other with a security framework based on a balance of power.

After operating for 50 years or so, the Cold War has ended and the world is constructing a post-Cold War geopolitical structure. However, despite this overall trend, the Cold War system is still maintained through military tension that remains at the border of North and South Korea. Even with these tensions, Northeast Asia has begun to experience constructive movements that have never been seen before, including a trend toward multi-national cooperation among Northeast Asian countries, the Sunshine Policy of South Korea, establishment of diplomatic relations between European Union countries and North Korea, and the Pyongyang Declaration by Prime Minister Koizumi’s visit to North Korea. It is vital that a new system for regional stability be developed by taking advantage of the international environment surrounding the Korean Peninsula during this transitional period. We recognize that today’s world is at a transitional point to open a new period
in history.

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