Exclusive Interview with Prof. Jiro Mizuno

Exclusive Interview with Prof. Jiro Mizuno

by Iqra Anugrah*

Professor Jiro Mizuno is a Visiting Professor at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan, teaches the UN peacekeeping and humanitarian operations and international legal practice, and Japan’s modern diplomacy and politics courses. He served the UN in New York and Geneva headquarters and at missions covering Palestine, Iran, Iraq, and Kosovo. He has been fellow and visiting scholar at Harvard University, Boston, a student of Professor Edwin O. Reischauer, US ambassador to Japan appointed by President Kennedy.

GP: Do you think China’s attitude in handling dispute with Japan over Senkaku Islands is a sign of China’s increasingly assertive foreign policy in the world?

China is in the process of emerging as not only a powerful state, but also a maturing state, especially in terms of its foreign policy. Thus, whether and how China can afford this evolution process is a big question. It may take time for China to transform herself into globally acceptable member of international community in much sense. Countries at the active developing phase, like current China, tend to seek interest in more expansion orientation over political and economic opportunity and influence, resources, and territory, but the question is how fast China can synchronize all of these elements in its internationally acknowledged approach. Japan’s modernization experience since the 19th century can be possibly a good lesson for China.

GP: Some critiques, particularly in Japanese domestic politics, claim that Japan’s decision to release Chinese boat captain reflects Japan’s weak diplomacy. Do you agree with that?

Japan’s release of the Chinese captain reflects the confusion in the Japanese government’s external relations approach. If they decided to apply the judicial procedure for this case, they should have done so towards the conclusion. Otherwise, the case should have been handled diplomatically, in a clear and convincing manner. The approach should not have been misinterpreted and left any space for argument, vis-à-vis China and any neighboring and possibly concerned countries. In this kind of case, an argument to divide the domestic judicial procedure and the national diplomacy, insisting that the local judicial authority’s handling is one separated process and the central government’s diplomatic handling afterwards is another, can not stand. It is up to diplomacy to decide how to handle it from the very beginning onward.

GP: How will Japan and Southeast Asian countries respond towards increasing Chinese trade and military activities in the region?

They have to press and convince the Chinese to be open and transparent regarding their foreign policy target and the military build-up. Japan and the Southeast Asian states, plus all relevant countries, can coordinate and collaborate on the common grounds of principle and approach, thus lead the international opinion, and bring the issues to be at a globally acceptable level. Economic activities should be conducted on satisfactory bilateral and multilateral standard in compliance with the international standard and regulations.

GP: Do you think that China started to move away from pragmatist and non-confrontational foreign policy to a more assertive one? Or is it simply a natural process as a rising global power?

I am not sure about the Chinese foreign policy was non-confrontational, since China has fought against neighboring states for the territorial purposes. On the other hand, China has always been pragmatic, calculating the way to seek its interest based on their capability and increased capacity. The question is how their pragmatism can affect its policy set-up thus properly function in the harmony with other countries which pursue the similar pragmatic approach and outcome.

GP: Lastly, with increasing tensions among countries in East Asia, what is your prediction of Asia’s geopolitical situation in the near future?

Human interaction among the Asian states, in cultural and intellectual exchange and business collaboration, has drastically increased and will continue, though those effects are to some extent non-quantifiable. Most of the Asian countries share the same value standard, except a few, and as long as China can not share the same moral value, its influence must be limited. Though the emerging issue of territorial disputes, some confrontational situations with military back up and economic expansion behind will continue and take place, it will not affect the major geopolitical dimension, as the countries in Asia have developed its democratic value, which is further solidifying thus becoming less vulnerable to the influence which is in absence from such a core standard.

Posted on November 26, 2010


Perspectives on a New Era Symposium held at APU

On Saturday, November 21, 2009, APU has successfully organized the “Perspectives on a New Era-Japan, America and China” Symposium. This symposium was held at the Millennium Hall in commemorating the APU 10thAnniversary and Confucius Institute 3rd Anniversary.

The symposium invited Asahi Shimbun Editor-in-Chief and APU Visiting Professor, Funabashi Yoichi; Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ORIX Corporation and APU Academic Advisory Committee Member, Miyauchi Yoshihiko; Former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to China, Anami Koreshige; Dean of Faculty of Law, Keio University and Former President of the Japan Association of International Relations, Professor Kokubun Ryosei; and Founding President of APU and Professor of Ritsumeikan University, Sakamoto Kazuichi.

APU President Monte Cassim and Former Prime Minister of Japan and Confucius Institute Advisor Mr. Murayama Tomiichi opened the symposium by giving a few words in the opening remarks. The symposium was also attended by Former Governor of Oita Prefecture, Hiramatsu Morihiko.

The first session of the symposium began with keynote speech from Professor Funabashi. In his lecture, he mentioned future of the world lies in the Asia Pacific. America will continue to play an important role in the Asia. Nevertheless, we can see the rise of China and Japan as a sign that Asia is now ready to serve as the co-driver in global society. Therefore, he argued that cooperation will be essential in the future.

The second part of the symposium continued with panel discussions with Professor Funabashi, Mr. Miyauchi, Professor Kokubun and Ambassador Anami. The discussion was moderated by Profesor Sakamoto and dealt with three important international issues: world economic order, environmental and energy problems and the Korean peninsula. Most of the discussion time, however, was dedicated for international political economic order, particularly about the rise of China and its impacts to global economy, especially in post-crisis world.

Finally, the symposium was ended by question and answer session to the whole audience, which is not consisted by APU students only but Beppu citizens as well. The whole event was conducted in Japanese and simultaneous English interpretation was provided during the symposium.

Generally speaking, APU has been quite successful in organizing this program. Nonetheless, there were some complaints regarding the symposium from the students and audience. The most disturbing problem probably was the quality of English interpretation. Poor translation sometimes could change the meaning or content of the lecture. Moreover, the time provided for the panel discussion was inadequate. Not all of the topics assigned for the panel session were fully discussed. But after all, APU has proven its capacity as an international university by hosting this kind of event. In order to improve its role as an academic institution and contribute to society, we hope we can see more academic seminars and symposiums at APU, especially after ten years of its establishment.

Iqra Anugrah, APS ‘11

Published in The APU Times, 24 December 2009 http://aputimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=187:perspectives-on-a-new-era-symposium-held-at-apu&catid=1:academic-news&Itemid=187&lang=en