Foreign Minister Taro Aso's Press Conference at FCCJ: "Asian Strategy As I See It"
Takahiro MIYAO (Professor and Head, Japanese Institute of Global Communications, IUJ)
|FCCJ Press Conference:|
|Date/Time:||December 7 (Wed) 14:15 - 15:30|
|Place:||Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan|
|Program:||14:15 - 15:15|
Speaker: Mr. Aso's Speech "Asian Strategy As I See It: Japan as the ‘Thought Leader' of Asia"
15:15 - 15:30
Q & A
||Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (http://www.fccj.or.jp) |
Foreign Minister Taro Aso's press conference was held at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on December 7, 2005. Mr. Aso gave an hour-long speech in English, and spelled out his view on Japan-Asia relations, before taking up some questions from participants.
His speech, entitled "Asian strategy as I see it: Japan as the ‘thought leader' of Asia," was very well written and well delivered in English for a relatively old politician in Japan. However, the written text is too good and too sophisticated for Mr. Aso to handle, as he had hard time explaining (even pronouncing) the key word "thought leader," which many people, probably including Mr. Aso himself, have never heard of before. Following the written text, he translated it as "trailblazer through hands-on practice," which appears more confusing, because thoughts and practice are somewhat opposing concepts.
He also emphasized the characteristics of Japan in Asia as a political and economic stabilizer as well as an equal-footing partner for Asian countries. However, his explanations did not seem too convincing, as his argument quickly shifted from Japan's unique role in Asia to the importance of the Japan-US security alliance, and became a mere expression of his own personal belief that Japan is treating other Asian countries as equal peers and other Asian countries should treat Japan the same way.
A critical moment came during the Q&A session, when a Japanese journalist asked him how Japan could become a thought leader, a stabilizer and an equal partner in Asia when the Japanese leader is not talking to the Chinese or South Korean leader and there seems to be lack of trust among them. Mr. Aso's answer was clearly unsatisfactory, as he failed to touch on political and diplomatic problems and only said that China and South Korea are not the only countries in Asia, where Japan has good relations with other countries, and Japan's economic and cultural activities are highly appreciated in China and South Korea with more and more people are visiting each other's countries everyday."
While there was no surprise at this press conference, participants left the conference room with a well written text and some disappointment.