Sverige/Norden och Japan/Kina

Det har blivit alltför många dagar utan blogginlägg, men här upplåter jag mitt blogg-utrymme till ett text som den förra japanske ambassadören till Sverige, Seiji Morimoto, har skrivit om ett seminarium som vi båda deltog i:

Shanghai Forum 2017

~Dialogue and Engagement between North East Asia

and the Nordic Region in a New Global Order~



Visiting Professor, University of Tokyo

Former Ambassador of Japan to Sweden


June 9, 2017


  1. My return to Shanghai after 25 years

I had an opportunity to attend Shanghai Forum 2017 held in Shanghai from 29 to 30 May, 2017 as a panelist of the session dealing with the cross-border cooperation. My first and last visit was in 1992 as a delegation member when Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress paid an official visit to China. The changes since then in town were tremendous and remarkable.

The organizers of the Forum were Fudan-European Centre for China Studies, Fudan Development Institute and Institute for Security and Development Policy (ISDP), Stockholm. Co-organizer was NIAS-Nordic Institute of Asian Studies. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the organizers and co-organizer for inviting me to the session. In particular I owe this to the initiative of Dr. Lars Vargö, Distinguished Fellow and Program Manager, Stockholm Japan Center of ISDP and former Ambassador of Sweden to Japan.


  1. Opening Ceremony

At the opening of the Forum there were several distinguished keynote speakers. Prof. Christopher Pissarides, 2010 Nobel Laureate in Economics, drew attention to the potential risk that a highly developed AI (artificial intelligence) society would bring about a drastic change to the world beyond our comprehension in both positive and negative sense and gave us a warning to cope with the potential consequences before it becomes too late. Former President of Turkey Mr. Abdul Gül pointed out the strategic importance of Turkey on the ancient Silk Road and supported the potentiality of the Chinese initiative of “One Belt One Road” for the development of the Eurasia infrastructure.


  1. Dialogue between Asia and the Nordic countries

In the session I attended (Dialogue and Engagement between North East Asia and the Nordic Region in a New Global Order) we had a series of interesting presentations and discussions how we can deepen our cooperation between Asia and the Nordic countries. Ambassador Vargö moderated a part of the session regarding “Sustainability”.

It was quite impressive, for example, that Fudan University and University of Copenhagen have developed the cooperative relations in the field of mutual student exchange and researches. Mr. Arne Walther of Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Former Ambassador of Norway to Japan, explained about the activities of the Nordic Council, while Mr. Shin Bong-Kil, Visiting Professor of Yonsei University, elaborated the activities of the Korea-China-Japan Trilateral Committee. It was interesting to make a comparison between the two regional cooperation frameworks.



  1. What should Asia learn from the Nordic countries?

In my presentation, in order to give the participants food for thoughts, I started with the fundamental differences between Europe and Asia. One of the characteristics in Asia is “diversity”. Indeed, Asia is diverse in ethnics, religions, political values and culture, while Europe, in principle, can be described as having such common backgrounds as the Caucasian race and Christian culture with a common history as well as the basic values like freedom, democracy, human rights and equality.

Compared with Europe, in my view, Asia does not enjoy the “peace dividend” from the end of the Cold War. Korean Peninsula is divided even today. China claims “one country, two systems”. We have ideological confrontations between the communist and capitalistic regimes. We have also a variety of religions in Asia such as Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and local polytheisms. All of these have prevented Asia from forming rigid political, economic and security frameworks of the region unlike EU, NATO and other institutions in Europe.

Then I raised a question why Europe succeeded in dispelling the “Wall” between East and West. With the shared sense of identity Europe had exerted conscious efforts for stability, prosperity and better understanding in the region. In this context, I pointed out that the CSCE (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe) process or the Helsinki process had played a significant role to deepen the mutual understanding and exchange of views between East and West, particularly in so-called Basket III so that it could solidify the common political, economic and cultural backgrounds. Having spent my tenure in Vienna from 1985 to 1989 I felt as if the “Wall” had become thinner year by year and people oozed more and more out of East being encouraged by new inspiration of ideas and thoughts in West. It was the will of the people that broke the “Wall”, not the bare force.

It should be noted that the philosophy was widely shared in Europe that the sublime ideal of integration would be better than fragmentation. This historical experiment has been conducted with strong support of such theorists as Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, Robert Shuman、Winston Churchill and others. It is always easy to claim self-determination as a political motto for any nation. But integration is a power to overcome nationalism and egoism. In reality Europe still suffers from the old nation-state order created by the Westphalia Treaty in 1648. Exposed to the acute challenges such as influx of refugees and deteriorating educational and social services, there seems to be pros and cons in the individual countries but the sublime ideal to overcome the national egoism has not been abandoned.


  1. Characteristics of the Nordic societies

The above said, I consider the following several points as the characteristics that Asia should learn from the Nordic countries:

1) Policies formulated based upon such basic values as freedom, democracy, human rights and equality

2) Good governance under “Big Government”

=Welfare state (from cradle to grave)

=”Normative Society” of integrity to respect the basic values

=Little corruption due to the mechanisms established in the “Normative Society”

=Gender equality and women’s perspective to the policy making processes

=Foreign policy orientation reflecting the above values

3) Strong social responsibilities among the citizens to bear necessary tax burdens for the good governance

4) Solid awareness and interest of citizens to pay attentions to the governance of their state organs

5) Respect for multi-faceted social values such as LGBT

6) Respect for the nature and environment for sustainable development on Earth

7) Generosity to other ethnic groups and their acceptance into society

8) Innovative spirits and international entrepreneurship


  1. Summary of the discussions

What was enlightening at the session was the active exchange of views with the other participants. The following points would be my summary;

  • There was overall agreement that the Asian soil is quite different from that of Europe. Because of the diversities in Asia it might not be possible or even inappropriate to transfer to Asia all what Europe has attained. This diversity, however, could be the source of vitality for Asia.
  • There was also agreement to recognize the importance of promoting the mutual understanding and goodwill beyond the boarders in Asia. In particular it was stressed that the youth exchange would be vital to facilitate the trend and to bridge the nations in delicate relations. I created a stir in the discussions to think about “CSCA (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Asia)” as a useful means to allow more “peace dividend” to be enjoyed by the region.
  • It was raised that the close cooperation among the Nordic countries can be a good reference to Asian countries. In particular, the Nordic Council could be a role model to deepen the cooperation among the Asian countries because each Nordic member is participating in the policy making and coordination of the organization as a sovereign state and consensus is a principle rule for their decision making.
  • It was encouraging to note that the gradual move is seen to facilitate the cooperation in security, economic and social spheres among the Asian and Pacific regions. For examples, ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum, which is participated widely by US, Russia, China, India, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, EU and so on), APEC (Asia-Pacific economic Forum) and RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) could be a good basis among others for further development to come.
  • It was pleasant to see a sense of pulse among younger generation people at the meetings. As Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies (KFAS) was a host of Shanghai Forum together with Fudan Univesity, there were many Korean and Chinese students attending the events. I heard positive responses from them about the importance of deepening mutual understanding among the Asian countries to look at their own countries squarely. They seemed to be eager to carry their responsibilities on their own shoulders for the future, which made the participants feel that there would be gradual but apparent changes in the residual “negative legacy” in Asia as the generation changes take place.


  1. Valuable assets for the participants

What proved to be positive and useful after Shanghai Forum was the networking created during the Forum. Many participants have renewed their sense of obligation to continue to think about “Asia and the World: New Impetus, New Structure and New Order” which was the main theme of this year’s Forum.



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