An East Asian Community?

An East Asian Community?

RUSI Newsbrief, 26th January, 2010


In the run up to the September 2009 election, Japan’s new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama unveiled his vision for an East Asian Community (EAC) in a series of policy statements and speeches.1 It was to be, he asserted, a vision of regional co-operation based on the model of the European Union, underscored by principles of fidelity and brotherhood. While the idea for such a community has been promoted by various Asian leaders since the late 1990s, and has been considered rather pie-in-the-sky, this latest incarnation of the vision is interesting because of Japan’s weight as a regional leader.

Hatoyama’s proposal comes hot on the heels of a similar proposal made by Australian Premier Kevin Rudd, whose 2006 Asian-Pacific Community was met with withering criticism at home and deafening silence in Asia. Both proposals reveal the growing trend for integration in Asia and the obstacles facing that integration. The editor-in-chief of the Jakarta Post, Endy Bayuni, put it succinctly when he said, ‘While no one disputes the need for closer regional integration, the question always quickly gets bogged down by mechanism, about who is in and who is out, as well as what the most appropriate regional architecture might be.

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