The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) was established in 1996 to strengthen Asian-European relations, which had traditionally been weak, in contrast to strong Asian-North American and European-North American relations. While dialogue and cooperation between the two regions at the official, governmental, and civil society levels has advanced in the political, economic/financial, and social/educational/cultural domains since the first ASEM summit meeting, significant global changes over the past decade have changed expectations for Asian-European cooperation.

On the occasion of ASEM’s tenth anniversary, the Foreign Ministries of Finland and Japan sponsored a research project, “ASEM’s Role in Enhancing Asia-Europe Cooperation: Ten Years of Achievements and Future Challenges,” to evaluate the ASEM process and explore future possibilities. The final research report, published by the Japan Center for International Exchange and the University of Helsinki Network for European Studies, was presented to the ASEM Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) in March 2006 and it served as background material at the ASEM Summit in September 2006.


As part of this project, an international conference and symposium featuring Asia-Europe relations specialists and officials took place on December 11–13, 2005, in Tokyo. These events were co-organized by the Japan Center for International Exchange, the Asia-Europe Foundation, and the EU Institute in Japan, and made possible with support from the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Tokyo Club. Sixty-eight participants, including many government officials from both Asia and Europe, participated in the conference. Approximately seventy participants from corporations, the media, research centers, governments, and universities attended the public symposium

Discussion at the public symposium was based on the outcome of a one-and-a-half-day experts conference on the ASEM process held on December 12 and 13. The symposium brought together conference participants and the general public to deepen dialogue about the future of relations between Asia and Europe.

Session One: Asia and Europe in a Changing Global Environment (Panel Discussion)

Mr. Il Sakong began Session One with a discussion of how ASEM is a complementary part of global governance and how it should support open regionalism. He highlighted the need for a closer economic partnership between Asia and Europe as recommended by the ASEM-sponsored Asia Europe Vision Group.

Mr. Jean-Jacques Subrenat highlighted challenges in the changing global environment including human development, long-term management of resources such as food, water, energy, and ensuring education and women’s rights.

Mr. Geoffrey Barrett stressed that the success of economic development in Europe is dependent on Asia’s economic success, and that the EU has a growing interest in East Asian community building. The EU is interested in supporting a rules-based international system and regional integration. A key question for the EU is how can ASEM make a unique contribution?

Ensuing discussion with the audience centered on how relations between China, Korea, and Japan affect ASEM. Worsening relations and rising nationalism prevents East Asia from coordinating policies on ASEM. Reaching a shared understanding on past history is critical to regional integration and cooperation. France and Germany’s experience with reconciliation could be a useful example for Northeast Asia. In addition, region-wide initiatives such as the Chiang Mai initiative are good foundations from which to strengthen mutual trust and collaboration.

Session Two: Prospects for Asia-Europe Relations and Expectations for ASEM (Panel Discussion)

The second session began with remarks by Jusuf Wanandi, Vice Chairman o the Supervisory Board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta. Mr. Wanandi emphasized the importance for exchange and dialogue in today’s world characterized by new threats. ASEM can play an important role in addressing these threats.

The second speaker, Karl Kaiser, former Director of the Research Institute of the German Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin, discussed how East Asia’s increasing economic interdependence does not necessarily guarantee peace in the region. Interdependence is being threatened by political tension, rising nationalism, and a gradual arms buildup in East Asia. ASEM can have an impact on this situation by serving as an open forum for dialogue where each partner understands the others’ needs and perspectives.

The third speaker, Koji Watanabe, Senior Fellow at the Japan Center for International Exchange and former chair of the ASEF Board of Governors, discussed emerging issues in East Asia. These include economic cooperation as a method for building community; including the United States in the community-building process; and Japan’s differences with China over past history. Mr. Watanabe noted that although Japan has changed dramatically over the past sixty years by becoming a responsible member of the international community, China has not yet recognized this transformation.

Attention was given to deteriorating relations between Japan and China in the ensuing discussion. Mr. Watanabe noted three elements in China that have contributed to worsening relations: differing interpretations of history, a nationalistic education curriculum, and the mass media’s dissemination of anti-Japanese information. A Chinese participant stated that Japan must take the initiative to restore relations by fairly addressing questions of past history and by desisting from honoring its war criminals. Another participant questioned why it would be wrong for a government to teach children to love their country. Mr. Kaiser responded that patriotic education is important, but it must include recognition of one’s country’s mistakes.

Opening Remarks

TADASHI YAMAMOTO, President, Japan Center for International Exchange (moderator)

WONIL CHO, Executive Director, Asia-Europe Foundation

TAKAYUKI KIMURA, Director-General, EU Institute in Japan; member of ASEF Board of Governors

 Session One: Asia and Europe in a Changing Global Environment (Panel Discussion)

IL SAKONG, Chairman and CEO, Institute for Global Economics

JEAN-JACQUES SUBRENAT, former ambassador of France to Finland

GEOFFREY BARRETT, ASEM Counsellor, European Commission

 Session Two: Prospects for Asia-Europe Relations and Expectations for ASEM (Panel Discussion)

JUSUF WANANDI, Vice Chairman of Supervisory Board, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta

KARL KAISER, former Director, Research Institute of the German Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin

KOJI WATANABE, Senior Fellow, Japan Center for International Exchange; former chair, ASEF Board of Governors


Public Discussion with Audience
Closing Remarks



SaKong Il is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Global Economics, a private nonprofit research institute based in Seoul. He was Minister of Finance (1987-88), Senior Secretary to the President for Economic Affairs (1983-7), Ambassador for International Economy and Trade (2000-02), Senior Member of the National Economic Council for the President (2003-04) and Special Consultant to the International Monetary Fund (1989-98). Before joining the Korean government, Dr. SaKong spent nearly a decade at the Korea Development Institute (KDI). He has written and edited many books and articles on the Korean economy, economic development, and international finance and trade policy. He graduated from Seoul National University and received his MBA and Ph.D. from the University of California in Los Angeles.

Jean-Jacques SUBRENAT

Ambassador Subrenat was head of France’s diplomatic missions in different locales in Europe between 1995 and 2005, first as Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the Western European Union in Brussels, then as Ambassador to Estonia, and as Ambassador to Finland. In addition, he has served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in France in the Policy Planning Division, Directorate for Administration and Personnel, Deputy Director for Southeast Asia, Alternate Director for Development Cooperation, and Alternate Director for the Americas. He has served as Secretary at the French embassy in Singapore and Minister-Counsellor at the French embassy in Tokyo. Ambassador Subrenat is the author of numerous articles and is the editor of “Estonia, Identity and Independence.” He was a research fellow on China at the French National Centre for Scientific Research and has conducted research at the University of Kyoto. He completed his studies at the University of Bordeaux and received a doctorate in history from the Sorbonne.

Geoffrey BARRETT

Geoffrey Barrett is Adviser in the Directorate-General for External Relations responsible for ASEM, ARF, and related regional policy and security issues at the European Commission. He has spent most of his career working in different positions in the European Commission. In 1996, after fifteen years spent on the Central Africa desk and on trade development issues in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, he was posted to the Delegation in Riga, Latvia, to help prepare that country’s accession to the European Union. In 2001, he was appointed Head of Delegation to Serbia and Montenegro where he contributed to the full restoration of ties with the European Union following the departure of the Milosevic regime. In his current position as Adviser in the Directorate General, his near-term objective is to ensure that the Commission fulfills its role as ASEM Coordinator in the preparations for ASEM 6.


Jusuf Wanandi is co-founder and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Jakarta. He is Chairman of the Indonesian National Committee for the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council and Co-Chair of the Council of Security Cooperation in Asia Pacific (CSCAP), Indonesia. Mr. Wanandi is also President Director of the publishing company of the Jakarta Post, Board Chairman of the Graduate School of Management Prasetiya Mulya, and Chairman of the Foundation of Panca Bhakti University in Pontianak. He has served as Secretary of the Indonesian Supreme Advisory council, Secretary-General of the National Education Council, and four-term representative in the People’s Consultative Assembly. He has written extensively in national and international magazines and newspapers, and has edited a number of books on political and security developments in the Asia Pacific region.


Karl Kaiser is the Ralph I. Straus Visiting Professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He has taught at the Universities of Bonn, Johns Hopkins (Bologna), Saarbruecken, Cologne, and Harvard. He was Director of the German Council on Foreign Relations for 30 years, an advisor to Chancellors Brandt and Schmidt, and a member of the German Council of Environmental Advisors. Prof. Kaiser serves on the Board of Foreign Policy, Internationale Politik, the Asian-Pacific Review, the Advisory Board of the American-Jewish Committee, Berlin, and is the Chairman of the Board of the Federal Academy of Security Policy, Berlin. He is a recipient of the Atlantic Award of NATO. Professor Kaiser is the author or editor of several hundred articles and about fifty books in the fields of world affairs, German, French, British and US foreign policy, transatlantic and east-west relations, nuclear proliferation, strategic theory, international environmental policy. He holds a Ph.D. from Cologne University and an Honorary Doctorate of the Russian Academy of Sciences.


Koji Watanabe is Senior Fellow at Japan Center for International Exchange, and former Executive Advisor to the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren). He was Japanese Ambassador to Russia from 1993-96 and Ambassador to Italy from 1992-93. He was also Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sherpa for the G-7 Houston and London summits of 1991 and 1990, and Japanese cochairman of the U.S.-Japan Structural Impediments Initiative Talks. Ambassador Watanabe joined the Foreign Ministry upon graduating from the University of Tokyo in 1956 and served as Director-General of the Information Analysis, Research and Planning Bureau and of the Economic Affairs Bureau. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University (1957-58) and at the Center for International Affairs of Harvard University in (1973-74). His other overseas posts include Counsellor at the Japanese Embassy in Saigon (1974-76), Minister at the Japanese Embassy in Beijing (1981-84), and Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (1988-89). Ambassador Watanabe is President of The Japan Forum, a former member of the Board of Governors of the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) and a member of the National Public Safety Commission.