Increasing Importance of Japan's Communication with Global Community
Toyoo GYOHTEN (President, Institute for International Monetary Affairs)
International relations seem to be more and more complex as the world is getting smaller due to the information revolution and technological progress. Especially in Asia, economic integration is rapidly taking place, whereas competition and rivalry among major countries appear to be more intense as ever in the process of forming an Asian economic community.
In this context, it is quite unfortunate that Japan seems misunderstood by other countries in Asia, particularly, many people in East Asia including China and South Korea. These days such history issues as Yasukuni and textbooks, largely stemming from mutual misunderstandings are adversely affecting Japan's economic relations with the neighboring countries, and could have serious effects not only on Asian economies but also the world economy as a whole in the future.
One thing that Japan can and should do to correct other countries' misunderstandings is to improve Japan's ability to express and explain its opinions and intentions to the outside world. This is crucial for any country to be effective in its international relations in this age of information and globalization. Especially important is communication in English, which can be understood universally, and also utilization of the Internet, which is indispensable for global dialogue these days.
We cannot wait for the government to take a step in the desirable direction, but should act on our own to communicate with as many people as possible in other countries. One might use his or her website or blog to express various opinions including his or her own, preferably in English, to promote mutual understanding with people in other countries in an interactive fashion. One such example is the website Japanese Institute of Global Communications at the International University of Japan, where Japan's opinion leaders express their views in English on important issues surrounding Japan. Such activities will become more important and crucial for Japan to be fully understood and fairly judged by other countries in the years to come.