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ResearchCentre for East Asian Studies Groningen

Seminar on Regional Security and Cooperation in East Asia, perspectives on the role of Japan

When:Mo 14-11-2016 09:00 - 17:00
Where:Senate hall, Academy building

With the courteous support of the Embassy of the state of Japan to The Netherlands, Globalisation Studies Groningen, the Centre for East Asian Studies and the Japan Centre of the University of Groningen has called together a group of experts from Groningen’s institutional network in Europe and East Asia, as well as an audience of interested students, PhD students and academic colleagues to discuss the regional security situation in East Asia, patterns of institutional cooperation in East Asia and the specific security challenges the region faces. Concerning all these issues, perspectives of the role of Japan will be a common angle in all presentations and discussions. Goal of the one-day seminar is to come to agenda-setting in the domain of necessary interdisciplinary research on security issues in this geographical area of global importance for the next decades to come.

Regional security and institutional cooperation in East Asia, especially in the triangular frame of Japan, China and South-Korea, is a complex web of bilateral and multilateral formats. The bilateral security alliances of the United States of America ànd a seemingly erratically behaving North-Korea as dominant influences, complicate matters even more. East Asia can be characterised as a volatile geographical area, where security issues (despite attempts such as the East Asia Vision Group, the East Asia Study group and Prime Minister Abe’s Broader Collective Defence Network initiative) are first and foremost handled in a bilateral way. Because of remaining strong emphasis on the sovereign nation-state as the major actor in security issues, on-going and unsettled disputes with long historical roots, the emergence of a mature and stable regional order has not (yet) materialised. At present, the rising levels of competitiveness in East Asia and the increased levels of complexity of the ‘ bilateralised’ attempts to regulate security issues are aggravated by the current assertive positioning of China and the bewildering brinkmanship of North-Korea. A new comprehensive approach to a regional security architecture seems remote but nevertheless very much needed.

Japan occupies a prominent position in the dynamics of the region. For long already a global economic actor (2nd-3rd largest economy in the world) Japan under the leadership of Prime Minster Abe has been taking Japan into more self-confident directions. In the short term, Japan’s commitment to creating a broader collective defence network signals a more pro-active Japanese regional security role. It is an indication that Japan is moving towards the position of being an active and leading actor in securitising the region, coupling a greater security autonomy through enhanced military capacity alongside greater institutional security cooperation with the regional partners and the United States.

The University of Groningen has invited prominent scholars, each with their own specialisation in East Asian security issues, to present and discuss the security challenges in the region against the background of Prime Minster Abe’s new regional security strategy. These multidisciplinary perspectives will allow for progressive discussion between the presenters and the audience, as well as advanced research-agenda setting concerning the necessity of creating a viable and sustainable regional security architecture.