East Asia group needs China cooperation : Japan FM
Wednesday, 07 October 2009

Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada on Wednesday shrugged off the idea that Tokyo's plans to form an East Asian Community could spark rivalry with Beijing over who would take the leading role.

Japan wants to firm up the concept of an Asian grouping at a trilateral summit with South Korea and China in Beijing this weekend, Okada told reporters after giving a speech in Tokyo.

"I think Japan and China must cooperate in order for the East Asian Community to be a success," Okada said when asked about possible competition with Beijing for the lead role.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who took office after a landslide election victory in August, expresses hopes for more integration in Asia, inspired by the example of the European Union.

He floated the idea with President Hu Jintao at their first meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last month. But the response was vague and details of the plan remain sparse.

Okada said he envisaged opening membership to Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and that the first step would be more economic integration.

He said the new grouping would not affect Japan's relations with other countries. Tokyo's most important security alliance is with the United States.

"We don't intend to exclude them," he told reporters. "We are not members of the EU or the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but we don't feel we are being excluded from them," he added.

Source: bdnews24.com

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