Good afternoon, everybody.
It is my great honor to make these opening remarks today.
I am Sachio Nakato, the project leader for Research on Peace and Cooperation in East Asia at Ritsumeikan University.
We are pleased to organize today’s symposium to commemorate the preparation of the Research Center for East Asian Peace and Cooperation.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to our wonderful supporters and guests here, including:
Congressman Hong Ik-Pyo and Lee Jae Jung, members of the ROK’s National Assembly. We are proud of the bipartisan support of the ROK’s National Assembly within this organization. I am particularly grateful to Dr. Hong Ik-Pyo for his encouragement and advice through the whole process of establishing the Center from the beginning.
These representatives have always provided great support to Ritsumeikan and I would not be here without their cooperation and encouragement.
President Lee Si-Hyoung, Korea Foundation Without support from the Korea Foundation, Ritsumeikan University would not have initiated our research project on East Asian Peace and Cooperation.
Prof. Shiro Okubo, former director of the Institute for International and Area Studies, and Prof. Suh Sung, former director of the Center for Korean Studies, Ritsumeikan University Without their initiatives and leadership in research activities on East Asia and Korea more than two decades ago, we could not have organized today’s symposium.
And most of all, we are glad to have top experts on East Asian international relations from the U.S., China, Russia, Korea, and Japan, including Professor Mitoji Yabuanka, the former Vice Minister of the MOFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan), Chairman Frank Jannuzi from the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, Prof. Wang Yong from Beijing University, Prof. Andrei Lankov, the leading expert on North Korea, and Amb. Shin Chung Seung, the former ROK ambassador to China and others.
It is difficult to imagine that an international symposium of this scale would be organized by a single university in Kyoto or even in Tokyo. Thank you very much for your participation as well as your collaboration.
One of our important goals to initiate this research project on East Asian Peace and Cooperation is to establish a research base on this subject in Kyoto or, more broadly, the Kansai area in Japan.
Not to mention, there are already excellent research universities and institutions, especially in Tokyo. So, why us in Kyoto?
When I attended a seminar in Washington D.C. this March, one well-known China expert from Boston mentioned that the questions asked in Washington and Boston are different. In Washington, it is common to ask, for example, how to deal with the rise of China or North Korean nuclear issues. On the other hand, in Boston, scholars ask why questions, such as, why is North Korea developing nuclear weapons or why do people in Washington or Tokyo think that the rise of China is a problem?
It may somehow be instructive to think about the future directions of our research activities. Kyoto is a well-known academic city, just like Boston. It has a long history and traditional culture, and Ritsumeikan University has an academic tradition of “freedom and innovation” with a commitment to “peace and democracy.”
We could ask different questions and offer different perspectives from those of universities and research institutes in Tokyo on important academic and policy questions while also promoting cooperation and dialogue with our counterparts in Seoul, Washington, Beijing, Moscow, and, someday in the future, Pyongyang.
It is time for us to initiate a new research project on peace and cooperation in East Asia at Ritsumeikan University, especially when Japan-Korea relations are extremely chilly.
I hope that everyone enjoys today’s presentations by excellent scholars and specialists.I believe that they will excite, inspire, and challenge conventional wisdoms.
It’s my greatest pleasure to see all of you here today.
Again, I would like to say once more.
Thank you very much.
Director, Center for East Asian Peace and Cooperation
This is a revised version of opening remarks delivered at an international symposium “Changing International Security Environment and Future of the Korean Peninsula,” to commemorate the preparation for the Research Center of East Asian Peace and Cooperation at Ritsumeikan University on May 30, 2019.