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Toward a Renewed Canada Japan Partnership

Addressing challenges and opportunities of a changing world

Report of the Canada-Japan Forum 2003–2006
June 2006

The Canada Japan Forum (the Forum) has conducted over the past three years intensive discussions on matters of common concern to and between Canada and Japan. The Forum recognizes that the world today is facing unprecedented changes. The Forum sees every reason that Canada and Japan should fully exercise their potential to cooperate together, in order to address the global challenges of the 21st century. It is the sincere wish of the Forum that this report would serve as a catalyst toward a renewed Canada Japan partnership to address challenges and opportunities of a changing world.

Japan and Canada share fundamental common values, including the rule of law, freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the promotion of open market economies. The two countries also share common concerns such as environmental protection, nuclear disarmament, and non proliferation. Interaction with the international community and cooperation with the United States are core pillars of foreign policy for both Canada and Japan. These common interests form the broad foundation on which Japan and Canada have worked together to tackle the challenges currently facing the international community. When the prime ministers of Japan and Canada met in January 2005, they agreed that Japan Canada co operation has yet to reach its full potential. The Forum concurs. The celebrations of the 80th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2008–09 provide a benchmark that should be used to strengthen bilateral relations.

There already exist over 40 governmental and non governmental consultative schemes between Japan and Canada. For example, at the government level there are politico-military talks, the Joint Economic Committee, and multiple regular consultations on peace and security. At the non governmental level, there are the Japan Canada Forum, and the Japan Canada Symposium on Peace and Security Co operation as well as numerous links between groups in such fields as culture, education and the professions. Many recommendations and ideas regarding Japan Canada cooperation have already emerged from these frameworks, for example the Peace and Security Cooperation Agenda. In addition, the two governments have made concrete advances in the economic sphere, particularly the creation of the Japan Canada Economic Framework at the bilateral summit in January 2005, the Japan Canada Economic Conferences in September 2004 and October 2005, and the signature of the Canada Japan Social Security Agreement in February 2006. Therefore, the first step towards achieving the full potential of Japan Canada cooperation should be to act on the recommendations and ideas that have been agreed by existing fora.

The Forum is of the view that Canada and Japan should intensify their efforts to deepen the bilateral relationship. In the interest of expanding understanding, co operation, dialogue, and exchanges, emphasis should be put on the promotion of trade, investment and tourism, culture and academic relations, joint research on environment and energy issues, expansion of the JET program, working holidays and sister city agreements, and strengthening media co operation. Japan and Canada should also work to make themselves more open to learning from each others’ experiences and policy responses on social matters such as issues affecting the elderly and youth unemployment.

The emergence of China and India as significant participants in and contributors to the international community will increase Asia’s role as a key global player in the future. Increasing economic integration and corresponding efforts led by ASEAN to create an East Asian community for the future are among the many remarkable recent developments in the Asian region. Canada and Japan can form a dynamic and innovative partnership that is also a force for stability. There is a strong basis for such a partnership based on the longstanding historic strength of our relationship and our complementary economic and political associations with our Asia Pacific neighbours.

A reformed United Nations is critical to solving the global challenges that face the world today. Canada and Japan must ensure the active engagement of major international players in multilateral efforts, especially those under the UN framework. In this regard, the Forum expects both Canada and Japan to cooperate in the urgent task of UN reform including UN Security Council reform and it believes that Japan should be accorded a permanent seat on the Security Council.

Canada and Japan share a common commitment to tackling emerging global challenges through dialogue and active multilateral diplomacy at the government as well as the non-governmental levels. Challenges such as post conflict reconstruction, terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, disaster relief and early warning systems, over population, environmental degradation, poverty, shortages of energy and food supplies, and global food chain diseases have become matters which nation states can no longer address in traditional ways. Both Canada and Japan have separately embraced the concept of human security and should cooperate further in the implementation and dissemination of this approach.

The challenges the world faces today are daunting, but they are also an opportunity for imaginative solutions to which a renewed Canada Japan cooperation can bring a creative synergy and contribute to a brighter future.




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