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March 6, 2008

Surin calls for second Fukuda Doctrine

Surin PitsuwanAsian countries are counting on Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to come up with his own version of the so-called ''Fukuda Doctrine'' to help deepen economic and political ties in the region, Kyodo news agency quoted visiting Asean Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan as saying Tuesday.

Surin, who heads the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, was referring to the guiding framework formulated by the late Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda, father of the current premier, about three decades ago on Japan's ties with other parts of Asia.

''We have been waiting for the 'Fukuda-two doctrine,''' Surin said at a forum in Tokyo to celebrate the establishment of the Economic Research Institute for Asean and East Asia, or ERIA.

''Maybe this ERIA is indeed the manifestation'' of the updated doctrine, the former Thai foreign minister said, as the institute ''will give us a very, very solid intellectual foundation for cooperation, for coordination and for sustainable development in Asean and the entire Asian region.''

The doctrine, a speech delivered by then Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda in Manila in 1977, remains famous among many Asian policymakers as it articulated that Japan will not become a military power and will share peace and prosperity with the rest of Asia through ''heart-to-heart'' interactions.

Japan proposed the creation of the institute in January last year and its establishment was formally agreed on at the 3rd East Asia Summit in Singapore in November.

ERIA is designed to conduct policy recommendations to promote the economic integration of 16 countries in the Asian region, including China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam.

The inaugural meeting for the institute, sometimes dubbed as an East Asian type of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, is slated for as early as May in Indonesia to decide on details of its administration, according to Japanese government officials.

The institute will be accommodated for the time being at the Asean Secretariat in Jakarta.

Fukuda, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akira Amari, Japan Business Federation Chairman Fujio Mitarai, and other political and business leaders also attended the forum on ''creation of the world's largest business space.''

Fukuda said Asia is now regarded as ''the world's growth center'' and it is time for the region to also work more closely to address climate change and other key global challenges.

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