This book brings together updated versions of papers submitted to the ASEAN-Japan Dialogue Conference held in 1984 in Oiso, Japan, under the joint sponsorship of the Japan Center for International Exchange and the Singapore-based Institute of Southeast Studies. The authors analyze Japan’s cautiously expanding role in Southeast Asia in the wake of an American withdrawal from the region that began with the US defeat in the Vietnam War.
The issue is a contentious one, given that the countries making up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were invaded and occupied by Japan in World War II. Fear and mistrust of Japan remain strong—though less, the authors suggest, with respect to possible Japanese military aggression than over economic domination. Today Japan, the wartime enemy, is the largest economic partner of ASEAN as a whole and of most member countries individually. The contributors stress the slow unfolding of the Japan-ASEAN relationship in the absence, for the time being, of pressing security threats, and offer specific suggestions on how mutual trust may be improved, prominent among them being the need for broader consultation fostering greater appreciation of mutual security interests and attention to each other’s sensitivities.