Historically, Kyushu has served as a node connecting Japan to the world via East Asia, and its culture and traditions are closely tied to the Asian region. Following World War II, Japan’s international relations emphasized ties to Europe and the United States, but from the 1970s on, Japan began to rethink its relationship with Asia, and Kyushu’s geographical and historical advantages in dealing with the region came into the spotlight. In particular, starting in the 1990s, as China and South Korea began to enjoy remarkable economic development, Kyushu has become a focal point for exchange with those countries, further strengthening its ties to East Asia.
In recent years, Kyushu’s trade with South Korea, China, and ASEAN has reached unprecedented heights. The seven prefectures of Kyushu have been competing and cooperating with one another as they seek ways to strengthen their ties to East Asia, and interdependence between Kyushu and East Asia is deepening. Within Japan, there is no other region that recognizes the importance of relations with neighboring countries as clearly as Kyushu.
This report, which is authored by Toshihiro Menju, presents the findings of a research project entitled Exploring Kyushu’s External Relations and its Asia Strategy. The study began with a comprehensive look at Kyushu’s external relations—particularly with Asia—in terms of economic, cultural, and educational relations, as well as people-to-people exchanges and other aspects. Based on that analysis, the project considered options for Kyushu’s external relations (especially interaction with Asia) in order to promote Kyushu’s future development. Also, the survey examined the various international activities being conducted in each prefecture, shedding light on the diverse range of existing ties.