A fruitful Japan--New Zealand dialogue: Ian McGibbon reports on a recent meeting between the Japan and New Zealand institutes of international affairs.

AuthorMcGibbon, Ian

On 22 February a five-person delegation from the Japan Institute of International Affairs met with NZIIA and Asia New Zealand Foundation delegates at the Wellington Club in Wellington. In staging this Track II event, the ninth in the series of such dialogues, the NZIIA was supported by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

The Japanese delegation, which came from a similar meeting in Sydney a few days previously, was led by Keio University's Professor Toshihiro Nakayama in the absence of the JILA. president, Kenichiro Sasae, who had unexpectedly had to return to Japan. The NZIIA president, Sir Anand Satyanand, welcomed the Japanese delegation, noting with sorrow that numerous Japanese had perished in the Christchurch Earthquake which had occurred eight years earlier to the day.

The dialogue consisted of three sessions. The first, on 'Regional Strategic Environment and Major Power Relations', was chaired by Simon Draper, executive director of the Asia New Zealand Foundation. The session was notable for its pessimistic tone. Associate Professor Bethan Greener, from Massey University's School of People, Environment and Planning, and Nakayama led the discussion. The question of whether US policy was individual or institutional received considerable attention. The importance of Vice President Mike Pence's speech to the Hudson Institute on 4 October 2018 was noted: much inter-agency involvement had underpinned its preparation, and it represented the views of the main US departments in the international field. In summing up the discussion Simon Draper expressed surprise at the apparent finality of the death of convergence between China and the United States and suggested that the evident belief that the shifting US stance was institutional rather than individual was depressing. He noted his 'overwhelming sense of a lot of work to do' in responding to the developing situation.

The second session, on 'Strategic Updates: Addressing Challenges', was chaired by Hiroyuki Akito, a foreign and security commentator of Nihon Keizai Shinbun. Masashi Murano, a research fellow at the Okasaki Institute in Tokyo, and Associate Professor David Capie, the director of Victoria University of Wellington's Centre for Strategic Studies, made presentations. The discussion focused particularly on the nature of New Zealand's changed China stance: was it fundamental or merely an adjustment? On the...

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