[Full Interview Transcript] Pastreich: At the beginning, when the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat was established, there were those in Japan who questioned what exactly its role would be and what its continuing responsibility would be. Do you feel there's now a consensus in Japan that this Trilateral Secretariat plays a vital role?
Umezawa: At the beginning, we had legal documents and an international treaty that were ratified by the three governments. We have today two purposes. The first purpose is the day-to-day operation of the trilateral cooperation mechanism, including arranging summit meetings. The second purpose or function is to promote cooperative projects. These two points are the prime objectives of the Japanese government. We have established many cooperative projects. The fact that Japan committed itself five years ago means that we are now enjoying much cooperative work.
Pastreich: In education, environment, technology, academics, research, trade, finance...in many different sectors, there is a very concrete effort to establish norms for cooperation.
Umezawa: One recent development is the launch trilateral educational research meeting which was held in January of this year. One of the agreements at this meeting was the establishment of Campus Asia. This Campus Asia corrects academic visa problems for university students. The agreement provides government support to train the next leaders for Asia. The actual program, Campus Asia, implements sixteen consortiums each of which encompasses three universities (one from each country). This program offers students the chance to enjoy educational opportunities in other countries. That's the remarkable state of cooperation in the educational field.
Pastreich: And there are an increasing number of universities who are getting involved.
Umezawa: Yes. Previously, until last year, we had ten consortiums. But this year, in September, we'll have sixteen consortiums.
Pastreich: That's very impressive. Because when Campus Asia first launched, many people were worried that it wouldn't last very long. But now it's well established as a viable program.
Let me ask a different question. There are some people who express some concern about Japan---that Japan is focusing on domestic issues and it isn't as assertively engaged internationally as it was before. Do you think that's a concern? Or is it a misunderstanding about Japan?
Umezawa: That was an observation about Japan quite common about three or five years ago. Of course, we suffered the "lost decade" in our development. The Japanese economy collapsed in 1990. Definitely, it is true that Japan does focus on domestic issues. But now Japan is reconstructing and rebuilding. And even in the Japanese economy we see engagement in the international community.
Pastreich: I certainly noticed that Japan is much more active and much more engaged with Korea and with the United States. Looking towards the future, in what field do you think Japan may make the greatest contribution globally? What is its new global role?
Umezawa: Japan should use its cutting-edge technology. One example is efficient design That means that Japan can make sustainable development a significant contribution in terms of climate change and global warming. That kind of spirit for development can relieve conflicts. Japanese experience dealing with an aging society also can help. Such assistance from Japan might serve as a contribution to global development.