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The Williamsburg Conference 2001

Report from the 2001 Williamsburg Conference, Okinawa, Japan, March 17-19, 2001.

The 29th Williamsburg Conference was held in Okinawa, Japan from March 17 to March 19, 2001. The conference, hosted by the International House of Japan, was convened by Carla A. Hills of the United States, Tommy T. B. Koh of Singapore, and Minoru Murofushi of Japan.

Saturday, March 17
Opening Reception and Dinner

Keynote Speech: Asia/Pacific and Japan in the 21st Century
Takeo Hiranuma, Minister, Economy, Trade & Industry

Sunday, March 18
Session 1: U.S.-Asia Policy and the New President

  • How will the new administration order its priorities in Asia and are there likely new emphases that will emerge?
  • Are national/theatre missile defense (NMD and TMD) the most effective ways for the U.S. to approach security concerns? Are there better ways to address the challenges posed in the region?
  • What are the domestic factors in the U.S. driving NMD and TMD?
  • Will the next administration pursue a new trade round and how aggressive will it be in linking environmental and labor concerns to trade?
  • How will U.S. relations with Asia's major powers (China, India, Indonesia, and Japan) change under a new administration?

Carla A. Hills, Chairman, Hills & Company

Opening Discussants

Desaix Anderson, Executive Director, KEDO
Norman J. Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Stanley O. Roth, Former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs

Lead Commentator

Yoshio Okawara
, President, Institute for International Policy Studies

Session 2: Asia's Economic Prospects: Policy, Politics, and
Information Technology

  • What are the prospects for the economies of Asia? Will growth return?
    If not, why not?
  • What are the constraints on economic reform in Asia? Are politics
    enhancing or hindering economic progress?
  • What are the long-term implications of the IT revolution for future
    economic growth in Asia? Will it provide the engine of growth for Japan and others?
  • How can countries in Asia broaden participation in the IT revolution and overcome the so-called digital divide?


Nicholas Platt, President, Asia Society

Opening Discussants

Han Seung-soo, Member of Parliament, Committee on Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Republic of Korea
Arun Mahizhnan, Deputy Director, Institute of Policy Studies
Hugh M. Morgan, Chief Executive Officer, WMC Limited
Keiji Tachikawa, President & CEO, NTT DoCoMo, Inc.

Lead Commentator

Catherine L. Mann
, Senior Fellow, Institute for International Economics

Monday, March 19
Session 3: Japan

  • What are the prospects for the Japanese economy? Are policies in place for a return to sustained growth? What are the implications of the "new economy" for Japan?
  • How will Japan's political parties and structures address the challenges posed by the aging population? The greater presence of women in the workforce? Falling birthrates? What are the implications of these trends for the future of Japan?
  • How do Japan's emerging leaders envision Japan's role in the region and the world? See the future of the U.S.-Japan relationship?


Minoru Murofushi, Chairman, ITOCHU Corporation

Opening Discussants

Toru Hashimoto, Chairman of the Board of Directors, The Fuji Bank, Limited
Noboru Hatakeyama, Chairman & CEO, JETRO
Akira Kojima, Managing Director, Chief Editorial Page Editor, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc.
Toshiaki Ogasawara, Chairman & Publisher, The Japan Times

Lead Commentator

Ronald J. Anderson
, Senior Vice President & Chairman, AIG Companies in Japan and Korea

Session 4: Political and Security Prospects

  • What are the long-term political and security prospects for the Korean Peninsula, and what are the implications for long-term peace and stability in the region?
  • How will the situation across the Taiwan Strait evolve?
  • How can regional organizations, including ASEAN, APEC, SAPTA, and SAARC, be developed to bring parties with different agendas together in a setting that offers opportunities for dialogue?
  • What is the future of Australia's engagement with Asia?
  • What is an appropriate level of U.S. military presence in the region?
  • What are the prospects for political and security stability in Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines?


Tommy T. B. Koh
, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore

Opening Discussants

Dewi Fortuna Anwar, Associate Director for Research, The Habibie Center Tatsuo Arima, Representative of the Japanese Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Paul M. Evans, Director, Canada Asia Studies, Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia
Jang Chang Chon, Director-General, Department of American Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DPRK
Yang Bojiang, Professor and Deputy Director, Northeast Asia Division, China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR)

Lead Commentator

Richard A. Woolcott, Former Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Founding Director, AustralAsia Center of the Asia Society


In March 2001, the Asia Society, in partnership with the International House of Japan, brought together 51 leaders in government, business, academia, and journalism from 17 countries and economies on both sides of the Pacific for the twenty-ninth Williamsburg Conference. Held in Okinawa at the Bankoku Shinryokan, the venue of the 2000 Group of Eight summit, from the 17th to the 19th of March, the conference was the first to be convened in Japan since 1992.

The Williamsburg Conference continued the tradition of transpacific dialogue on key issues in Asia. At the crossroads of Northeast and Southeast Asia and with 2001 being the 50th Anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Alliance, Okinawa provided an excellent venue to convene the Williamsburg Conference. As this report reveals, the building of new relationships and the solidifying of old ones is crucial to stability in the region. Relationship building requires strong leadership to look for new and improved ways to work with others. Such leadership is further needed to find fresh ways to grow economies, while addressing the social needs and diversity of countries in the region. The critical importance of the United States and Japan to the economic and security situation in East Asia was the subject of considerable discussion.

Williamsburg Conference coconvenors Carla Hills of the United States, Tommy Koh of Singapore, and Minoru Murofushi of Japan enlisted a superb group of conference participants and set forth a sharply focused and thorough agenda. In addition, their efforts resulted in the first North Korean delegation at a Williamsburg Conference. All of our coconvenors chaired their sessions with great skill and impartiality. As our local host, Minoru Murofushi went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that all of the arrangements for the conference were carried out graciously and masterfully. The Asia Society owes him a deep debt of gratitude for his vision and leadership of the twenty-ninth Williamsburg Conference.

After the conference, Carla Hills spoke in San Francisco under the auspices of the Commonwealth Club and the Asia Society to take the conference discussion to a broader audience. This report extends further the reach of the Williamsburg discussions.

The International House of Japan, under the able leadership of its executive director Mikio Kato, was an outstanding co-organizer. Special thanks go to the entire staff of International House, ably led by Kimihiro Sonoda, for all of their excellent work, with additional thanks to Yuriko Kato, Mr. Kato's wife, for all of her efforts on behalf of the conference.

From the Asia Society, Marshall M. Bouton, who is stepping down shortly as executive vice president of the Asia Society to become president of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, deserves accolades for again masterminding the substance of the meeting. Marshall has provided leadership to the Williamsburg Conference for many years. He has strengthened and diversified both the Conference agenda and the pool of participants. Rob Radtke oversaw the coordination and organization of the meeting. Hee Chung Kim managed all the details with unwavering grace and skill. Mike Kulma also provided invaluable assistance to the conference secretariat before donning his cap as conference rapporteur. Karen Fein and Hee Chung Kim deserve credit for their hard work in bringing this report to print, as does Chae Ho Lee for his work in its layout.

The coconvenors and I are most grateful to the conference funders, whose names are listed in the back of this report. Without their support, this year's Williamsburg Conference would not have been possible.

Nicholas Platt
President, Asia Society
May 2001