Friday, September 01, 2006

There's Much More Going on in Northeast Asia than Booger Shots.

(The Japanese follows. I may change the title of this post later.)

NOTICE: BBC did in fact refer to the Seoul firefighters here, in the caption to photo 4. My bad. Sorry, Beeb.

The BBC decided that today's annual nation-wide earthquake emergency drills merited global coverage, and duly reported it on its website. Perhaps they know something we don't know, and this year's drills, particularly in Tokyo (September 1, i.e. Emergency Preparedness Day, is the anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake), deserves special mention. But what the report failed to mention was that participating in the drills in the redoubt of the not-so-popular-on-the-continent governor Shintaro Ishihara were Seoul firefighters, who joined Tokyo's Bravest as the first overseas corps to help simulate rescue efforts in the annual drills.

Actually, this is yet another example of Northeast Asian cooperation in dealing with potential regional and local emergencies. I have not kept score, but Japan-South Korea-China maritime rescue exercises and the establishment of enhanced tri-party currency arrangements over and above the East Asia currency swap agreement that followed the Asia Currency Crisis (a systems design-and-management failure that was misinterpreted as economic fundamentals defect) are recent examples that immediately come to mind.

It is the accretion of these technical arrangements that will one day, if ever, lay the foundations for an East Asia Community or some such. In the meantime, they keep the three nations focused on solvable issues and create the kind of trust between the frontline agencies that will come in handy when we have to deal with divisive incidents.



実は、こうした技術的な協力の仕組みの集積こそが、いつの日か、東アジア共同体とか何とか言ったもの --- そんな日が来ると仮定してのことですが --- の類の基盤を作り上げるのです。ともあれ、それまでの間、こうした努力が、解決可能な課題に三カ国の関心を引き付け、かつ、対立を深める可能性のある事件が起こったときに役に立つ信頼関係を前線部隊の間に形成するのです。


ross said...

Exactly, whenever I answer questions about tension between Japan and China or Korea I always try to remember to mention that these governments work well together at an operational level. Many of my friends in the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare all work closely with bureaucrats in Beijing and Seoul and they all seem to get along quite well and work well together.

Jun Okumura said...

Yes, Ross. Then there are the JSDF, Maritime Safety Agency... these are all enforcement institutions, agents of coercive force.

The various branches of the bureaucracies develop their own cultures and, within their own envelopes, have as much, if not more, in common with each other as with the other institutions in the societies where they are embedded.