September 10, 2013

On Saturday, September 7th, 2013, The Asia Institute held a seminar in Seoul to address the need for Peer-to-peer (P2P) Open Science in relation to the ongoing Fukushima crisis. Emanuel Pastreich, Director of The Asia Institute, said, “The Fukushima crisis is a global crisis and it is just a matter of six months or less before it starts to get the attention it deserves. Yet we do not have a single proposal for a global response that brings together the best and the brightest to come up with real, long-term solutions to this challenge. The Asia Institute distinguishes itself by being out there, identifying critical issues first and formulating a response. We were the first to say that climate change should be considered the primary security threat in East Asia. We want to be on top of this issue, and make sure that future discussions involve experts and citizens, as well as policy makers.”

Human rights activist, from Myanmar, Mr. John Thang said “culture should not prevent humanitarian issues around the Fukushima crisis – where Asian authoritarians use culture to violate their humanitarian responsibilities by turning a blind-eye to disasters because of historical issues between countries.’

The objective of the seminar was to develop a group of citizens to prepare a white paper on Fukushima. At the seminar, Layne Hartsell, Research Fellow in Convergence Science at The Asia Institute, gave the general scientific parameters of the situation related to radiobiology and technical concerns. Attending the event were citizens from Korea, China, Myanmar and the United States. The Asia Institute is advocating a multidisciplinary approach to addressing the disaster and some innovative ideas from Pastreich on opening up the science to general citizens, similar to the Galaxy Zoo project. At Galaxy Zoo, citizens assist the scientific community in identifying galaxies. The website says, ‘With so many galaxies, we’d assumed it would take years for visitors to the site

to work through them all, but within 24 hours of launch we were stunned to be receiving almost 70,000 classifications an hour. In the end, more than 50 million classifications were received by the project during its first year, contributed by more than 150,000 people.’ What Pastreich and Hartsell are hoping for is a similar project where citizens can observe data such as satellite images and chart the release of radiation over time to assist in the overall response.

Director Pastreich said, ‘We are the first, as far as we can tell, to actually formulate a response in our initial article [Foreign Policy in Focus]. We will now put some real meat on that skeleton so that policy makers can use it when they come to recognize the severity of the crisis. The Asia Institute will be partnering with Michel Bauwens and the P2P Foundation on the white paper.


JoongAng Ilbo

J Global Forum

September 9, 2013

Director Pastreich served as a discussant for a panel on September 9th at the J Global Forum in Seoul hosted by the JoongAng Ilbo Media Group. This year’s J Global Forum was on the topic “A new Model for Regional Cooperation and Integration in East Asia.”

The panel was titled “Toward an East Asian Community: Challenges and Opportunities” and was a chance to come to some conclusions as to what was possible in terms of future integration in the region. The panel was chaired by Jusuf Wanandi, President Director of the Jakarta Post and featured a speech by David Pilling, Asia editor for the Financial Times. Panel members included Brahma Chellaney, Professor of the Centre for Policy Research in India, Oishi Itaru, Senior Staff Writer of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun in Tokyo and Ryu Jae-hoon, Editor of the Hankyoreh Shinmun in Seoul.

Director Pastreich stressed the need for creativity and imagination in formulating an Northeast Asian Community. He suggested that there were many new approaches to integration that could make the community unlike the European Union or other forerunners.

J Global Forum

September 9, 2013

Emanuel Pastreich

“Rule Number One for an East Asian Community: Don’t solve problems”

When we imagine a future East Asian Community, the first thing we should avoid is thinking we are building a new European Community and the European Union. Although there may be some things we can learn from Europe, this is a different age and we face different challenges. We can learn from their mistakes, of course, but a European Community formed in the face of a threat from the Soviet Union is fundamentally different from an East Asian Community formed in the face of climate change.

There is a famous phrase by the management guru Peter Drucker that I am fond of quoting when it comes to resolving the long-standing historical and political problems in East Asia.

“Don’t solve problems; Find new opportunities”

What Drucker meant by that phrase is clear. To dwell on what is not working, on what has gone badly in the past, is to become obsessed with problems themselves, and to become myopic. Such an approach limits imagination and can send us spinning off in a negative direction. But if you propose some new potentiality that we can all move towards, suddenly the problems may be resolved in the process as people are inspired by that potential and start to move towards this horizon.

Let me quote one more person: the Japanese philosopher Ogyu Sorai who played such an important role in the 18th century.

Ogyu Sorai once said, I paraphrase:

“There are two ways to play chess. The first way is to perfectly master the rules of chess and to play it with perfect control in all situations. The second way to play chess is to make up the rules by which chess is played.”

We often think about international relations in terms of playing by the established rules of trade and diplomacy with a certain bravado, rules that date back in Europe a few hundred years. But perhaps the true potential for the East Asian Community lies in making up a new set of rules, rules that although they seem rather unfamiliar to many, are in fact better aligned with the challenges of our age. I would argue that we face such fundamental challenges today that we must make up new rules, and the sooner we do so, the better.

We must think seriously about what exactly institutions will be in the 21st century and how they will relate to the people actually living on the ground. More often than not we have global institutions that consist of meetings at hotels and a few smart speeches—and then it are over and everyone goes home. How can we create institutions that are both global in scale and also tied into the local communities within each country? If the East Asian Community can find a solution to that problem, we will be leading the way to the future.

The East Asian Community can make local government the driving force in its efforts to promote collaboration and exchange, building a thick web between regions that is far stronger than a simple agreement between the capitals. It is clear that local government is playing an increasingly important role in international relations. To the degree that the East Asian Community makes that local level exchange central to its strategy, it experiment with new approaches to international collaboration at the local level that will make a stronger union. It can go far beyond the European Union, and be more successful.

We face unprecedented challenges from climate change and general environmental degradation in East Asia and around the world. One could even say that if the threat of the Soviet Union brought together NATO and the European Union, perhaps the environmental common threat can serve to bring together the East Asian Community. Perhaps something equivalent to NATO can be formed between China, Japan and Korea that is aimed at responding to climate change itself? Such a step towards a security architecture based on environmental issues would be unprecedented, but it could be the innovation that will change the whole game. Perhaps we can start with an environmental Six Party Talks.

The Fukushima crisis is an opportunity to try out this of cooperation, Japan does not have the resources and the full expertise (no one has) to respond long-term to the Fukushima crisis. We need to form an international coalition to develop the technologies, the strategies and the long-term solution to this pressing crisis. Korea can launch the initiative, but Japan, China, the United States and other nations should join the effort.

Technology is evolving rapidly and transforming our world at a tremendous speed. If properly directed, technology could be an effective means of reinforcing agreements for cooperation by setting up practical and effective means of exchange between institutions, communities and individuals. The Fukushima project is such an opportunity. If the East Asian Community can harness the potential of technology to build thick bonds between multiple groups in the nations of China, Japan and Korea, it can achieve unprecedented collaboration.

Finally, the East Asian Community can launch a wide range of initiatives to establish arms control agreements throughout the region. It was the efforts at arms control that brought the Cold War to an end and there is serious need to establish arms control protocols far beyond North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

Kyung Hee Cyber University & The Asia Institute

July, 2013

Dialog with Intellectuals on Education and Culture

Kyung Hee Cyber University and the Asia Institute combined forces to create this series of five discussions between young people and important thinkers about the critical issue of the significance of education in our age and also about approaches to the study of East Asia. The lectures are available below in their complete, unedited, form. Particularly interesting are the questions brought up by college, high school and middle school students about issues of profound personal and universal significance in this age of unprecedented instability and insecurity. The fifth and final session is of particular interest in this respect.

John Treat

Professor of Japanese Literature at Yale University

Michael Puett

Professor of Chinese History at Harvard University

Emanuel Pastreich

Professor of Comparative Culture at Kyung Hee University

Dialog with Distinguished Intellectuals on Education and Culture

Session One: John Treat on Yale and the potential of undergraduate education


Session Two: John Treat on Murakami Haruki’s writings and the current Japanese culture


Session Three: Michael Puett on Harvard and the challenges of education today


Session Four: Michael Puett on China today and tomorrow


Session Five: Treat, Puett and Pastreich discuss the crisis in education and its implications for young people.


Emanuel Pastreich, director of the Asia Institute, hosts a three part Arirang TV program exploring the potential for an East Asian Community that includes Korea, China & Japan. The program, entitled “Korea, China & Japan: The History that Unlocks the Future,” includes discussions with experts from across Asia and several compelling interviews with individuals committed to this vision. The program was produced and broadcast by Arirang TV in August, 2013.

Part One

Introduction to the three countries and their relations

Part Two

Discussion of the Pacific War and its lingering shadows.

Part Three

Ideas for a way forward towards and East Asian Community.

The Asia Institute is launching an initiative to bring together committed individuals from around the world to wrestle with the question of what must be done to respond over the next century to the crisis resulting from the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plant. We hold that this problem is not uniquely Japan’s responsibility and that we must put together all the resources of the international community (in the true sense of that word) to respond. Over the next month we will formulate a white paper concerning a comprehensive long-term response to Fukushima on a global scale and start to formulate a strategy for international collaboration. We are looking for both specialists in multiple fields, from nuclear engineering, to marine biology, ethics, demographics, material sciences and also thoughtful and innovative citizens. Please contact us directly at if you are interested in joining this initiative.

The Asia Insitute’s “Fukushima Initiative” will be formulated, starting with our seminar on Saturday, September 7 at 2 PM. You are welcome to attend that event. 

Our article today in Foreign Policy in Focus describes our vision and our concrete strategy.

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