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This article examines the implications of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) centrality in East Asian regionalism. It seeks to address the question of how ASEAN created and maintained its central position in East Asian regionalism by managing regional cooperation in general and institution-building in particular. This article addresses the question by relying on the theoretical concept of productive power and tangible attributes associated with the concept. This article makes three arguments. First, ASEAN maintained its central position in East Asian regionalism by exerting productive power that works in generalized and diffuse social processes and through constitutive social relations. Second, the Association developed and employed specific meanings and norms that constituted the foundation for regional cooperation. Third, ASEAN maintained its central position in the complicated Sino–Japanese rivalry by embedding them in constitutive social relations and avoiding exclusive links with each of the two states.
In this article, we have examined how Japan has supported ASEAN's economic integration through ODA and other diplomatic measures, and showed how Japan's engagements in ASEAN economic integration evolved over time. In addressing these issues, we took into account the growing influence of China's ascent in Southeast Asia, and assumed that Japan's China policy of mixed ‘accommodation and balance’ became explicit in Japan's ASEAN policy. The pronouncement of support for ASEAN integration, disbursement of aid to the region, forging of bilateral and regional FTAs/EPAs with ASEAN, and its recent initiatives and proactive involvement in the Mekong regional development are indicative of Japan's reactive posture on China's growing influence in the region. Japanese diplomatic initiatives in ASEAN are intended, in part, to accommodate and balance China's increasing prominence in Southeast Asia. This explains the simultaneous existence of competitive and cooperative initiatives of the two countries with ASEAN.
This article examines Japan's evolving commitments to technology development and technology diffusion in Asia. It explores Japan's technology strategies in three areas—Internet protocol, open source software, and horology—focusing on the importance of technology standards. The development and diffusion of technology standards has become one of the core elements in establishing industrial competitiveness. The importance of technology standards encouraged the Japanese government and firms to pursue a regional policy to develop and diffuse new technological ideas and standards in Asia. Japan's commitments were accepted by its neighbors because they could obtain various benefits from collaboration with Japan, such as technological exchanges, technology transfer, and financial aid.
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