SAN FRANCISCO — Sounding a call to "transform the Pacific into an ocean of peace and prosperity," former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone on Friday proposed the creation of a new forum to promote international economic and cultural cooperation.
In an address that Asian scholars said was unusual for its specific proposals, Nakasone also hailed the "rising trend of freedom and democracy in the Asia-Pacific countries" and spoke of his hope for the eventual peaceful unification of North and South Korea.
As a first step, he said, "after the successful completion of the Seoul Olympics, Japan and the United States should gradually try to improve their relationships with North Korea, while China and the Soviet Union should improve their relations with the Republic of Korea."
Nakasone also cited "the crucially important role" played by U.S. bases in the Philippines and said that Japan is "committed to extending maximum assistance to the new nation-building efforts of President (Corazon) Aquino."
Turning to Vietnam, Nakasone said, "Japan and the United States should begin to consider possible ways of extending their cooperation to Indochina for its reconstruction and development after peace is restored in Cambodia." He also evidenced new sensitivity toward U.S. concerns by offering Japan's help in resolving the question of soldiers missing in action.
The centerpiece of Nakasone's speech--which was titled "Toward a Pacific Initiative"--was the proposed "Pacific Forum for Economic and Cultural Cooperation." He said the group would be modeled on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and would include representation from the United States, Japan, and other Asian and Pacific nations.