It has been thirty years since the end of the Cold War, and about twenty years since the beginning of the 21st century. In watching the news and seeing international events unfold, such as China’s growing influence over the world, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the military coup d’etat in Myanmar, we cannot help but wonder whether another major turning point is happening on the international stage. Such changes are not limited to international relations. With the solidification of globalization and the economic growth of developing countries, the domestic societies of each nation are also facing a period of change. Japan, where we live, is no exception. Japan once led NIES (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea) and ASEAN countries as the leader of development in Asia. However, relationships between Japan and these countries are likewise beginning to change in light of their remarkable economic growth and rise in education standards.

The ten countries comprising ASEAN (2021), which have a combined population of about 670 million, a GDP of about US \$3.3 trillion (2020) and a trade value of about US \$2.8 trillion (2020), are becoming major economic zones. In the past, Japan had an overwhelming advantage in terms of knowledge and technology, but the governments of other Asian countries have since sent their youth to study abroad at top universities and graduate schools in Europe, the United States, and Japan. As a result, they now have excellent human resources, with a variety of language skills and specialized knowledge. Today, many business executives, government officials, and politicians of non-Japanese Asian nations already have PhDs, and it is not uncommon for them to speak with foreign journalists in fluent English. The education level of each of these countries has improved significantly, and it is not appropriate to look down on them as backwards. In the 21st century, it will be necessary for Japan to be conscious of this and engage with other Asian nations together as equal partners.

Relationships with Asia at large are also changing in Japan. Until a decade ago, Japanese people went on shopping tours to Southeast Asia, where prices were cheap. Today, a large number of people from Southeast Asia instead visit Japan every year for shopping and sightseeing. Even outside of famous tourist spots such as Hokkaido, Tokyo, and Kyoto, Thai can be heard in rural areas, such as the theme park in Mie Prefecture. What is more, international students are now studying at universities all over Japan and many non-Japanese Asians are working at the Japanese branches of multinational companies, such as Google. These people are not conventional unskilled workers, but people who have been hired by Japanese branch offices as engineers or sales representatives after obtaining a degree from a top university or graduate school. Fluent in not only English but also Japanese, they have a deep knowledge of world affairs and Japanese culture. They are the new “Asians” living in Japan, completely different from the old stereotypes of low-educated, unskilled laborers. Additionally, in recent years, non-Japanese Asian nations have been attracting attention in terms of culture. Movies, literature, and songs from such countries are booming. Thai, Vietnamese, and Indonesian members have even become members of K-POP idol groups, which are popular in Japan, and such news is attracting much attention.

In response to these trends, we have decided to launch SYNODOS ASIA in the fall of 2022. The aim of this website is to re-examine the rapidly changing relationship between Japan and other Asian nations and to dispel conventional stereotypes. We want to offer society a new perspective on the relationship between Japan and greater Asia for the further development of both regions.

1st December 2022






このような状況を受けて、2022年秋、「SYNODOS ASIA/シノドス・アジア」を立ち上げることになりました。本サイトの目的は、急速に変化する日本とアジア諸国との関係を改めて見つめ直し、従来のステレオタイプを払拭することにあります。日本とアジアの関係をさらに発展させていくために、新しい視点を提供していきたいと考えています。