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Nakayama proposes creating 'Asian energy community'.

TOKYO, Nov. 25 Kyodo Former Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama proposed Thursday the establishment of an "Asian energy community" for developing natural resources in Russia's Siberia, which would be similar to the prototype of the European Union -- the European Coal and Steel Community.

Nakayama made the proposal during a Japan-EU parliamentary meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday and Thursday, attended by six members of the European Parliament and some 20 Japanese Diet members.

Nakayama, a member of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, who led the Japanese delegation at the meeting, said the Asian energy community plan will be vital for maintaining security in East Asia in the 21st century.

"When it comes to developing Siberia, countries such as Mongolia, China and South Korea have already indicated their willingness to join in," he said.

The European delegation to the meeting was led by Pierre Schori of Sweden. Among the Japanese participants were former Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata, currently serving as secretary general of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

Nakayama explained that such a multilateral project should be developed similarly to how six European states agreed to jointly control coal and steel in 1952 by the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community.

Nakayama predicted that since all but a few Asian countries can produce petroleum, competition and conflict over energy is inevitable in the near future in the face of coming energy shortages.

He also referred to the importance of securing sea-lanes in Asia through which ships transport oil from the Middle East.

The envisaged plan to create an energy community would involve building pipelines linking Siberia and markets in Asia, as there are currently no such pipelines in Asia, he said.

"Europe and Siberia are linked by an 800,000-kilometer gas pipeline, while Canada and the United States share a 400,000-km pipeline. But in Asia, we don't have such a pipeline yet," he said.

According to Nakayama, Japanese companies and Exxon Corp. of the United States have launched a joint venture off Sakhalin to produce oil and natural gas, a venture that has proved successful.

"We are now studying the possibility of exporting resources to Asian countries through a pipeline," he said.

"Looking at the historical example in Europe, joint gas development in Siberia would become one key aspect for security in Asia in the future," he said. "I hope we can work together and establish common awareness of perception. If we don't do this by 2010, the energy issue will become an acute problem for all of us." The European delegation is to visit Osaka and Nara on the weekend.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Nov 29, 1999
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