Japan has urged Southeast Asian leaders to establish an east asian community that could include the United States as a member. During meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Thailand Japan’s prime minister said the economic bloc should be an open organization.

During a second day of summit meetings, Japan’s prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, encouraged heads of Southeast Asian nations to build a strong economic community that could act as a world leader.

But he indicated Japan wanted the United States to play a strong role in the region, perhaps as a member of a new body.

Japanese spokesman Kazuo Kodama said the prime minister told the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that the Japan-U.S. alliance was the fundamental cornerstone of Japan’s diplomatic policy.

“At the same time, he said, he now upholds a long-term vision of establishing an East Asia Community in accordance with the open regionalism,” said Kazuo Kodama. “He very much intends to promote intra-regional cooperation in east Asia.”

Kazuo said ASEAN had yet to discuss if the U.S. would be invited to join any community and it was not clear if any other leaders attending the meetings supported Japan’s position.

jtepaASEAN has vowed to form an East Asian economic community by 2015 similar to the European Union, but there is no consensus on which countries outside of ASEAN would be allowed to join.

The 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations met Saturday with leaders from China, Japan, South Korea, and India.

ASEAN also issued a statement expressing concern about North Korea’s nuclear programs and that Burma’s elections scheduled for next year be free and fair. But, unlike past ASEAN statements, this one made no mention of the ongoing detention of Burma’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and more than two thousand other political prisoners.

via VOA News – Japan Urges ASEAN to Include US.

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