The term 'comprehensive security' was first used by the late Japanese prime minister Ohira, but the concept as such can be traced back to Japanese thinking on security during the fifties. Its meaning goes far beyond requirements of military defence against a particular 'enemy', and stresses the need to take into account other aspects vital to national stability; food, energy, environment, communication and social security. While not denying the importance of military security, it explicitly encompasses a wide range of other aspects: the search for environmental security, for instance, which requires cooperation with other countries (including hypothetical 'enemies'). The concept stresses the need for confidence building methods as a requirement for its attainment and pertains to issues such as preventive diplomacy, energy security, second order cybernetics, greater transparancy of international financial markets as means to enhance overall stability. It is a notion that goes beyond simplifications such as 'us' and 'them'. Since the word has been first coined in Japan, it has caught on in other Asian countries as well. It has become clear that the concept is particularly suited for a continent where large and powerful countries such as China, Korea, Japan and Indonesia are unlikely to enter into close cooperation along the model of the European Union. In short, in this volume a team of scholars from Asia, Europe and the United States provide clear analyses of issues vital to Asian politics: an important contribution to one of the key issues of contemporary (Asian) politics.
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