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What diplomatic, economic, political and military crises may occur in Asia between 1998 and 2010? No one knows, but 40 government officials, scholars and business leaders from six nations came to MIT for three days in May to test their peace-keeping skills in MIT's second biannual "Asia Pacific Crisis Simulation."
The simulation, involving hypothetical problems of nuclear weapons, hostages and refugees, was filmed and will be broadcast in Tokyo in July by TV Asahi as a two-hour documentary.
Leaders from Japan, China, Korea, Malaysia, Australia and the United States participated along with MIT faculty and political science students. They were assigned to roles representing leaders from Japan, the US, the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, a unified Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia.
Through interactive role-playing among themselves and MIT faculty and students, the group helped to model the ways in which nations in the region would respond to international and domestic events.
"It was a great success," said Professor Richard J. Samuels, head of political science and director of the MIT Japan Program, who teaches a graduate seminar called Japan and the New World Order which included the simulation.
The Japanese team, despite considerable domestic political instability, "succeeded in achieving many of its long-term objectives, including a resolution on trade disputes with the United States, revision of its anti-war constitution and reaffirmation of US security guarantees," he said.
Professor Samuels said the Chinese team ended the game with martial law and the arrest of three of its leaders. To the surprise of many, an unprecedented refugee problem in the Sea of Japan was met with a swift bilateral resolution between Japan and a unified Korea. On the other hand, the creation of an Islamic Republic in Indonesia led to military activity and the disruption of trade in the Malacca Straits.
A summary of the proceedings can be obtained by calling the political science department, x3-3128.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 24, 1995.