China and Japan, through Thick and Thin
China and Japan have over two millennia of interaction, with varying periods of equanimity, isolation and conflict. While intellectual linkages have been significant, they have rarely overcome the competition that arises from differences in culture and national interests. All of this historical baggage is on display in today’s geopolitical stage. From the outside however, what draws us is not the politics that separates them, but the tremendous appeal of their very different cultures. Joseph Caron, who has spent 17 years in Japan and 4 in China, and has a lifetime of interest and engagement with Asia, will meander and reflect on these and other aspects of these two, great civilizations.
Following almost forty years connecting Canada to Asia, and serving during the last decade as Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, to Japan and to the Republic of India, Joseph Caron offers his experience and services to business, government, universities and private interests in the pursuit of their objectives in Canada and the Asia Pacific region.
Ambassador Caron believes that ‘diplomacy is not the exclusive preserve of diplomats: it is a set of skills, experiences and strategic planning that is as relevant to business, academia and civil society as it is to governments. Canada’s future will be increasingly determined in Asia, but it is up to Canadians to decide what that future will be.’
Joseph Caron was born in Windsor, Ontario. He graduated from the Université d’Ottawa with an Honors B.A. in 1970.
Mr. Caron joined the Trade Commissioner Service in 1972, and served abroad in Saigon and Ankara, Turkey. In 1975, he began Japanese language studies, and subsequently served three times at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, including as Minister and Head of Chancery.
During the 1980s, he undertook private-sector assignments with responsibilities in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan. He served as Manager for Asia for the Council of Forest Industries of British Columbia, based in Tokyo, from 1984 to 1987. He also worked briefly for the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, responsible for South and South East Asia.
In Ottawa, he has held several positions related to Asian and international economic affairs, including serving in the Foreign and Defense Secretariat of the Privy Council Office under Prime Minister Trudeau. He was also deeply involved in G-8 Summitry, actively participating, over the years, in eight Economic Summit Meetings.
In 1998, he became Assistant Deputy Minister for Asia-Pacific at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and served as Canada’s Senior Official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, responsible for managing the Canadian Prime Ministers’ participation in APEC.
From 2001 to 2005, Mr. Caron served as Canada’s Ambassador to the Peoples’ Republic of China, with concurrent accreditation to North Korea and Mongolia.
From 2005 to 2008, he was Canada’s Ambassador to Japan.
In 2008, Ambassador Caron was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo, for his efforts in developing the Canada-Japan relationship.
In August 2008, Mr. Caron became High Commissioner to the Republic of India, with concurrent accreditation as Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal and the Kingdom of Bhutan. He served in India for two years, and retired from the Canadian Foreign Service during the summer of 2010.
In the fall of 2010, Mr. Caron was appointed to the Board of Directors of Manulife Financial, and its Resource Management and Compensation Committee. Manulife is one of Canada’s largest financial institutions, in both insurance and wealth management, with extensive interests in the United States, Japan, China and elsewhere in Asia.
In September, 2011, he was also appointed to the Board of Directors of Vancouver International Airport.
In October, 2011, he was accorded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by York University and the Schulich School of Business.
Mr. Caron is Special Advisor for Asia Pacific at the prominent Canadian law firm of Heenan Blaikie. Heenan has an international practice, with offices throughout Canada, as well as Paris and Singapore.
He is also a Distinguished Fellow of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and an Honorary Research Associate at the Institute of Asian Research of the University of British Columbia.
Mr. Caron has established Joseph Caron Inc. in Vancouver, British Columbia.