United States and Japan: Statement siding with Japan against China is not productive
United States and Japan: Statement siding with Tokyo against Beijing is not productive
Hiroshi Saito, Walter Sebastian and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The government of Japan under Prime Minister Abe needs to avoid the containment policy of America towards China. It should be remembered that in history the Middle Kingdom was not a threat to the sovereignty of Japan. However, the nation of America literally demanded trade with Japan at the point of a gun – either open up or face the consequences.
Yet China was instrumental in spreading Buddhism to Japan along with the nation of Korea and also brought the wisdom of Confucianism and other powerful ideas. Many powerful cultural traits of the Middle Kingdom spread throughout Japan. This applies to the arts, religion, philosophy, gardens and a whole array of other powerful cultural traits. Therefore, throughout history the Middle Kingdom brought learning to Japan and likewise famous Japanese scholars spread their knowledge to China.
On the downside is more recent history related to the war which still lingers between China and Japan. Of course, just like all major disputes both sides will believe in different histories and of course different thinking will exist in both nations. However, overall the relationship between the Middle Kingdom and Japan throughout history was more than positive because it enriched both nations.
President Obama of America clearly supports the “containment” of China and sadly within the new Abe administration in Japan you feel a sense of similar thinking but it is too early to say. Therefore, Tokyo must view history for what it is and then judge the powerful forces of the past which united the people of Northeast Asia. Once this is weighed up against the reality of outside nations which brought exploitation, control mechanisms and created wedges where they once never existed. Then the government of Japan should be brave enough to choose a new path. After all, why does Japan want to be viewed to be “a puppet” of America instead of being an equal?
In recent times the tense relationship between Beijing and Tokyo can be seen by events that have occurred over the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute and which are sadly continuing. Neither China nor Japan is acting in the interest of Northeast Asia because division will only benefit nations which have a vested interest in keeping a natural alignment apart. History tells us that China and Japan is a natural alignment because even during the closed door Edo period of Japan you still had Japanese elites which adored the trappings of the high culture of China.
Hillary Clinton, the United States Secretary of State, commented that America opposes “any unilateral actions that would seek to undermine (the) Japanese administration” in relation to the disputed territory between China and Japan. In other words, Senkaku (Diaoyu) belongs to Japan and America wants to see China accepting this.
Hillary Clinton also made it clear that the Japan-United States Security Treaty means that America is obligated to protect Japan if hostilities break out over issues related to the disputed region. It is clear that Hillary Clinton will have been given the go ahead to state this by Obama. However, the timing is dangerous because it is still unclear which posture the current Abe administration will take. Therefore, now is not the right time to come up with such a carte blanche statement. After all, the issue should apply to which side is over stepping the mark and that conflict resolutions are in the interest of all parties involved.
Fumio Kishida, the Foreign Minister of Japan, stated that “While Japan will not concede and will uphold our fundamental position that the Senkaku Islands are inherent territory of Japan, we intend to respond calmly so as not to provoke China.”
In another article by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that“Japan should stay out of the loop regarding this issue because given America’s past history and conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, and Vietnam, it would be unwise to follow America’s logic under Obama. Yes, Japan and America have shared interests in protecting Japan because of constitutional constraints which hinder the independence of political leaders in Tokyo. However, Japan doesn’t need to become embroiled in any containment of China because this could lead to future military complications if tensions erupted between political leaders in Washington and Beijing.”
“Also, it is in the interest of Japan to foster closer ties with China but based on equality because economic investment and past cultural interactions in history were always favorable until the late nineteenth century. Therefore, instead of becoming embroiled in “Obama’s Cold War logic” political leaders in Tokyo should become “a bridge” between both America and China. After all, it is in the interest of Japan to have favorable relations with America and Japan because all nations are major economic powers irrespective of current debt related issues.”
It is therefore essential that political leaders in Beijing and Tokyo open up a new modern chapter between both nations in order to keep negative outside forces out. The future of Northeast Asia could move to a different level providing regional nations move closer together. Of course, America and the Russian Federation are also powerful players with regards to various areas in this strategic region – yet mistrust remains and this is hindering regional realignment. Therefore, America should not encourage any party irrespective if it is Beijing or Tokyo; instead the realignment of regional nations should be the focus along with increasing trade and cultural initiatives involving all nations throughout Northeast Asia.