Friday, February 22, 2013


"Japan’s new prime minister on Friday offered the world a vision of his country as a reinvigorated Asian power, pledging to restore its influence in a region where it is increasingly eclipsed by China. “Japan is not, and will never be, a tier-two country,” Shinzo Abe said in a speech to members of the US foreign policy establishment, following his first meeting with President Barack Obama. “It is high time, in this age of Asian resurgence, for Japan to bear even more responsibility to promote our shared rules and values.” Mr Abe’s declaration that “Japan is back” could raise hackles in China, where a new leadership is keen to establish that country as a more dominant political force, befitting its position as Asia’s largest economy. Mr Abe, a conservative nationalist, referred to a rare increase in Japan’s military spending by his government and made a forceful reassertion of Tokyo’s claim to the Senkaku Islands, whose ownership has been contested by Beijing, saying Japan “simply cannot tolerate any challenge now, or in the future”. But he also tried to assure US leaders that he was working to avoid escalating a dispute which Washington has made clear it does not want to be drawn into, suggesting he might be open to meeting Chinese leaders to try to ease tensions over the islands. “The doors are always open on my side for the Chinese leaders,” Mr Abe said.... Mr Abe came to Washington seeking to erase a perceived ambivalence about Japan’s relations with the US that was created by the previous centre-left government, which Mr Abe’s Liberal Democratic party defeated in national elections in December. Japan has swapped prime ministers six times since Mr Abe first held the office in a short and scandal-marred tenure from 2006 to 2007. One of his biggest challenges is to convince the Obama administration that his second stint will last long enough for him to follow through on his promises. Soon, Japan will export more, but it will import more as well. The US will be the first to benefit, followed by China, India, Indonesia and so on. Mr Abe has made a robust start, launching an economic stimulus programme of increased government spending and looser monetary policy that has lifted the Japanese stock market and pushed his poll ratings to around 70 per cent. Washington has been broadly supportive of the effort, even though it has led to a sharp fall in the yen that has alarmed some of Japan’s trade partners and prompted concerns about a potential “currency war” of competitive devaluations."
Jonathan Soble. "Abe lays out vision of Japan power in Asia." The Financial Times. 22 February 2013, in
"Q[uestion]: What is their larger purpose, do you think? What is China trying to achieve with what it is doing in the Senkaku Islands? Abe: China, as a nation, is a country under the one-party rule of the Communist Party, but it has introduced the market economy. As a country that is under the one-party rule of the Communist Party, normally what they should be seeking is equality of results. And I believe it is fair to say that is probably what constitutes the legitimacy of one-party rule by the Communist Party. But as a result of introducing the market economy, China, has dropped one of its pillars of legitimacy, which was equal results for all. This has led them to require some different pillars — one of which is high economic growth, and another of which is patriotism. As part of their effort to seek natural resources needed for their high economic growth, I believe they are moving into the sea. And the other pillar they are now seeking is teaching patriotism in their education. What is unfortunate, however, is that in the case of China, teaching patriotism is also teaching anti-Japanese sentiment. In other words, their education policy of teaching patriotism has become even more pronounced as they started the reform and opening policy. In that process, in order to gain natural resources for their economy, China is taking action by coercion or intimidation, both in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. This is also resulting in strong support from the people of China, who have been brought up through this educational system that attaches emphasis on patriotism. This, however, is also a dilemma faced by China. That is to say, the mood and atmosphere created by the education in China attaching importance on patriotism — which is in effect focusing on anti-Japanese sentiment — is in turn undermining their friendly relationship with Japan and having an adverse effect on its economic growth."
"Transcript of interview with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe." The Washington Post. 16 February 2013, in
The statements made by the new Japanese Premier, Shinzo Abe are to my mind the very best news that can come out of Tokyo as they relate to the proper and best manner to handle both the issue of the Senkaku Islands and Chinese aggressiveness in general. Chinese policy, as has been stated and re-stated time and again in this journal is as the Premier correctly states, an end-result of primat der Innenpolitik. And as long as the current rulers of Peking remain in power, the natural tendency of Chinese foreign policy will be one of aggressiveness towards its neighbors. Such a policy can only be dealt with by a Kennanesque policy of containment, showing at once firmness and flexibility but with firmly drawn lines au fond, that Chinese aggression can and will be challenged and if need defeated. Albeit, just as in reality Sovietskaya Vlast choose for the most part not to challenge the Western policy of containment in the Cold War, so I will surmise that the rulers of current regime in Peking will not choose to challenge Japan and its neighbors provided that it is backed cautiously, but firmly by the Western Powers and in particular by the United States. The danger of an 'incident' and concomitantly of war, can only occur if the Western Powers and in particular the United States fails to make absolutely clear their support of Japan and its neighbors on the Chinese periphery. Any and all Chinese endeavors to breakout of its current restricted boundaries can and must be defeated. Therein lines the way of safety for all the powers concerned including nota bene the poor people of China itself.


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