Ja­pan needs to bal­ance al­liance with a prickly US amid China’s rise

Global Times US Edition - - ASIANREVIE­W - Page Editor: li­[email protected] glob­al­times.com.cn

Ja­pan is re­garded as a mar­itime coun­try whose strate­gic se­cu­rity de­pends on the US. Some­times Ja­pan’s pol­icy is ori­ented by con­ti­nen­tal strat­egy; some­times it is ori­ented by mar­itime strat­egy; and some­times the coun­try em­pha­sizes both as­pects.

In mod­ern times, Ja­pan’s pol­icy has been ori­ented by con­ti­nen­tal strat­egy. Since the Meiji Restora­tion in 1868, Ja­pan has been seek­ing to con­trol East Asia. Tokyo at­tempted to use East Asia as a strate­gic plat­form to sup­port its hege­mony, or dom­i­nat­ing po­si­tion, in Asia.

World War II over­turned such am­bi­tions of Ja­pan but the coun­try hasn’t com­pletely given it up. This ori­en­ta­tion is to some ex­tent still in­flu­enc­ing Tokyo’s needs and poli­cies.

The de­vel­op­ment of Ja­pan’s mar­itime strat­egy can be viewed in two phases. Dur­ing the Cold War, Ja­pan grad­u­ally re­cov­ered its mil­i­tary strength and econ­omy un­der the se­cu­rity al­liance with the US and gained its sta­tus in East Asia by tak­ing ad­van­tage of its eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

Ja­pan later es­tab­lished a Ja­pan-led eco­nomic or­der in East Asia, which Ja­panese schol­ars called the fly­ing geese par­a­digm (FGP) in 1930s – di­vi­sion of la­bor in East Asia based on dy­namic com­par­a­tive ad­van­tages. It means “one econ­omy, like the first goose in a V-shaped for­ma­tion, can lead other economies to­ward in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion, pass­ing older tech­nolo­gies down to the fol­low­ers as its own in­comes rise and it moves into newer tech­nolo­gies,” as The New York Times put it.

Ja­pan had en­joyed the FGP con­cept for a long time, which po­si­tioned Ja­pan as a lead­ing power in terms of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in East Asia. So, de­spite China’s rapid growth, Ja­pan still be­lieved that its own high-end man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try was in dom­i­nant po­si­tion in the re­gion.

In the late 1990s, Ja­pan re­al­ized it needed to co­or­di­nate with rapidly de­vel­op­ing China, which was be­com­ing the lead­ing power in the re­gion while bring­ing about changes in the re­gional eco­nomic struc­ture. The FGP up­held by Ja­pan then turned into what I call “hinge par­a­digm.”

With all-round in­dus­tries’ de­vel­op­ment, China can eas­ily co­op­er­ate with other coun­tries in East Asia. Ja­pan is also part of co­op­er­a­tion in the re­gion. But it is no longer the leader of the “fly­ing geese,” yet an im­por­tant hinge.

Ja­pan feels the pres­sure from China in spheres like econ­omy and se­cu­rity, in par­tic­u­lar after China sur­passed Ja­pan to be­come the world’s sec­ond largest econ­omy in 2010 and the Diaoyu Is­land ques­tion de­te­ri­o­rated in 2012. Hence, Ja­pan re­con­sid­ered its strate­gies and put more ef­fort into mar­itime ex­pan­sion.

When for­mer US pres­i­dent Barack Obama ad­vo­cated his re­bal­ance to Asia-pa­cific strat­egy, Ja­pan found its mar­itime po­si­tion with sup­port of the US.

But after US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump took of­fice, Ja­pan felt un­cer­tain about Trump’s diplo­macy and thus be­gan to ad­just its moves, which led to its cur­rent dilemma.

On the one hand, Ja­pan has clearly re­al­ized that, with­out China, it will have lim­ited eco­nomic growth. In the mean­time, Ja­pan won’t turn its back on the se­cu­rity al­liance with the US.

Ja­pan wants to main­tain good re­la­tions with both China and the US.

But the ques­tion is how it will bal­ance its dif­fer­ent needs from the two pow­ers.

On the other hand, Ja­pan has be­gun to dis­cover that Trump is un­re­li­able. Dur­ing the G20 sum­mit in Ja­pan, Trump said that the se­cu­rity treaty be­tween the US and Ja­pan doesn’t fa­vor the US as the treaty only de­mands Wash­ing­ton to guard Tokyo but not vice versa. Trump thought the treaty was un­fair, which shocked Ja­pan. Tokyo thus be­gan to con­sider keep­ing some dis­tance from Wash­ing­ton.

All that mir­rors the predica­ment Ja­pan faces in its se­cu­rity strat­egy. The ar­ti­cle was an ab­stract of a speech by Su Hao at a sem­i­nar on Ja­pan’s se­cu­rity pol­icy or­ga­nized by the Charhar In­sti­tute. Su Hao is found­ing di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and Peace Studies at the China For­eign Af­fairs Univer­sity. opin­[email protected]­al­times.com.cn

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.