Japan Steps Up Asia Diplomacy
Image Credit: Chinese Foreign Ministry

Japan Steps Up Asia Diplomacy

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Unlike many of us, Japan’s premier didn’t sit back and take it easy at the end of last year. Instead, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda took to the road to visit two of Asia’s ascending powers. He spent Christmas in Beijing, after a planned visit for earlier in December was unexpectedly postponed by China’s leaders. But it was his trip to New Delhi on December 27–28 that really energized Tokyo’s diplomatic agenda.

Noda’s willingness to rearrange his schedule to accommodate China’s desire to change the summit dates reflects an awareness of the delicacy of the moment for Beijing. The original date of the summit coincided with the deeply painful anniversary of World War II atrocities, the day Japanese Imperial Army troops captured the city of Nanjing. Postponing a planned summit meeting like this may be unprecedented, yet it leaves us wondering why Beijing’s leaders didn’t appreciate the domestic impact of hosting Japan’s leader when they picked the date. That they saw fit to ask Tokyo to reschedule reveals perhaps a bit more confusion in Beijing than is usual. But it also reveals the efforts Japanese and Chinese governments together are making to get this important bilateral relationship back on a sound footing.

Meeting on December 26 allowed Noda and Chinese President Hu Jintao to focus on a much anticipated event, namely the death of Kim Jong-il, and the succession that was by then underway in North Korea. As it has in the past, change in North Korea opened the way for Beijing and Tokyo to move beyond some of the more difficult bilateral issues between them and concentrate on their common interests in Northeast Asia. Noda had already declared his interest in sharing information with Beijing, and on consultations that would lead to regional cooperation on managing any issues that might arise as a result of instability on the Korean peninsula.

Yet it was the prime minister’s visit to India that suggested more immediate promise. Where often the Sino-Japanese relationship seems fraught, the Japan-India strategic partnership has been a source of growing potential for Tokyo. Economic relations are growing, although private sector investment by Japanese corporations seems slower than might be expected. Japan’s assistance to India in the construction of vital infrastructure projects, most notably the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project, has been consistent and of obvious importance to integrating India’s growing local economies. Japan has also found a ready partner in India for diversifying their access to rare earth materials, a stinging concern since the autumn of 2010, when China abruptly reduced its exports to Tokyo of these vital metals.

Less appreciated is the growing strategic harmony between Japan and India. When I visited New Delhi in November, I was astounded at the extent of interest in the Indian strategic community in furthering bilateral cooperation with Japan on everything from the development of space technology to nuclear cooperation and cyber security efforts.

Comments
12
Constance
March 18, 2014 at 14:45

Amazing! Its in fact amazing article, I have got much clear idea about from this paragraph.

Liang1a
January 10, 2012 at 10:33

As I said in many other posts, Japan and India will have combined GDP of only some $9 trillion in PPP terms now. China’s PPP GDP is already some $15 trillion. And in 10 years China’s GNP will be some $30 trillion. And ultimately, when it is fully developed in 30 years it will have a GNP of some $100 trillion. In comparison Japan and India’s bombined GDP will only be some $15 trillion even if India were generously allowed to increase its GDP 150%. So China’s GNP will be more than 6 times bigger than the combined economies of Japan and India with a similar disparity between the respective militaries. So Japan’s effort to form alliances to counter China is doomed to failed. The Japanese should understand that it was able to dominate China in the last 200 years only because China collapsed to its lowest point in its entire history. Now China is only minimally developed with some 10% or less of its full potential. And already it is some 3 times bigger in economy and 50% to 100% bigger in military than Japan. For example, Japan has some 250 F-15 and F-16 equivalent 4th generation fighters. China has at least 600 to 700 4th generation fighters. By the end of 2012 China would increase its 4th generation fighters by some 150 to 200 or more while Japan will most probably not increase any fighters. And China may deploy more J-20. So the gap in terms of economy and military and technologies will simply grow wider with the advantage to the Chinese.

Japan is shrinking in importance. It had lost market share to S. Korea in cars and electronics. As China’s consumer technologies grow it will all but wipe out Japan’s global market in cars, electronics, and all other technological fields. In another 10 to 20 years, Japan would lose 80% to 90% of its world market share and would need to resort to devaluation of its yen to keep even a minimal market share. This means its economy will collapse for lack of money to buy raw materials. In the end, Japan will shrink down to the economic size of Mexico with GDP of less than $2 trillion. I pay little attention to Japan. What I fear is the stupidity and betrayal of the CCP that might allow Japan to economically colonize China. Then Japan will grow rich and fat on Chinese economic blood.

Joe
January 10, 2012 at 08:20

It’s about time Japan show China how a responsible country should behave by reaching out to other Asian countries instead of making petty threats and behaving like a bully. I hope China learns from Japan’s example on how diplomacy is conducted.

a_canadian_observer
January 9, 2012 at 00:51

@yangzi: You’re both dishonest and arrogant at the same time, typical CCP agent.

“Japan’s active role would be welcome if it can officially apologize for its atrocities.” – Before you can lecture Japan, your china should officially apologize for its atrocities against the Tibetans, the Uyghuirs and the Vietnamese.

“But Japan has not fully separated itself from its imperial past. In spirit and territory, it only surrended to US. Its main concern about China is its hold on Ryukyu islands. Japan knows it was an imperial grab of RyuKyu kingdom, it is afraid Ryukyu will come back to China’s fold.” – Look who’s talking. Before you can lecture Japan on separating itself from its imperial past, you should look inward to your china and its clinging to its imperial past.

“To solve the strategic conflict with China, Japan should do following:

1. Issue official apology to China for world war 2
2. Start east china sea border talk with China
3. Demilitarize Ryukyu islands, or, stop whining when Chinese navy passes through.” – china is in no position to lecture any country. china doesn’t have the respect nor the credentials from its neighbors. Re. “whining”, china is the champion, you should not complain about Japan. china needs to respect others’ teritories.

“China would fully support the increased international role of Japan and its bid to be a UN permernemt security console membership. – The rightful thing for china to do is to support Japan and Germany to be permanent UN security members, which it hasn’t done so (too bad).
“Japan can look to German example to be a normal country and a leader.” – Now you’re really off tracked here. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

“But if Japan continues on its containing China through alliances road, it could face another defeat that totally flat its tire.” – Time will tell, buddy, as Japan is part of a coalition.

ari
January 8, 2012 at 00:11

@Sravan, it is not a question of Washington haven’t learn the lesons of its sins. Fact is they have no intention to as influencing and making countries acede to their wishes and their interests is their aim. As it is currently under the Democats and Republicans, the U.S. has a doctrine of world domination and hegemony, even with a reduced military in the next 10 years, unless Dr Ron Paul is elected its President. But as it is, it is Washington’s agenda to meddle in the affairs of all countries to protect its interests. That has been the modus operandi of the U.S. and it will remain so in the future, depending on who is elected President as I have mentioned. Tokyo has little say in foreign and many affairs if Washington disagrees. Witness the Futenma Airbase issue on Okinawa, and Washington’s rebuff of Mr Hayotama’s initiative to form better East Asian ties with China and S Korea. Rest assure there are many arm twisting andsubtle threats if Tokyo does not do Washington’s bidding. It is only America’s competition with China that is presently giving Tokyo and New Delhi more leeway and leverage over Washington.

As for India, America has the CIA involved with the Dalai Lama and the exiled Tibetans. Do not be surprised also if the CIA has been buying and paying ulra ambitious and corrupt Indian politicians into slandering China, a key incident being the outright lie by Mr Jaswant Singh that a Chinese warship attacked an Indian fishing boat or an Indian General claiming that China is preparing to attack India by having its missiles brigade targeting India which is not supported by facts.

if it were Washington, it would have demanded an outright apology and the immediate resignation of Jaswant Singh the Indian Minister. That Beijing did none of that makes me wonder why you feel Beijing is hostile. By any account, Beijing’s silence is not the way to go about such a slanderous and provocative incident. “Hostile” would be the last word to describe Beijing.

To further say that Beijing has shown no signs of impoving relations is inccorect. Mr Noda was invited by M Wen Jiabao to China after the ASEAN Meet and he has done so and met Mr Hu Jintao also. Both countries are now on the path to improved personal relations unless the Americans interferes again. And this notwithstanding disputes over territory. I suspect eventually both will settle it eventually via legal means through the International Court of Justice and Arbitration, assuming te appointed judges are objective and not politically aligned.

As for America’s propaganda, you can read a very direct and clearcut article in the Economist and the Asian Wall Street Journal about the Pentagon’s earlier announcement to recruit “sock-puppets” to misinform, disinform, distort and slander enemy countries and their people. Google search and you will find it. American sockpuppets are everywhere on the internet these days. believe you me. Even Americans are shocked at the extent of media manipulation now that even Republican candidate Dr Ron Paul was virtually omitted from mentioned and broadcast on the medias covering the campaigns. Not only that ridiculing words calling “wacky” etc.. were libellously levied on him when his ideas were in fact the most conservative and in line with basic and fundamental Republican values which other candidates supported by Big Businesses have veered away from. The same thing has happened to the Occupy Wal Street protesters. The question here is why has the American, including British medias have thrown their values and professionalism overboard now and overtly and crassly manipulating public opinion to achieve theirs and Bid Business’s aims? Google Ron Paul on the Economist o elsewhere and you will see the extent of grassroots opinions criticizing the propagandarizing activities of the mass medias, much of which is directed by Washington and the Pentagon.

I hope this reply suffices in answering your question. Rest assure there are many, many more examples to substantiate the fact of Wasshington’s meddling in many countries, and its current insidious and malicious propagandizing and smear campaigns on the internet and the other medias.

John Chan
January 7, 2012 at 06:16

After reading the article, a scenario emerged; it is like that an honest worker (China) has worked hard and is preparing a hot meal, but an obese freeloader (the USA) across the street wants to have the meal for himself, so he let some flies (Japan, India, Philippines, and Vietnam) into the kitchen and hope the flies would bother the worker enough to let him to have the meal. The only way the worker can enjoy his meal is to make a pair of big flyswatters to whack the annoying flies out of air, because chasing after flies will never get ride of annoyance.

Sravan
January 7, 2012 at 04:54

@ari
Sir a really well worded thought, what you say is a natural concern and the American record of supporting worst dictators, genocides, terrorists backs your thought. But a small doubt arises to me, are we to assume Washington has not understood the lessons of its sins?, also New Delhi, Japan are democracies and have a sound establishment both these countries in case of an arms race will still be organized and is Washington brave/stupid enough to meddle in internal politics of these countries and hence ensure their propaganda lives every day?. Finally why is the response from Beijing so indifferent, Beijing continues to remain hostile and is showing literally no signs of improving relations with these countries.

yang zi
January 7, 2012 at 00:58

Japan’s active role would be welcome if it can officially apologize for its atrocities.

But Japan has not fully separated itself from its imperial past. In spirit and territory, it only surrended to US. Its main concern about China is its hold on Ryukyu islands. Japan knows it was an imperial grab of RyuKyu kingdom, it is afraid Ryukyu will come back to China’s fold.

To solve the strategic conflict with China, Japan should do following:

1. Issue official apology to China for world war 2
2. Start east china sea border talk with China
3. Demilitarize Ryukyu islands, or, stop whining when Chinese navy passes through.

China would fully support the increased international role of Japan and its bid to be a UN permernemt security console membership. Japan can look to German example to be a normal country and a leader.

But if Japan continues on its containing China through alliances road, it could face another defeat that totally flat its tire.

ari
January 6, 2012 at 13:50

Addendum :

Mr Noda need not apologize on behalf of the Japanese people for the massive atrocities committed against the Chinese people in the second world war. He seems a decent, sincere and intelligent person.

All he can do as a leader of Japan is demonstrate in deeds, his remorse for his parents and grandparents misdeeds by not causing further inequity and injustice against the Chinese people by carrying out Washington’s wicked and nefarious plan to orchestrate a confrontation or war with China before 2020.

Or if anything, acting out in the end, as a shield for a developing China, together with India, against that swaggering, brow beating bully of America. Such an act will erase and square off the debt owe to the Chinese people more than anything else. And you will not find the Chinese an unappreciative people.

What say you, Mr Noda? Show the world the unique culture of the Eastern people. Take the lead.

ari
January 6, 2012 at 13:35

“Where often the Sino-Japanese relationship seems fraught, the Japan-India strategic partnership has been a source of growing potential for Tokyo. Economic relations are growing, although private sector investment by Japanese corporations seems slower than might be expected. Japan’s assistance to India in the construction of vital infrastructure projects, most notably the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project, has been consistent and of obvious importance to integrating India’s growing local economies.”

The facts in this paragraph can be interpreted another way, depending which way you want to put the spin :

Under Washington’s past war control, Tokyo doesn’t have a post war foreign affairs policy. It is not allowed to transgress Washington on any major international policies proposed or floated by Washington. It was to keep a low profile, period. When mainland China was absorbed in its post war Mao’s crazy Marxist revolutions and power play, Washington was content to let Japan be, and India, even more. Why would Washington want to encourage the rise of a potential power like India with 1.1 billion people?

But with the ascent of China as a potential economic and military power that might eclipse America, Washington decided to unleash its obedient vassal (with no disrespect to Japanese), and encourage it to get chummy with India in order to encircle China. Mr Noda has learnt that Washington does not approve of any chummy North East Asia relations particularly for Tokyo with Beijing. Although not highlighted or the issue raised (As usual the media’s omission to manipulate public opinion), Washington ensured covert pressure were made to have the Democratic Party remove Mr Hatoyama, as it did conversely to ensure a hawk like Mr Lee Myung-bak gets elected after Mr Kim Dae-jung and his successor’s Sunshine policy with Pyongyang. So, now we can see Washington’s unseen hand again in Mr Noda’s rapproachement with New Delhi’s Mr Mamohan Singh.

The question arising here is very simple : If Tokyo was truly free to follow its own strategic goals as the writer Sheila Smith assumes in her opinion piece, why only now, and why this? Why did Tokyo not adopt this infrastructure aid to, and business investment, in India before 1986 – before China started its path to economic modernization?

No, Mr Noda is an intelligent person. This mutual seemingly strategic relationship building between Tokyo and New Delhi is mainly for Washington’s consumption. it is the safe thing for Tokyo to do but whether it will become an anti-China strategy is another matter. Japan and Asia are both Asian countries. The entire world is going through a generational shift. It is also going through a knowledge shift. War, as everyone knows it now, is not to the benefit of any proxy warring countries. It is however, to the benefit of the bigger power manipulating behind the scenes, in this case, the world’s sole super-power, that war-mongering America.

Fact is, a East Asia that is at peace with each other and India too, has huge benefits and opportunities to prosper the countries of Asia. Thus a rational Tokyo and New Delhi must surely figure this out. And with enhanced economic might, America must surely diminish, relatively speaking, and its military might in its wake too.

So, does Washington expect New Delhi, Tokyo to be unlike Islamabad or post Arab Spring Revolution countries like Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Morrocco, or just plain the rest of the Arab countries including Iran and Iraq? Does Washington seriously think all these countries will willingly and unhesitatingly do Washington’s bidding in its personal game against Beijing and Moscow? They will go through the public motions but the reality beneath is different.

2012 marks the start of the decline of the American Empire. It marks the rise of the rest of the world against America’s imperialism and empirism. Except for the Anglo-Saxon English speaking countries (with the exception of the independent minded new Zealanders), America is surely and slowly losing countries caught in its tightly controlled orbit. And even then these countries bond with imperial America is getting loser with centrifugal tendency if its people have their way in foreign policy management. If anything, the grassroots support for Dr Ron Paul’s campaign indicates even Americans are against the current Military-Industrial Complex or Big Business-Politicians nexus, or America’s Wealthy-Elite’s rule.

So, Sheila Smith’s opinion and assumption may be a bit too premature and wishful thinking. Reality has yet to be played out. Sheila Smith may be part of the Elite Establishment campaign to convince the world otherwise but truth is, America is on a slippery slope in its doctrine of global domination and influence, and will continue on its path down that slippery slope.

She has also not asked the question whether Asia or Asia-Pacific welcomes America and her warplanes, warships, nuclear bombs, ammunition stocks, and war planes back in Asia? Many of the SE Asian country governments do not reflect its electorates’ wishes. Witness Arroyo Macapacal or Prem Tinsulanond/ General Sondhi or malaysia’s Najib Razak for example. So Washington and Sheila Smith must not be too complacent. Yes, many ambitious politicians and activists are buyable under America’s weak-excuse-for-a-peoples’s-democracy and Wall Street-controlled economic and financial system, but 2012 is a pivot point.

So, the apparent sub pivots of Tokyo and New Delhi to each other maybe what it is, an illusion. The longer timeframe will show the real trend – that America is in decline while Japan and India will contribute to that as they increase their economic might along with China and the Koreas. And in the longer timeframe, prosper further with Mr Putin’s Russia and the rest of Eurasia. By which time, the American market becomes insignificant as dangled otherwise under Obama’s Trans Pacific Plan.

Having said these, the question then is what will America do with all those thousands of nuclear bombs in its possessions? Will it allow all those mad ultra ambitious greedy-control freak far-right wing extremist neo cons get a hold of those bombs and use it against other countries? Sheila Smith may be better off writing a piece on these.

Robert Nye
January 6, 2012 at 13:04

The Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking, took place over 6 weeks from the 13th December 1937. This was before the beginning of the second world war in 1939.
I doubt the Chinese Government overlooked the fact the Japanese visit coincided with this anniversary. They may well have engineered this to re-enforce the memory. The Chinese population is constantly reminded by its government of just how down trodden and poorly treated they were by foreign powers. All part of the psychological management of the populous! In East Nanjing there is the newly opened memorial site in the memory of the massacre ( a visit to which is a truly emotionally stirring experience). Considering this and the Japanese occupation of the Manchurian are of North East China, both within living memory, it is hardly surprising relations between China and Japan are ‘strained’!

Cyrus14
January 6, 2012 at 11:27

A more active Japan in Asia is welcomed as it would add to the leverage that we can have in regards with China.

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