Japan must reject American pressure against oil sanctions on Iran
Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The United States is continuing to put pressure on Japan about sanctions against Iran’s oil industry and thankfully the Finance Minister of Japan, Jun Azumi, was sidelined after appearing to cave in several weeks ago. However, foreign policy specialists and many bureaucrats in Japan understand that this issue is extremely delicate and Japan doesn’t want to appear to be hostile towards Iran. After all, other nations have developed nuclear weapons like India and Pakistan and after making a lot of noise it appears that this issue is on a backburner in Washington.
Similar pressure is being put on South Korea but the issue in Japan is extremely severe because of the Fukushima nuclear crisis. Therefore, now is the wrong time for Japan to put even greater stress on a valuable source of energy. Surely America must understand that the “special relationship” between both nations must be based on greater equality and that this demand is too great given the internal energy crisis in Japan.
The vast majority of nuclear reactors are not in working order in Japan at the moment and nobody knows the real future of this sector within Japan. At the same time, alternative sources of energy will mean that Japan is taking sides in a dispute which doesn’t concern Japan at the moment. After all, Iran is not a threat to Japan and both nations have cordial relations.
From a Japanese perspective, if Washington truly cares, then why is Iran a bigger concern than the nuclear stockpile of China and continuing modernization of the armed forces of this nation? It is unimaginable that Iran would ever threaten Japan or create a major international war based on irrationality.
Also, from Iran’s point of view then it is inconceivable that nations like Pakistan and Israel have the right to defend themselves but Iran doesn’t. This isn’t implying that Israel and Pakistan don’t have the right to develop nuclear weapons when all the major powers have a nuclear arsenal. However, from Iran’s geopolitical point of view then the nuclear arsenal of Israel and Pakistan may be making policy makers in Tehran nervous.
While all the focus is on relations between Iran and Israel the real uncertain nation is Pakistan. The Taliban and other Sunni Islamic extremists have killed and massacred Shia Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan and for this reason Iran supported anti-Taliban and anti-Al Qaeda forces in the past. Ironically, Iran had this policy when America still had open relations with the Taliban prior to September 11 which was done by Sunni Islamic extremists who were mainly Saudi Arabian nationals.
Also, the central state of Iran is much more dynamic and in control of the nation rather than the reality in Pakistan. This fact can’t be debated currently and China is seriously concerned about this issue despite having very good relations with Pakistan. The possibility of a failed state in Pakistan is a nightmare because radical Sunni Islamists in this nation are extremely militant and this applies to being anti-Shia, anti-India, anti-democratic, anti-secular, and so forth. Therefore, nations should be more focused on the power of central forces in Pakistan and the internal Sunni Islamic jihad against the Pakistan army rather than Iran.
This isn’t underplaying the Iranian issue but surely this “game” concerns America, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Lebanon (Hezbollah and links with Iran), and other regional nations, irrespective of being pro or anti Iran. However, it isn’t an issue which should concern Japan from a military angle. Instead, Japan should be trying to influence greater restraint on all sides and be a “middle broker” in order to contain negative forces from either side.
Much is mentioned about the US and Iran relationship but this is also complex because America left “a window of opportunity” for Iran to break the arms embargo which had been put on Bosnia during the three sided civil war. Also, Iranian intelligence clearly gave tacit approval of the American led invasion of Iraq because Iran knew that this would end a regime which was anti-Iranian and in the long term the power shift would work in the favor of the Shia.
In a recent article by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “If political leaders in Tokyo believe that Iran is a threat to the national security of Japan or that Iran is an international threat, then clearly Japan must state this categorically and not hide behind the political intrigues in Washington. However, Iran does not have any ill intent towards Japan and clearly with China, India, Israel, and Pakistan, having nuclear weapons in Asia, it is understandable for Iran to be concerned about this reality from their respective geopolitical point of view.”
“It must be stated that September 11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, have one common theme and this applies to radical Sunni Muslims being involved in the deaths of American civilians and American soldiers. The Shia community in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia have not protected or funded global terrorist networks which were responsible for September 11, London, Bali, and countless terrorist attacks in Iraq and Pakistan. Therefore, the government in Tehran is much more responsible than the ruling elites in Saudi Arabia which have many ratlines and hidden agendas.”
Liu Weimin a ministry spokesperson for the government of China commented that “To place one country’s domestic law above international law and press others to obey is not reasonable.” Other nations share this point of view and if America believes that Iran is a threat to the security of America, then Washington should deal with this without putting pressure on Japan. After all, the pressing concerns for Japan are many and this notably applies to the energy shortfall after the devastating March 11 tsunami and the ongoing Fukushima crisis.
It must also be stated the tangle web of America and Saudi Arabia is not aimed at democracy and human rights, after all just look at the crisis in Bahrain whereby the Shia face daily oppression and outside meddling from Saudi Arabia. The Shia community is also often attacked in Yemen and Japan can’t afford to take sides in “a dirty political game” which is taking place.
Of course Japan must maintain the strong relationship between Washington and Tokyo when it applies to Northeast Asia and other important issues. However, the nuclear crisis in Iran isn’t a national security issue for Japan and the neutral nature of Japan’s foreign policy must be respected.
If political leaders in Tokyo believe that the government of Tehran is a threat to the security concerns of Japan and the international community, then Japan must fall in line. Yet clearly senior politicians in Japan don’t share this view and the main concern for the people of Japan is maintaining the economy and having a steady flow of energy. Therefore, the timing is wrong and Japan shouldn’t get involved in the American-Saudi Arabian alliance against Iran.