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President Obama: New Asia Policy is like the Old Policy – Japan beware

President Obama: New Asia Policy is like the Old Policy – Japan beware

Joachim de Villiers and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The government of Japan should take a step back and think wisely before following the “containment” policies of President Obama of America towards China. After all, China and Japan rank first and second respectively when it comes to owning US Treasury bonds and China is Japan’s biggest trading partner. Therefore, political leaders in Tokyo must adopt a foreign policy based on the interests of Japan instead of supporting Washington which appears to be returning to a Cold War mentality.

Northeast Asia is delicate at the best of times but economic trade continues to grow and massive cultural exchanges are happening. Therefore, the region is crying out for progressive forces and not out-dated thinking based on political posturing.

Also, if Obama and America is so concerned about containing nations which are spreading a deadly ideology then why isn’t the president focused on Saudi Arabia and Pakistan?  The same applies to past leaders irrespective if Democrat or Republican because September 11 was mainly done by Saudi nationals. Also, Sunni Islamic jihadists in Saudi Arabia did more to endanger the armed forces of America in Iraq than Iran ever did but the usual silence came out of Washington.

Therefore, the stationing of American Marines on Australian soil appears rather shallow and out of tune with recent events in Afghanistan and Iraq. Not only this, the spiraling debt of America and military cutbacks announced by Obama should mean a more pragmatic approach. However, to the bemusement of political leaders in China it appears that Obama wants to open up a new front against political leaders in Beijing.

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.

Japan also needs to focus on strengthening economic and military ties with the Russian Federation instead of political posturing over the Northern Territories. This applies to increased economic trade, joint military exercises linking Hokkaido and Vladivostok and developing energy policies which will help Japan to break free from relying on oil and gas from the Middle East.

In return, the Russian Federation could arrange to give some disputed islets to Japan while remaining in firm control of Sakhalin. However, Tokyo must abide by certain military pre-conditions if this happened with regards to the stationing of either American or Japanese troops.

In some areas America and Japan must work together and this applies to currency related issues, patent law, abiding by maritime law, supporting democracy, boosting the defensive shield of Japan, and supporting democratic nations throughout the region. Yet Japan should not become involved in political posturing from either Beijing or America.

In other words, Japan should maintain its special relationship with America but outside of the geopolitical concerns of Tokyo, it is incumbent that the non-aligned approach is taken. After all, either regional economic and political blocs will be strengthened or the continent will become divided between Washington and Beijing.

Regional nations don’t need to become embroiled in the “ego” of either America or China and instead international law needs to be maintained. If any nation threatens another, then sides or condemnation is only natural but currently no major power in Asia wants to become embroiled in a major war.

China does need to understand that certain policies have upset nations and that diplomacy is essential at all times. However, to be fair to political leaders in Beijing it is factual that some of the so-called threats have been over-hyped and China also needs to protect sensitive geopolitical areas.

Japan should heed the wise concerns of Singapore because the Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam commented that ASEAN countries do not desire to get “caught between the competing interests” of any major power. Indonesia and Malaysia also expressed dismay over the stationing of US Marines in Australia.

Therefore, Japan needs to adopt a pragmatic approach to America and China and listen to the words of the Foreign Minister of Singapore. It is time for political leaders in Beijing and Washington, irrespective of which nation is more confrontational, to realize that the world is moving on.

The world doesn’t need a new “Cold War” and sadly Obama’s political posturing during the worst economic crisis in recent history in both America and the European Union is rather baffling. Therefore, Obama’s “New Asia Policy” sounds like the “Old Policy” of the Cold War.

Japan must say no to Obama’s “New Asia Policy” and focus on developing closer ties with China and maintaining a strong relationship with America. It is pointless to create an applecart against any single nation when it isn’t warranted because once an applecart is created then “a ticking bomb” may erupt based on a divided region. This will serve no nation and given the American sales pitch of “globalization,” then what happened to Obama?

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 

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Shintaro Ishihara forecast to win the Tokyo election and escape “tenbatsu”

Shintaro Ishihara forecast to win the Tokyo election and escape “tenbatsu”

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Shintaro Ishihara and Tokyo 2011 election

 Shintaro Ishihara and Tokyo 2011 election

According to political pundits then Shintaro Ishihara is forecast to win because he will escape the wrath of his tenbatsu (divine punishment) comment and any possible storm clouds over his tenbatsu theory appear to have fallen by the wayside 

Therefore, the gubernatorial election which takes place this weekend will once more re-elect Ishihara because he is deemed to be the most appropriate leader for the majority of Tokyo voters.  If predictions come true, then Ishihara will be elected for the fourth time and this 78 year old individual is clearly liked by the majority of Tokyo voters because he would be defying his age and longevity in elected office.

Irrespective of your political persuasion or if you like Ishihara or not; the simple truth is that he defies his enemies and not many leading politicians would be re-elected four times in any democratic vote – especially when you take into account his age and the nature of politics in Japan.

It is ironic that national politics is tainted by prime ministers or cabinet ministers either voluntarily stepping down or being forced out of office.  However, for the people of Tokyo it appears to be “play it again Sam.”  

Therefore, Tokyo will continue to be governed by Ishihara who is a controversial leader because he does upset people by stating “off the cuff” comments.  Yet when the chips are down the majority of Tokyoites turn to him because of many factors and during the recent crisis in Japan he seems to be a stabilizing factor.   

Ishihara is also liked because China continues to spend vast sums on its military expenditure and too many Japanese political leaders have bent over backwards in order to appease America’s geopolitical objectives in Northeast Asia and the Pacific Rim.

It is clear that foreign policy objectives are not part of his remit because he is the Governor of Tokyo but his stance on “Japan can say no” and his support for nuclear weapons; is viewed to be welcomed in many circles because too many prime ministers have appeared to be weak and bowed down to external political pressure.

Therefore, many Japanese voters in Tokyo who support Ishihara may oppose his thinking about nuclear weapons, racist comments from time to time, or his views that “Japan can say no.”

Yet overall they like his “perceived strength” and he is very individualistic within the body politic of Japan and irrespective of your political ideology at least you know he exists. The same can’t be said for some of the non-entity political leaders in Japan who have come and gone without any political impact despite being elected to the highest political office.

Of course, many Japanese voters will also support his notion of “Japan can say no” and with the growing rise of China and America’s assertiveness under President Obama; then Ishihara can be viewed to be a patriot and he is proud of his Japanese identity.

It also must be stated that bread and butter politics is the real agenda for the majority of Tokyo voters and the finances of Tokyo are buoyant under Ishihara’s leadership. 

Also, he did focus on pollution and maintaining a world famous city which can compete with any major city in the world.  Yes, you have other global mega-cities which are powerful like Beijing, London, Moscow, New York, Paris, and others; however, Tokyo is dynamic by itself and an economic powerhouse and the city of Tokyo is not in the shadow of any other major city in the world.

It is impossible to state which is the most dynamic city in the world because you have too many different complex factors.  Despite this, the rise of Tokyo and its capital base is still enormous and under the guidance of Ishihara then Tokyo is still growing and is vibrant.

Yasunori Sone, a professor at Tokyo’s Keio University, states that “He has the advantage of already being in office” and “…he projects an image of stability in handling this crisis more than the other candidates.”

Therefore, the tenbatsu (divine punishment) comment by Ishihara where he pointed at the earthquake and tsunami happening because of the shallowness of the spirit within modern Japan and with the ego being too powerful; did not come back to haunt him because according to senior political pundits he will be re-elected.

Ishihara had stated after the earthquake and tsunami that tenbatsu had happened because “America’s identity is freedom. France’s identity is freedom, equality and fraternity.  Japan has no sense of that.  Only greed. Materiality greed (and) monetary greed.” 

“This greed bounds with populism.  These things need to be washed away with the Tsunami.  For many years the heart of Japanese always bounded with (the) devil.”

This almost socialist sounding comment by Ishihara was not aimed at the enormous loss of life in northeastern Japan after the earthquake and tsunami devastated many regions.  After all, Ishihara announced a major economic plan for this region.

Ishihara was commenting about the lack of identity, aloofness of aspects of modern culture, being dominated by outside nations and not having the spirit of vibrancy which made Japan great.

People can disagree vehemently with his comment about tenbatsu but unlike other leading politicians in Japan he refuses to bow down to the party line. 

Therefore, if, like predicted, that he is re-elected then this will be a remarkable achievement because Ishihara is now 78 years old and given the lack of longevity in Japanese politics; then he must be doing something right according to the majority of voters in Tokyo.

Of course, nothing is written and in politics you do sometimes get major shocks when you least expect them but it would appear that Ishihara will be re-elected.

http://moderntokyotimes.com (please visit)

 

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