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  • Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 69, Nov 7 2013: “Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.” about PM Abe’s charm offensive through Gaijin Handler Kitaoka Shin’ichi

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on November 13th, 2013

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    Hello Blog. This month sees my 69th Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, and I’m happy to report that even after nearly six years of monthly articles (and nearly 12 years of semimonthly reports), I don’t feel like I’m losing my stride. In fact, this month’s entry is one that I’m particularly proud of, as it helped crystallize a feeling I’ve had for quite some time now about the rightist shift in Japan’s politics — and how it inevitably leads (in Japan’s case) to militarism. It spent a couple of days in the JT Online Top Ten, thanks everyone!

    justbecauseicon.jpg

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    JAPAN BRINGS OUT BIG GUNS TO SELL REMILITARIZATION IN U.S.
    By Arudou Debito
    JUST BE CAUSE Column 69 for the Japan Times Community Pages
    The Japan Times, November 7, 2013
    Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/11/06/issues/japan-brings-out-the-big-guns-to-sell-remilitarization-in-u-s/
    Version follows with links to sources

    Last month in Hawaii I attended a speech titled “Japan’s new National Security Strategy in the Making” by a Dr. Shinichi Kitaoka. A scholar and university president, Dr. Kitaoka is deputy chairman of the “Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security” within the Shinzo Abe administration.

    I sat in because I wanted to see how a representative of Japan’s government would explain away Abe’s militaristic views to an American audience.

    Dr. Kitaoka did not disappoint. He was smooth. In impeccable English, to a packed room including numerous members of Hawaii’s military brass, he sold a vision of a remilitarizing Japan without a return to a prewar militarized Japan. (You can see the entire speech at http://www.vimeo.com/77183187.)

    He laid out how Japan would get around its ban on having a military beyond a “self-defense force,” i.e., one that could project power beyond its borders. It would be the same way Japan got around its constitutional ban on having any standing military at all: Japan would once again reinterpret the wording of the Constitution.

    His logic: If Japan has a sovereign right to “individual self-defense” (i.e., the right to attack back if attacked), it also has an inherent sovereign right to “collective self-defense” (i.e., the right to support Japan’s allies if they are attacked). A reinterpretation must happen because, inconveniently, it is too difficult to reform the Constitution itself.

    That legal legerdemain to undermine a national constitution should have raised eyebrows. But Kitaoka was culturally sensitive to what his American audience wanted to hear: that the ends justify the means. He immediately couched Japan’s freer hand as a way to better engage in the U.S.-Japan security alliance, as well as participate more equally and effectively in United Nations peacekeeping operations. Japan could now assist the world in “human security” through a “proactive peace policy.”

    As further reassurance, he gave five reasons why Japan could not return to 1930s-style fascism. Back then, 1) Japan needed more territory, resources and markets, which were being denied them by economic blocs formed during the Great Depression (conveniently omitting the entire “liberating Asians from white imperialism” narrative that underpinned Japan’s “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”); 2) there was hubris on the part of Japan’s military, convinced that neighboring territories were weak and easy targets; 3) the international community had little economic integration or punitive sanctioning power; 4) the military was not under civilian control; and 5) Japan lacked freedom of speech.

    Then his rhetoric entered what I call “perpetual wolf-at-the-door territory,” reflecting the typical ideological polarization of a trained geopolitical security analyst. They see the world only in terms of power, potential threats and allies vs. enemies. (That’s why I stopped studying security issues as an undergrad at Cornell.)

    Kitaoka sold China as the polar opposite of Japan. Japan is a “peace-loving” society with a “peace Constitution” and capped military expenditure, while China is a nuclear power with an enormous and expanding military budget. Japan has, if anything, “too much” freedom of speech, unlike China, where dissidents are jailed. Japan has no territorial designs abroad (not even the constant threat of invasion from the Korean Peninsula is worrisome anymore — the U.S. has it covered), while China is claiming islands and expanding into markets as far away as Africa! If Japan steps out of line, it would be hurt by international sanctions, as it is fully integrated into and dependent on the world economy, while China . . . isn’t. China is safeguarding its national security and enhancing its prestige through a nationalism that is “obsessed with national glory” while Japan . . . isn’t.

    In fact, Kitaoka managed to trace just about every problem in his speech back to China. His conclusion in a Yomiuri Shimbun column on Sept. 22 was stark: “We should now take the place of the (prewar) Republic of China, which was invaded by Japan, and think about how to defend ourselves from unjustified aggression, and consider what should be done to defend ourselves more aggressively.” History, to Kitaoka, has come full circle.

    So, in order to maintain regional security and balance of power, Kitaoka announced that Japan would adopt two measures by the end of 2013: 1) A comprehensive “national security strategy,” the first in Japan’s history, integrating foreign and defense policy; and 2) a new “outline of defense planning” through the establishment of an official “National Security Council.”

    This would be led by a PM Abe unfettered by the “cancer of sectionalism” between “pro-Western” and “pro-Socialist” camps in Japan’s bureaucracy. Abe’s strong executive leadership would break the hold of Japan’s leftists (whom Kitaoka dismissed as “vocal minorities”) and give the “majority” their proper hand in policymaking.

    Then Kitaoka felt he was in a position to make guarantees to the audience. He told them not to worry, for there was “zero possibility” of Japan intervening in the Koreas, including over the Takeshima/Dokdo disputed rocks, “without a request from you.” Japan would also not go nuclear, because nukes are unnecessary in a land so “narrow and densely populated” with no place to put them!

    What about Japan’s ability to project power at sea? Despite the recent unveiling of the Izumo (one of three SDF “helicopter-carrying destroyers”; see “Watching Japan and China square off in East China Sea,” BBC News, Nov. 12, 2012), Kitaoka says Japan has “no use” for them. After all, the whole archipelago is full of “unsinkable aircraft carriers” — the Japanese islands themselves. So pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

    My favorite part of Kitaoka’s speech (other than when he defied his doctorate training by calling Koreans an “emotional people,” and dismissed several counter-opinions as “stupid”) was when he blamed the putative ineffectiveness of the U.N. Security Council on a struggle between democratic and undemocratic member states, with China and Russia getting in the way. The U.N. would be more effective if more democratic countries were allowed into the UNSC — India, Germany, Brazil and . . . Japan, naturally.

    Nice segue. Told you he was smooth.

    This is why I am devoting a whole column to this event: The Abe administration is clearly on a charm offensive, sending out an articulate “gaijin handler” with an elite pedigree (Kitaoka is president of the International University of Japan, professor emeritus at Tokyo University, a former ambassador and U.N. representative, and a member of several major think tanks) on a whistle-stop U.S. tour to reassure American power brokers that they can relax their grip over Japan’s security.

    After all, that seems to be what the U.S. wants. The schizophrenic U.S.-Japan security relationship has demanded for decades that Japan make more contributions to the geopolitical order, while making sure U.S. bases underpin Japan’s regional security and stop regional worries about a resurgent militarist Japan. As Maj. Gen. Henry Stackpole, former commander of the U.S. Marines in Japan, put it in 1990, the U.S. is the “cork in the bottle.” Thus, Kitaoka is softening up the crowd for Abe to uncork Japan’s military potential.

    Now it all makes sense. This is why Abe is making so much noise recently in places like the Wall Street Journal and domestic media about Chinese aggression and regional security.

    Abe has a timetable to meet. His national security council is due this month. The defense planning outline is due in December. It’s time to rile up the Japanese public once again about the Chinese wolf at the door, and get them ready to sign off on Japan’s remilitarization.

    Look, when Japan’s gross domestic product fell behind China’s in 2011, we all knew there would be blowback in terms of Japan’s national pride. But so much so quickly? Who would have thought that a troublemaking Tokyo governor could create such geopolitical mayhem by threatening to buy some specks in the ocean outside his prefecture, throw Japan’s left-leaning government into chaos and get Japan’s most right-leaning government in generations elected by the end of 2012?

    Then again, it’s not so surprising. Watching Kitaoka’s speech, I realized again just how smooth Japan’s elites are. They know whose hands to shake, whose ears to bend, and how to behave as public campaigners in the diplomatic community. Hey, that’s how they somehow got the 2020 Olympics! They know how to say what people want to hear. That is the training of a lifetime of tatemae (pretenses masking true intentions).

    Sit back, folks. We’re going to get an official and resurgent Japanese military. With a probable nod and a wink from the Americans, there’s not a lot we can do but watch Abe’s military machinations march to fruition. In 10 years, let’s see how many of Kitaoka’s public promises about a peaceful, internationally cooperative Japan hold.

    =====================================
    More discussion of the Kitaoka speech at www.debito.org/?p=11896. Debito Arudou’s updated “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” is now available as a downloadable e-book on Amazon. See www.debito.org/handbook.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Thursday Community page of the month. Send your comments on these issues and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.

    ENDS

    32 Responses to “Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 69, Nov 7 2013: “Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.” about PM Abe’s charm offensive through Gaijin Handler Kitaoka Shin’ichi”

    1. DK Says:

      An interesting report on the same issue, fresh from the BBC:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24841467

    2. debito Says:

      BTW, if people want to post comments to this article here, go ahead.

      When I put up the full text of this article in a few days on Debito.org, I’ll just modify this blog entry to include it, so your comments will not be lost.

      FYI. — Debito

    3. Jim di Griz Says:

      The BBC report was interesting. Especially where the woman explains that ‘America has come back’ as Japan’s #1 trading partner, without explaining that rather than America coming ‘back’, it is trade with China that has slumped due to the J-nationalists and the Senkaku issue. The BBC got one thing right though; the Japanese are in fear of China, but whatever are they in fear of? After all, they keep telling me that Japan did nothing wrong in the war.

    4. Baudrillard Says:

      DK, I watched the link, other than the title “Is Japan falling out of love with the US?” the BBC just confirm the old official cliché that Japan needs, wants and loves the USA.
      And this bit was just wrong
      1. Japan wants to call its defense force an army because of China
      2. “Japan seeks to defend its neighbors”

      The Beeb is now the mouthpiece of Abe and co?

      This completely ignores Japan’s disputes with South Korea, and in fact all of it’s neighbors.

      The reality is that Abe and co want to assert using Japan’s military against ALL Asian neighbors they have disputes with, hopefully dragging the USA along for the ride.

      Hence the tit-for tat propaganda war going on between S.Korea’s Park (who recently turned down a summit with Japan saying “Whats the point? They still haven’t apologized for the comfort women issue etc”) and Abe and c, (who answered that they were “disappointed” south Korea did not “accept” their perspective!)

    5. debito Says:

      And right on schedule…

      Bill to set up U.S.-style security council clears Lower House
      Passage lets Lower House start discussion on secrets act
      BY AYAKO MIE, STAFF WRITER
      The Japan Times, NOV 7, 2013

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/11/07/national/bill-to-set-up-u-s-style-security-council-clears-lower-house/

      Pertinent excerpt:

      The Lower House passed a bill Thursday to establish a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council and sent it to the Upper House, then began deliberating on a bill to protect state secrets.

      The two security-related bills are the centerpieces of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s goal of bolstering Japan’s security structure amid intensifying provocations in Asia.

      The security council bill is expected to clear the Upper House before the current Diet session ends Dec. 6.

      With the bill, Abe aims to consolidate the flow of information under the Cabinet Office so the prime minister will have a better handle on decision-making on national security matters…

      The DPJ, however, failed in its attempt to get language into the bill requiring that the council log conference minutes to maintain public transparency.

      The secrets bill taken up by the Lower House is, according to Abe, indispensable for the security council to function properly.

      The opposition camp is critical of the bill as it could infringe on the people’s right to know.

      Under the bill, public servants would face as much as 10 years in prison for leaking government-designated state secrets, while journalists could face the same punishment for seeking information in an unlawful way.

      One of the issues is its loose definition of what constitutes state secrets.

      The bill says information related to defense, diplomacy, counterintelligence and counterterrorism would be designated as state secrets. But it does not contain a clear set of standards for classification, allowing government officials to decide what is a secret at their own discretion…

      Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/11/07/national/bill-to-set-up-u-s-style-security-council-clears-lower-house/

    6. DK Says:

      Yup, as the days go by the news on Abenomics are getting grimmer and the cracks on the “wa” more evident for all to see:

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-07/japanese-households-without-savings-climb-to-highest-since-63.html

      Any wonder that militarism appears more and more as the only “solution” as people get tired of the bread and circuses?

      And have things ever been any different in Japan – or elsewhere for that matter?

    7. Karjh12 Says:

      Japan is still in a “Yamato Spirit ” of denial ,reluctant to address unwelcome thoughts and ideas , to the point of addressing and articulating issues and responses as per Dr.Kitaoka .

      So a “what if ? ” scenario .

      Berlin Oylmpics 1936…..it only took 3 more years for “incidents” to precipitate “events” (although the groundwork was laid well beforehand)

      Tokyo Olympics 2020…. it may take a little bit longer but perhaps Dr.Kitaoka would care to expand further on his historical perspective as to why “incidents” will not occur with “normalization .” The groundwork is being laid .

      http://irgamag.com/breaking-news/item/5651-s-korea-says-japan-summit-would-be-pointless

    8. Markus Says:

      What strikes me as amateurish is the language used by the Japanese spin doctors. They seem to lack the command of English to conceal their true motives in a way that US spin doctors were able to (e.g. for the Iraq war etc.). The current talking point of “we only want to support the US if they run into problems” is such an obvious attempt at misdirection that I am surprised that adult politicians can use it without starting to laugh. What would the US need from Japan? Expertise at committing atrocities?

      It starts with the use of “security”, suggesting that Japan, at the moment, is not secure from attacks from China.
      But that’s simply not correct – Japan has a the means and legal requirements to defend itself already, without any change of the constitution *plus* a guarantee from the US that they will jump in if China indeed did attack Japan.

      So, the issue whether those islands are Japan and an alleged overtaking of those islands by China would in fact constitute an “attack” on Japan is completely out of the picture now. If the J-Gov wants to argue that Japan (as in, Okinawa, Honshu, and Hokkaido) are currently not secure, they would face resistance from the world community.

      As it stands, the official view from the US government is that Japan and China should solve the “Senkaku problem” by diplomatic means. This does not imply that Japan first must ramp up its military and change its constitution, while making no sincere diplomatic efforts whatsoever. I think the Obama administration is very aware of true motivations of Abe, which would explain why so little support is coming from it. But who knows what will happen if another Bush becomes president?

      For a more realistic image of Japan in the world, I would actually like it if Japan officially got rid of the “we’re a pacifist country” lie that the current constitution perpetuates.
      If they want to go ahead and reveal how little they’ve actually changed since WWII – which is only a matter of when once the constitution is changed, I say, go for it, but please hold your guns until the end of this year so I can watch from far away.

    9. Jim di Griz Says:

      The thing about he secrecy bill is that not only would it provide a mans to silence any who spoke out against the fear mongering nationalists victim narrative, but also would allow the ‘burial’ of any up-coming bungling and associated radiation spillages at Fukushima, allowing the government to paint a rosey picture of progress, get the other N-power stations back on line whilst silencing any debate, and ultimately (and most importantly) get the kick-backs flowing again.
      Transparency has never been a Japanese virtue, what could be so immoral it required an act of law to keep secret?

    10. Baudrillard Says:

      @ DK, are they going to jail Fujiwara Norika for 10 years for seeking information in an “unlawful” way too? Or probably, as with Taro Yamamoto, she ll just get less jobs. Oh well, I have seen her in ads in other parts of Asia so she could still get work there!

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/09/18/national/fujiwara-breaks-tv-taboo-slams-secrets-bill/

    11. Jim di Griz Says:

      @ Baudrllard #10

      Actually, I’m rooting for Norika to stick to her guns. Other internationally famous Japanese routinely fail Japan by never speaking out about anything. When was the last time Yoko Ono or Hiruyuki Saneda stood up against racism or gender discrimination?
      About all I can remember is Ryuichi Sakamoto’s anti-nuclear stance, but where are all the other celebrities with the power to influence the debate?

    12. Markus Says:

      @Jim (#11) I can’t think of any celebrities with any real power. Most of them are employees of their agency and are effectively shut up through contracts. And if that’s not enough of a silencer, then the fear of becoming the target of group stalking by right-wingers, up to death threats and actual assaults always does the job.
      Japan is still a dangerous country, once you step over the line and voice any opinion the fundamentalists of the religious “Wa” cult don’t agree with, then you are on your own.

    13. DK Says:

      Markus #12,

      Yes, Japan can be a dangerous country for outspoken people with a sense of justice. I’ve just read this dismal report on JT about the insidious, vicious ways in which anti-nuclear activist groups in Japan are being harassed:

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/11/11/national/deluge-of-harassing-emails-angers-anti-nuclear-groups/#.UoGvFmTN-nA

      And this is just one example among countless others (Debito can certainly attest to that). Unfortunately, way too many people in Japan (including NJ) excel at such tactics; it seems that the prevailing ambience has this strange power of bringing out the worst in people.

      No surprise, then, that so many good people – esp. those that wish to or have to be in Japan – are afraid to speak out. In many cases it’s really a matter of life and death.

    14. Jim di Griz Says:

      @ Markus #8

      Yes, I agree with you.
      Japanese politicians and talking heads are absolute beginners at spin and deception, using unsophisticated techniques. The shocking thing though, is that the Japanese public seem to fall for it all hook, line, and sinker, leaving NJ starting from a position of ‘they’ll never fall for that’, but that ends in jaw dropping disbelief.

    15. Peter McArthur Says:

      @Jim Di Griz

      Nothing shocking about it. The media is spineless.

      Or, to be more accurate, the popular media (especially TV) self-censor because they know what’s good for them.

    16. Loverilakkuma Says:

      And here the Abe and conservative LDP politicians are, once again, ready to sell out historical “Social Darwinism”–a.k.a. Regressive Japan.

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/11/14/national/history-texts-to-get-official-spin/#at_pco=tcb-1.0&at_tot=8&at_ab=-&at_pos=6

    17. Baudrillard Says:

      @DK the prevailing ambience has this strange power”- Baudrillard called this new form of repression “ambience” – where society becomes controlled through its inclusion in the spectacle of consumption.

      Think how consumerist and materialistic Japan is, how many people’s days and lives revolve around it. How this is godlike and how allegiance to the company replaced allegiance to the emperor after WW2.

      Companies produce goods, but unlike in Marxism which claims production drives society, it is consumerism (an nuclear power/the status quo) that drives the Dreamy Day in Japan.

      Ah, happy shoppers…

    18. Baudrillard Says:

      BTW, is it just me that thinks that
      1. the quality of comments with sources, validation etc has improved at Debito over the last couple of years.
      2. a consensus has emerged over a few core issues, not just here but also people in general start to see a “different” Japan from the nice images they were peddled in the 80s?
      3. the mindset of commentators here has shifted to a sense of foreboding, a kind of fatalistic, ringside seat to watch the fireworks that do seem to be coming real soon?
      4. there seems to be more J”realists” on the net these days, as opposed to apologists?

      Articles like the below suggest to me that now even J fans face a serious reality check, and most of the news on Japan these days is bad or plain sick and twisted, and I don’t just mean the economy.

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/10/23/voices/japan-no-safe-country-for-foreign-women/#.UoZnzuKCZxU
      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/09/national/girl-slain-after-alerting-police-about-stalker/

      About the first link I attach, its interesting how when a foreigner reports a crime the police tend to not take it seriously and the first question from anyone is always “Was the perpetrator Japanese?”. But I digress from my main point, which is that Japan can bring out big guns to try to sell re-militarization to the USA but that no one is buying it anymore- except possibly and worryingly, neo-cons in the U.S. military- the media has seen to it that Japan and Abe are now branded as hawks and nationalists.

      It may be because as Jim says, Japanese politicians and talking heads are absolute beginners at spin and deception- because their domestic media is so spineless and their audience so docile or “Shonganai-ers” in the main.And that is what they are used to.

      Plus the 4 seasons/cherry blossoms/unique inscrutability routine worked in the 80s to a foreign audience right? OK,

      Let’s go back to those glory days! No more negative talk (or individualistic dreams, 90s Salaryman Taro, get in line)-expunge the school history texts! Ganbarre Nippon! It’s all good! Abe even dared to manage resurrecting “SAFETY JAPAN” for the Olympics, a cliche as dead,tired and discredited as Taro Aso (but he is also still walking).

      Debito, do apologists ever rail at such unbridled cynicism? We don’t get expletives here in recent years, have they given up or do you just disallow them?

      – Many discussion forums have become gated communities over the years. There are whole websites dedicated to advancing Japan as cute, esoteric, weird, sexy, morbid, harmless, harmful, et cetera. Few actually talk about the things we talk about here, as in: NJ immigrant as long-term/permanent resident with rights, lives, investments, and underappreciated voices in Japanese society. Certain people will argue that NJ don’t have those rights or any standing to change or even advocate within Japanese society — that they are guests, second-class transients, innate criminals that would destabilize any society they migrated to, etc. Those viewpoints are not acceptable in this forum, and are vetted out. They can vent their bile and loathing (much of it self-loathing) elsewhere. And they do.

      Glad you think comments to Debito.org have improved. We’re more than 25,000 comments strong over the past seven-plus years.

    19. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Baudrillard #18

      I have been looking in on Debito.org since my undergrad days back home many years ago. Before I even came to Japan for the first time. The prevailing attitude back then was ‘I agree with what he says, but I don’t agree with the way he’s saying it’ (how’s that for fence sitting?), which I think was a self-defense mechanism undergrads used to recognize that Japan had discrimination issues, whilst at the same time attempting to preserve the ‘fantasy Japan’ that they imagined to exist.

      I think that it might not be that the sources referenced and links have improved in quality over the years, but maybe that the issues have become more important. We have moved from ‘local shop keeper doesn’t want the bother of NJ customers’ to ‘massacre the Korean cockroaches’. There has been a social sea-change in Japan in the last couple of years. The election of Abe represents the zenith of victory for all of the ideas that Debito.org stands against.

      In that respect, changes in Japanese society have driven the changes at Debito.org.

      Sense of foreboding? It’s already here, just open the newspaper.

      – Thanks for saying this. I came back to this comment this morning, and it still offered a nice afterglow. Appreciate it.

    20. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Thank you Debito.
      Debito.org is a really positive force.

    21. Markus Says:

      Thank you, Debito. What I would like to know: Are you getting comment submissions from the infamous “Nettouyo” crowd? I understand they are very active shouting down any criticism of anything Japanese on domestic websites and boards, or Japanese YouTube, so I wonder if you have to moderate a lot of that stuff.
      And if not, it would be interesting to ponder why. I can’t imagine this website sits too well with right-wingers, unless the language barrier prohibits them to understand what is being said here.

      – Oh, I’m sure they have Google Translate if they need to understand what’s going on (and Google’s mistranslations only fuel their ire further). Anyway, they don’t submit much here probably because they know it won’t get through. So instead, again, they go elsewhere. For example, they’ve taken control of the Japanese Wikipedia entry on me, where self-moderation is pretty crappy and attacks are quite silly… Anyway, again, if people can’t accept that NJ and Japanese have equal rights, privileges, duties, and investments in Japanese society, they are not welcome here no matter what their political stripe.

    22. DK Says:

      More on Japan and its nemesis:

      “China and Japan are heading for a collision”
      The Financial Times
      Gideon Rachman
      November 18 2013

      http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/be1c23b4-4f96-11e3-b06e-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2l2UDnNDL

      The conclusion is really interesting (though I have serious reservations about China’s ability to sustain its “magnanimity” for too long):

      Amid all its complaints about Chinese nationalism, the Abe government has failed to address Japan’s own failings. It is not only the Chinese who are offended by Japan’s attitude to history. Many other Asian nations are similarly appalled. At a time when Japan’s relative power is inexorably declining in Asia, the country cannot afford nationalist posturing.

      But precisely because Japan is frightened by China’s rise, it is afraid to take any step that could be seen as weakness. By contrast, China can afford to be magnanimous. It is the rising power. So it should make it absolutely explicit that – whatever the disputes between the two nations – China accepts that Japan has a secure and honourable place in the emerging political order in Asia. Such a step would provide vital reassurance to the government in Tokyo – and it would also be massively in Beijing’s interests. For, as long as peace prevails, China’s rise can continue uninterrupted.

    23. DK Says:

      And yet another extremely revealing piece of news. The charm offensive is spreading and Abe lui même is already worming his way into Southeast Asia, taking advantage of China’s own skeletons in the closet.

      As I said before, heaven help us all if these two rogues will ever have a say in world affairs (I suspect they will, though, sooner than we’d like to think).

      http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-11-18/japans-abe-looks-for-asian-allies-to-say-no-to-china
      Japan’s Abe Looks for Asian Allies to Say No to China
      By Bruce Einhorn November 18, 2013

      Two of the poorest countries in Asia suddenly were front and center over the weekend in the growing battle for influence between Japan and China. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Laos and Cambodia, the first trip by a Japanese leader to the two Southeast Asian countries since 2000. Abe left with some modest achievements, such as agreements to help fund road, bridge, and rail infrastructure.

      The point of the trip, though, was more about sending a message to Beijing. Abe took office less than a year ago and has already visited all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. That’s a first for a Japanese leader. With Japan and China continuing to squabble over islands in the East China Sea, Abe is looking to win support among countries in Southeast Asia, even such places as Cambodia and Laos that traditionally have been close to China. Meanwhile, Abe has yet to sit down with Chinese President Xi Jinping or Premier Li Keqiang.

      Since many ASEAN nations have territorial disputes of their own with China, Abe no doubt sees an opportunity to build Japanese influence with countries that can agree on the threat posed by their common rival. Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, for instance, are all facing challenges from China, which claims nearby islands.

      As he tries to solidify ties with the Southeast Asians, Abe has gotten a boost from China’s clumsy response to the tragedy in the Philippines. Angry at President Benigno Aquino over the Philippines’s unwillingness to recognize China’s claims for some South China Sea rocks, the Chinese government initially offered a measly $100,000 to assist in the recovery from Typhoon Haiyan. While the Chinese government later boosted the amount to $1.6 million, the assistance is still peanuts compared with the $10 million from Japan, not to mention the even more generous offers from Japanese allies: The U.S has pledged $20 million and Australia $28 million.

      Japan could hardly have asked for a better reminder that China may not be the friendliest of neighbors. Countries like the Philippines are especially open to Abe’s message, since their economies and militaries are tiny compared with China’s. Japan is providing ships for the Philippine coast guard and considering selling vessels to Vietnam, too. Japan is also conducting counterterrorism exercises with Indonesia.

      The Japanese aid should help combat another common enemy—pirates in the Indian Ocean—and perhaps help ASEAN’s member states withstand heat from their giant neighbor. “Some Asean member countries are very much vulnerable to China’s economic and political influence,” says Tetsuo Kotani, research fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs. By boosting military cooperation, “we are giving assurance we will stand by those ASEAN member countries,” he says. “As China’s neighboring countries develop their own capability, China needs to think twice before taking assertive actions.”

      China’s official media is not amused. “Abe is trying to hijack some countries that are not contending parties to the South China Sea issue, forcing them to take sides,” Lu Yaodong, director of the department of diplomacy at the Chinese Academy of Social Science’s Institute of Japanese Studies, told the official China Daily newspaper, in a story headlined, “Abe busy in ASEAN blitz aimed at Beijing.” According to the China Daily, experts in China believe the Japanese have been “hyping South China Sea tension to gain popularity in the region.”

    24. Jim di Griz Says:

      Interesting DK.
      Meanwhile LDP cabinet secretary Suga is telling the Koreans that their freedom fighter was a ‘crminal’ for assassinating one of his Japanese oppressors;

      http://www.japantoday.com/smartphone/view/national/china-praises-korean-assassin-whom-japan-calls-a-criminal

      Blast those pesky Koreans and their ‘incorrect understanding of history’.
      I wonder if Abe will stop begging for a summit with Park now?

    25. Jim di Griz Says:

      In addition to my above comment, if the Japanese were truly sorry for the war, wouldn’t they also agree with the Koreans that the man in question was a freedom fighter, and not start getting themselves in a huff about anti-japanese empire ‘criminals’?

      As for Abe’s trip round Asia, well, he may have dreams of fulfilling national pride by creating a China encircling neo-Asian co- prosperity sphere, with Japan as its regional leader (naturally), but he’s still living in the 80′s, when Japan could afford giant carrots to get what it wanted, but China’s soon to be #1, and the whole world wants some of that market, and investment.

    26. Nevin Says:

      Interesting blog post. I prefer this sort of reporting and commenting to the NJ-focused stuff.

    27. DK Says:

      Oh là là, things are getting interesting:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-25062525

      “China establishes ‘air-defence zone’ over East China Sea”
      23 November 2013 Last updated at 10:15 GMT

      China has demarcated an “air-defence identification zone” over an area of the East China Sea, covering islands that are also claimed by Japan.

      Any bets on Japan’s response…? I dare not.

    28. DK Says:

      Aha, here it is. According to Kyodo news:

      Japan lodged a “serious protest” with the Chinese government over the move, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

      Junichi Ihara, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, made the protest by phone to Han Zhiqiang, minister at the Chinese Embassy in Japan, telling the Chinese envoy that the Chinese move is “extremely dangerous” and “could trigger unpredictable events,” a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said.”

      http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/11/258073.html

      Interestingly, Kyodo has also just published this recent piece:

      “Record percentage of Japanese do not ‘feel friendly’ toward China”
      TOKYO, Nov. 23, Kyodo

      The percentage of Japanese who “do not feel friendly” toward China rose to an all-time high of 80.7 percent, the Cabinet Office said Saturday, reflecting soured ties between Tokyo and Beijing stemming from a territorial dispute and differing perceptions of history.

      The poll showed the ratio of people who do not have friendly feelings toward China was up 0.1 percentage point from the previous survey in November last year and marked the highest level since the first such poll was conducted in 1978.

      http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/11/258066.html

    29. john k Says:

      Well, I wonder if this interesting item will ever truly surface too…but I suspect the new anti Govt bill will suppress this too:

      http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/the-inconvenient-truth-behind-the-diaoyusenkaku-islands/?_r=1

    30. john k Says:

      Seems Abe just wont stop trying to control the narrative on Asia and development and “we” Japanese are not the problem:

      “..Japanese PM Shinzo Abe urges Asia military restraint…Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos that “military expansion” must be restrained in Asia…”

      “..Asked by the BBC whether he had a plan to reduce tensions, Mr Abe said this would not happen while China pursued its military build-up…”

      So, he wont reduce his rhetoric…hmmm.

      “..Mr Abe defended the visit, telling his audience in Davos it was “natural” but that he no intention whatsoever to hurt the feelings of people in China and those in Korea”…”

      Oh dear, failed again!…own gaol.

      *http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-25851960

    31. john k Says:

      Found this interview, rather interesting:

      China aims new salvo at ‘Lord Voldemort’ Japan

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUdkPZvWerI

      – Looks like as Japan lobbies the US to remilitarize, China is lobbying Britain. Anyone else read TINTIN IN CHINA and remember author Herge’s stereotypes of sweet, tragic Chinese vs. polite but sneaky Japanese? I think that image comes through in this video.

    32. Jim di Griz Says:

      As I predicted a month or so ago, elsewhere on Debito.org, here is Japan painting the US as ‘unreliable ally’. Thankfully, the US seem totally aware of the fact.

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/03/10/national/defense-talks-with-u-s-look-at-gray-zone-clash-scenarios/#.Ux5ggolhic0

      Both sides are meeting to review the guidelines for defense cooperation, and whilst the US wants to discuss broad issues, the Japanese have ‘a tendency to distill everything down to the Senkaku’s’.
      If the Japanese are going to try and force the US to give a clear commitment to defend the islands no matter what, then the Japanese will be disappointed. Except that they won’t, because the goal is to paint the US in a bad light to allow Abe’s militaristic fantasy to manifest.

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