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Japan and the New World Order


26 Apr 2003
For those of you who have not been watching, a New World is upon us. LOL, you would really have to be watching some old cartoons or something to miss this one.

My question/curiosity concerning Japan is how people think Japan should arrange itself within this new world order.

Considering the following:

First: America is the only superpower but not the hyperpower the French press presents us as. America needs allies as much as it has in the past 50 years. But so do other countries. The french are proposing regional bloc constructions to balance out one another and with their respective spheres of influence (same old 19th century stuff). America is proposing a vast organization of tightly knit 'democracies' who would work together but not under the UN. There are other options besides.

Second: Japan is a sorely underrated and underactuated country/culture. It might come as some surprise to readers here and abroad that the Pentegon, in a recent assessment of military matters worldwide, considers only two countries on the earth capable of manifesting themselves in a manner that would not only severely hamper america's military might but present exceedingly powerful military counterbalances - The United Kingdom and Japan. The assessment is based on technical know how, available money for development, regional necessity, military doctrine and that intangible 'national will.'

Next, Japanpays only a few million doallrs less to the UN than does the US. Together, Japan and the US pay for 50%of the UNs bills.

Further, though I do not have the latest figures on hand, Japan's economy consistently ranks in the top 5 and, unlike continental Europe's economy, may be stagnant but is not expected to spiral down but to pick back up and gain steam again (that pesky banking problem).

Next on this matter, Japanese culture is widely and openly accepted, at least in America. And yes, there are probably as many Americans worried about the influence of Japanes culture as there are Japanese worried about the influence of American culture (strange thing that). In this matter, the cultural exchange seems to be positive from this end.

Finally on this subject, Japan could potentially have as much affect on American international politics as does the UK. Germany was positionied to be that country but Schroeder has scuppered that possibility. I think it mistaken to underestimate Japanese leadership and the influence they can bring to bear in the US. I do not even think most Japanese politicians realize this.

Third: A rising Chinese power has to be addressed economically and... though it seems antiquated... militarily. (it is only antiquated in progressive, wealthy, stable, countries). The question is, with two competing economies of might (China/ USA) and two mighty armies (China/USA) should Japan throw its lot in with the close neighbor (China) or far neighbor (USA).

Fourth: Korea - - whoooooo, who knows what the heck is going on here?

Fifth: Slow dissolution of the UNs capacity to act .

Sixth: Continued rise of other 'Asian Tigers.'

So, I am wondering, should Japan mark its own course, throw inits lot with the USA, China, or some combination of the three or four or five.

Funny... your post talks about some of the things Im writng on. Now Im going to say it now, this article may step on some toes but Im going to call it as I see it.

The problem with it is that the UK and Japan don't signifcantly affect how the United states decides its foreign policy. America may act in ways that the UK and Japan likes, but Japan doesnt have enough clout to make the US do anything it doesnt want to do.

I do find that the Japanese population is WOEFULLY underinformed in Foreign policy issues. Its somewhat reminicient of the situation that exists within the United States but to a far worse degree. The Gaimisho (is that correct?) or Ministry of Foreign affairs does have some excellent personell, especially in trade law, but are hampered by japanese attitudes.
I think Japan's position in the world is very much similar to Germany pre 1990, except that there is no European Economic community for Japan to join. Before 1990 Germany was very timid to act in foreign policy spheres, and was unsure what place it should inhabit in the world. The creation of the European Union, reunification and the end of the soviet union changed all that. The EU balanced out Germany foreign policy extremes; preventing a nationalist germany from emerging, and drawing it away from complete pacifism. The EU gave Germany a benchmark to operate its foreign policy, which prevented those extremes. But Japan doesnt know how it should act. It is literally surrounded by stranger, and its nearest ally, the United States doesnt offer any guidance. That is why we see such a pitched battle over the future direction in Japanese foreign policy... some like Ishihara want a resurgent Japan, while others still advocate a civillian power model of foreign policy, or pacifism. I believe that the Pacifist ideology will continue deeply affect Japan, and prevent it from increasing its profile in the world.

I also find it unlikey that the Japanese will ever have strong attachments to its own region. Culturally, no other nation in the region is similar to Japan except Korea, but Korea would never join in any sort of agreement with Japan who they see as a old invader. Also I think the culturally superiority complex that Japanese have over other nations prevents close ties to the region.

Im not too worried that Japan will be confronted in the near future by a rising China... its just too far off. A- China doesnt have the industrial capability or even close the economic base to challenge Japan for quite some time. Even if the economic malaise continues for some time, Japanese research capabilities are among the top 3 in the world. China might never be able to catch up. Furthermore China doesnt have the military technology to challenge Japan. the Kondo class destroyers that use american Aegis system is nearly three decades ahead of the most modern Chinese counterpart (The Sovremenny class destoyers recently purchased from russia). Japan will likely be one of the first nations to purchase the American F-22, and is active partner in National Missile defence programs. It will take some time for the Chinese to catch up to the current level of japanese defence spending and technology, that is not to say that the Japanese wont continue to upgrade their forces.

because of this I don't believe that Japan will change much in foreign policy wise for some time. And really I dont think it should either. Nations in the East asia and even the south Pacific are universally suspicious of japanese intentions for the region, and would not appreciate Japan taking a more active role. There may be an increase in Japanese actions in peacekeeping and less controversial forms of action, but it will never go further than that.
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