Friday, September 19, 2014
5

Asia’s Democratic Security Diamond

TOKYO – In the summer of 2007, addressing the Central Hall of the Indian Parliament as Japan’s prime minister, I spoke of the “Confluence of the Two Seas” – a phrase that I drew from the title of a book written by the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh in 1655 – to the applause and stomping approval of the assembled lawmakers. In the five years since then, I have become even more strongly convinced that what I said was correct.

Peace, stability, and freedom of navigation in the Pacific Ocean are inseparable from peace, stability, and freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean. Developments affecting each are more closely connected than ever. Japan, as one of the oldest sea-faring democracies in Asia, should play a greater role in preserving the common good in both regions.

Yet, increasingly, the South China Sea seems set to become a “Lake Beijing,” which analysts say will be to China what the Sea of Okhotsk was to Soviet Russia: a sea deep enough for the People’s Liberation Army’s navy to base their nuclear-powered attack submarines, capable of launching missiles with nuclear warheads. Soon, the PLA Navy’s newly built aircraft carrier will be a common sight – more than sufficient to scare China’s neighbors.

That is why Japan must not yield to the Chinese government’s daily exercises in coercion around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. True, only Chinese law-enforcement vessels with light weaponry, not PLA Navy ships, have entered Japan’s contiguous and territorial waters. But this “gentler” touch should fool no one. By making these boats’ presence appear ordinary, China seeks to establish its jurisdiction in the waters surrounding the islands as a fait accompli.

If Japan were to yield, the South China Sea would become even more fortified. Freedom of navigation, vital for trading countries such as Japan and South Korea, would be seriously hindered. The naval assets of the United States, in addition to those of Japan, would find it difficult to enter the entire area, though the majority of the two China seas is international water.

Anxious that such a development could arise, I spoke in India of the need for the Indian and Japanese governments to join together to shoulder more responsibility as guardians of navigational freedom across the Pacific and Indian oceans. I must confess that I failed to anticipate that China’s naval and territorial expansion would advance at the pace that it has since 2007.

The ongoing disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea mean that Japan’s top foreign-policy priority must be to expand the country’s strategic horizons. Japan is a mature maritime democracy, and its choice of close partners should reflect that fact. I envisage a strategy whereby Australia, India, Japan, and the US state of Hawaii form a diamond to safeguard the maritime commons stretching from the Indian Ocean region to the western Pacific. I am prepared to invest, to the greatest possible extent, Japan’s capabilities in this security diamond.

My opponents in the Democratic Party of Japan deserve credit for continuing along the path that I laid out in 2007; that is to say, they have sought to strengthen ties with Australia and India.

Of the two countries, India – a resident power in East Asia, with the Andaman and Nicobar Islands sitting at the western end of the Strait of Malacca (through which some 40% of world trade passes) – deserves greater emphasis. Japan is now engaged in regular bilateral service-to-service military dialogues with India, and has embarked on official trilateral talks that include the US. And India’s government has shown its political savvy by forging an agreement to provide Japan with rare earth minerals – a vital component in many manufacturing processes – after China chose to use its supplies of rare earths as a diplomatic stick.

I would also invite Britain and France to stage a comeback in terms of participating in strengthening Asia’s security. The sea-faring democracies in Japan’s part of the world would be much better off with their renewed presence. The United Kingdom still finds value in the Five Power Defense Arrangements with Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. I want Japan to join this group, gather annually for talks with its members, and participate with them in small-sized military drills. Meanwhile, France’s Pacific Fleet in Tahiti operates on a minimal budget but could well punch above its weight.

That said, nothing is more important for Japan than to reinvest in its alliance with the US. In a period of American strategic rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region, the US needs Japan as much as Japan needs the US. Immediately after Japan’s earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in 2011, the US military provided for Japan the largest peacetime humanitarian relief operation ever mounted – powerful evidence that the 60-year bond that the treaty allies have nurtured is real. Deprived of its time-honored ties with America, Japan could play only a reduced regional and global role.

I, for one, admit that Japan’s relationship with its biggest neighbor, China, is vital to the well-being of many Japanese. Yet, to improve Sino-Japanese relations, Japan must first anchor its ties on the other side of the Pacific; for, at the end of the day, Japan’s diplomacy must always be rooted in democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. These universal values have guided Japan’s postwar development. I firmly believe that, in 2013 and beyond, the Asia-Pacific region’s future prosperity should rest on them as well.

Shinzo Abe is Prime Minister of Japan and President of the Liberal Democratic Party. He wrote this article in mid November, before Japan’s elections.

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  1. CommentedYoshimichi Moriyama

    Yoko is pehaps not very right as she said, "Japan actually doesn't want America's protection any more."

    The U.S.-Japanese security ties are based on the fact and on the recognition of the two countires that they share basic social and political values and that they are firmly commited to the protection, preservation and promotion of these values in East Asia.

      CommentedYoko Mada

      That part, I was referring to post war regime that Japan is still under, which we need to abandon.

      Why would we want to stick to the system which is not efficient - The President of America always have to make a decision when there is a need for their help?

      First of all, which government can't protect its own country? OH JAPAN!

      Japan having their own military is a must. As this man from India has written below, it'd be better for other countries that are on Japanese side as well. "Cooperation" with the States is what's needed, not their control. You might think Japanese military force can't be that strong so fast, but I know we have the technology already - the only problem is the procedure. Also, I went to listen to Mr. Tamogami's speech yesterday and he made it clear that Chinese military force isn't a threat. We are rather in "information war," which has implanted that thought in us. They do have military power, though, as this article is suggesting.

      My point is, Japan needs to get independent, and lead the rest of the Asian countries with our technology and order, hopefully with a help of America.
      And I agree with this article, to create a security diamond.

      CommentedYoko Mada

      That part, I was referring to post war regime that Japan is still under, which we need to abandon.

      Why would we want to stick to the system which is not efficient - The President of America always have to make a decision when there is a need for their help?

      First of all, which government can't protect its own country? OH JAPAN!

      Japan having their own military is a must. As this man from India has written below, it'd be better for other countries that are on Japanese side as well. "Cooperation" with the States is what's needed, not their control. You might think Japanese military force can't be that strong so fast, but I know we have the technology already - the only problem is the procedure. Also, I went to listen to Mr. Tamogami's speech yesterday and he made it clear that Chinese military force isn't a threat. We are rather in "information war," which has implanted that thought in us. They do have military power, though, as this article is suggesting.

      My point is, Japan needs to get independent, and lead the rest of the Asian countries with our technology and order, hopefully with a help of America.
      And I agree with this article, to create a security diamond.

  2. CommentedSatvinder Singh Rai

    Like and dislike or other forms of sentiments play no part in the affairs of nations and states - only national interests and raison d'etat. As Lord Palmerston a British statesman in the first half of 19th century said, "England has no eternal friends, England has no perpetual enemies, England has only eternal and perpetual interests." And in the same vein Gen Charles de Gaulle said, "France has no friends, only interests." India and Japan share the same geo-political interests in constraining China from threatening their security and national interests. Japan has long been tied to US apron strings but can no longer rely on the unqualified American readiness to protect Japanese interests. It has now to design for the future its own strategy and seek new alliances and partnerships. In the face of a common threat it makes geo-political sense to pool efforts and plan jointly for the future. In that sense, Shinzo Abe's democratic security diamond serves the interests of India, Japan, Australia and the US. It is to be welcomed.

      CommentedYoko Mada

      Japan actually doesn't want America's protection anymore - or haven't all along. A lot of us had believed from the education and the system GHQ had created that America "protects" us, but lately the citizens here have been awakening that it was the way to make sure we won't be any threat to the States any longer. Now the U.S has shifted their eyes to China rather than Japan as you probably know but that is how it is.
      GHQ probably didn't think that it would last for 67 years but it has. We don't rely on America's protection as it seems, and rather, we have been trying to have a "military" instead of "self-defense force" which doesn't let us to have preemptive attacks, and not only that, if SDF kill someone even for using the right of self-defense, they can be "guilty." Of course, we do not want this system because we can't protect our own country. Plus, we pay for US bases. We are not allowed to have anything threatening like nuclear weapons etc because of the rules to begin with. That's why countries like China and Korea think that we won't do anything and they can do whatever the want.
      But Except that, I agree with your geo-political view. I think the globalization should be about those who wanna get together getting together and leave the old fashioned nations alone.

  3. Commentedcaptainjohann Samuhanand

    As an Indian, I find this sudden love for India rather simplistic.Japan is part of G8. Even during apartheid era it wanted to be part of white nations. It could not understand India's need for nuclear weapons when China has ongoing territorial dispute with it.China invaded India and defeated it in 1962 when Soviet union and USA were eye ball. I donot think USA will fight a war with China to save Japan. I can understand Japan's abhorrence for nukes due to history. But now it is surrounded by nuclear China and North korea. It has to go nuclear to ensure its own security.That will give India a sense of belonging to a strong nation mentally also and not weighed down by history.

      CommentedYoko Mada

      You are very right.
      We have nuclear weapons to NOT use them - we have it for our security. Japan has been very vulnerable and it's a miracle that the country has stayed fine for the past 67 years.
      I heard our Prime Minister has made a wonderful speech in India. I haven't listened to it yet but I hope India will welcome - as far as I can see, you guys seem to like it? Japan loves India! I really hope our countries will be close to each other and be a good team :)

  4. CommentedYoshimichi Moriyama

    Moctor Aboubacar,
    I understand the British Forces can go to distant overseas lands to fight. The Japanese Self-Defences Forces are not so constructed as to be able to engage in battles in distant lands but in Japan's contiguous areas; they are also so made as to best operate in conjunction, as a sort of subsidiary, with the U.S. Forces.

    Japanese foreign policy has been neglectful of its South East Asian neighbours including Austalia and New Zealand.
    The governments of these countries have wanted Japan to pay more attention and respect to them, strengthening its ties with them.

    As for the Senkaku/Diaoyu Isles, the Japanese governmet said to China, "Take," in 1880 but China said, "No, thank you." If interested, please read Mich Moriyama's comments dated Oct. 18 and 19, 2012 to www.nytimes.com/The Inconveniet Truth Behind The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.


  5. CommentedMoctar Aboubacar

    This is a scary and dangerous article.

    The first half of this is textbook rationalization: you paint a terrifying picture of what will happen if Japan does not 'stand strong' against Chinese claims on those islands, but at no point is the issue of legitimacy raised. At no point do you say why Japan's claim to that territory is more legitimate than China's. And in doing that you're telling your reader that in the end, it's not really important, that it should go to Japan because China is too strong and threatening a power in the region. That is not reason, it is rationalization.

    Worse still, in the second half of this text you reverse your previous logic by arguing for strengthened military alliances with Europe and the US for Japan.

    What you are saying to a European or American ruler is essentially: "Scared of the Chinese? Well, then pick our side in this standoff!"

    The Cold War ended a long time ago, Mr. Abe

      CommentedYoko Mada

      This article isn't scary, what's scary is that China has been trying to have a fait accompli in order to take over the place later, although the island apparently is Japanese. If you search "Glorious Japan Forever" on YouTube on this issue, the video should satisfy you on that fact.

      If you have learned a bit about the history of China, which is 1600 years of occupation after fighting with each other one after another, you must realize that they're the type of country who do not care much about the rules based on the historical incidents or whatsoever and they just come get whatever they want.
      You might think of the country as a country but a lot of the papers and books even, they were preserved by Japan, not China. Why? Because whenever there was a new government established, it ended soon after, and they destroyed everything.

      They have strengthened their military power as you should probably know, but the thing is that they did that using JAPANESE money called ODA, which was meant for having a peace with them. Japan has tried. Japanese citizens are even angry for how the Japanese politicians back then did whatever they could have done to establish peace with them regardless of Chinese propaganda, which made them spend so much money as a result.

      A lot of people misunderstand China. Yes, they have developed a lot over the past few decades economically, but that doesn't mean that they have developed mentally as well. By mentally, I mean the manner of following rules and so on as a country that can work with each other internationally. It's a cultural difference that we cannot easily overcome.

      To reinforce that, yesterday, some citizens have stood up for themselves since the government made the news company revise one of their articles as the government had pressured the company and that resulted in infringing on their freedom of speech. This is what "Communism" brings.

      This article is only suggesting that we should all bond internationally so that we can stop China from being a baby with loaded guns in their hands.

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