Paul Lachine

Dignity or Decline?

Japan's government showed its inexperience and ineptitude in its handling of the recent dispute with China over the detention of a Chinese trawler captain whose ship rammed two Japanese patrol boats. That episode was not only a diplomatic defeat for Japan, but also provided China with an opening to blackmail Japan economically.

TOKYO – Kokka no Hinkaku, The Dignity of a State, is the title of a recent book by the Japanese mathematician Masahiko Fujiwara that has sold three million copies. Talk about the book in Japan is so fervid that the term “dignity” (hinkaku) has become a buzzword.

That Japan’s dignity is now a central issue should surprise no one. For this is a moment when Japan must chart its course – either decline or dignity – as a “state” (kokka) in relation to its giant neighbor, China.

The issue of relations with China crystallized in September, when the Japanese Coast Guard arrested the captain of a Chinese trawler after his ship hit two Japanese patrol boats near the Senkaku Islands, which are part of Japan and within its territorial waters. Tension between Japan and China – which claims the islands – immediately soared.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/MKftvr9;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.