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The report insisted that the United States and Japan are arguably the two countries whose interests will be most affected by China’s future direction—and they are also the two countries with the greatest influence to affect that direction. World Futures indicated this trend in the US policies in Asia in a series of articles published in Malaysia Today and on the World Futures web site. This is nothing new to WFOL but the Armitage report adds credence to our early warnings of a US attempt at dominance in the region, with Japan as the inclined agent. |
“Our recommendation is to endorse and implement an activist agenda that rests confidently on the proposition that Asia and its people will be far better off for a U.S.-Japan alliance that embraces a robust agenda for shaping Asia,” the report continued.
However, critics of the ‘new’ US policies in Asia suggested in New York Times that while the United States wants Japan to be more assertive in Asia, even conservative U.S. voices have recently urged caution over being too closely tied to Japan's nationalist leaders.
"The U.S. is going blindly into an alliance with these people without appreciating the fact that their friends in Japan aren't on the right side of history, as with the 'comfort women' issue," Francis Fukuyama, the political philosopher, said in an interview, using the Japanese term for the women. "If you end up polarizing Asia on these history issues, nobody will be on the side of Japan."
Fukuyama, a conservative who recently wrote a short essay called "The Trouble with Japanese Nationalism," said he supported the Bush administration's overall strategy of encouraging Japan to be more assertive diplomatically and strengthening the military alliance, added the NYT.
The CSIS and Armitage want a new definition of the US engagements in Asia. It says that a contrasting future would be defined by the alliance as a proactive force for positive development in the economic, political, and security life of the region.
On the security issue, it says the sea lanes are the lifeline of Asia. “As maritime nations, the United States and Japan bring important capabilities to the fore on issues such as maritime security and antipiracy. As the region debates multilateral approaches to security of sea lanes and safety on the high seas, the United States and Japan should sustain leadership roles in the formulation and implementation of regional maritime security policies,”
This again clearly set the new rules of engagement of the US, with its potential allies Japan and Australia, as the main proponents and policy formulators in the region. The report is hard pressed on the implementation of such regional maritime security policies, which indicates once more that the US will not allow the regional and littoral states to have a dominant say in the security of seas and straights.
In this regard the White House is looking forward to obtain the support of Australia and Japan. That’s why US is willing to change Japan’s Constitution to allow Tokyo to have essential and strong Armed Forces. Richard L. Armitage has recommended to Japan’s government the following:
· to refuse from provision that limits Japan’s right for collective defense;
· to pass a law which will allow Japanese Army to participate in military operations abroad;
· to increase defence allocations including developing of anti-missile systems.
China with its fast growing economy and military power is regarded as the main threat to American interests in Asia. Political establishments in Washington warns that Beijing’s huge demand in oil and gas resources can force China to resolve existing territory disputes, first of all with Japan. This will not be seen as a good sign for American influence in the region.
The authors of the above-mentioned Report hinted on the possible scenario of US & Japan policy against China. According to independent experts, Washington and Tokyo will try to use merely diplomatic measures to pressure Beijing to have more affordable and constructive position on the problems that can influence global security (NK nuclear program, Taiwan, etc.).
Failing to do so, the White House would make efforts to put aside China from moderating international policy by strengthening alliance with Japan, Australia and probably India.
Another threat for US interests in the region could be further political and economical integration in the South-East Asia. EAS seems to be more effective forum then APEC, the latter having rather complex and artificial structure.
The intention of ASEAN to form a unite community and identity will face strong opposition from US and Japan as and when the Asean will formulate its security strategies and its relations with China.
The US and Japan will keep saying they are supportive of the Asean’s integration moves but they will altogether concentrate on elaborating bilateral partnership with ASEAN member countries bearing in mind promoting their own interests in the region.
Instead of an overall ‘global’ Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Asean, the US and Japan will press forward for FTA’s on a bilateral basis with each and every single members of the Asean. This will create more division in the international trade relations between the Asean members than it will do in solidifying their relationships.
The US policies in Asia are based on Japan’s and Australia’s increased role in the region. However, it is facing problems with the nationalist policies of Shinzo Abe, the newly elected Prime Minister of Japan. In his seven months in office, Abe has indeed tried to reassure the US that his country had matured and would want better relations with China and would play greater roles in pressing North Korea to bow down on its nuclear program.
The nationalist tendencies of the Abe regime have however caused a strain in the US-Japan relationship. US officials criticized Japan for its denial of the Japanese role in sex slavery during World War II. Washington want Japan to be more assertive but conservative voices – such voices that can really influence Washington – are urging some caution in dealing with nationalist forces in Japan. They see Abe as a potential threat to the US dominance in the region.
Nevertheless, the Armitage report said “Australia-Japan relations and U.S.-Australia-Japan trilateral cooperation are at a nascent stage but growing. The United States and Japan should intensify efforts to ensure we are fully leveraging the synergies available from trilateral cooperation among these three long-standing democracies, which are like minded on issues ranging from human rights and religious freedom to the spread of economic success. This trilateral cooperation should be political as well as operational,”
Washington is being urged to consolidate its ties with Japan, ties which is seen as having a regional and a global reach. It is expected that by 2020 the United States and Japan will remain two of the most significant democracies, with the economic and military wherewithal to affect life literally on every square foot of the globe.