Sounding much like his American peers, including the Washington Times’s Bill Gertz, who recently made claims about the Pentagon’s employing a Chinese translation service compromised by Chinese intelligence that proved “patently false,” Mr. Komori thinks that instead of trying to improve the mood in Sino-Japanese relations, Mr. Fukuda should have “referenced, pointed out, criticized, and voiced fears about”: the PLA buildup and lack of transparency, the threatened use of force against Taiwan, rogue development of the East China Sea gas fields, the CCP’s one-party rule, oppression in Tibet and Xinjiang, copyright theft, toxic products, and environmental destruction. (On this last point, Mr. Komori has the gall to criticize China for prioritizing economic growth and neglecting environmental harm. Seriously? Has he seen what Japan’s prioritizing economic growth-above-all-else did to Japan’s environment?)
Having failed to harangue China on these fronts, Mr. Fukuda’s China diplomacy ought to be like an “air-raid siren” for the Japanese people.
Nowhere in his remarks does Mr. Komori suggest what complaining about these issues would have achieved. It’s wholly beyond me how Japan’s (or any other country’s) berating China will (a) lead to the creation of a multi-party democracy in China, (b) lead Beijing to cancel its relentless “colonization” of Tibet and Xinjiang, (c) lead to China’s shifting to “green growth” and inspecting every product leaving China, etc.
This, I think, illustrates the bankruptcy not only of the “contain China” school in Japan, the US, and elsewhere, but also the bankruptcy of the foreign policy thinking of Japanese conservatives.
I recognize that there are genuine problems related to China, but the idea that those problems will be solved if the leaders of neighboring governments just criticize or threaten by way of an encircling security alliance is dangerously absurd. What is it about China hawks that they have an inability to understand mutual interdependence? For better or worse, Japan, the US, and others are bound together with China. The process of making a “responsible stakeholder” out of China will be long and frustrating, with setbacks along the way. This process will demand patient, steady, visionary leadership, not vitriolic, belligerent rhetoric that serves little purpose other than to antagonize China and accelerate arms racing in East Asia.
Meanwhile, this belligerence is about all Japan’s conservatives have to offer for Japanese foreign policy. No constructive vision for the East Asian future here, just bluster and fear. They take the same approach to North Korea and the Korean Peninsula in general.
One problem with this approach is that unless Japan rids itself of its security relationship with the US in near future, Japan’s conservatives are dependent on the US government’s sharing their views on Asia. Japan alone is not in a position to force China to change on any of the issues identified by Mr. Komori as problematic. Any confrontational approach would have to occur in sync with the US, with the US taking the lead. As we have seen in regard to both North Korea and Taiwan under the Bush administration, there is no guarantee that Washington will be on the side of Japanese conservatives even under a bellicose Republican administration. (On the economic front, though, perhaps Mr. Komori and his ilk should hope for a Democratic victory.)
Despite their lack of a concrete and constructive foreign policy agenda — no, the arc of freedom and prosperity does not count — the conservatives will undoubtedly step up their pressure on Mr. Fukuda on foreign policy in the New Year.
And I remain convinced that Dwight Eisenhower was mistaken in his farewell address: the danger is of a military-industrial-media complex, with the media serving the interests of the others by playing up foreign threats and making it appear as if there are no alternatives to belligerence and confrontation. Komori and Gertz are undoubtedly extreme examples of this, but one need not look far to find other examples of press coverage of China that seeks to stoke public fears.