Tag Archives: Regionalism

Roh Lauds EU, Scolds Japan, and Calls for Regionalism

Japan Focus republished an April op-ed by South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun today. Choice quotes:

  • “[T]he Europeans, befitting of a people who invented democracy based on rational thought, are writing a new history based on the lessons learned from their long string of wars. …”Many scholars define the 19th century as the Age of Europe, the 20th century the Age of the Atlantic, and predict the 21st century will be the Age of the Pacific or Northeast Asia. I do not agree with this description. While we have seen the gravity of economic and productive power shift from Europe toward the Atlantic, and more recently to Northeast Asia, such a shift does not necessarily put Northeast Asia at the heart of world civilization.

    “… I believe that the EU is still at the center of world civilization because it has been shaping an order of co-existence through peaceful and cooperative means.” (Emphasis mine.)

  • “I had hoped and believed that Japan would act decisively to resolve the burden of its wartime history through an appeal to its own conscience and rational wisdom. Thus, I chose not to raise this subject as an official agenda or issue during my earlier summit talks with my Japanese counterpart. My goodwill was not answered. On the contrary, Japan undertook a series of actions to justify its grim history of wartime aggression by paying tribute to the Yasukuni Shrine, distorting and airbrushing history textbooks, claiming territorial sovereignty over Korea’s Dokdo islets, and denying that the Japanese Imperial Army forced huge number of Asian women into sexual slavery during World War II.”
  • “Efforts need to be made to foster the creation of a regional community of peace and prosperity, outlined in the following:”First, we need to create a new regional order for economic cooperation and integration. Although economic interdependence among Korea, China and Japan has intensified in recent years, the countries have not been able to institutionalize economic integration, even in the most rudimentary form, namely, a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). …

    “Second, we need to forge a regime for multilateral security cooperation in Northeast Asia. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which helped bring down the Cold War wall of distrust and laid the foundation for an integrated Europe, provides a valuable lesson for multilateral security cooperation in this region.”

Obama on China: 'Neither Our Enemy Nor Our Friend'

Barack Obama, a U.S. Senator and candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, is a brilliant rhetorician. But it’s notoriously hard to pin down his opinions on discrete policy areas and questions. It’s reasonable to speculate that the campaign is intentionally avoiding staking out policy ground unnecessarily this early in the campaign. But recently, some hints about Obama’s thinking on China have emerged.

China Redux compiled two quotes, of which this is the more interesting. From his prepared remarks for a speech before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (when I was an intern there, it was the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations):

And as we strengthen NATO, we should also seek to build new alliances and relationships in other regions important to our interests in the 21st century. In Asia, the emergence of an economically vibrant, more politically active China offers new opportunities for prosperity and cooperation, but also poses new challenges for the United States and our partners in the region. It is time for the United States to take a more active role here – to build on our strong bilateral relations and informal arrangements like the Six Party talks. As President, I intend to forge a more effective regional framework in Asia that will promote stability, prosperity and help us confront common transnational threats such as tracking down terrorists and responding to global health problems like avian flu.

This is by no means a profound statement; but Obama’s call for stronger involvement in East Asia and a “regional framework” tells us that he views the region holistically rather than as a series of bilateral relationships. Again, nothing groundbreaking, but he seems to be on the right page.

I want to add to the Redux post one more statement by Obama on the importance of East Asia and China. This is from the first Democratic primary presidential debate of the 2008 election cycle last night:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, what are America’s three most important allies around the world?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think the European Union as a whole has been a long-standing ally of ours. And through NATO, we’ve been able to make some significant progress. Afghanistan, in particular, is an area where we should be focusing. NATO has made real contributions there. Unfortunately, because of the distraction of Iraq, we have not finished the job in terms of making certain that we are driving back the Taliban, stabilizing the Karzai government, capturing bin Laden and making sure that we’ve rooted out terrorism in that region. We also have to look east, because increasingly the center of gravity in this world is shifting to Asia. Japan has been an outstanding ally of ours for many years, but obviously China is rising, and it’s not going away. They’re neither our enemy nor our friend. They’re competitors. But we have to make sure that we have enough military-to-military contact and forge enough of a relationship with them that we can stabilize the region. That’s something I’d like to do as president.

This frame of China as competitor might seem to part with the cooperative answer he gave before, but the argument seems to be: We can compete and cooperate at the same time. To be sure, neither the United States nor China can compete without a baseline of security and cooperation to keep markets moving.

A Missed Opportunity in U.S. East Asia Policy

It is an imaginative exercise to read speculative accounts of Sino-Japanese relations from earlier in the Koizumi years. No one knew just how bad it would get in the public sphere, and I find that most writers at the time imagined the Koizumi administration and China’s new leadership under Hu Jintao beginning in 2002 would work it out better than they did.

Leave it to an empirical analysis to get a pretty good idea of what was going on. Ming Wan, writing in July 2003 in the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Asia Program Special Report [pdf], laid out a prescient assessment of the U.S. effect on Sino-Japanese relations and suggested the United States would be wise to work toward reduced China–Japan tensions.

We know what happened instead: Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations are at the height of dysfunction, and only now with Koizumi’s departure is there a feeling of hope, however muddled by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s support of Koizumi and the continued presence of the Koizumi’s inflammatory foreign minister Aso Taro.

Aside from his unheeded advice, Ming Wan presents some interesting statistical findings based on numerical measures of political, security, and economic ties. Among the findings in my notes after the jump:

He found statistically that: U.S–China cooperation has a strong positive correlation with U.S.–Japan ties but has no effect on the China–Japan relationship; “U.S.–Japan cooperation has a moderate negative correlation with China–Japan relations” and little impact on U.S.–China relations; and China–Japan cooperation does not have a significant effect on the two other bilaterals.

The essay is delightfully well-organized, so allow me to outline his points quickly

Continue reading

Japan and the U.S. 'Beyond Bilateralism': Introduction

“Challenges to Bilateralism,” T. J. Pempel’s wide-ranging introduction to 2004’s Beyond Bilateralism (which he edited with Ellis S. Krauss) lays out a compelling narrative for post-WWII U.S.–Japan relations. One of modern history’s strongest and most enduring bilateral relationships, he writes, is giving way to a complex network of ties involving other actors: in short, moving “beyond bilateralism.”

The story goes like this: From occupation through the 1980s, the relationship was characterized by common priorities, established means for negotiations in important policy areas (which were kept separate by a tacit “non-linkage rule”), all in an overtly asymmetrical relationship. The countries were on the “same side in the bipolar international arena,” their economies were intimately related, and they shared a commitment to democracy, albeit in different forms.

Since the mid- to late 1980s, Pempel writes, these strictly bilateral relationships have been increasing in complexity and ambiguity. Among the causes for this change are (1) the end of Cold War geopolitics, (2) the development of other Asian economies, coinciding with a huge growth in cross-border capital flow, (3) the rise of regional and global multilateral institutions, and most recently (4) the effects of 9/11 on global politics.

This frame for the book starkly coincides with the perspective of my current line of thinking when Pempel takes on the issue of China as an element of the changed U.S.–Japan arena.

For the three countries, the relationship has clearly become trilateral, as Mochizuki’s analysis in Chapter 3 shows [I will address this soon]. U.S. unilateralism pushes Japan and China closer together, while any warming of ties between either Japan or China on the one hand and the United States on the other forces a re-calibration of interests by the party left out. Japan fears that closer U.S. ties to China may come at Japan’s expense. Japan–China ties remain the triangle’s weakest link, but American policymakers have long worried that closer links between those two countries would come at the expense of American influence in Asia. And as China grows economically, some people in Japan feel similarly threatened, despite the short-term profitability to many Japanese corporations derived from investment in and trade with China. (17, emphasis mine)

This is the most concise statement I have yet seen on the significance of the U.S.–Japan–China triangle as grounds for analysis. (It also courteously underlines the importance of the thesis work I did, phew.) The chapter also demonstrates the importance of taking other actors into account in any set of relations, whether bilateral, trilateral, or multilateral. I look forward to the remainder of this book.

While I get ready to read the rest of this book, here is a brief summary of some other key points:

  • Pempel alludes to a U.S. idea that helping Japan to develop economically “was all calculated to assist Japan in becoming an economic success story that could be projected as a model for much of the rest of Asian development.” (7) I wonder whose rhetoric this was.
  • There was little unofficial influence on pre-“beyond” U.S.–Japan ties. Non-governmental actors had little pull. (8) Additionally, “Functionally specific agencies in both countries worked with their counterparts on matters within their joint domains relatively independently of agencies dealing with issues in other areas,” (9) meaning that issues were kept separate in negotiations—”a non-linkage rule.”
  • Similarly, when disputes arose, the U.S. president or Japanese prime minister rarely engaged in negotiations, instead depending on counterpart bureaucratic organizations, representing “a network of connectors [running] from one country’s government to that of the other.” (11)
  • Japan being concerned about increased U.S. engagement with China in the ’90s, 9/11 escalated those concerns. “Japanese concerns were enhanced by the American warming toward China and its SCO [Shanghai Cooperative Organization] allies [Russia and four Central Asian states] as a result of the U.S. post-September 11 antiterrorism campaign, as well as by China’s willingness to utilize the antiterrorism label to justify actions against dissidents.” (16) (The latter concern refers to China’s defining Muslim separatists in Xinjiang Province as terrorists. That may be, but the Uighurs in northwest China are not aligned with any strains of the much feared “global Islam.”)
  • President Clinton “personally took the initiative to upgrade the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to include a national leaders’ meeting,” yet the Bush administration has opposed multilateral arrangements. (27)
  • Japan has supported regionalism because “after the many trade frictions of the mid- to late 1980s, Japan was anxious to reduce its dependence on the United States and also on those global multilateral organizations in which U.S. influence was overwhelming.” (29) This last point relates to a recent proposal by Japan to study the creation of a massive free trade area that would exclude the United States, which I will examine later.

Brief: Japan In ASEAN+3 Logistics Push

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 — Japan will push for a joint study with Asean on an efficient regional logistic network which includes a future logistic map between Asean and China, Japan and South Korea in efforts to expedite and enhance the movement of goods within the region.

Japan, a key dialogue partner of Asean with extensive trade and business involvement in the region’s economies, wants a significant enhancement in logistic capabilities in the region so as to reap maximum benefits from the increasing free trade pacts with the 10-member organisation, an Asean diplomat said Thursday. [more | Bernama]

This may not be huge, but it shows that Japan continues to work on its regional influence even as relations with China and South Korea are tense over Koizumi’s public actions.