tblt.gif

Tang Ben Forum

Chinese Software

美國.洛杉磯

tangben@tangben.com

 

日本悄悄的外交新演變

THE QUIET EVOLUTION OF A NEW JAPANESE DIPLOMACY

By Tom Plate

July 26, 2004

LOS ANGELES -- Until recently, Japan has been talking softly and not showing the big stick. Japanese diplomacy adjusted to changing circumstances and new challenges with almost imperceptible nuance and subtlety. But that subterranean style looks to be undergoing revision.

Perhaps the most obvious manifestation is at home, where a once-unthinkable debate to amend the constitution to permit greater military latitude is unapologetically aboveboard. Abroad, Japanese troops are engaged in Iraq, though mildly, but are proactively hooking up with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in bilateral as well as multi-party talks. Perhaps most tellingly, Tokyo is now pressing its case for a veto-spot on the U.N. Security Council.

This new Japanese public diplomacy was abundantly on view this week (20 July) in comments by a high-ranking Japanese diplomat. Speaking to a sold-out audience at the New Otani Hotel, in a talk organized by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council and the Japan America Society, Koichi Haraguchi, Japan's ranking ambassador to the United Nations, spoke with a refreshing frankness that a few years ago would have been professionally verboten.

ON NORTH KOREA: The U.N. ambassador appeared to share little of his home capitals optimism when asked whether his North Korean counterpart at the United Nations had given him any reason for hope that the Korean peninsula negotiations would move forward briskly. "A peaceful resolution is, of course, necessary," answered the career diplomat, educated at Tokyo and Harvard universities. "But the reaction (I get at the United Nations) is not as forthcoming as we would wish." But your prime minister has expressed confidence that a solution is just around the corner. Haraguchi, an elegant man with a bashful smile, paused, then said: "Well, it's the job of politicians to be optimistic." The Los Angeles audience laughed, nervously.

ON A MORE ACTIVE MILITARY ROLE: Haraguchi, pro that he is, is well aware of widespread anxieties about a Japanese military resurgence, especially in Asian countries that were former colonies treated brutally by the once-invincible Japanese military occupation machine. "This is a very delicate question," he said. "And so I have to be very careful. I'm not a politician, but one thing is very clear: Public reaction (in Japan) to the idea has become more and more favorable."

The diplomat would not say it, of course, but the dominant driver of Japanese public opinion on this issue is the surge of China. The most attentive China-watchers in the world may not be in Taiwan but in Japan. A comprehensive study of "China's Growing Appetites" in the National Interest, the superb Washington-based monthly, shows why. China's share of world export consumption will probably overtake Japan's this year, notes famed economist David Hale, who is also chairman of China Online. Already China has displaced Japan as the world's second largest oil consumer. And Beijing is dramatically increasing purchases of U.S. government securities, which can only enhance its clout in Washington. Rather than China's much-talked-about (and hyped) military buildup, Tokyo is more concerned about China's mounting economic challenge. It knows better than anyone that, in global politics, money-leverage can sometimes bend wills as efficiently as military-leverage.

ON A PERMANENT SEAT ON THE U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL: This is not a new position for Tokyo, and it is an old ache. The current Security Council structure reflects the antiquated geopolitical reality of a half- century ago. The Japanese argue that without a "more representative" council, the United Nations is doomed to ineffectiveness and "will lose legitimacy," in the ambassador's words. The empanelment by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan of a 16-member high-level commission offers Tokyo some hope. Haraguchi, who has devoted his life to Japanese diplomacy, spoke with deep feeling on this issue. "Japan is well qualified to be a permanent member," he said, which would give Tokyo a veto power like the United States, not to mention China (and Russia, Great Britain and France). "Unfortunately," he noted emphatically, "the United States has not been supportive. And the position of the United States on this matter is crucial."

The specter of Japan becoming a menacing military power overnight -- a view widespread in Asia -- is extremely unlikely. For all sorts of reasons, Japan greatly prefers diplomacy over militancy -- and will for the foreseeable future. The general alarmist Asian view on this issue, it seems to me, is understandable but overwrought and, if anything, extremely premature. As the ambassador put it: "Military might alone cannot secure peace and stability." But neither can outmoded institutions of peace and diplomacy. Asia and America ought to get behind Japan's push for a permanent Security Council seat. It's in everyone's vital interest.

 
 

論壇主頁

今日短評

快訊快評

今日幽默

今日妙語

新聞述評

網友論壇

縱論天下

脫口秀

兩個兩岸

獨語天涯

咖啡廳

人生自白

美國筆記

景涵文集

天才兒童

西雅圖夜話

網友漫筆

楓葉傳真

劍橋偶拾

美國札記

千里帷幄

情詩欣賞

燕山夜話

千載清謠

瑞典茉莉

聚焦香港

澳洲思絮

洛城夜話

創業雜誌

法律世界

新科技

網友來函

喜馬拉雅

財經趨勢

自由言論

華府鉤沉

星條旗下

社區服務

日耳曼專稿

銀幕縱深

硅谷清流

 

 

 

對本網站有任何建議或有任何體會要與大家分享,請發往 tangben@tangben.com

一九九九年七月二十二日正式上網
Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 TANG BEN