Wednesday, January 09, 2013

And Now? Maybe Not So Much

This December 27 Project Syndicate op-ed (Link) ostensibly (but obviously not) by the Prime Minister, sailed under my radar during the long Christmas-New Years gear down.
In the summer of 2007, addressing the Central Hall of the Indian Parliament as Japan's prime minister, I spoke of the "Confluence of the Two Seas" – a phrase that I drew from the title of a book written by the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh in 1655 – to the applause and stomping approval of the assembled lawmakers. In the five years since then, I have become even more strongly convinced that what I said was correct.

Peace, stability, and freedom of navigation in the Pacific Ocean are inseparable from peace, stability, and freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean. Developments affecting each are more closely connected than ever. Japan, as one of the oldest sea-faring democracies in Asia, should play a greater role in preserving the common good in both regions.

Yet, increasingly, the South China Sea seems set to become a "Lake Beijing," which analysts say will be to China what the Sea of Okhotsk was to Soviet Russia: a sea deep enough for the People’s Liberation Army’s navy to base their nuclear-powered attack submarines, capable of launching missiles with nuclear warheads. Soon, the PLA Navy's newly built aircraft carrier will be a common sight – more than sufficient to scare China’s neighbors.


The ongoing disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea mean that Japan's top foreign-policy priority must be to expand the country's strategic horizons. Japan is a mature maritime democracy, and its choice of close partners should reflect that fact. I envisage a strategy whereby Australia, India, Japan, and the US state of Hawaii form a diamond to safeguard the maritime commons stretching from the Indian Ocean region to the western Pacific. I am prepared to invest, to the greatest possible extent, Japan’s capabilities in this security diamond.

My opponents in the Democratic Party of Japan deserve credit for continuing along the path that I laid out in 2007; that is to say, they have sought to strengthen ties with Australia and India.
The reference to "my opponents in the Democratic Party of Japan" indicates that this little essay has been sitting on the shelf for a while, only seeing publication well after the time the surviving members of the DPJ had fallen below "opponent" status.

As for the "security diamond" and "Lake Beijing" -- I am sure Liberal Democratic Party Vice President Komura Masahiko, the co-chair of the Japan-China Parliamentarians League and Abe Shinzo's conduit to the Chinese leadership, has been having a just dandy time explaining those two concepts away.

A tip of the hat to James Holmes (Link) for highlighting this op-ed.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Abe's invitation to the UK and France and the request to join the Five Powers Defence Agreement is worth paying attention to. Judging from the attention the UK has paid the region in 2012 (PM and Foreign Ministers visits, defence agreements, RUSI opening up shop in Tokyo, Gen. Sir David Richards' hint that the UK military will dedicate one of their new 'adaptable brigades' to Asia, etc., there may actually be some chance of a response.
I wonder though how the other five powers might respond..