Friday, May 20, 2005

Listen Japan. Collective security, now!

Under the postwar pacifist diplomacy, Japan has been unwilling to make any kind of collective security deals. The trauma of World War II was so serious that the whole Japanese nation had been scared of military involvement abroad. Because of such a “splendid isolation” policy, Japan has no reliable partner except the United States. Though leftist criticize Japan’s excessive dependence on the United States, this reluctance to collective security has made Japan even more dependent on America.
Japan’s unwillingness to collective security has been damaging its relations with Asia-Pacific neighbors. While Asians and Japanese leftists insist that Japan apologize Asian neighbors, they tend to miss that actions for the future are more important than apology. Regrettably, there are no collective security regimes in the Asia-Pacific region. We should bear it in mind that Europeans embraced Germany, not because of its apology to its neighbors, but because of its wholehearted commitment to collective security organizations, like NATO and the EU.
When Japan is allowed to pursue its own economic growth like in the 60s and 70s, the world can accept the “splendid isolation.” In those days, global security was bipolar and very simple. Today, things have become more complicated, because we need to confront invisible threats like terrorists and other non-state actors. Also, WMD proliferation makes everything more and more entangled. Therefore, Japan needs to consider dedicated involvement in collective security regimes.

Regarding Japanese participation in collective security in the near future, I would like to argue the following issues and advantages.
First, in terms of Japan’s own national interest, active engagement in collective security will be an advantage. Currently, the United States is the only reliable partner to Japan. This is a handicap for Japan’s quest for world leadership and permanent seat at the UN Security Council. A true leader needs to be trusted by the global community. A participation in a collective security regime enables Japan to have more reliable partners other than the United States.
Second, it is necessary for the global community to establish collective security regimes to deal with present threats, such as terrorists, pirates, China, Russia, and the most imminently, North Korea. In order to manage these challenges, it is desirable that Japan be allied with NATO and Asia-Pacific neighbors. This will be advantageous for the United States as well. On her visit to Tokyo this spring, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said that Japan and Australia were key allies in America’s endeavor to curb these threats. A collective security regime will make Japan a vital ally to the United States, just as Britain is.
One of the critical issues to be mentioned is dealing with anti-Japan sentiment. Currently, hate-Japan emotion is rampant in China, North Korea, and South Korea. Also, latent anti-Japan feeling is prevalent all over Asia. Here again, I insist that collective security is useful to resolve this problem. China and North Korea are national security threats to Japan, but South Korea and ASEAN nations can be embraced. With full commitment to collective security, Japan will be able to impress itself a friend in need to Asians, not a fascist enemy. More importantly, a collective security deal enables us to test Asian nations: whether they are with the United States and Japan, or China and North Korea. Particularly for South Korea, this test is important. At present, South Korea is balancing US-Japan and China-North Korea. Our free world must question such a lukewarm attitude, and we should not make South Korea choose between us and them.
Once Japan and its Western allies succeed in encircling embracable Asians, China and North Korea will lose their moral high ground to accuse Japanese Shintoist imperialism in the past.

With collective security, Japan can find reliable friends, like Australia, NATO, and Asian neighbors. This will reinforce the US-Japanese alliance. It is time to act for the future.