Friday, June 04, 2010

From the US-Japanese Alliance 50th Anniversary Round Table to a League of Democracies

I attended an event by the Japan Forum on International Relations, entitled, “The Japan-U.S. Alliance at 50: Crossroads or Continuity?” on May 24. It was very useful to hear panelists debate cutting the edge issues, such as perception gaps on the alliance between the United States and Japan, and the threat of China. However, experts from both sides of the Pacific focused too much on bilateral and East Asian regional issues. Had panelists discussed the US-Japanese alliance from a “Democracies vs. Autocracies” viewpoint, the Round Table would have been much more helpful to understand US-Japanese relations in the world.

In order to deepen and develop the US-Japanese alliance in accordance with the structure of global politics in the new century, I believe that the bilateral alliance be expanded into a trilateral alliance of America, Japan, and Europe. At the beginning of this century when experts launched an initiative for a global NATO, the Abe and the Aso administrations were enthusiastic to found the NATO-Japanese partnership. As the Foreign Minister, Taro Aso visited NATO Headquarters in Brussels, and he insisted on founding “the Arch of Freedom and Prosperity” as the Prime Minister. On the other hand, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama seems to be myopically East Asia oriented, regarding Japan’s fundamental position in the world. He advocates the regular triangle of equal trilateral relations among the United States, Japan, and China, which illustrates his immature understandings of foreign affairs.

Therefore, I wish panelists had discussed viewpoints that I mentioned in the previous post. Above all, is Europe so far from Japan? As American allies, European nations share common interests and values with Japan more than any other nations across the world. Actually, from G5 in the past to G8 at present, both Japan and Europe are joint executives to support Pax Americana. Historically, Japan has been one of Western Great Powers in international politics since the Meiji Revolution.

It seems that some Japanese panelists argued something close to what I have in mind. Kenichi Ito, President of the Japan Forum on International Relations who chaired the Round Table jointly, argued a global US-Japanese alliance. In my view, the US-Japanese Alliance will be globalized through a League of Democracies constituted of the United States, Japan, and Europe. Yoshiko Sakurai, President of the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, stressed the value of freedom. However, her opinions sound too narrowly focused on Asia. Hearing comments by both panelists, I felt myself like a baseball fan waiting for a homerun ball behind the fence. The fly ball that appeared to come to my seat across the fence failed to go farther, and it was caught by an outfielder twice. Had I a chance to say something, I would have talked of the clash between democracy and autocracy. They mentioned some points that I anticipated to say, and I wish they had talked furthermore.

American panelists presented insightful comments on US foreign policy to Japan and East Asia. However, had the background of attendants been more diversified, it would have been a good chance to hear opinions deep inside the American side. Just as the Japanese government rely on Japan handlers, the Japanese side tends to invite experts on Japan or East Asia to the debate on US-Japanese relations. However, politically speaking, Japan has been a “Western Civilized Nation” since the Meiji Revolution, and I believe it a good idea to invite experts on Europe and other regions as well. Then, Japan will be able to increase new fans, which will lead to deepen US-Japanese dialogues frequently mentioned on the American side. In addition, the debate could have been more stimulating, had critics to the Obama administration’s foreign policy been invited on the American side, as diet members of ruling and opposition parties joined the Round Table on the Japanese side. During the last presidential election, Republican candidate Senator John McCain advocated a League of Democracies in his article to Foreign Affairs, which is cited by neoconservatives such as Robert Kagan.

As I argue in this post, it is necessary to re-strengthen the trilateral alliance of America, Europe, and Japan to unite democracies firmly against autocracies and manage global challenges bases on common interests and values. This will contribute to deepening and redefining the US-Japanese Alliance that was discussed at the Round Table.