Monday, February 27, 2006

India talking with France and the US

Prior to US President’s visit to India and Pakistan from March 1 to 3, French President Jacques Chirac and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met in New Delhi to develop political and economic cooperation on February 20. Issues ranged from bilateral business, UN Security Council seat, and nuclear deal. At present, the EU influence in decline because India gets more attention from all over the world. In order to roll back, President Chirac showed some generous offers to India. In economic issues, France sold Airbus planes to Air India. Further cooperation was discussed to forge bilateral business partnerships, from infrastructure, IT, pharmaceuticals, environment, advanced and new technologies, food processing, automobiles to aeronautics. Also, France declared that it supports India’s bid for permanent seat at UN Security Council.

Among the above issues, the most vital one is the nuclear deal. France will assist civilian nuclear development in India under IAEA safeguards. Actually, the United States made a similar deal with India last July as I mentioned in previous posts “India, the country you should not miss! “ and “US Pressure on the Indo-Iranian Pipeline.” While France stresses they are more experienced to build nuclear facilities than the US, Indians pay more attention to forthcoming summit with US President George W. Bush.

For India, strategic partnership with America is the key to its foreign policy in the 21st century. Also, France can build nuclear plants only if India and the United States reach the final agreement. Nuclear non-proliferation is a vital security issue these days, and France cannot go it alone.

Will the United States and India reach full agreement on nuclear issues? Goerge Perkovich, Vice President at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, raises the following concerns.

• The strategy is distorted by the Administration’s desire to balance Chinese military power in Asia and the Indian government’s obsession with nuclear energy
• U.S. nonproliferation interests will not be best served unless changes in the deal are made during implementation
• The Bush Administration proposal gives India too much without getting much in return.

I will write a post on Indo-American nuclear talks after the summit. How things will go on? You cannot miss!

by Shah Alex

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

David and Goliath: Japan’s changing relationship with China

Today, I would like to post a new article by AH. This is his first post on this blog. The relationship between two giants in the Far East is an important issue to the world. I hope his article will be a great help for readers to understand East Asia. Thank you.

The current degradation of Sino-Japanese relations comes at a tumultuous time for East Asia. Both countries along with neighboring states are experiencing growth and change at unprecedented levels. Certainly Japan’s changing relationship with The People’s Republic of China (PRC) amid rising political, economic and military tension warrants analysis. Although Japan and China are East Asia’s de facto leaders, most experts have focused on China’s military and economic growth and its impact on regional and indeed, international politics. However, it will not be China alone who dictates policy in East Asia; Japan, South Korea and the US will also yield considerable influence.

Sino-Japanese relations have historically been marred by conflict and misunderstanding. Simmering disputes ranging from historical revisions of history in Japanese text books, the Senkaku and Ryukyuan Island's territorial dispute, oil drilling in the South China Sea, military atrocities committed by the Japanese during WWII to Prime Minister Koizumi’s visits to the Yasukuni Shrine; provide clear illustration of the variety of combative issues facing these two regional heavy weights.

Recent mass anti-Japanese protests across the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen attest to the growing sentiment against Japan within both the domestic society and the Chinese government. Burgeoning intrinsic notions of Chinese nationalism have been replaced by an overt Chinese nationalistic ideology fostered by Beijing. This apathy by China resonates today with political relations between Tokyo and Beijing decidedly cold.

While it is often the case that economic trade plays the most influential role in state-to-state relations, things are a bit different for the current relationship between Japan and China. While political relations are staled, economic trade has exploded in the last five years with China now Japan’s largest trading partner. The future economic impact will be profound. As China rises it will pull Japan and its surrounding Asian neighbours with it. Accordingly, China will assume majoritive control of economic growth in East Asia. This growth is projected to push the regions economies to their highest GDP’s in history.

However, specific to the Sino-Japanese rivalry is the fact that increased economic integration has not resulted in conciliatory relations. Rather, despite the trade boom across the South China Sea, Tokyo and Beijing have both adopted reciprocal hard-line political policies towards each other. The result is an antagonistic relationship that continually boils with odium. As China assumes a more aggressive hegemonic stance, Japan finds itself seeking to shore up its economic and political influence in the region. Thus the role of other East Asian states and the US become increasingly significant factors shaping relations between the PRC and Japan.

South Korea’s (ROK) role in the tug of war between Beijing and Tokyo represents an interesting case to view the evolving Sino-Japanese relationship. As Beijing and Seoul forge closer ties, relations between South Korea and Japan have begun to sour. More disturbing, the ROK’s relationship with the US is increasingly challenged by growing Chinese influence. As South Korea and China begin to form a clear paternalistic relationship with Beijing playing the lead, the US-Japan-South Korean partnership has begun to show signs of failure. It is evident that a majority in South Korea have begun to view China as the country that will most positively impact their future. Such a position pits Beijing against Washington for long-term influence in Korean politics and demonstrates a shift away from reliance on the US military presence for stability in the region. To China analysts, it is clear that Beijing would never tolerate a US military presence once Seoul and Pyongyang have developed placatory relations. A reunified Korean Peninsula under Chinese influence is a possible reality and although Seoul currently enjoys a relative trade surplus with Beijing, in the long-term China will assume a controlling portion of the Korean market by sheer economic strength. Chinese dominance in South Korean economics and politics represents a direct challenge to US and Japanese influence on the Korean Peninsula.

A casualty of strained relations between Japan and China is Washington’s relationship with Seoul. As the US is in the process of troop reduction in South Korea, Washington’s ability to affect Korean leadership has also diminished. The ongoing six party talks concerning North Korea’s (DPRK) nuclear program elucidates the strained relationship between the US and the ROK. Of issue is that the US sought a more hawkish attitude from Seoul opposing the DPRK’s nuclear weapons development program, and has been disillusioned by South Korea’s inability to form a concrete policy of engagement with the North. Washington has been angered by Seoul’s reluctance to take a hard line against Pyongyang. South Korea’s unwillingness to align with US posture against North Korea reveals clear fractures in the strained relationship between these two once solid allies. As Seoul pulls away from Washington, Tokyo reaps the rewards of being a steadfast friend and ally. US-Japan relations are at an all time high and things look bright for further economic cooperation and the fostering of military rapport. As Tokyo begins to re-examine the boundaries of its Article 9 anti-war stipulation, Washington is eager to push Japan into its missile-defence system and has tied itself with Tokyo in a joint declaration supporting Taiwan on the Sino-Taiwanese issue.

Sino-Japanese relations will continue to disintegrate if no positive action is taken by either Tokyo or Beijing. As these two giants fight for control, the totality of China’s economic and military power are of concern to Japan. In the face of this, Japan has actively sought to sign several bilateral trade agreements with its neighbors, seeking to make itself more economically attractive and competitive with the PRC. Long-term, Japan will rely on US military capability for its defence against both China and North Korea. However, Japan must revise its Self-Defence Forces (SDF) under US guidance to become a larger, more assertive and defence orientated force.

Ultimately, there will be no clear ‘winner’ in the Sino-Japanese rivalry. These two will continue to eye each other in the years to come. Washington’s ties with Tokyo will prevent any outright military action by the PRC against Japan. The same cannot be said of the US-Japan-Taiwan relationship where Beijing increasingly voices direct hostile military rhetoric towards Taipei. This relationship is fundamentally different and serves as a further impediment in Sino-Japanese relations. In the future, on an economic level, China will possess the largest and strongest economy in Asia and perhaps the world. This does not mean that China will control global economics. Japan’s economy will also flourish under China’s growth with both states competing for position well into this century.

by AH

Monday, February 20, 2006

Article Published

Last Friday, my article was published in Metropolis magazine. This is a free magazine, and widely distributed in English speaking communities in Japan. You can find some copies at the hotel, embassy, foreign bookshop, and record shop in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto, and Kobe.

The article is based on my post, US Pressure on the Indo-Iranian Pipeline.

Please see the following link.

Oil spill: When it comes to dealing with Iran, Japan could learn a lot from the US and India

You can see other interesting articles by foreign writers in Japan when you see this site.I have written the following articles before.

Metropolis will be a very helpful source of daily life information in Tokyo. When you visit there, I recommend you to take a copy at the hotel.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

New Member Joined

I would like to introduce you a new member of this blog. AH aka Albion Hargrave joined our writers group. I have been running this blog alone. He will contribute insightful posts on this blog. His biosketch is shown below.

Albion Hargrave holds an MA in International Studies from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver (GSIS) and a BA from Arizona State University. Having spent several years working and attending language school in Japan, he is interested in the nexus between economics and politics, primarily its impact on trade and development in East Asia.

Albion is currently a policy analyst and business development consultant in Tokyo. In addition to publishing policy articles on economic, political and military issues, his focus has also been on furthering trade relations and business development.

Comments or questions in Japanese-

Resume and References available

Friday, February 17, 2006

President Bush at the State of the Union 2006

At State of the Union address on January 31, President Bush has set important agendas for domestic and foreign policy. To begin with, he asserted that the United States should not be wary of global commitment. Despite rampant criticism from antiwar liberals, President’s steadfast attitude to reject isolationism is worth to be appreciated. Also, President Bush demonstrated his enduring quest to prevail democracy and freedom throughout the world, in order to prevent another 9-11 attack and defeat terrorism.

According to Ivo Daalder, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, this is a political strike against opponents on the Iraq issue. Those who call for early withdrawal are labeled defeatists like Neville Chamberlain. While agreeing to US engagement abroad, Daalder raises a question whether this is done by unilateralism or multilateralism (See p.9 ~ p.11 in “Analyzing State of the Union.”).

Also, it is very noteworthy that President Bush declared his unyielding objective for victory in Iraq. Obviously, early withdrawal without completing the mission will invigorate terrorists and ruin coalition efforts since the war broke out. The problem is whether the President has a clear strategy to deal with sectarian conflicts among Iraqis, as insurgents shift their targets from foreign troops to domestic rivals.

This year, the President mentioned repressive and dangerous regimes, including Syria and Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran. Among these states, special focus is on Iran. President Bush accuses Iran of provoking Shiite uprising in Iraq, sponsoring terrorists in Lebanon and Palestine, and developing nuclear weapons. At this stage, the war is not imminent, though the US forces makes preparation for it. This issue will be brought to UN Security Council. Actually, some strong phrases like “the Axis of Evil” or "We will not allow the worst dictatorships or the worst men to possess the worst weapons," were absent.

Finally, let me talk about the most media-focused agenda, “America is addicted to oil.” People are surprised to hear this message because it is commonly believed that the Bush administration is closely associated with oil business. In addition, environmentalists accuse the US of rejecting to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and continue gas-guzzling economy. However, a careful review of America’s foreign and national security policy will tell you that there is nothing strange with this agenda.

America has been committing itself to developing alternative and cleaner energy from national security viewpoints. The Nunn-Lugar Initiative is aimed at reducing weapons of mass destruction and shifting nuclear scientists and technologies for cleaner nuclear energy in Former Soviet Union since 1991. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman said that nuclear weapons reduction in Russia would be a great help to cut carbon dioxide emission, at the Carnegie nonproliferation international conference, in which I participated last November.

Russia and Former Soviet states are not the only target for US assistance to convert military use of nuclear technology to peaceful objective. For India, the Bush administration offers technological assistance to stop the gas pipeline project from Iran.

Interestingly, the Atlantic Review points out that Europe is more dependent on Middle Eastern oil than America. Those who criticize the Bush administration’s close ties with oil industries must reconsider their agenda. Whoever the President is, once elected, the person acts as the President of the United States of America. Petty conspiracy theory is meaningless.

In any case, we should not trust pinpoint attacks by anti-American opinion leaders so blindly. Long-term observation, comprehensive understanding, and careful analysis on US foreign and domestic policies are necessary.

For further information, see Edit Copy.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

New Projects: Special Report on Iran, etc

I will launch a new project to discuss important policy issues in global affairs. To begin with, I will publish special reports on Iran. Professor Kazuo Takahashi of the Open University in Japan says that the Iran issue will be the most critical problem this year. In the special report, I will talk about Iran’s foreign relations with big powers, the United States and EU3 (Britain, France, and Germany), but also Russia, China, Japan, and India. I will mention Iran’s neighbors and non-state actors like terrorist groups as well. I will write about resistance movements by Iranians themselves.

There are following websites of Iranian resistance. They are helpful source of information.

Reza Pahlavi Secretariat
Regime Change Iran (home page)
Regime Change Iran (blog)
National Council of Resistance of Iran
Lion & Sun

Also, I will refer to Japanese opinion leaders as well. Mostly, I have been using American and some European sources. I believe it very important to pick up Japanese opinion. This will be some help for foreigners to understand Japanese perspectives. First, I will write about discussions between Professor Terumasa Nakanishi of Kyoto University and Professor Shoichi Watanabe of Sophia University, which are on historical evaluation of the Anglo-Japanese alliance and lessons for Japanese foreign policy today.

Next post will be on State of the Union address by President George W. Bush.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sharanky Comments on Palestine Democracy

Natan Sharansky contributed an insightful article, ”The Price of Ignoring Palestinians’ Needs” to the International Herald Tribune on February 1. He is very well known for his book, The Case for Democracy. He will run for the forthcoming election in Israel from the Likud Party. In the article, he argues as follows.

Hamas won the last election because free world, including Israel did not care Palestinian grassroots. This is a natural result. The international community and Israel assisted Palestinian “moderates”, like Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas with billons of dollars, but marginalized extremists like Hamas. America, Israel and the EU were afraid of pressing too hard for Palestinian reform, because they did not want to weaken the Authority and invigorate Hamas. However, their attitude disillusioned Palestinian people.

To the outside world, Palestinians chose the party of terrorists over the party of peace. But the difference to Israel between Hamas and Fatah does not make much sense. Actually some Fatah satellites, like Tanzim and Al Alsa brigade were responsible for terrorism against Israel. A terrorist like Marwan Barghouti received a lifetime sentence in Israel.

The choice between Fatah and Hamas is the choice between self-absorbed and corrupt terrorists and honest terrorists. Palestinians hope Hamas to eliminate corruption, restore law and order, and implement real reforms. In fact, Hamas chose an election slogan ”Change and Reform,” instead of “Throwing the Jews into the Sea.”

Hamas must satisfy the following two requirements to win support from the international community. First, Hamas must abandon the goal of annihilating Israel, and articulate their position to denounce terrorism. Second, Hamas must dedicate itself to build a free Palestinian society. If they fail to do so, Israel and the free world must confront Hamas. However, as long as they are willing to make efforts for these requirements, we must help them.

The world should not be skeptic to the whole concept of democratic reform in the Middle East, simply because of the result of this election. The election itself does not guarantee democracy. If there is no law and order, and no democratic institution, elections will bring the worst elements of power.

The policy of promoting democracy in the Middle East has not failed. If Palestinians hope for a better future, the free world must help them. Otherwise, the West and Israel will endanger themselves.

What Sharansky said in the article can be applied beyond Palestine. During the Cold War, the United States and Western allies were tolerant to repressive regimes to contain communist threats. The war on terror needs completely different policies. In any case, it is necessary to watch Hamas very carefully.