Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Postscript of NHK Forum 2: Inseparable Alliance between Japan and the United States

In an NHK TV program on Japan’s pacifist constitution, broadcasted on August 15, forum attendants discussed US foreign policy and US-Japanese relations. This is an important issue to reconsider the pacifist constitution, because changes in global security environment provoke this debate. Also, it is the United States that hopes to change the pacifist constitution, in order to step up the alliance with Japan.

While we were talking about this issue, both rightists and leftists criticized US foreign policy harshly. They say Americans are excessively power dependent, and worry America’s hyper puissance endangers Japan’s independent decision making. Leftist attendants led by Sayoko Yoneda, a women’s rights and peace activist, even claimed that it serves right for America being attacked by terrorists. Had she known the theory of hegemonic stability which is a basic theory of international political economy, she would have never remarked such a stupid comment. Robert Kagan would have refuted them, by using his allegory of sheriff and saloon master.

It is my regret that NHK announcer Tamio Miyake, the moderator of this forum, did not provide sufficient opportunity for pro-American participants to argue against such a Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) of rampant anti-Americanism. Therefore, I am writing this post to refute the Sturm und Drang at the forum.

Some nationalist attendants, such as Kazuhiko Hosokawa, a leader of conservative organization, and Junko Amou, also a conservative cyberspace activist, insisted on strengthening Japan’s tie with the United States from a realist perspective. They say that Japan needs a close relationship with the United States simply because it is Japan’s national interest. When necessary, Japan must be ready to say “no” to America, they say. Certainly, both Japan and the United States are sovereign states. But I must advocate that the US-Japanese alliance is beyond that sort of petty realism. For further discussion, I would like to talk about the nature of the American world order and Japan’s national foundation as a modern state.

First, it is very important to understand the nature of the American world order. I have mentioned this in a previous post, entitled “Philosophical Understanding of Pax Britannica and Pax Americana” on February 27. In this post I talk about the theory of hegemonic stability. Britain and America has been providing the public goods of liberal political and economic order. This is my primary focus as a graduate student at the London School of Economics. For detail, please see the link to this post. When a rogue intrudes on the bar, it is the sheriff who faces the danger, not the saloon master. The hegemonic state assumes the burden of sheriff for global security. Leftists who said it served right for America being attacked by terrorists, must feel ashamed of their ignorant remark. It seemed that Sayoko Yoneda, Yumiko Akimoto, and a couple of leftwing activists uttered such a comment.

OK, I ask a question to these leftists. Are you with whom? Are you with our free world, or with terrorists and rogue states? Are you friends or enemies to our society? It is all right whether they are rightists or leftists, whether they are pro-American or anti-American. But I must remind them that their utterance in public is a complete insult to Japan’s most reliable ally. I would advise them to apologize for their misguided comment on TV on the next occasion.

Also, I have to mention Japan’s position in the world. It is vital to point out that freedom allies respect Japan because of its close relationship with the United States. Prewar Japan was one of Western Great Powers, and postwar Japan has been a member of leading Western Democracy Club. Europeans embrace Japan, because it is a key ally to the United States. A Dutch historian Jeroen Lamers who is the author of “Japonius Tyrannus”, a research on 16th century ruler Oda Nobunaga, comments that a staunch US-Japanese alliance is considerably advantageous to Dutch-Japanese relations, and ultimately to Euro-Japanese relations. One of Japan’s leading pro-American political commentator, Hidemi Nagao also makes similar cases in his book, entitled “Eternal Japan-US Alliance”, saying that freedom allies from Europe to Australia regard Japan as an important partner, because Japan and free nations pursue common policy agendas with the United States.

It is also important to mention world security environment in the post Cold War era. Currently, NATO is exploring global operation, and considering new strategic partnership with Japan, Australia, and even South Korea. Also, Japan is trying to develop new Asia-Pacific security framework with India and Australia. The common bond between Japan and above nations is the alliance with the United States. In other words, a stronger relationship with America enables Japan to develop stronger ties with respectable democracies I mention here.

To my regret, six eminent persons who appeared in this program failed to discuss this point. It is important to take this into consideration when we discuss collective security. They are the following people.

Setsuzo Kosaka: Ex-Chairman of the Constitution Reform Committee, Japan Association of Corporate Executives
Osamu Watanabe: Professor, Hitotsubashi University (Japan’s MIT or LSE)
Setsu Kobayashi: Professor, Keio University (One of Japan’s Ivy League colleges)
Yoshinori Kobayashi: Political Cartoonist
Kenji Isezaki: Professor, Tokyo University of Foreign Affairs
Takao Saito: Journalist

Such renowned experts, but missed to talk about this crucial point: a closer relationship with America means a closer relationship with respectable democracies. This is a waste of their reputation.

Moreover, I would like to give an “English lesson” to those who are wary of advancing further US-Japanese alliance. Britain maintains extremely close partnership to mange the world with the United States. I have talked of key points in the Anglo-American special relationship in a previous post, “Britain and Japan as America's ally: Review of Woodrow Wilson Event” to explore how to upgrade Japan’s relation with the United States. There are four key points in the Anglo-America special relationship.

(1) Be distinguished from other nations
The special relationship will make Britain a distinguished ally to the United States. As people often say, Britain plays a role of Greece to America’s Rome.

(2) Make use of US power
With close ties with America, Britain can strengthen its position in Europe and the globe.

(3) Influence on US policy
As an Athenian to America’s Rome, Britain should be a consultant for the United States to manage the world.

(4) Interpret between Europe and America
Britain should be a representative of Europe to the United States. Also, Britain should bridge policy gaps between Europe and America.

No. (1) is the most important for Japan to explore more leverage in the world. Remember how miserable it was when Jacques Chirac, Dominique de Villepain, and Gerhard Schröder flatly rejected US request for support in the Iraq War. They had no influence, and simply stepped down from their positions quickly. Despite severe criticism, Tony Blair had an influence on US policymakers. Never miss this point!

Finally, I would like to talk of Japan’s spiritual foundation as a modern state. Spiritual base of modern Japan is Datsua Nyuou (getting out of backward Asia, and join civilized West). Nobody doubts that this has lead Japan to spectacular success road. The US-Japanese alliance is beyond security deal, but guarantee of Japan’s status as a leading Western democracy. Remember that US senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman cast doubt on Russian qualification to chair the St. Petersburg Summit, because of authoritarian Putin administration, while none of respectable policymakers in both America and Europe did so on Japan’s qualification for the elite club membership from the beginning. A real patriot Japanese must take pride in it.

In previous posts, “New Year Question 2: The Legacy of Queen Victoria in East Asian History” and A Radical Agenda for Japanese People”, I argued that modern Japan started when Queen Victoria destroyed the Chinese Asian order with gunfire. The Japanese understood the meaning of the Western Impact, while Asians were still indulged in the Dark Age. Japanese people decided unrepentant farewell to the Dark Age, and dashed toward modernization and enlightenment with “Protestantism” diligence and ethics. Japanese people decided to accept the Victorian world order of Lockean and Smithian values, while Asians made virtually no effort to learn Western civilization.

As a result, Japan had become entirely distinguished from dormant Asians who were in a daydream of outdated Chinese world order. In the postwar period, Japanese people learned American invented management methods, such as William Edwards Deming’s total quality management, quicker than Americans with “Protestantism” diligence. In other words, Japan achieved the economic miracle, because Japanese became more American than Americans. Dutch historian Joroen Lamers made a similar comment in an interview with the Nagano Chambers of Commerce.

Rapid Westernization, unrepentant enlightenment, and Lokean and Smithian values are deeply embedded in the heart of Japanese people. There is no wonder that Japan’s best friends have been Anglo Saxon global empires. Without solid alliance with the United States, Japan would fall into a miserable archipelago offshore the Chinese Dragon. Apparently, the Japanese prefer enlightened West to Confucian Asia.

A staunch US-Japanese alliance is vital to maintain a liberal world order, and to guarantee Japan’s identity as a leading Western democracy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Postscript of NHK Forum 1: Japan Has to Be a Pretty Boy in the Middle East? No way!

As I mentioned in the previous post, I attended an NHK TV forum on August 15. The debate was extremely excited. I would like to talk about two important points, I could not argue in the forum. The first postscript is on Japan’s pretty boy diplomacy in the Middle East. The second postscript is on Japanese nationalism and the US-Japanese alliance. Let me speak about the first one.

It is widely believed among the Japanese public that Japan’s position in the Middle East is completely different from those of America and Europe. Those who argue like this, mention the following reasons. First, Japan is not involved in the clash of civilizations between Christian West and Islam Middle East. Second, Japan has been a disinterested power, and never pursued imperialist policy in this region. Third, people in the Middle East admire Japan as a non-imperialist economic giant. However, I am determined to refute such airy fairy ideas, and insist that Japan stop being a pretty boy in the Middle East. Furthermore, I advocate that Japan must be at the heart of the Western alliance to promote enlightenment and democracy, and defeat Islamic radicals who are spiritually indulged in Dark Age ideals.

Unfortunately, when Yasuyuki Aizawa, Representative of Peace On, insisted Japan continue pretty boy diplomacy as mentioned above at the forum, I raised my hand but had no chance to rebut his comment. Therefore, I am writing the following arguments.

Whether love or hate, Middle East nations glorify the West much more than Japan. In one of previous posts, entitled “Five Questions on Islamic Radicalism”, I quoted an article in Foreign Policy, “What Makes a Muslim Radical?” in web exclusive version of November 2006. In this article, both John Epostino, professor of religion and international affairs at the Wash School of Foreign Service, and Dalia Mogahed, Executive Director of Muslim Studies for the Gallup Organization, conclude that Muslims in the Middle East ―― whether radical or moderate ―― admire Western liberal democracy.

There is nothing strange that Middle East civil societies and think tanks establish close partnership with Western counterparts. This is a vital fact, and I mention it in a previous post “Is Middle East Democratization a Neocon Plot?” further in detail.

Quite importantly, anti-establishment activists find their places for exile in the West, not in Japan. From there, activists fight against super villains in their counties, in order to win freedom of their fellow citizens. You can name it. The Iraqi National Congress led by Ahmad Chalabi was in London. Reza Pahlavi lives near Washington, D.C. Mariam Rajavi is based in London, and so forth. Pro-democracy activists make an appeal to Western media, and explore close contacts with Western civil societies. Their admiration to the West is apparent when someone sees some cyberspace communities, such as Persian Journal. This is an online forum of progressive Iranian journalists and bloggers. However, this site is published in English. This indicates clearly that Iranian civil societies expect substantial physical and spiritual help from America and Europe. Unfortunately, I do not find such a compelling expectation to Japan among Middle East citizens.

Establishments also look America and Europe far more than Japan. Arab princes and millionaires spend their holidays for shopping and sightseeing in London, Paris, and New York rather than in Tokyo. This is quite strange because some areas in Tokyo are no less attractive than those in American and European major cities. In the past, people regarded Tokyo as the headquarters of the Japanese Corporation. Nothing else. But today, Tokyo has become one of the centers of pop culture. Thanks to this reputation, Foreign Minister Taro Aso insists on conducting anime diplomacy to prevail Japanese soft power. Despite such reputation, Middle East establishments prefer to visit American and European cities.

Apparently, Japan’s pretty boy diplomacy leaves extremely weak impression on both anti-establishments and establishments in the Middle East.

More importantly Japanese people must keep alert to threats posed by radical Muslims. In terms of ideology, they are natural enemy to Japan. This is because they have been defying modernization and enlightenment in Turkey and Iran. This is a serious challenge to Japanese ideology of getting out of Dark Age Asia and becoming a Western Great Power. As widely known, Japan was in the process of spectacular evolution from the Meiji revolution to the Taisho democracy. I mention this evolution in “New Year Question 2: The Legacy of Queen Victoria in East Asian History” and A Radical Agenda for Japanese People.” Japan was a role model for both nations. Kemal Ataturk and Reza Pahlavi Ⅰ made a step toward rapid Westernization as Japan had done.

Turkish writing switched from Arabic characters to Roman alphabet. Turkey joins NATO and has been bidding for EU membership. Iran launched the White Revolution. Its country name means “the land of Aryans.” Clearly, Pahlavi shahs intended to distinguish their countries from backward Arab and Islamic neighbors. Japan differentiated itself from dormant Asians since the Opium War. Both Turkey and Iran followed exactly the same path of Japanese modernization.

However, the rise of Islamic radicals since the Iranian Revolution endangers Japanese values, and posing dreadful threats to Japanese national identity. Today, radicals are devastating Kemal’s dream that Turkey be firmly at the heart of Europe.

It is Japan’s shame to continue pretty boy diplomacy in the Middle East. Japan is a member of prestigious club of industrialized democracy. Therefore, Japan’s commitment to the Middle East must step up to the level of America and Europe. Historically, Japan has been the role model of modernization and enlightenment for Middle East nations. Theocrats, jihadists, terrorists, and rogue dictators are common enemy to the United States, Europe, and Japan. Therefore, it is Japan’s interest to act for Middle East reform along with America and Europe. Facts mentioned in this post substantiate that Japan’s pretty boy diplomacy in the Middle East is no pain and no gain.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Going to NHK Studio Tomorrow

As I mentioned in the previous post, NHK TV Program "Japan at the Crossroads": Reconsider the Pacifist Constitution, a program on Japan’s pacifist constitution will be aired tomorrow. I am invited to the studio as a representative of the public. One of my Japanese blog friends, Earl of Alamein, will come to the studio. He and I will be an axis of pro-change, pro-American, and pro-postwar regime change. Both of us will present forward-looking and completely different viewpoints from those of retrospective rightists and leftists.

For my advocacy activity, I have been keeping in touch with Albion, currently an MBA student at the University of Denver. I appreciate his help very much. However, I have not seen most of the friends on the blog. I understand their attractive personality and intelligence, although some of them misidentify Shocker (an organization of super villains in Japanese SF hero series, Kamen Rider). Yes, he is too liberal.

It will be a great opportunity to see Earl of Alamein. See you on the program tomorrow!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Democrats Need to Act beyond Defeatism on Iraq

In this post, I am going to talk about an article, entitled “Perceptions on Iraq War Are Starting to Shift” in Creators Syndicate on August 6, written by Michael Barone, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Barone criticizes some Democratic senators and representatives defeatists, and questions their election strategy to make use of hardships in Iraq for their advantage. Let me review the article.

When Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, both Senior Fellows at the Brookings Institution, contributed an article “Stability in Iraq: A War We Just Might Win” to the New York Times on July 30, antiwar Democrats in Congress were perplexed. O’Hanlon and Pollack criticized “the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq” before, but they admit progress in defeating insurgents there.

Democrats have been attacking the Bush administration, because the administration failed in adjusting itself to changing realities in Iraq. Barone says that the battle against Al Qaeda suicide bomber has changed into full-fledged sectarian warfare. President Bush and his staff decided a surge as advised by Frederick Kagan, Resident Scholar at AEI. Since then, reality has changed positively to US forces.

Michael Barone mentions a freshman Representative Nancy Boyda of Kansas, who has just won the seat in the last midterm election as an example of defeatist Democrat. She has been making use of mishandling of Iraq to denounce the Bush administration. But she was upset when retired General Jack Keane described positive developments in Iraq at the congressional hearing.

As public opinion shifts in accordance with war progress, Barone points out Democrats’ dilemma to choose between solid supporters who want quick retreat and the majority who want victory.

I would like mention another article on defeatists, "’Orderly Humiliation’ and ‘The New Strategy in Iraq’" in Weekly Standard on July 12. In this joint essay with Frederick Kagan and Kimberly Kagan, Director of the Institute for the Study of War, AEI Resident Fellow Thomas Donnelly talks of the axis composed of Democrat Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton, Republican Senator Richard Lugar, and a new Washington think tank, named the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Officially, CNAS was launched on July 27, with keynote addresses by Hilary Clinton and Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. Both Senators are vocal critics to the Bush administration’s Iraq policy.

According to Donnelly, CNAS is expected to provide intellectual support for 2008 Clinton campaign. This think tank recommends early withdrawal from Iraq, and full-fledged talk with influential neighbors to Iraq, notably, Iran and Syria. Thomas Donnelly criticizes such arguments, and insists that American withdrawal will not increase leverage on Iraqi factions and simply allow threats posed by Iran and Syria grow bigger.

I recommend both AEI articles to understand interconnection between Iraq issues and political developments toward 2008 presidential election. Things are unpredictable. Interactions between politicians and think tanks need more attention. Also, it is worth watching how such axes ―― whether pro or con to the war ―― manage to adjust themselves to the reality, as things associated with the war change rapidly.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Why Do Europeans and Japanese Quibble over American Hyperpuissance?

There is no doubt that sound relationship between the United States and major democratic allies is the key to world peace and prosperity. However, both Europeans and Japanese are somewhat skeptic to American hegemony, despite their heavy dependence on it. In order to find clues to understand European and Japanese quibble over Pax Americana, I read “Of Paradise and Power” by Robert Kagan again. Though it was published before the Iraq War, this book still provides deep insights on the relation between the United States and key democratic allies.

In terms of history, the United States is quite distinct from Europe and Japan from the following points. Since the earliest days of the colonial era, America has been pursuing ever lasting expansion. Its sphere of influence has expanded from the Wild West to Europe and Asia. After the Cold War, American influence spread furthermore to Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. On the other hand, Europeans and Japanese have experienced rapid shrinkage of their spheres after World War Ⅱ. Europeans withdrew from their colonial empires, and Japanese threw away the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere.

In addition, Americans genuinely believe in universality of their national foundation ideals. Therefore, Americans are confident in their missionary spirit, while Europeans and Japanese are self critical to their behavior in the past. Neither Vietnam nor Iraq can erode this self-confidence.

Above two points bring about stark gaps between America and its European and Japanese allies. Such innocently genuine confidence is envy for Japanese conservatives who resent hysterically to Congressman Mike Honda’s resolution on Korean comfort women during the wartime. The Japanese are more retrospective and more oriented toward their ethnic uniqueness. Nor, do Europeans share this sort of unadulterated creed, although they have common backgrounds in political foundation and civilization.

Only Britain has some close mindset because of their “liberal imperialist” tradition. But the British are more self critical to their imperialism in the 19th century. As Former Prime Minister Tony Blair remarked in his public speech, British leaders avoid using this word. They prefer to use “liberal interventionism” instead, so as not to impress arrogant and high handed image to the global community.

Kagan says that this historical and psychological difference is reinforced by power gap in the post Cold War era. American military power is by far the strongest in the world. Due to this power gap, both Europe and Japan are preoccupied with their neighborhood, rather than global security. Terrorists and rogue states attack “America first”, and therefore, Europeans and Japanese are more tolerant to these threats. As a result, the relationship between the United States and its allies has become that of sheriff and saloon master.

In this book, Robert Kagan talks of philosophical foundation of postmodern Europe. The fundamental idea of European integration in the postwar ear is rejection of modern Europe under power politics. According to a British diplomat Robert Cooper, postmodern European order rests on Kantian ideals, notably, the rejection of force and self-enforced rules of behavior. Ironically Kantian Europe can enjoy their peace and prosperity under the hegemony of Hobbesian America, whose willingness to use military power keep Europeans safe from challengers like Russia, rogue states, and dangerous non-state actors.

I would say Japanese are more retrospective than Europeans, and trying to restore cultural tradition while pursuing greater influence and dignity on the global stage. But this aspiration cannot be achieved without American support. Ultra conservatives in Japan feel disgusted with American influence on Japanese politics, culture, and lifestyle. However, Japan can act on the global stage only with close partnership with the sole superpower. Nor, can Japan deal with threats posed by China and North Korea without alliance with the United States.

Despite such dependence and free ride, both Europeans and Japanese are reluctant to accept American hyper puissance. Robert Kagan points out that Europeans were not so much worried of threats posed by Saddam Hussein, but the consequence of unilateral and extralegal action by the United States to attack Iraq. If unsuccessful, this would destabilize the Middle East. If successful, this would ruin Kantian ideals of “postmodern” Europe. Retrospective Japanese share this sentiment to some extent, and are annoyed with macho Americans continue to “impose” their values on Japanese people.

One of the key issues of this blog is sound alliance across the Atlantic and the Pacific. It is necessary to understand why America causes uneasy sentiments among European and Japanese people. Neither of them shares Americans’ indulgence to unadulterated expansionism and the Manifest Destiny. For further understanding of the relationship between the United States and its allies, I recommend “Of Paradise and Power”, as this book has implications to US foreign policy, even though American leaders are turning toward multilateralism on Iran and North Korea. Can Europeans and Japanese really get along with power oriented America?