Friday, February 29, 2008

Japanese Prefer Republicans?

In Japan, there is an online message board community, called the 2 Channel on which anonymous net surfers leave their comments to specific issues. Today, I would like to mention one of such a 2 Channel board, entitled “US Republicans are Real Friends to Japan”. Although I do not believe everything they say, it is true that some Japanese are worried about possible negative changes in the US-Japanese relationship, should the Democrat win in 2008 election.

There is every reason why Japanese, particularly conservatives (whether pro-American or nationalist), prefer Republicans to Democrats. At the Iraq War, the Koizumi administration did not hesitate to declare to support US and British attack against Saddam Hussein, although its actual commitment to the war was not so much impressive. Contrary to the Bush-Koizumi friendship, Japan’s relation with the Clinton administration was bleak. This is noticeable in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s article in Foreign Affairs, saying that “Our relationship with China will be the most important bilateral relationship in this century”, which distressed the Japanese public. Most of the Japanese people take pride in the fact that Japan is the only industrialized democracy in East Asia, and a member of executive board in global political economy along with major Western nations. Therefore, quite a few Japanese feel it an insult if the United States treats Japan less important than China. I agree with their concerns. However, I would argue that Japanese people not speculate party politics in the United States to discuss the trans-Pacific alliance.

Nevertheless, let me review “US Republicans are Real Friends to Japan”. I would like to mention some comments on this board.

Comment 1:
Democrats are dependent on labor unions and ethnic minorities. They are pro-Chinese and anti-Japanese, and tolerant to communism. On the other hand, Republicans are supported by traditional conservatives and Christian fundamentalists. They are pro-Japanese and anti-Chinese. Most importantly, they are strongly anti-communist.

Just before World War Ⅱ, 90% of Republican Representatives were against the US-Japanese War, and also, Republicans were against dropping atomic bombs to Japan. On the other hand, the Democrats provoked Japan to fight against America with the Hull Note.

This is an online community for Japanese people who support a Republican America. Anti-Republicans and anti-Americanists, please do not leave comments on this message board

Also, following blogs are listed for reference. They are written in Japanese.

Comment 8:
From the News Studio, by Yoshihisa Komori (Columnist of Sankei Shimbun, a conservative newspaper)
Blog Diary of Military Commentator, Mamoru Sato
Meine Sache
Japan’s Direction
(nationalist, but endorses the US-Japanese alliance)
Global American Seiron (Japanese version of this blog)
Conservatism (by an American acquired Japanese citizenship, strongly Republican)
Strawberry Field (by a Japanese in California, strongly Republican)
Black Ship’s Viewpoint on Foreign Policy and National Security
My Dear Mother Nation, Japan!

I am pleased that this blog is included on this list.

Furthermore, the administrator of this board talks about rifts between pro-Americans and anti-Americans among Japanese conservatives. According to this message board, both groups had common enemies during the Cold War, and they allied to defeat communism. However, both conservatives are completely at odds in fundamental philosophy since the prewar era.

Comment 9:
Greater Asian School (anti-American Conservatives today): Communitarian and Land Power-oriented
They believe in Japanese leadership in Asia, strong bureaucracy, Confucianism, and the rule of authority.

Anglo- American School (pro-American Conservatives today): Liberalist and Marine Power-oriented
They believe in internationalism under Pax Americana, free market capitalism, Buddhism, and the rule of law.

These contrasts are quite interesting. Although I do not agree to everything they say, I agree that Republicans are more preferable than Democrats for Japan. This is not because Republicans are more pro-Japanese than Democrats. I would focus more on America’s global strategy rather than its Asia-Pacific policy and pro Japanese emotion.

Currently the United States the following challenges: the War on Terror, nuclear non-proliferation, emergence of authoritarian capitalists such as Russia and China, and threat of rogue states. Considering US global strategy, I have come to the same conclusion as this online community that Republicans are more preferable.

Just reviewing Foreign Affairs articles, I found John McCain is the most welcome, not because he is more “pro-Japanese” than other candidates, but because he is keen on restructuring the alliance of free nations in order to manage the above challenges. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton are Chaimberlaininan to terrorists, rogue states, and Russo-Chinese defiance to our world order.

It is no use to for Japanese people to speculate the Sino-Japanese rivalry when talking about the US-Japanese relationship. Rather, I would argue that Japan is a global power, and its policy focus should be beyond the Asia-Pacific region. Ever since the Opium War, Japan has been an exceptional nation in East Asia: the only member of Western Great Powers in the prewar era, and the only industrialized Western democracy in the postwar era. Politically speaking, Japan has more common standpoints with Europe and Australia than its Asian neighbors.

Therefore, excessive speculation to the Japan hand or the Asian lobbies is unproductive for Japan. Just before the Iraq War, Ryuichi Teshima, who was the Chief Correspondent at Washington Bureau of NHK, pointed out that Japanese diplomats relied on the Japan hand for information, instead of neoconservatives. He insists that this speculation prevented the Japanese government from accessing the most useful information source to the Bush administration.

Teshima sounds right. Mainstream foreign policymakers in Washington political corridor are experts on Russia, NATO, and the Middle East. Despite the Chinese challenge, Asian experts are still outsiders. This is notable that US envoy on North Korean denuclearization is Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, who is an expert on Eastern Europe.

Japanese officials and citizens can learn a lot from British diplomacy with the United States. Throughout the generation, Britain has not relied on “enigmatic” British hand as Japan has on the “Japan hand”. Also, Britain has been in close contact with American foreign policymakers, not only on bilateral or European issues but also on Russian, Middle Eastern, Eurasian, and even Asia-Pacific issues. Regardless of party and ideological politics in the United States, Britain has been keen on maintaining the special relationship.

I agree that Republicans are much more preferable for Japan, regarding 2008 election. However, the Japanese public should see the US-Japanese relationship from global point of view, rather than merely from bilateral and Asia-Pacific perspectives.

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