Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Japan's grand Asia-Pacific strategy

By Wu Huaizhong (China Daily) Updated: 2013-01-18 08:04

In the post-crisis era, though Japanese politicians and pundits acknowledge the world is moving toward multi-polarization, their belief in "hegemonic stability" is still deep-seated and they recognize and support the Pax Americana in the Asia-Pacific region. Or, taking a step back, Japan at least believes in maintaining an order dominated by Western developed democracies in the Asia-Pacific and the fundamental task of Japan's long-term foreign strategy is taking in emerging powers that are capable of challenging and revising this "order".

Therefore, besides the United States, Japan is so far the firmest supporter of the existing order. Japan's grand Asia-Pacific strategy is a strong pillar in sustaining US hegemony and the West-dominated order, which goes against the development trend and direction of the global situation in the post-crisis era, and is also against the diversification and multi-polarization of the regional pattern of evolving democratization in international relations.

Japan once actively pushed forward regional cooperation in East Asia. But on seeing China's fast economic growth, rising comprehensive strength and influence, Japan began to worry that China would take the leading role in promoting cooperation and constructing the regional order in East Asia. Thus, Japan began to advocate an expanded "East Asian Community", augmenting the "10+3", which comprises the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus China, Japan and South Korea, to "10+6", with the inclusion of India, Australia and New Zealand, and is now pulling in the US.

In the economic field, Japan turned to Asia-Pacific cooperation from East Asian cooperation and intends to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. Japan's argument is that dealing with China's "gigantism" and restricting it needs a big system or system expansion. In other words, with China's development and growth in economic size, the regional framework and system restricting China should expand and extend correspondingly so as to dilute and counterbalance China's power and influence.

In reality Japan is deliberately diluting East Asia's geopolitical and geo-economic significance, lowering the US' wariness and pulling in the US.

Japan's actions have undermined or at least diluted the process of East Asian cooperation and become a negative factor in East Asian cooperation.

Since former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama suffered a setback in turning Japan's US-centric foreign policy to a more Asia-focused policy, Japan's Asia-Pacific strategic adjustment is focused on strengthening the Japan-US alliance and trying to woo India, Australia and other countries to guard against China's rise. In recent years, Japan has developed increasingly close relations with India and Australia, forming sort of quasi-alliances.

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