Japan Gets Smart

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Mr. Hatoyama’s successor, Mr. Naoto Kan, has done more than just accept the existing arrangements on Okinawa. He has explicitly, publicly endorsed the role the United States plays in guaranteeing Japan’s security in an unfriendly world. In September, there was an incident at sea between a Japanese coast guard patrol vessel and a Chinese fishing trawler. The coast guard ship was attempting to turn back the trawler, which was fishing in disputed waters, when the vessels collided. The Japanese crew detained the complement of the Chinese vessel and arrested the captain (the others were sent home). After an escalating diplomatic crisis, with ambassadors being summoned and trade threats levied, Japan eventually released the Chinese captain, but refused China’s demand to pay compensation for the incident. The diplomatic fallout of the incident has not yet been fully dealt with.

Nor is China the only Japanese neighbor causing Tokyo grief. Earlier this month, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev visited an island captured by Soviet forces during the Second World War. The island is still claimed by Japan, and the status of it and several other small territories taken by the Red Army in August of 1945 has never been settled by treaty. Japan considered the visit by the Russian leader provocative, of course, and the blunt Russian response could not have helped matters. The Russians declared that they would visit the territory, which they consider to belong to Russia, at any time they chose, and that they hoped Japan would show a “more appropriate” attitude concerning the matter in the future. Japan got that message loud and clear: Russia means a stance more appropriate to a weaker nation, incapable of defending itself against the likes of China or Russia.

Faced with two powerful neighbors and an unstable North Korean dictatorship, Japan has done the sensible thing — stepped closer to its traditional ally and trading partner. At the G20 Summit in South Korea, the Japanese Prime Minister was overtly positive when discussing America’s friendship. “I thanked [President Obama] for continued U.S. support while there are some issues over China and Russia,” Kan said. “I told him that the Japanese people as well as our neighbors recognized that the US military presence is all the more important for the peace and security of this region.”

The United States is facing some unparalleled struggles today. A spend-happy government in a time of economic crisis, two ongoing wars and now, with an incoming Republican House majority set to deadlock Washington, political stalemate for at least the next two years are all looming issues. But America, even while weakened, remains awesomely powerful. Her military and diplomatic might remain world leading. Japan has finally remembered that. It’s a safe bet that Russia and China know it, as well.

Matt Gurney is an editor at the National Post, a Canadian national newspaper, and writes and speaks on military and geopolitical issues. He can be reached at matt@mattgurney.ca and on Twitter @mattgurney.

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  • USMCSniper

    Ironically, while the typical American is totally unaware that world government is just around the corner, China fully understands what is happening and is acting to position itself as one of the regional powerhouses and global hegemon. As reported in the September and December issues of DTT Digest last year, the UN and the international community is rapidly developing a plan to divide the world into economic and military regions to administer the emerging global governance. This has not gone unnoticed by China. The recent actions of China and its plans as laid out in the white paper clearly show that they will control one of the ten regions proposed by the UN Security Council in 1997. To America's shame, China is the most successful nation in the world at manipulating the American system, especially the current administration and Congress. To get most favored nation status China has enlisted Fortune 500 companies to fight their battles for them. "Some of these companies are now pulling the plug on certain grants they've been giving to think tanks when those think tanks become critical of the China trade or publish reports critical of human rights abuses in China

    • badaboo

      Oh , B>S> , UMCsniper , every damn Admin since Nkixon 's been kissing their arses . Who are YOU kidding . They've got big buisiness drooling at their profit prospects , and of course big buisiness is who fills the political coffers . Dont make this thing one sided as if it's "all Obama " , or else I'd have to call you a ignorant hypocrite.

  • Ron

    I was stationed at Okinawa from 1974 to 1975 during reversion when the U.S. returned the island of Okinawa back to Japan. Most Okinawa citizens respected and welcomed the U.S. military personnel, however there were some incidents of anti-American activity. The Marines that are (were) stationed there are the finest young men and women you can know. America's military men and women are the BEST IN THE WORLD ! !

  • badaboo

    The Japanese can be called anything but stupid .N.Korea is China's mad dog on a leash , and has been barking in Japan's direction .

  • http://freetradedoesntwork.com Ian Fletcher

    The real problem with our economy is free trade, which is killing jobs and running down our industrial base. *Real* economics doesn't suport free trade.

    See my book "Free Trade Doesn't Work" for details; the website is at http://www.freetradedoesntwork.com.