GISPRI No. 10, 1994

Study Group Reports

Japan's New Asian Strategy:
Changing Our Ways


1. Changes in the Environment Affecting Strategy in the Asia-Pacific Area Following the End of the Cold War

(1) Direction of the new Clinton Administration's Asian policies in US

Characteristics of the Asian policies of the new Clinton Administration are: 1) development of relations which benefit the reconstruction of the domestic economy; 2) re-examination of the relationship with each country to advance democracy, assurance of human rights and preservation of the environment; 3) with a view to reenergizing the United Nations, strengthening of cooperation with these countries, search for a polygonal security system in addition to the existing bilateral security treaties and relation of this to a local trade system; and 4) America's selective participation in area conflicts.

Behind these new policy directions are: the decline in relative positions of military strength in the power balance of the world in the wake of the collapse of the bipolar system of America and the Soviet Union; the rising importance of economic and technological power; the drop in America's influence due to the weakened vitality of the country and its resultant lack of ability to provide economic and social leadership; the necessity of identifying a new ideology and goal to take the place of anti-communism; and the need to justify construction of a new world order and decide on a division of responsibility.

Reconstruction of the American domestic economy will necessitate an increase in individual savings, expansion of investment, and improvement in international competitive power. To realize these will require, in any medium- and long-range plan, a decrease in the country's financial deficit, strengthening of the human and physical infrastructure while at the same time having a short-range plan to increase industrial investment and expand exports.

Asian countries stimulated the market economy and liberalization of trade to a remarkable degree in the 1970s and 1980s, and as a result the total amount of America's trade in the Pacific surpassed that in the Atlantic by nearly 50%. A huge amount of funds needed for America's economic reconstruction will have to be obtained from Asia.

On the other hand, nearly 80% of the trade deficit of America occurred in the 1990s in trade with Japan, East Asia, and Southeast Asia.

The Asia-Pacific area has an extremely important position in the reconstruction of America. This area will have more opportunities to cooperate in the reconstruction, as well as being more of a potential danger to it than any other area. The Clinton Administration is expected to set forth its policies of trade and investment based on "multiplicity" and "complementarity" in which globalism, regionalism, mutualism, and nationalism are combined.

In the areas of democracy and human rights, since "ideal politique" is characteristic of American politics and diplomacy, it is improbable that the new government will give them up.

The biggest issue here is the problems existing between America and China concerning democratization and human rights. The heads of the new U.S. government are very critical of the present leaders of China.

It is highly probable, however, that the U.S. government will, in time, establish a normal relationship with China. This must happen because, if America is really to attach greater importance to the United Nations than ever before, the cooperation of China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, is indispensable, and also because China's economy is rapidly growing and developing and the country is considered to be a very promising market for export and investment.

Nevertheless, it is still possible that the U.S. Congress will strongly oppose a rapid increase in the trade deficit with China and will relate this to the problem of human rights.

The U.S. government's Asian policies may, in future, face a severe dilemma with regard to measures towards China.

The problems of environment and population may also cause tensions between America and Asia as a new "ideal politique".

America will maintain mutual security systems with Japan, Korea, and Australia. But the Clinton Administration will be watching to see how those systems can contribute to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific area. At the same time, it will take greater interest in discussions of problems of security and politics at ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference (ASEAN PMC) and at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), both of which are composed of principal members of the area; it will also have interest in the establishment of a forum for dialogue on issues of mutual concern, or of a system to increase trust among members.

In America's Asian policies, Japan and China will be the two major targets. However, now that there is no longer the threat of the Soviet Union, the triangle of Japan, America and China poses the possibility of Japan and China simultaneously becoming opponents to America in the 1990s.

The Clinton Administration will maintain its insistence that Japan be made a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The U.S. is expecting Japan to play a role in concluding the Uruguay Round of GATT, participating in United Nations PKO, promoting liberalization and democratization of the Pacific area, maintaining the U.S.-Japan security system, supporting Russia, and enforcing the prevention of the spread of nuclear weapons.

In the tripartite relations among Japan, America and China, Japan and America will maintain an alliance with each other and at the same time try to solidify relations with China, aiming toward a closer relationship among the three countries.

(2) Direction of Asian policies in Asian countries

As seen by the one-party rule still prevailing in China and North Korea with the Communist party, despite the end of the Cold War, Asia is trying to avoid the shock of a "hard landing" by maintaining the old system. The past threat of one-party Communist rule, still not entirely removed, is now being complicated by a new fear of the expected danger possible when the system finally collapses.

In this situation, various hazards are emanating from the Asia-Pacific area: spread of nuclear weapons, armament expansion, population explosion, destruction of the environment, territorial disputes, and potential military strength and hegemony of Japan and China.

Asia has no mechanism to restrain the spread of armaments and promote disarmament. It is, as it were, 'laissez faire' in the armament market, where the law of the jungle prevails. Tremendous economic growth and a number of primitive and uncertain security relations are characteristics of Asia. Another feature after the Cold War is the appearance of Japan and China as political powers in the Asia-Pacific area. Cooperation and confrontations between the two countries are sure to be manifested in the future.

The background of Japan's becoming a political power is: the doubling of the value of the yen after the Plaza accord; Japan's contribution to creation of an Asian market by increasing domestic demand; and the gaining of certain influence as a member of G7 and OECD. The Self-Defense Force's participation in United Nations PKO is seen as part of Japan's responsibility to that body, and this will also support the foundation of Japan as a political power.

China, the largest Communist dictatorship, is in a deep crisis over the peaceful destruction of its socialistic structure from within under the influence of Western capitalism and the country is thus forced to be on the defensive. China is often accused of problems involving ordinary weapons transfer, democracy and human rights, the environment, population growth, and it lacks active commitment as a global power. It is, however, trying to improve relations with Asian countries and is steadily becoming a political power. Reforms and liberalization carried out since the 1980s are gradually taking root and have contributed to economic development. China has thus come to be recognized as part of the overall dynamic Asian economy.

In the future when China cooperates more actively in the United Nations for its local stability and in peacekeeping as a permanent member of the Security Council, it will be seen as a regional power and will at that time have considerable impact on the Asia-Pacific area.

As feelings of mistrust and uneasiness spread in Asia after the Cold War, movements are building to create a special dialogue forum, and a system to increase trust among nations of the area. Among these are ideas to construct a comprehensive Asia-Pacific organization like the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, establishing a cooperative organization for local stability in East Asia, discussing security problems of the entire Asia-Pacific area at ASEAN PMC, linking UN functions with stabilization of the area, and making APEC a place for political dialogue and discussions of security.

2. Japan's Future Asian Policies and Plans

The features of Japan's Asian policies were: subordination to America during the Cold War, the establishment of mutual relations with each country in the region, and restricted political initiative and leadership due to Japan's past history. In developing new Asian strategies Japan must overcome these problems.

(1) Civilian power

In its new Asian policies, Japan must define anew its national interests as being open to the world and its role in the global society. The definition should be made from the viewpoint of a global civilian power defining the goals of universal values: human rights, protection of the environment, economic development, and making and maintaining peace. A civilian power must be formed to realize this aim. Human rights are universal; there are no European nor Asian human rights. To respect and guarantee human rights, economic development, the establishment of democracy, world peace, and preservation of the environment are all essential, and a "human rights infrastructure" must be created.

As for development, Japan should purposefully establish and proclaim its philosophy of official development assistance (ODA). In the past, Japan has been criticized for having a largely onerous ODA except for a very small gratuitous portion; a large percentage was involved with Japanese firms, mostly for the mutual benefit of the two countries, and there was an absence of humanitarian philosophy and of strategy, with too much importance attached to Asia. It is necessary, however, to point out the importance of positive aspects like "continuity, predictability, and consideration of the economic basis and social capital," which contribute to "international society becoming civic in nature." At the time assistance is provided, it is also necessary to convey the concern and discomfort of the Japanese people about the development of nuclear weapons, armament expansion, and the oppression of human rights by the recipient of the ODA.

Peacemaking and peacekeeping should be carried out under the strict supervision of United Nations PKO and PMO. An organization in Asia cooperating with the United Nations should advance local measures to keep the lines of communication and diplomacy open and clear, employing preventive diplomatic action if necessary, monitoring against arms buildup, and the exchange and disclosure of information.

(2) Promoting globalism in Asia

The remarkable growth and development of Asia, particularly of East Asia, from the 1980s on was brought about by introducing marketing and globalism to the economy.

Japan's Asian measures should be, first of all, to incorporate the local Asian economy into the open global system, instead of directing it towards closed nationalism. The first step is to create an open system in the Japanese market which is the largest in Asia and make it global.

It is inevitable that the U.S. will withdraw militarily from the world. But in the 1990s it will still maintain a special position as "the only superpower" and will continue to take an interest in global affairs. How to extract America's effectiveness as a global power and utilize it for peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific area, while at the same time employing the stability and economic growth of Asia to reconstruct the American economy and strengthen its international power is a major challenge for Japan in the 1990s.

First of all, it is important to adapt the U.S.-Japan security structure to the new strategic environment and to maintain it, and then to link it to the framework of the multilateral security of the area, to multilateral peacemaking, peacekeeping and the watchful diplomacy of the United Nations.

In reinforcing the multilateral framework, priority is in strengthening APEC, and the functions of the United Nations should be incorporated in Asian diplomacy.

(3) Cultivation of community

The modern history of Asia is one of "laissez faire": conquerors have been born and camps created, but Asia has never been cultivated as a community.

Creation of a community requires a sound market and democracy, multilateral forums and conferences must be organized on each issue, and in this Japan must take the initiative.

With a diverse society and the advancement of global networking, the problem is how best to strengthen networking of community non-governmental organizations and individuals. For this the creation of an Asian intellectual community is deemed necessary, for this lack is even more pronounced than the lack of a communal security. There are a variety of cultural and civilization heritages in Asia, but there has been no tradition of sharing or developing a common memory and values. Colonization occurring throughout history and into recent times tore the intellectual fabric of society into pieces, and the rise of Marxism and communism spawned intellectual terrorism and conformity. These are the reasons no intellectual community has yet developed in this part of the world. Today, however, there are noticeable movements like Asia Networking backed by the Chaiyong Limthongkul Foundation which was established by Sondi Limthongkul and Professor Chai-Anan in Thailand, and the Institute for National Policy Research of Chang Yung-Fa Foundation in Taiwan. These are devoted to establishing an Asia-Pacific framework of communication.

Three points are deserving of emphasis in the creation of an intellectual community.

First, since societies are expected to play a greater role in the world with the end of the Cold War, research and mutual efforts to increase the understanding of each society for others is very important. Development of an intellectual community is a very real need in Asia because it is vitally involved with the protection of human rights, the development of democracy, and the creation of an environment for peace. Included are problems of population, education, literacy, status and rights of women, the environment, development and refugees, local autonomy, and also those of civilian control and the "dual function" of the military, that is, martial activities and political and social functions. Another need is to change the "military culture" (Korea), the "dual function of the military" (Thailand and Indonesia), and the "military and livelihood community" (China) and make these instead a people's state and society.

As important as the problems to be addressed is the matter of those who shoulder the responsibility, and intellectual communication among civil groups and individuals outside the government should be promoted.

Second, intellectual communication should not be undertaken by Japan alone, but in many ways by many countries. This will require means like submitting investigative reports through an international organization or entrusting some particular area of research to another country.

Third, collaboration with Asian countries is necessary to theorize on and develop ideologies of "Asian experiences" and "Asian ideas." Economic and political development and economic and political reform in Asia will, in future, be important subjects with universal value.

In creating an Asian community, Japan must realize that it bears great responsibility for at one point in modern history depriving the area of the possibility to develop a sense of community. Recognition of the diversity of Asia and reflection on the history of Japan's relation to it can be the starting point for new measures to advance this valuable part of the world.