Japan's ambition to be No. 1 economy was never diminished. Although Japan is desperate to find a solution to grow her economy under the burden of an aging population; however, many of the U.S. and Japan’s diplomatic actions such as their joint military exercises, excluding China from the TPP initiative, cultivating more bilateral military treaties with Asian countries and the recent update of the guidelines of the US-Japan Defense Treaty all do not help the Japanese economy but make China nervous. Abe Shinzo, with his personal extreme right background and his provocative behavior in officially worshipping WW II war criminals, denying Japanese war atrocities, revising Japan’s Pacifist constitution and eagerness in engaging in external military activities and cultivating bilateral military alliances, is making the ‘peace thesis’ hard to believe. Hence, an opposite ‘pivot’ thesis, interpreting the real goal of US AP policy as an evil goal with a devious scheme has surfaced.
The ‘evil thesis’ is principally based on the words and deeds of the ‘extreme right’ in Japan echoed by the hawkish US opinions all having their respective historical origins. The current leader in Japan, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (33rd, post WW II) seems to be the pivoting force propelling a “Pivot’ policy opposite to the ‘peace pivot or peace thesis’ discussed in the last column – the real intention of US pivot policy is genuinely for maintaining peace. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is not a genius in economics; unfortunately, his 'three arrows' economic policy has basically faltered in failure. Worse than unfortunate, Abe Shinzo inherited the 'will' from his grandfather Nobusuke Kishi (A class A war criminal surfaced as Japan’s 6th PM post WW II after the Allied Occupation ended and the purge of war criminals was fully rescinded in 1952). Nobusuke’s will is ‘to revive Japan's military might and glory’. Abe believed since his first short lived term of PM in 2006-7 (27th post WW II) that the military power and war is the fast solution to Japan's problems and to reversing Japan's declining role in the world. This hawkish and legacy concept is dangerous but real so long the tenacious Nubuske ‘will’ is continuously hanging over Abe and the Japanese Administration.
No doubt, the U.S. is feeling threatened by the peaceful rise of China to surpass her economy. To some hawkish thinkers in the US think tank, this feeling coincides with the current 'China Threat' view promoted by the right-wing politicians in Japan. Neither Japan nor the U.S. hawkish right-wing would accept the peaceful rise of China, no matter how many times and how many ways the Chinese leaders stress that China wants nothing but a peaceful rise. The ‘China Threat’ view shared in the right wing of the U.S. and Japan are not based on the same logic and principles, however. In Japan, the logic is simply derived from the Nobusuke's will, that is, Japan should have been the victor of WW II. The U.S. was lucky to have developed the A-Bomb first. China never defeated Japan, China should have been occupied by Japan just like Taiwan and Manchuria had been. Japan's future is to ally with the U.S. and return to military power and eventually defeat China and then the U.S., ultimately returning Japan to her pre WW II glory. On the other hand, in the U.S. the logic is simply inherited from the Cold War, making enough trouble around any rising power (disagreeable regime) internally and externally so it will not be able to rise to threaten the interests of the U.S. (or even to make it to collapse) There were ample examples in history lending credits to the previous statement. In the case of China, the logic is that her high growth rate in the past two decades must be quenched. A stagnant economy in China would be most desirable so it would not be able to surpass the US economy. This US hawkish view is selfish and insecure but understandable from the cold war legacy. On the other hand, the Japanese hawkish view (opposite to some of the Japanese business leaders’ wish to support a ‘peace pivot’) is dangerous and threatening to mankind including Americans and Japanese people themselves.
When Nobusuke struck a deal with the U.S. signing the US-Japan Mutual Cooperation Treaty, the Japanese people opposed and protested. The U.S. wanted to test the seriousness of the protest ended up causing President Eisenhower to cancel his visit to Japan. Nobusuke later had to resign from his Premiership. In a deeper analysis, the Japanese people then loved their Pacifist constitution and still do today despite of the right-wing administration’s effort to re-educate the Japanese youth about Japan’s war history. Although Nobusuke lost his job, he nevertheless succeeded in planting his long-term strategic goal - to rely on the U.S. for defense till Japan is strong again. Nobusuke's 'will' to nurse Japan back to a 'normal' country (meaning restoring her past glory) has become the central long-term goal to be carried out by his grandson Abe Shinzo.
Japan as a nation has fostered a belief that the Japanese people (Da He Race) is a superior race, brave, intelligent and hard working but heaven has dealt them an unfair environment, small islands with limited resources. Hence Japan must expand from their islands through wars; to this day, the right-wing Japanese still interprets WW II as their sacred war to undo the injustice that heaven had unfairly given the land and resources to inferior races rather than to the deserving Da He race. Indeed, the Japanese is a hard working race, diligent and persistent turning from copy maniac to innovator, thus Japan has risen in economic size and in manufacturing power including military manufacturing despite of her limited resources. However, the world surrounding Japan has advanced too. China and Korea have not been standing still since the 19th century especially post WW II. So Abe's chance of carrying out his grandfather's will is very slim except one wishful thinking that is to drag the U.S. into a war conflict with China. This is the Japan side of ‘evil goal’ of the ‘Pivot’. The U.S. may or may not be fully aware of this Japanese tenacious 'will' power and the Nubuske's ‘will’, but the recent development in the US-Japan relations do suggest that Abe Shinzo has been so far successful in hijacking the US 'Pivot' policy to serve his long-term objective playing a ‘China Threat’ strategy to create a US-China conflict.
However, China is no longer a closed society under an ignorant Qing Emperor nor is China a Soviet-style communist government with hegemony ambition to expand military bases throughout the world. China has been cautious and worrisome about Japan's imperial ghost while she is quietly developing. Now China has risen and is fully capable of acting like a great country dealing with some of her not so peaceful minded neighbors. So long China is not carrying out a hegemony policy, the Asian countries are realists and eventually they will be smart enough to accept China as a beneficial trading partner, even as a collaborative infrastructure developer, and see through Japan's military ambition. So the Asian countries do welcome a genuine peace-oriented US 'balancing' strategy in Asia, but the objective is stability (China has the same objective) However, the fact that the U.S. is encouraging Japan to rise militarily against a rising China and encouraging and creating many military alliances with and among Asian countries inducing arms race does give arguments to the ‘evil thesis’ to interpret the US ‘pivot’ policy having an evil goal, that is to pit Japan against China leading to war for mutual destruction, careless about its consequences to Asia. This is the US side of ‘evil goal’ in the ‘evil thesis’.
Which thesis should we believe? As matter of fact, it is not important what we believe, it is important that American citizens can influence the direction the US ‘Pivot’ policy is heading toward and what desired result we would like to see. At this moment, the evidence seems to point the ‘pivot’ to an evil path.
In the next column, we shall continue our analysis and further examine the consequences of the two theses and discuss how an American citizen should help influence the US ‘Pivot’ policy.
(To be continued on issue #97.)