Where does Japan stand on relations with the U.S.?
With Japan’s government still finding its ideological way after unseating the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party, its foreign minister, Katsuya Okada, has emerged as one of its clearer and more consistent voices. And with Japan set to chair the U.N. Security Council this month, where the subject of Iran may arise, that could be significant.
Okada stopped in Washington earlier this week and reiterated his belief that the U.S.-Japan security alliance is crucial, for Japan and Asia more generally. He also doesn’t hesitate to say that China is the reason the alliance is so important.
“Of course China is very necessary for Japan and very important economically,” he said during a visit with Post editors and reporters. “However, its political system is very different. So we believe that a strong alliance between Japan and the United States, which share a political philosophy, is important for the stability of Asia, and other Asian countries also feel that way.”
Okada stressed that the goal is “to engage China in the international community,” adding, “Its military capability is increasing, its military budget is increasing, and transparency is not sufficient.”
All of that may seem self-evident. But statements from other actors within Japan’s government have bred uncertainty in Washington about how committed Japan will remain to the U.S. alliance, as opposed to favoring better ties with Beijing or broader East Asian groupings.
My sense is that Okada is a good barometer of where Japan will end up, not only because he is right about the affinity between democracies but also because most Japanese people agree with him: They want friendly relations with China, but they also want the reassurance of a U.S. alliance as China’s power grows.
As for upcoming discussions on Iran, Okada said that he had told his Iranian counterpart that there is “not much time left. Unless Iran quickly shifts policy, the situation will become very difficult and severe for Iran.”
| April 2, 2010; 11:38 AM ET
Categories: Hiatt | Tags: Fred Hiatt
Save & Share: Previous: Tiger Woods, golf's meal ticket, is back
Next: Would someone tell Vincent Gray that he's running for mayor?
Posted by: tossnokia | April 2, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: atoota_net | April 5, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: asokanandaprosad | April 5, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.