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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 November 21 - 27  > Can Fukuda diplomacy based on Japan-U.S. alliance bring about ‘synergy’ with Asia?
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2007 November 21 - 27 [FOREIGN POLICY]

Can Fukuda diplomacy based on Japan-U.S. alliance bring about ‘synergy’ with Asia?

November 24, 2007
On November 16, Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo met U.S. President George W. Bush at the White House on his first overseas visit after assuming the office. On November 20 and 21, Fukuda in Singapore attended the ASEAN Summit meeting and held his first talks with his counterparts from China and South Korea to mark the first step of his diplomacy towards Asia.

The Fukuda diplomacy is being put to the test whether it can live up to the expectations of Asian nations while simultaneously pursuing a strengthened Japan-U.S. alliance.

Failure of ‘pro-Yasukuni’ policy line

In the talks with Fukuda, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao expressed his willingness to develop bilateral relations with Japan, and South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun said that the public of South Korea expects much of Prime Minister Fukuda. Asian nations are keeping their eyes on the Fukuda diplomacy.

While Koizumi Jun’ichiro, obsessed with visiting Yasukuni Shrine, was the prime minister, Japan’s Asian diplomacy was locked in a stalemate as evidenced by the lack of summit talks with China and South Korea for a long time. Former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo also obstructed improved relations with Asian nations by consistently attempting to justify Japan’s past war of aggression.

In contrast, the Asian nations welcome Fukuda because Fukuda has made clear that he will not adopt the “pro-Yasukuni” policy line by pledging that he will not visit Yasukuni Shrine while in office.

More than 70 years ago, Japan invaded Asian countries and killed as many as 20 million people. Japan’s diplomacy must begin with the government acknowledgement of this historical fact and the offer of a sincere apology. Japan’s diplomacy since the Koizumi government has proved that justifying the war of aggression can never be compatible with diplomacy towards Asia.

Asian nations may voice again their concern if Prime Minister Fukuda lacks a clear reflection on the war regardless of his stance toward Yasukuni Shrine. The prime minister must clearly state his remorse over the war of aggression.

During his trips to the U.S. and Singapore, Prime Minister Fukuda repeatedly stated that he is seeking “synergy” between the Japan-U.S. alliance and Asian policy, although he has not made clear the concrete contents of his Asian diplomacy. If he tries to impose on Asia a diplomacy relying on the military power of the Japan-U.S. alliance, it will without doubt give rise to further contradictions instead of “synergy”.

The ASEAN Charter adopted in the recent ASEAN Summit meeting put forward a set of peace principles centered on the “renunciation of aggression and of the threat or use of force” as well as on a “reliance on peaceful settlements of disputes.”

As the center of building an East Asian community for peace, ASEAN’s peace principles will also serve as model principles in building the community for peace in East Asia.

If Japan contravenes these principles with the Japan-U.S. alliance, Japan will have to face difficulties in relations not only with ASEAN but also with the rest of Asia.

The policy of dispatching the Self-Defense Forces abroad as well as turning Japan into a nation waging wars abroad by adversely revising the Constitution will inevitably become obstacles to Japan’s diplomacy towards Asia.

Make full use of the Constitution

It is important for Japan to value Asian nations’ efforts to build a peaceful Asia through their own initiatives. Being an Asian nation, Japan must politically and diplomatically play its role as a member of Asia.

Japan enacted the war-renouncing Constitution based on remorse over its war of aggression. The move of Asian nations aimed at the establishment of the community for peace is in line with the wishes enshrined in the Constitution. A policy of cooperating with other Asian nations to establish peace by making use of the Japanese Constitution is a vitally important task in Japan’s diplomacy.
- Akahata, November 24, 2007
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