Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mainichi interviews Kent Calder

The Mainichi Shimbun published an interview with Kent Calder, the director for East Asian Studies at the Edwin O. Reischauer Center. During the interview, Calder said the Obama administration would not favor China over Japan.

“I don’t think you can deny the importance of China,” said Calder. “But I don’t think the emphasis on China as opposed to Japan will be as strong...as in the Clinton administration or in the (second term of the) Bush administration.”

As for the financial crisis, he said the situation was “rather severe” and he noted that “Japan is the largest capital exporter in the world.” His comments suggest that he wanted Japan to bailout America.

But he saved his most interesting comment for Iran.

“Maybe if there is one single most important issue in the whole world it could be Iran,” said Calder. “So I think the U.S. will look at the North Korean nuclear issue through the eyes of the Iranian problem. We don’t want to encourage the Iranians. (Because North Korea already has nuclear weapons), almost inevitably any accommodation we would make with North Korea would encourage the Iranians. So I think the result of this, because we’re looking with a high priority at the Iran question, is that we will not push so hard with North Korea. I don’t think we will see significant progress in the six party talks until next year.”

Calder seems to be suggesting that the issues of Iran and North Korea are linked. For America, dealing with Iran is more important than dealing with North Korea. But for Japan, presumably, the opposite is true. Dealing with North Korea is more important. If you ask the Japanese government, I am sure they will justify their interest in North Korea by using the following argument. North Korea poses a grave threat to Japan because of their hostile intent and their proximity to Japan. And I’m sure they will mention the fact that North Korea was illegally detaining several of their citizens. And so Calder seems to be hinting at some sort of quid pro quo. If Japan wants America to do something on North Korea, then Japan must do something on Iran.

That, of course, begs the question, what does America want Japan to do? Destroying the relationship between Iran and Japan has been a long term policy objective of America. America wanted Japan to do something that would achieve that objective. On several occasions, I have heard Japanese officials proclaim that Japan and Iran have “historic relations,” relations that have persisted for 2,000 years.1 Presumably, America knows about the historically friendly relationship between Iran and Japan and worries that Japan might establish closer ties to Iran. That would put the West at a disadvantage, as their relationship with Iran remained hostile. In fact, it was only three decades ago that the West enjoyed a good relationship with Iran. But the Iranian revolution changed all that.

However, things are not always as they seem. The relationship between Iran and the West and the relationship between Japan and North Korea are much different than is commonly known. In fact, Iran still remains a client state of the West. And North Korea is actually a client state of East Asia. Both North Korea and Iran are the “attack dogs” for their respective masters.

As I stated earlier, the West wanted the Iranian Revolution. They wanted to drive up the price of oil. They wanted to impede the development of the Iranian economy.2 And they wanted to use Iran to cause all sorts of mischief throughout the Muslim world.

As for North Korea, whenever something goes awry in the relationship between the West and East Asia, North Korea comes in and threatens to obliterate South Korea. They do this to put pressure on America. America is responsible for much of the defense of South Korea. If North Korea attacked South Korea, America would get caught up in yet another war. And that’s the last thing we want now. And so by having North Korea threaten to attack South Korea, that puts pressure on America. Of course, since the Korean War, North Korea has only threatened to go to war with South Korea. That is because they realize that a war would be harmful to East Asia. And so they merely threaten to attack South Korea. And they do various other hostile acts now and then, many of which are targeted at America. For example, they seized the USS Pueblo, they shot down a U.S. reconnaissance plane, and they killed a U.S. soldier who was chopping down a tree located in the border between North and South Korea.


1 For the record, I have little knowledge of the 2,000 year history of relations between Japan and Iran. I only know about the more recent developments.

2 The Iranian Revolution led to the Iran-Iraq War, which of course badly damaged Iran. And with a “hostile” regime in charge, that gave the West an excuse to limit their economic cooperation with Iran.

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