Saturday, January 8, 2011

Japan needs 'shock' to awake

The Yomiuri Shimbun published a conversation between Joseph Nye and Mitoji Yabunaka on January 8, 2011.

In the article, Yabunaka said Japan needed a shock that would change the country.

“We need something really big, such as the Meiji Restoration and World War II, to completely changes the behavior and mind-set of the Japanese people,” said Yabunaka.

Of course, not coincidentally, that shock would come about two months later when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake devastated the northeast of Japan

Much of the conversation between Nye and Yabunaka consisted of both sides making demands of the other side. For example, Yabunaka expressed his concern about the lack of U.S. leadership to Nye.

“We need very strong leadership from the United States,” said Yabunaka.

In response, Nye seemed to hint that America would only provide leadership if the rest of the world did something to boost the American economy.

“I think the U.S. does have to take an important role in leadership,” said Nye. “And I think that with the increase in economic growth that will be more possible.”

It appears that Nye believed that the U.S. economy would grow stronger in 2011, perhaps due to the recent tax cut, but if the published statistics are to be believed, that didn’t happen. Most likely, the earthquake in Japan and the rise in oil prices due to the Arab Spring got in the way. Not surprisingly, U.S. leadership was non-existent during 2011.

Towards the end of the conversation, Nye offered his own advice for the Kan administration.

“I think my advice is advice he’s already discovered, which is that maintaining a close U.S.-Japan alliance and working very closely between Tokyo, Washington and Seoul--so North Korea can’t split us apart--is the best type of response,” said Nye.

Nye also said he would like to see Japan and America cooperate on clean energy, climate change, ODA, and peacekeeping. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a whole lot of cooperation in any of those areas during the Kan administration.

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