Sunday, May 15, 2011

Are Japan's Days of Overseas Adventures Over?

Jun Okumura posted a new entry on his blog, arguing that Japan should not waste its time on dealing with foreign policy issues. He argued that Japan basically wanted the same things that America wanted when it came to international affairs, and so Japan should do nothing and just let America try to solve the world’s problems. Furthermore, with the negotiations for a new WTO trade agreement in its “death throes” and the climate change negotiations similarly going nowhere, Japan had no reason to waste its time on any of these multilateral economic issues. The only foreign policy issue that should concern the Japanese government, according to Mr. Okumura, was bilateral free trade agreements. At the end of his post, Mr. Okumura wrote that unless North Korea started acting unruly or unless America started to demand that Japan do more on the world stage, Japan should continue to do as little as possible outside its borders.

To me, the end of this post sounded like an invitation for America to apply a little gaiatsu to get Japan engaged in international affairs and so I wrote the following in the comments section.
I agree with the main point of your argument – that Japan should stay out of the wars that America so often likes to engage in. However, I do not think the Yoshida Doctrine is working well for Japan, or America, or the world. It certainly hasn't helped maintain a stable currency exchange rate for the yen nor has it helped the Japanese economy grow over the past two decades.

There are many good reasons why Japan should become more engaged in the world, not the least of which is the connection between poverty and population growth. Japan should care about the continued rise in population worldwide which puts pressure on the amount of resources available for everyone, including Japan. As countries grow richer, their population growth declines which is good for everyone. Unfortunately, many countries have not grown richer, are stuck in poverty, and have exploding populations. There has been no country who has been as successful as Japan in helping other countries develop. By sitting on the sidelines in developing countries outside of East Asia (for the most part), the Japanese economy is missing out on a golden opportunity to grow its economy and help other people.

But most importantly, the current system of lying and deceitfulness has not brought about a stable world order. For example, right now, the current system is working very badly for Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and Afghanistan. I would like to believe that Japan cares about what happens with the people in those countries. But even if it doesn't, it should care about the price of oil, which has fluctuated quite dramatically based on what happens in those countries.

The reason why these things keep happening is because we live in a world where people conceal the wrongdoings of others. This must change. But in order to change it you need to tell the truth and the truth is that the relationship between Japan and America is much different than is commonly known. I keep hoping for some display of courage from Japan and I keep getting disappointed. Your cowardice is not doing you any good, it is not doing America any good, and it is not doing the world any good.
Incidentally, someone else wrote the following in the comments section.
When translated in to English, this sentence means something like, “Let’s go for it, Japan!” Right now, this comment appears before the comment I wrote, indicating that someone posted this comment before I posted my comment. But that’s not the way I remember things. I am virtually certain that I posted my comment first. I am not sure why Mr. Okumura would change the order of these comments.

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