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Reader Riposte: Japan must adapt

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24 July 2008 10:46

Crispin responds to Hugh White's latest post on the nuclear issue of Japanese nukes.  

Hugh White makes a strong case for reviewing changing circumstances, and I thank him for inspiring this debate. Yet Hugh seems bent on the idea that Japan and China will have a relationship of mindless adversarialism going forward. I strongly support any notion that forces Japan to address the changing geopolitical realities of the region. I do not believe that the Yoshida doctrine, which has served Japan so beautifully for the last 50 years is going to deliver the same returns for the next 50, or even the next 20.
 
At the same time I do not buy that means Japan needs nuclear weapons. What Japan needs is to address the very serious problems in the Sino-Japanese relationship. Overall I think that they will. As James Kelly said at the Confucius institute here in Perth recently 'Japan and  China are destined to live together whether they like it or not'. Essentially this means that Hugh is probably right in that Japan's interests may be curbed by Sino-US relations, but only as a result of the Japanese failing to compromise.
 
Japan is a highly adaptive country. It adapted to colonial influence, it adapted after the end of the Pacific War, I expect they will adapt well to a rising China. If Japan acquires nuclear weapons, however, that will be a giant back step in Sino-Japanese relations, almost certainly bringing about the type of adversarialism that would make nuclear weapons necessary.
 
I'll admit the blogosphere is quite toxic in the respective countries. Yet China and Japan are showing a greater willingness to shelve nationalism in favour of mutual economic interests, as demonstrated by the joint exploration of the East China Sea. While this does not automatically translate to enduring agreements, you only have to look as far as the Sino-Russian border deal to see what a closer partnership can eventually accomplish.

The Chinese and Japanese governments both consist of fairly mature people. Whether genuine reconciliation takes place I feel is really up to Japan. Certainly pointing nukes at China is a pretty poor start. Hugh says that it is the 'least bad' solution. Honestly I can't see anything worse.

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