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Thursday 24 Aug 2017 | 19:42 | SYDNEY
Thursday 24 Aug 2017 | 19:42 | SYDNEY

Reader ripostes: Tokyo's place in the Six-Party Talks



16 October 2008 09:53

Below, two reader responses to Brendan Taylor's guest post about the Six-Party Talks, in which he suggested 'a trilateral China-North Korea-US mechanism as an alternative to the Six-Party Talks...Tokyo will not be fond of this idea. But peace in Asia is ultimately contingent upon the ability of Beijing and Washington to get along, not Tokyo and Washington...as Japan’s own economic and strategic weight gradually diminishes...Tokyo can increasingly expect more of the same...they may just have to learn to live with it.'

Robyn Lim has a response to this argument below, but first, Peter Alford:

The important thing is Tokyo and Beijing working out a modus operandi, which they’ve been trying for. And actually, if Tokyo does not accept that peace in Asia is mediated by Washington and Beijing (and particularly though an agency as odd as Christopher Hill), it will express its differing strategic interests in certain ways. For instance, it’s assumed Japan can get a deliverable nuclear capability in about 12 months.

China knows this and behaves accordingly, it’s interesting that other folks don’t. And from where does your correspondent draw the view that Japan’s economic weight, at least, has diminished in recent months? It seems to have increased.

And here are Robyn Lim's thoughts (just to note, the phrase 'lump it' appeared only in the title of Brendan's post, and was my invention, not his):

The idea that Japan should just like it or lump it shows how little understanding there often is in Australian academic circles about the reality of security issues in North Asia.

I wonder how Australians would feel if a neighbouring country (with a totalitarian regime and a history of state sponsored terrorism) had tested nuclear weapons, was strongly suspected of being able to stick them on missiles capable of reaching nearly all of Australia, and the US had done a deal with that country out of pure political expediency that undermined our confidence in the US nuclear umbrella?

What if another of our 'allies' then told us to like it or lump it? Would we not recall that we had a serious nuclear attraction in the late 1960s? And maybe even remember why? Because we feared that both the US and UK were bugging out of Southeast Asia, and we might be left alone to look after ourselves as best we could.

Moreover, we had a prime minister, John Gorton, who believed that the fall of Singapore in February 1942 had represented a betrayal. So Gorton believed that only nuclear weapons could guarantee that we would never be abandoned again. The same logic drove the British nuclear program just after the Second World War. The US actively tried to stop the British program, via the McMahon Act, but the British remembered May 1940, when they stood alone against Hitler, and Roosevelt's main interest was ensuring that the Royal Navy was sailed to Canada and kept out of Hitler's maw.

Currently, the US has done an extremely dubious deal with North Korea out of pure expediency — Bush's need for a 'legacy'. The North Koreans have played him like a fish. Here we have the hitherto swaggering Texan making all kinds of concessions because the North Koreans have held a gun to his head. And then shoving it all down Japan's throat. Worse, Bush has potentially sown dragon's teeth. Japan is not all that far away from a nuclear weapons capability itself. And the NPT regime is clearly breaking down, as shown by the US nuclear deal with India.

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