Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Tokyo governor Ishihara strategic alliance with Taiwan

Ishihara Shintaro, representative of Japan's ultra-Right
forces and mayor of Tokyo has been carrying out
activities in Taiwan these days. Though Ishihara' s
present visit is carried out under the cover of
"promoting the activity of going sightseeing in Taiwan",
judged from the series of his performances put up during
his previous visits to Taiwan and from the schedule made
for his meetings with Chen Shui-bian and Lee Teng-hui
and talks on matters concerning "China, Japan and
Taiwan", the visit is obviously a trip with a strong
political flavor.

Attempt to establish a US-Japan-Taiwan "new strategic
triangle" This is the fourth visit he paid to Taiwan
since he was elected magistrate of Tokyo in April 1999,
as well as his second tour to Taiwan within the recent
five months. The only slight difference is that whether
during his visit to Taiwan in November 1999 in the name
of expressing sympathy for Taiwan hit by the disaster of
earthquake, or in his Taiwan visit in May 2000 to attend
Chen Shui-bian's first-term "inaugural ceremony",
Ishihara was acting ostentatiously, he not only
viciously attacked the Chinese mainland, but also openly
supported "Taiwan independence", but in the recent two
visits, he exercised much restraint, which was contrary
to his previous practices.

However, despite his low-key, Ishihara is paying more
frequent visits to Taiwan to carry out activities, this
conveys an information that merits people's attention,
that is, Chen Shui-bian authority is stepping up its
effort to ingratiate Japan's Right-wing forces, it has
taken ever-greater move in its attempt to build a
US-Japan-Taiwan "new strategic triangle". If the Chen
Shui-bian authority's past work with Japan was regarded
"as mysterious as a submarine", then this work, though
still in a somewhat disguised manner, has surfaced,
changing from dark into light after Chen's re-election.

Chen and Koizumi gradually act in step When in office,
Lee Teng-hui energetically fostered relationship with
Japan. Taiwan also had a huge "Taiwan gang" in Japan,
Lee Teng-hui himself was also wantonly flattered by
Japan's Right-wing forces, but limited by Japan's
internal and external environment at that time,
Taiwan-Japan relations gained no notable breakthrough.

At the beginning of Chen Shui-bian's assumption of
power, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)
authority's ties with Japan were not close, lacking the
veins of human beings, this once put Chen in a
predicament in his handling of Taiwan-Japan relations.
Later, with the past "diplomatic resources" transferred
by Lee Teng-hui after "Lee-Chen collaboration", the DPP
authority first set up a "work with Japan group" led
personally by Chen Shui-bian in the "presidential
office", then it established the DPP "Taiwan-Japan
friendship association" with Hsieh Chang-ting, who once
studied in Kyoto University and was then the party
chief, appointed as its president, designating
strengthening work with Japan as the focus of its
foreign strategy, it was only then that the situation
took on a new look. In May this year, before Chen
Shui-bian formally assumed office, he hastily appointed
Hsu Shi-kai, "an old hand of the independence faction"
who had long been engaged in "Taiwan independence"
activities in Japan, to be the "representative in
Japan", it is thus clear what importance Chen has
attached to Taiwan-Japan relationship.

In the meantime, great change has also taken place in
Japan's domestic situation. Against the backdrop of
China's gradual rise and the continued slump of Japan's
economy, some Japanese politicians energetically agitate
that "there is problem with Japan's national spirit",
and "this national spirit should be revitalized" and
"Japan's national strength should be restored" by way of
revising the constitution, the domestic Right-wing trend
of thought has obviously raised its head. In such an
atmosphere, the counter-China and assist-Taiwan argument
is in vogue in Japan's political circle, especially
among some pro-Taiwan Diet members, making it a kind of
fashionable "thought".

The Koizumi cabinet has always been regarded as being
friendly toward Taiwan, after the publication of the
"emergence legislation on war contingencies" Three
Bills, the cabinet thought that this seemed to have
given it a "legal basis" for meddling in the affairs of
the Taiwan Straits, furthermore, relying on its
"contribution of money and strength" to US attack on
Iraq and the country's postwar reconstruction, the
cabinet calculated even if it did something that went
beyond the pattern on questions related to Taiwan, the
United States could hardly blame it, and might even
encourage and reward it, therefore, the cabinet became
more audacious from its second term of office. After the
second half of last year, first of all, Japanese
Self-Defense Forces invited several "Taiwan
independence" elements to watch mammoth troops review on
the sea, the Taipei Affairs Office of the Japanese
Exchange Association held in Taibei a cocktail party
congratulating Japanese emperor's birthday, and then
former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori visited Taiwan on
"private business" under the circumstance wherein Chen
Shui-bian was plunged into predicament for his
insistence on pushing for "referendum", all this gave
Chen Shui-bian authority surprise pleasure.

Taiwan-Japan ties led to "alternation of generations" In
recent years, Taiwan-Japan relations have obviously been
upgraded and have experienced some new changes.

First, the two sides have more common languages in the
convergence of "basic value" and idea. On the questions
of Japan's history of aggression, on Koizumi's Shrine
visit and on the issue of Diaoyu Island, although Chen
Shui-bian authority, under pressure of Taiwan Island's
public opinion, dare not give Japan open and
unscrupulous support, they had a strong flavor of being
cheek by jowl with Japan. After the Asian Cup tournament
this year, Chen again made use of the subject to claim
that "it seems Beijing is still not so qualified to host
the 2008 Olympic Games", speaking this in support of
Ishihara. Recently, they also jointly proposed
establishing a "Taiwan-Japan democracy and freedom value

Second, Chen Shui-bian authorities achieved notable
result in roping in Japan's politicians of Kainozoic
era, especially Diet members, thus leading Taiwan-Japan
ties to "alternation of generations". After the 1990s,
with the rapid rise of Japanese politicians of Kainozoic
era, the pace of the replacement of the old by the new
in the Japanese political arena was obviously quickened.
Compared with the older generation, this group of people
place more emphasis on the importance of stability in
the Taiwan Straits to Japan's security, thinking that
the applicable scope of the guiding principle of
Japan-US defense cooperation concerning the "surrounding
situation", of course, should include Taiwan, they even
advocate that Japan should further upgrade its ties with
Taiwan to "substantive relations", and need not "take
cue from the Chinese government". This happens to
coincide with the expectations of Chen Shui-bian
authority, and becomes a "spiritual bond" that links
them together.

In recent years, Diet members of various Japanese
parties have come to visit Taiwan in a continuous
stream, some Diet members of the new generation even
feel it honored to meet Chen Shui-bian and Lee Teng-hui.
The "theory of expecting Ishihara to be prime minister"
obviously leaves Taiwan authorities much room for
imagination. Chen Shui-bian is in ardent flirtation with
Ishihara, probably this is a reason for their tacit

Breakthrough progress in military exchange More
importantly, there has been breakthrough progress in
"security maintenance" and military exchanges between
Taiwan and Japan. "Dialogs on security maintenance"
between Taiwan and Japan have become increasingly formal
and profound in recent years. Some former Japanese
defense officials and retired military officers have
constantly played up "China's armed threat", advertising
that Taiwan should step up purchase of military
equipment and establish "cooperative alliance"
relationship with Japan, bolstering and pepping up
"Taiwan independence".

A Canadian magazine commentary revealed this July that
after suffering repeated setbacks in its purchase of
submarines, Taiwan has turned its eyes to Japan with
advanced submarine technology. Luo Fu-chuan, Taiwan's
former "representative to Japan", immediately made
strengthening "Taiwan-Japan-US security maintenance
ties" the focus of work. Hsu Shi-kai also claimed that
further advancement of "Taiwan-Japan security
cooperation" would be the primary target of his work. At
the recent "Taiwan-Japan forum", You Hsi-kun, "president
of the Administrative Yuan" of Taiwan, openly declared
that there is already "security maintenance treaty"
between the United States and Japan, and there is the
"Taiwan Relation Act" between Taiwan and the United
States, Taiwan and Japan should take advantage of this
to further establish a "security dialog channel", thus
revealing his intention of drawing up the line of
military cooperation between Taiwan and Japan, so as to
form a new strategic triangle of Taiwan, the United
States and Japan".

It can thus be seen that based on its national interests
and the need of regional security, and restricted by the
general international pattern, although Japan would not
lose the greater for the less by making drastic
adjustment of its policy toward the Taiwan Straits,
under the collusion between Chen Shui-bian authority and
Japan's Right-wingers, however, Taiwan-Japan
relationship is indeed a "surging undercurrent", and to
a certain extent there exists the danger of a
qualitative change, which must not be treated lightly.
If this trend cannot be brought under effective control
and reversed, the Taiwan issue will exceed the question
of history and bring more and greater troubles to
China-Japan relations. It is even possible that some day
in the future, people would suddenly discover that the
Taiwan issue has become the most important and most
sensitive question between China and Japan.

[This article is written by Sun Shengliang at the Taiwan
Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social
Sciences, and translated by People's Daily Online]

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