Friday, July 22, 2005

Japan and his neighbors: " Problem" a former Tokyo cabinet minister says.

I recently wrote a column for my news station in Paris about Japan's difficulties facing China and other Asian neighbors. My point was among others balanced and I tried to focus on strategical issues including the assistance of US forces in Japan. I got this comment from a Kantei (Prime Minister bureau) official :


"It is overstatement to say Japan is badly liked of Asia
as the issue you have mentioned is mostly about Japan's
relationship with China. Asia consists of many more
countries and the title gives wrong impressions
concerning Japan in Asia.

Moreover, the reporting does not give any regard to the
fact that Japan is now a pacifist country which has not
engaged in a war or combat for past sixty years. This is
quite a feat for any country in this region. There is no
glorification of imperial past either.

I am disappointed with the reference to the American
forces in Japan as they are in other area of world as
well and does not merit special attention in this
context as this particular anchor does.

As a fast developing country China needs Japan and Japan
needs China in many ways. This is a view shared by both
country leaders and I believe your viewers would not be
served well by overemphasizing conflict between two
countries in this manner."

End of quote of this Japanese official who prefers to
remain anonymous...

Now... the real facts:

Born in 1935, Taichi Sakaiya was a bureaucrat of the former Ministry of International Trade and Industry before he became a novelist. He served as Minister of State for Economic Planning in the administrations of Keizo Obuchi and Yoshiro Mori

Quote :

"Meanwhile, no country in the world has more serious
political and diplomatic problems with its neighbors
than Japan.

The root cause of these problems lies in the way
politicians leave foreign policy to bureaucrats. There
is also the problem of sectionalism by ministries that
are determined to protect their turf. The Yasukuni
problem is no exception.

The government leaves it to the Foreign Ministry to
provide explanations about Koizumi's Yasukuni visits to
China and other neighboring countries. As a result,
Japan seems to be giving different explanations to
audiences at home and abroad.

In foreign policy, political judgment to choose what is
more important to the nation and give in to other
countries on other points is indispensable. Such
judgment is lacking in Japanese diplomacy.

The situation is so critical that I am reminded of a
comment by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the
eve of the Pacific War. He said that Japan refuses to
compromise on anything.

Koizumi has remained adamant about making the shrine
visits since he first publicly pledged to make them when
he was campaigning for the Liberal Democratic Party
presidential election. If that is the case, he should
squarely face the Yasukuni problem as a religious
problem and not a political one.

He should explain his thoughts on Yasukuni Shrine and
make a concerted effort to win the understanding of
neighboring countries. Doing so would also be the first
step in sloughing off the practice of leaving diplomacy
to bureaucrats and recovering strategic foreign policy."

(IHT/Asahi: July 21,2005) end of quote

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The making of a China-EU world

The president of the European Union Commission, Jose
Barroso, has just completed a visit to China, which this
year celebrates the 30th anniversary of the
establishment of diplomatic relations with Brussels.

"Fifteen to 20 years from now the EU, enlarged further
eastwards, more integrated and more independent, might
prove to be the model for the governance of
macro-regions, paving the way for a global political
architecture that can cope with technological, economic
and business globalization.

In the post-Cold-War world, the relationship between
Europe and China has gained momentum. However, as the
world dramatically changed for a second time in a decade
in the fall of 2001, Beijing, a model for developing
countries (paving the way to poverty reduction), and
Brussels, a model for cooperation between countries
(paving the way to articulate sovereignty and
globalization), have to take greater responsibilities to
work as the main architects of a cooperative Eurasia.

In the post-September 11 world disorder, the EU and
China have to conceive a genuine strategy to act as
Eurasia's structuring poles, making them into the
pillars, with the US, of a stable world order.

To face the challenges of this "grand chessboard",
Brussels and Beijing have to agree on a grand strategy.
They have both the material and cultural resources to
become sources of stability for our dangerous and
volatile "global village".

Fundamentally, this will require a common foreign and
security policy reflecting a united and independent
Europe and conducted by a far-sighted strategist. In a
move whose consequences in scope could be compared to
Henry Kissinger's "triangulation", which restructured
the strategic landscape, the EU would decide to
massively support China's economic development, to
invest in trans-continental infrastructure projects -
road, rail, energy, telecommunication, water management,
and to lift the arms embargo on China.

With the handover of Hong Kong (1997) and Macau (1999) ,
there are no more substantial disputes between China and
Europe. In the process of globalization, trade is
booming between a more independent and assertive EU and
an opening China. Both Brussels and Beijing have
clarified their intentions in official documents.
Beijing made an historic move: China in October 2003
released its first-ever policy paper on the EU.

An enlarged Europe is coming closer to an open China,
while Russia is creating the objective conditions to act
as a genuine and constructive bridge. In the 17th
century, German philosopher, physicist and mathematician
Gottfried Leibniz already saw the potential
complementarities between Europe, Russia and China -
Novissima Sinica, but today growing interdependence on
the Eurasian crescent is a reality.

The attitude of Central Eurasia's rising power,
Kazakhstan, and of a democratic Mongolia - whose
intellectual and political elite understands better than
others Eurasian dimensions - complete also the picture
of a Eurasian arc where a momentum for closer
cooperation is gathering.

It is within that context that China and the EU have to
act as two structuring poles of a cooperative Eurasia.
While the EU is a model for cooperation between
countries, China is a model for developing countries.
They are potentially engines for Eurasia's stability and

Fully aware of this potential, a strongly united Europe
and a post-Maoist China should make refocused use of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(after Japan, Korea, Thailand and Afghanistan, China
should become a "partner for cooperation"); the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization (the EU should become at least
an observer); and the Asia-Europe Meeting (needs as soon
as possible to include Mongolia and Kazakhstan).

Brussels and Beijing have to show by their vision and
concrete actions that Eurasia has become genuinely
post-imperial and that under the driving force of their
common strategy they can become, with the US, pillars of
a stable world order.

Reflecting on the relationship between Europe and China,
it is ultimately necessary to take a real measure of
their unique historical-philosophical contexts and to
use these "invisible" factors to ensure the "visible"
interactions. "

end of quotes

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Skepticism on claims of national security.

President Bush said that he would fire anyone in his
administration who had leaked the identity of a CIA
officer, if the leak broke the law. "If someone
committed a crime," Bush said speaking to reporters
after a meeting with visiting Indian Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh, "they will no longer work in my

Might be waiting long. But this event, in addition to
send Judith Miller a journalist of the New York Times
to jail while Bob Novak is free and non supportive

of his colleague, brings in others problems :

Quote : The debate over the leak of CIA operative
Valerie Plame's identity has caused a curious about-face
by Washington politicians, with Democrats who have long
favored a laissez-faire attitude toward leaks of
classified information now decrying them, and
Republicans who once wanted to criminalize every such
leak suggesting that the one involving Ms. Plame wasn't
so terrible.

"This is just shameless," a former Justice Department
official, Bruce Fein, said. He said the political
posturing on both sides may actually encourage more
leaks. "It really is staggering. It undercuts their own
claim that it's serious business, because it makes
people in the bureaucracy think the only issue is
whether you have enough politicians lined up behind

Those who track government classification policy were
left spinning by last week's political developments, as
Democrats moved to take advantage of the disclosure that
President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove,
apparently played some role as a source for news stories
that exposed Ms. Plame's employment at the CIA.

Several Democratic senators, including Senator Schumer,
pushed for a new law stripping security clearances from
leakers. The Senate's Republican leadership countered
with a proposal aimed at denying clearances to lawmakers
who release classified FBI reports or make comments that
are used as propaganda by terrorist organizations.

" It teaches us to be a little bit more skeptical of
claims of national security," said a leading authority
on government secrecy, Steven Aftergood of the
Federation of American Scientists. "Our classification
policies are inevitably filtered through a political
lens... " (end of quotes The New York Sun)

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