On March 6, 2011, Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara resigned officially due to accepting donation from a Korean national. Most countries have laws banning officials from accepting foreign donations directly or indirectly. Obama was forced to return some donations in 2008 for this same reason. Maehara’s receiving of 250k Yen is paltry though, and I don’t think that is the true reason for his resignation.
Lately we have been spending a lot of time discussing Korea. Yesterday I had a chance to discuss this issue with one of my best friends over lunch. This post is essentially a distillation of that conversation.
There are few more important points people should bear in mind when thinking about what is happening in that region. The DPRK indeed bombed an inhabited area killing two civilians and two marines. Even if the ROK was wrong in shelling into clearly DPRK territorial waters, an equal retaliation could have been to shell a ROK controlled territory not occupied by people. Beyond that is indeed overboard.
On this specific incident alone, the DPRK escalated the tension. On any form of escalation, I think it deserves condemnation. Some of you have expressed a need to condemn, and I agree in this context. The world community ought to be precise about that.
Many Americans think the politics of East Asia is dominated by China on one side and U.S.-Japan on the other. While that may be true on the surface, the dynamics are actually very complicated, and in fact makes that dichotomy false. The pillar of the Japan-U.S. alliance was born out of the Cold War in fear of the former Soviet Union, which no longer exists today in case you haven’t noticed. In contrast, the threat today is a loose combination of whatever is posed by North Korea, China, and Russia. For the on-going of American occupation of Japan, I think it is a much harder sell today.
We see cracks in the pillar recently – former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama made the policy pronouncement when taking office to focus on this idea of an East Asian Community. He won partly on the issue of wanting the U.S. to relocate the military base in Okinawa. Japan is now occupied for over 60 years. This situation is unprecedented in history. How long should the U.S. be occupying Japan? Another 10, 100, or 1000 years? Japan is already paying for the U.S. military presence, so it is only a matter of time before the Japanese wanting to spend that money too on her own military. Continue reading China, Japan, and U.S., a case of “paper, rock, and scissors”→
Is Google siding with Japan’s claims at the expense of China? Search for “Diaoyutai” or the Chinese character equivalent, “钓鱼台群岛,” you’ll not be able to find the disputed islands. Circled in red below is where a pin should be placed. Nothing shows up.
Japan’s NHK World has just reported the detained Chinese captain (Zhan Qixiong) since September 8 will be released. The report said:
Japanese prosecutors have decided to release the captain of a Chinese fishing boat involved in collisions in the East China Sea. The captain’s detention has stirred tension between Japan and China.
I’d be shocked if the captain is dragged through some trial in Japan using Japanese law, because Diaoyutai (or Senkaku as known in Japan) is a disputed territory. If Japan prosecutes Zhan, it implies Japan has unconditionally rejected China’s claims. Doing so would have put Japan’s hope for a form of Asian Union on the line. The Chinese government has shown restraint too, in my opinion. If not, they’d put that same hope on the line as well. So, I am personally happy to see this issue coming to an end without further escalation (ok, reading Western media, it appears Japan and China are at each others throats with knives). Continue reading Diaoyutai Chinese Captain to be released→
In this Op-Ed in China Daily, “FTA pushes ASEAN ties,” an associate professor at the School of International Studies of Nanjing University had these interesting statistics about the trade volume between China and ASEAN countries:
A much-anticipated free trade area (FTA) between China and the regional bloc was formally launched in early 2010, which, with a $4.5 trillion trade volume, ranks as the world’s third largest trade zone. The bilateral trade value in the first half of this year reached $136.5 billion, an increase of 55 percent year on year, and the figure for the full year is expected to total $250 billion.
I think this is a responsible move on Japan’s part. It is a step forward in reconciliation. Some people argue unless the Japanese take full responsibility for their past atrocities, warming of relations with Japan should not be allowed. That is backwards. I have always said in the past, the warming of relations gives confidence and actually allows both parties to face a difficult past. This is more in tuned with human nature. Of course, this does not mean the past ought to be forgotten.
For the Chinese people, they in fact have shown incredible forbearance. The ultimate lesson of this recent history for us all is to not let it repeat. That should be a goal our generation work towards. If we do not, we are in fact likely sewing the seeds for our future generations to repeat the past. The Chinese government is expanding relations with Japan despite this unresolved history. That is responsible, wise, and admirable. Continue reading China Daily reports, “Japan apologizes for annexation of Korean Peninsula”→
According to a Xinhua report, the 6th China-ASEAN Expo is being held in Nanning, Guangxi province, Oct 20 – Oct 24th.
I have mentioned in the past, that Asia is underway to form its own free trade zone like the E.U.. (For material goods,) the article says China-ASEAN Free Trade will commence in 2010 – which is on schedule. More details: China-ASEAN FTA to be completed in 2010, ASEAN envoy.
The E.U. took many treaties between member states to culminate in the union that exists today and then the single currency, Euro. See, E.U. Timeline for details. I see what is happening in Asia mirroring what happened in Europe.
In my prior post about Japan’s new Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama’s opinion piece on the NYT, I was encouraged by Hatoyama’s view of an Asian Union. This is an interesting trend I encourage our readers to follow. Xinhua reported Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and ROK Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Yu Myung Hwan has met in Shanghai on September 28, 2009 to “deepen their all-round cooperative partnership.” This is in preparation for the three countries top leaders to meet in October in Beijing. It will be interesting to see what new trilateral agreements they reach by then, at which time the top leaders will endorse and announce.