China, on the other hand, has been receiving rave reviews for its rapid economic growth and how it is likely to be the new engine of Asian, if not global growth. This perception of China as a rapidly rising star is creating a momentum of its own, making its skeptics an oddity.
At the same time, Japan's security alliance with the US is not a political plus with some Asian countries, because the US is perceived as an outsider. Japan, therefore, appears tainted while China is a home-grown Asian leader.
It is this halo around China which puts Japan at a terrible disadvantage in image-making. Beijing is squeezing every ounce it can from Japan's wartime guilt
If Tokyo will not accept the regional role scripted for it in Beijing, its choices are: first, to continue with its US alliance in an increasingly active role; and second, to create an autonomous political and military role, which might include acquiring nuclear weapons at some point. The latter is problematic, not only because it will create a terrible uproar in Asia because of Japan's wartime record, but because it could also jeopardize Japan's US alliance.
Japan is, therefore, unlikely to put itself in that situation. What it can do, though, is to acquire sufficient military power to make the exercise of China's coercive or actual military power costly for Beijing in any bilateral disputes where the US might not like to get involved.taipei times