True, Abe has made revision of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution--the so-called peace article--a centerpiece of his campaign for prime minister. And Abe has certainly been hawkish on both North Korea and China, recently musing aloud that Tokyo should think about acquiring military capabilities to strike North Korea before Japan itself is hit. (Abe himself jokes that his country, once confident in the goodwill of its neighbors, has been "mugged by reality.") But a liberalism that wants to defend itself is no less liberal for doing so.
More to the point is Abe's own vision of greater cooperation among Australia, Japan, India, and America, the four great Asia-Pacific democracies. If Japan is going to be a more confident actor in Asia and on the world stage, it will aim to do so in the context of this like-minded community. This vision could end up as Abe's greatest legacy.
Asia today lacks the kinds of effective multilateral institutions that have soothed historical grievances in Europe. What it has is a mishmash of regional organizations, composed of distinctly different governments with distinctly different views of what constitutes real security and good governance. These organizations can be sounding boards for problems, but rarely do they provide actual solutions. Yet Asia's security problems are increasingly urgent and transnational in scope: a nuclear, proliferating North Korea, radical Islamic insurgencies in transitional democracies, and a rising China willing and able to throw its newfound weight around the region.
To address these problems, Asia needs a new multilateral network based on the universal values that Japan has embraced. Washington should welcome such a development, with Japan, Australia, the United States, and India as its core. While Beijing will complain that a security community made up of Asian democracies is simply a tool for containing China, there is no reason to believe any of these democracies will be any less willing to engage with it. And the fact is there are other organizations in Asia, some of which China has been at the forefront in creating, of which the United States is not a part.
For Beijing, Japan's past is a diplomatic weapon that can be used to isolate Japan from its neighbors and make other countries wary of its attempt to play a different international role. It has very little to do with moral culpability and everything to do with a contest of wills in which China is bound and determined to keep Japan from exercising that new role.
Washington should see China's stratagem for what it is and, instead, support Japan's effort to become a "normal" democratic power.A Japan That Can Say Yes
We Should Welcome the Nationalism of Prime Minister Abe
By Gary J. Schmitt, Dan Blumenthal
Posted: Monday, October 2, 2006
The Weekly Standard
Publication Date: October 9, 2006
I totally agree. Japan's role is to cooperate with other Democratic Asian nations, and keep demanding China that she be more democratic, more respectful for human rights, and the rule of law.
I might add the Great Britain as the member of the network.It is "sea power".and geopolitical position is similar to Japan.
JAKARTA (Reuters) - A Japan that takes a more assertive role in regional security matters would be welcome, Indonesia's defence minister said on Monday.
"I think a forceful and assertive Japanese role in East Asian security would be welcome. It would provide a good balance," Indonesian Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono told Reuters in an interview.Tue Oct 3, 2006 1:5Reuters