CHINESE THREAT IS AXIS AROUND WHICH U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS WILL TURN
IN THE FUTURE
By Shintaro Ishihara
Shintaro Ishihara is the governor Tokyo. The APEC (Asia Pacific
Economic Cooperation) Summit will be held in Shanghai Oct. 17-21.
TOKYO -- In light of China's rising economic and military might,
as well as its territorially expansionist policies that directly threaten
this island nation, Japan can no longer risk placing its security entirely
in the hands of another power. As a sovereign nation, we must develop
an autonomous defense capacity of our own.
Clearly, the time has come to review the terms of the Japan-U.S.
security alliance set in place 50 years ago to maintain peace and stability
in Asia. The issue of how to deal with a rising China will determine the
basis of the Japan-U.S. alliance in the future; it is the axis around
which the relationship must turn in the 21st century.
During the Clinton administration, the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty
guideline was amended with the containment of China's growing military
might and expansionist ambitions in mind, but Clinton maintained a double
standard because he excessively lusted after the huge Chinese market.
So far, the Bush administration has emphasized the key importance of U.S.
ties with Japan vis a vis China and correctly looks upon China as a military
competitor, a stance far more desirable to the Asian countries.
The Chinese threat has both an economic and a security dimension.
I have deep apprehensions about the Chinese economy. The production system
of the state companies controlled in each region by the Communist Party
utilizes a labor system unheard of in any other country. The extensive
cheap labor at its core is like a black hole into which the economies
of the other developing Asian countries are sinking. In China's production
system, labor disputes are not allowed, and there is no bargaining
right over labor conditions. For other Asian nations, this amounts to
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, China remains the "Last Empire''
that forcibly unites ethnic groups, cultures and religions while projecting
formidable military power and economic strength.
Mao succeeded in uniting ethnic groups by massacring a large number of
his compatriots during the long civil war. Deng Xiaoping earned his authority
by liberating the economy and launching the idea of one country, two systems.
Adopting a nationalist posture through territorial expansion and by flaunting
military power has been Jiang Zemin's way of consolidating dictatorial
control and maintaining legitimacy of the Communist Party.
To date, about 2 million people have been killed in Tibet, and the
national culture of its people has been trampled and suppressed.
If this had occurred in Europe, NATO troops
would have surely been dispatched. As it is, few Americans, other than
Hollywood actor Richard Gere, seem to take much notice.
China has also stockpiled nuclear missiles for use against India,
making its fears of Beijing's nuclear buildup and modernization well
China has also begun to assert claims over territories across the
region -- from the Spratly Islands in the Philippines to the Xisha Islands
Recently, China has even begun making noises over Okinawa, which was returned
to Japan by the United States 30 years ago.
According to one high-ranking Chinese official, Okinawa was originally
Chinese territory. In line with this pronouncement, China has invaded
the territorial waters of the remote Senkaku islands in Okinawa Prefecture,
conducting sea-bottom oil mine tests there.
Protests by the Japanese government have been feeble.
Meanwhile, China has protested the construction of a lighthouse at my
instigation to warn of the dangerous sunken rocks on Senkaku Island.
China regards this as an "invasion'' of its territory while the present
Japanese government remains hesitant about marking the lighthouse on official
sea maps. The United States does not seem to take this violation of Japanese
sovereignty seriously. In one past incident, some Hong Kong Chinese landed
illegally on the Senkaku islands, and ships from the Martime Safety Agency
(Japan's coast guard) were dispatched to monitor the incursion.
During a news conference at about the same time concerning the rape of
a female elementary school student by several U.S. Marines, then American
ambassador Walter Mondale was asked: "In the event of a bigger dispute
on Senkaku Islands, will the Americans take appropriate military action
based on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty?'' He answered a flat "no.''
The conjunction of these two events -- the failure of our U.S. protector
to defend our sovereignty while a group of its soldiers raped a Japanese
schoolgirl -- spoke volumes about the lack of American sensitivity and
There are other issues, such as the Japanese citizens kidnapped by North
Koreans who entered our territory over the years. How would the American
government react if Japan were to ask it to cooperate in freeing our citizens?
That there is even a question mark about what the United States would
do to defend Japan prompts me to propose that Japan should carry out its
own defense activities in the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea -- even
though the United States has in the past reacted with extreme reluctance
to Japan's desire for the autonomous defense of our own country.
Japan should have the ability to carry out unfailing retaliation against
those who try to invade its territorial waters or lands. We should possess
small, high-speed ships with missiles capable of hitting other ships as
well as planes as long as they are limited to the reaches of Japan's territorial
China has repeatedly ignored Japanese protests and dispatched warships
to circle the Japanese archipelago to carry out radar tests. We should
do the same. Or else Japan the United States and Australia should conduct
joint maneuvers out in the Pacific or in the East China Sea.
If these legitimate efforts breed further tensions with China and grow
into a dispute, then the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty -- which calls on
the United States to defend Japan's sovereignty -- will have to come into
If not, Japan will have no choice but to revise our security relationship
with the United States.
(c) 2001, Global Viewpoint. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate
International, a division of Tribune Media Services.
For immediate release (Distributed 10/8/01)