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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 16:33, March 01, 2005
Sino-Japanese relations under the "new US-Japan Security Alliance"
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By now it can be said that Washington is getting what it wanted at last since the United States pushed Japan to clearly express its stand on the issue of Taiwan. The connection between Japan and the issue of Taiwan has been made finally under the framework of the new US-Japan military alliance, and as a result, the situation, in which Japan was worried about China, comes to an end.

The United States and Japan issued a statement on February 19 listing "encouraging the peaceful resolution of issues concerning the Taiwan Straits through dialogue as one of their common strategic objectives for the first time after the US-Japan Security Consultative Committee in Washington held by the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries. The chosen time and its implication have given China and the international society food for thought.

In 1996, the joint declaration on US-Japan security issued in Tokyo by the then US President Bill Clinton and Japanese Prime Minister Hashimoto Ryutaro marked the shift of the US-Japan military alliance to post-Cold War era from Cold War era. The key contents of the declaration shifted from the old security relations guaranteeing Japanese security in the Cold War era to safeguarding the security in the East Asian region in the "new security relations''.

The "new definition'' of the US-Japan military alliance led to the middle-term US-Japan defense guidelines in 1997, a "bill relating to measures in the event of a situation in the areas surrounding Japan'' passed by Japan in 1999 and to the readjustment of Japanese defense system and policy under the framework of the relevant legal system in order to implement security policies more effectively started in 2001.

In 1996 when Japan issued the Japanese-US Security Declaration it avoided direct political collision with China on the issue of Taiwan by using ambiguous "situation in areas surrounding Japan'' to plan its Japanese-US military target in consideration of its relations with China and of the restrictions to its self-defense forces system imposed by its pacifist Article 9. In addition, what role Japan will play in the US military interference in the East Asia region was fixed at subservient services, namely the activities including rear area support for U.S. forces activities, ocean rescue and information collection.

But from 1997 up to now Japan has taken a material step forward in the areas of making the dispatch of its troops overseas permanent, further relaxing self-defense forces system, establishing overall legal system in conjunction with the situations that may emerge in areas surrounding Japan and of expanding the cooperation of Japan-US missile defense system �C the transition of the Japanese defense system to a "normal country's one'' has been completed. It can be said that although there is no amendment to the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Japanese pacifist constitution the whole Japanese defense system has been put into the state of "doing one thing under cover of another''.

Japan has been ready to plan a middle-term guideline for new US-Japan defense cooperation since December 2004. The Japan-US military alliance is turning to the joint US-Japan "military action'' from the military alliance in the 1990s that US played "a main role while Japan played "a supporting role''.

Japan's 2000 white paper on defense said for the first time that Chinese military development poses a threat to Japan and Japan even said in its 2004 white paper on defense that it is facing direct missile threat from China.

There is also a change on the issue of Taiwan. In the past Japan said the war across the Taiwan Straits would have impact on the East Asian security. Now its says China's use of force to solve the Taiwan question will "threaten'' Japan directly. For Japanese strategists and politicians it is vital if Japan can hold back an overall strategic challenge from China by the so-called curb on China's use of force in solving Taiwan question.

Under this background the February US-Japan statement evidently forecasts the new development of US-Japan military alliance in the future. In the past Japan did not state explicitly it would involve the issue of Taiwan. Now, the present statement is equal to saying that the Japanese government will join hands with US to cope with the Taiwan Straits situation militarily. Although the statement is ambiguous, it is very important for them to choose the time -- the readjustment of US military disposition in the East Asia will be strengthened for developing preventive measures pointing at the issue of Taiwan. The statement is aimed at their following military coordination and will give political guarantee to a more appointed US-Japan military disposition.

For example US demand Japan agree with the use of its small isle military base close to Taiwan. The statement shows that the US and Japan has reached consensus on the issue of the isle.

From the strategic angle, the significance of the statement is nothing inferior to the 1996 "Clinton-Ryutaro statement''.

It is the most important that the statement shows new readjustment in Japanese China policy. On the issue of Taiwan the traditional Japanese way of making ambiguous stand between US and China is out. On the issue of the East Asia security involving the Taiwan question there are two sides: one is the US and Japan and another is China.

Certainly it is not necessary to think that there emerges a material change in the US China policy and its East Asian strategy. The statement has made a new extension to US East Asian strategy since the middle of 1990s and is also bound to a "change in quality'' for Japanese East Asian strategy from the gradual change.

As for the Japanese politics it is nothing to be surprised about the statement. What we need pay high attention to is that the middle-term guideline for new Japan-US defense cooperation will make the contents of the statement further materialized.

By People's Daily Online

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