Plunge Pontificates

A place for my thoughts.

email me

Friday, May 12, 2006

Japan's Regional Strategy Criticized

Like I've mentioned time and time again. Japan seems to want to be a world player, but has problems just trying to be the big boy on the block in its own region. Japan has got to start focusing more on its regional relations if it ever hopes to gain support on a larger scale.
Most of the Southeast Asian intellectuals and lawmakers I met with recently while visiting the region made remarks critical of Japan's regional strategies. Some said Japan was unenthusiastic about negotiations on economic cooperation with Southeast Asian countries and instead was giving priority to solving domestic agricultural problems and securing foreign labor for nursing. Others said that, diplomatically, Japan was falling far behind China, which, with its deployment of aggressive maneuvers, has emerged as a major international player.

To be sure, Japan's diplomacy in Asia leaves much to be desired. Concern is growing that with China continuing its fast economic expansion, Japan could become a minor international player caught in a niche between the United States and China.
I'll be the first to admit I don't know what the solution is. Japan has never been stingy, so it isn't a monetary issue.

Perhaps Japan's reluctance to liberalize farm trade and introduce foreign labor for domestic reasons gives the impression to negotiating partners that it is unwilling to open its market -- in stark contrast to China, which is pushing a diplomatic offensive in Asia through quick decision-making under the single-party rule of the Communists. A more serious problem is that Japan has not clarified its regional vision.
Whatever the cause, Japan needs to get it fixed and soon. China is too large of a threat/presence to ignore. Its domination of the region all but guaranteed if Japan doesn't step up to the plate soon and hit a homerun with its neighbors.