当前位置 : 首页 > 美国军事 > 美军百科 > 内容

US-Japan alliance faces fresh challenges

来源:互联网 责编:神话世纪 作者:李晓岗 时间:2006-01-16

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's ruling Liberal Democratic Party claimed an overwhelming victory in the lower house elections of September 11.

In the months to come, the prime minister's political status is expected to be consolidated and foreign policy be carried out more smoothly. His approach to diplomacy will decide the nation's position on the world stage for a long time to come.

United States President George W. Bush can only dream of enjoying such a situation. Compared to Koizumi, Bush is facing more and more constraints with regard to the implementation of his foreign policy.

Due to the long-standing instability in Iraq, the anti-War movement has been gaining ground in the United States.

The enormous damage and loss of lives caused by Hurricane Katrina has pulled Bush's approval ratings down to their lowest point since he came to power in 2001. Plunging popularity makes it very difficult for Bush to press ahead with his diplomatic ideas as he did in the past.

The history of US diplomacy after World War II shows that the more restraints the authorities are confronted with domestically, the more importance they attach to the country's ties with allies.

According to this reasoning, the weakened position Bush finds himself in domestically will lead to diplomatic emasculation.

The United States will need Japan more than ever to help push forward its East Asian strategy. Thus, US-Japanese relations are expected to be further strengthened and Japan's strategic status on the United States' East Asian chessboard will subsequently increase.

The US East Asian strategy has a key goal - to maintain its predominant position, and specifically, to avoid confrontation with major regional powers and form a power distribution structure favourable to American national interests.

In the eyes of the United States, the nation faces three major challenges: the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, potential instability across the Taiwan Straits and China's development, with the last being the main perceived threat.

The United States has long had misgivings about China's development on the grounds that the country is thought to be at a crossroad and thus needs to be guarded against.

Japan has an overlapping strategic interest in East Asia.

Its central strategy in the region is to further increase its influence. Tokyo feels it must avoid the emergence of a direct military threat and create an international environment favourable for its regional strategy .

It is also Japan's view that China's rise, the Korean nuclear issue and the Taiwan Straits situation are its main security threats. In particular, Japan worries China's rise may prove to be a challenge to its own development ambitions.

Thus Tokyo has decided to enhance its military alliance with the United States to offset the increase of China's influence, clear away barriers, and maintain an international environment accordingly.

With such an approach to diplomacy, Japan has been willing to succumb to the United States and accept its status as a second-class citizen in the shadow of the sole superpower.

Japan has demonstrated in its policies towards China its inflexibility and lack of reflection in terms of history, which have led to a coldness in Sino-Japanese political relations.

By showing its intransigence, Japan attempts to vent its feelings of humiliation that have built up over time as a result of its forced subordination to the United States. Bullish rhetoric about gas exploitation in the East China Sea is an excuse for a tougher stance towards China.

At the same time, Tokyo's calls for the establishment of the East Asian Community and pursuit of common prosperity are to a large extent a betrayal of the country's intention to counter the increasingly close ties between China and Southeast Asian nations and compete with Beijing for the region's top political spot.

Facing the irreversible rise of China's international influence, Japan has abandoned its cautious attitude towards the Taiwan question.

At a "two plus two" summit meeting early this year, Japan and the United States expressed "strategic concerns" about the matter in a joint declaration.

Given its past attitude and other US allies' stance, Japan's statement came as a surprise.

The different diplomatic tacks the country has used when approaching the United States and China have brought about the "best period" in its relations with Washington but the "lowest point" in ties with Beijing.

Japan and the United States seem to have found common interests in containing China's increasing clout.

The two nations have the same political system and similar values. For the United States, Japan is an important tool with which to balance China's influence, while to Japan the United States serves as an indispensable outside power it can use to counter the rise of China's strength.

Both nations regard bilateral ties as the cornerstone of their East Asian strategy.

Despite enjoying a foundation for security co-operation, the United States and Japan still have dissimilar intentions in the region.

What Washington hopes is that Tokyo will help to offset the rise of China's influence. But from a long-term perspective, Japan ardently longs to fulfill its cherished dream of political status.

In recent years, Japan has expressed an increasingly strong desire to be a political power.

With ascending domestic approval ratings and support from the United States, it is possible Koizumi will work to extricate his country from US control and pursue a foreign policy independent of his master.

An economic power for a long time, Japan is advancing towards becoming a political power. Given its current political environment, the country's intentions if it were to realize its dream remain uncertain.

If it can appropriately deal with its neighbours, Japan could become a positive force in promoting East Asian co-operation. However, if it continues to go along the rightist path, it will create risks to East Asian stability.

By strengthening its military alliance with Japan, the United States has the obvious strategic intention of relying on its ally to guard against China. At the same time, the United States has also been on high alert against the re-emergence of its ally's militarism.

For Washington, the top priority is maintaining East Asian stability and ensuring its overwhelming predominance. Japan's rightist tendencies will inflict an enormously negative impact on the prospects for achieving this.

To avoid the decline of its control over Japan, the United States also needs to develop ties with China to balance the rise of Tokyo's influence.