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Monday, April 25, 2005

Let's you and him fight

A couple of weeks ago, I said that I'd probably need Chalmers Johnson to explain the recent tension between Japan and China. Well, the WSWS does a pretty good job of tackling the subject, and guess what: The Bushies are behind a lot of it.
The essential basis for the Bush administration’s policy was laid out in an influential bipartisan document issued in October 2000 entitled “The United States and Japan: Advancing Towards a Mature Partnership”—more usually known as the Armitage-Nye report. Richard Armitage, who became Bush’s deputy secretary of state, and another study group member, Paul Wolfowitz, who was installed as US deputy defence secretary, played major roles in implementing its recommendations.

Both the Democrats and Republicans in the study group agreed that the “prospects for conflict in Asia are far from remote” and concluded that the US had to ramp up its alliance with Japan. “Japan remains the keystone of the US involvement in Asia. The US-Japan alliance is central to America’s global security strategy,” the report stated. It went on to declare: “We see the special relationship between the United States and Britain as a model for the alliance”. In other words, just as London had become Washington’s loyal instrument in Europe, Tokyo was to play a similar role in Asia. The unnamed, but unmistakable, target was China.

Many of the report’s elements—closer cooperation between the two militaries; reorganisation of US military bases in North East Asia; broadening the scope of US-Japan missile defence cooperation; encouraging Japan to play a larger international role; US support for Japan’s bid for a permanent UN Security Council seat—read like a recipe book for the Bush administration’s subsequent relations with Japan. Its most controversial aspect was the open advocacy of constitutional change in Japan. While paying lip service to the need for the Japanese people to decide, it bluntly declared: “Japan’s prohibition against collective self-defense is a constraint on alliance cooperation. Lifting this prohibition would allow for closer and more efficient security cooperation.”