Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Sazanami sets sail

In the latest blow to the Japanese right's ambitions to scold and isolate China, the Sazanami, a Takanami class destroyer, departed today for China, where it will visit Zhanjiang, a port in China's Guangzhou province from June 24-28. The visit will reciprocate last year's visit to Japan by the Chinese destroyer Shenzen.

The visit will of course by the first visit to China by a Japanese warship since the end of World War II.

The Chinese media is now reporting (according to Sankei) that not only will the Sazanami's crew be participating in Sino-Japanese friendship events in Zhanjiang, but the Sazanami will be delivering relief supplies for Sichuan.

The visit in and of itself is not particularly significant, other than its being the first since the war. But the more these exchanges become routine (the less news agencies feel the need to report on them), the better it will be for the relationship and for the region. And the harder it will be for the Japanese right to paint China simply as Japan's enemy in an emerging cold war. Bilateral problems will persist, but at least Tokyo and Beijing are learning to deal with them constructively, and learning that even if there are policy disagreements, cooperation, communication, and exchange is necessary.

10 comments:

david santos said...

Excellent post, Tobias, excellent!
Happy day

Anonymous said...

"the Japanese right to paint China simply as Japan's enemy in an emerging cold war"

You have a such naive view of Japanese society. Go back to school and come back.

Tobias Harris said...

Dear "anonymous,"

Come back where?

I'm not talking about Japanese society. I'm talking about Japanese conservatives, who leave their loathing of China in plain sight. Fortunately theirs is a minority view.

Anonymous said...

"Fortunately theirs is a minority view."

Not minority anymore,really.

The fact is we just don't want be tagged as "Japanese conservatives"by foreigners.

Aceface

Tobias Harris said...

Funny, conservatives don't have a problem using the word themselves.

Self-styled conservatives are always saying 保守 this, 保守 that — who would have thought that it was slanderous?

Anonymous said...

Well,being "conservative"is one thing.
Branded as "Japanese conservative" is something completly different.

Aceface

Tobias Harris said...

So it's okay to just be called a conservative, even though the term means different things in different places so that without a national modifier it's analytically useless?

It's straightforward to me: conservatives who are Japanese.

Anonymous said...

"So it's okay to just be called a conservative, even though the term means different things in different places so that without a national modifier it's analytically useless?"

That's exactly a kind of things I wanted to say to you,especially reading phrases like "Japanese right's ambitions to scold and isolate China" or "harder it will be for the Japanese right to paint China simply as Japan's enemy in an emerging cold war".

Some in Tokyo are simply trying to find Japan's place in East Asian realpolitik and hoping the regional diplomacy works to counter and balance the rise of China,for we have no nukes and can't even mobilize public's attention to the defense issues that would allow swift change in our defense policy and I don't need to tell you about our article 9.
That's why we need friends and allies of all sripes on our side as much as we can before China gets everything.Could be too late by now,but we can't just give it up for the stakes are too high.

Phrases like "Japanese right"or" Japanese conservative" is used pretty much as pejorative term in English language,thus work extermely negative to those who are branded as such and eventually lose the position of the narrative heavily dictated by foreign regional specialist and Japanologists,thus marginalized in the debate,the debate our destiny is depending on.Or even worse,they get scold and isolated in judgement by default.

Aceface

Tobias Harris said...

Which is it?

First you tell me that conservatives are not in fact a minority.

Now you tell me that Japanese conservatives are victimized and marginalized.

Maybe Japanese conservatives are vilified outside of Japan because their ideas endanger the peace and stability of the whole region. That's a good reason for marginalization.

I have no problem with Japan's looking for friends and allies of all stripes. What I don't understand is why that approach should exclude China and South Korea. I'm sorry to disappoint you but the region is not simply divided into China and everyone else. Every country in the region is at once drawn to and repelled by China. Their best bet — and Japan's — is hedging against China (through ties with the US) and against the US (through ties with China).

What angers me about Japanese conservatives is that they offer no constructive ideas for how to live with China. The only way there will be a new cold war with China is if China's neighbors overreact and redirect it along a more belligerent path. Japan has no choice but to learn to live with China. Mr. Fukuda understands that. The Japanese business community understands that. Most of the Japanese people understand that intuitively. Why don't the conservatives realize that?

Anonymous said...

For starter,Let me be clear that I didn't post that "go back to school" comment.Okay.
I'm as angry with that post as yourself.Believe me.

"First you tell me that conservatives are not in fact a minority."

First off,my reaction was basically about attitude to China and while I don't think putting it as "loathing of China in plain sight"is neither accurate and politically correct,But it happens to be a fact that we stop being three monkeys to China recently,with some good reasons.

Secondly,Liberal Democratic Party is still in power in Japan,which is,and I'm sure you would agree with me,a sad thing.
Because "The conservative dominates politics in Japan" stands in a way.

"Now you tell me that Japanese conservatives are victimized and marginalized."

One word.Shinzo Abe.

"Maybe Japanese conservatives are vilified outside of Japan because their ideas endanger the peace and stability of the whole region."

How so?
But then again this perception gap could be the proof of the effect of cynical and hostile Japan explanation in the region which is not entirely on the blame of our side.

"What I don't understand is why that approach should exclude China and South Korea. "

One of the explanation is because they reject Koizumi(and Japan) for quite a long time.Another is they are a neighbor but not exacly a friend.Anyway they are included in various get -together like APEC plus 3 and Japan-China-Korea summit.

"I'm sorry to disappoint you but the region is not simply divided into China and everyone else."

Says who?
But you would agree that Beijing may not value on certain things we value.
And ofcourse there are things called alliance.And alliance needs objective.
Facing the challenge of the new rising power sounds good topic to discuss among the allies to me.

"Every country in the region is at once drawn to and repelled by China. Their best bet — and Japan's — is hedging against China (through ties with the US) and against the US (through ties with China)."

How about Danger 3,Washington-Beijing bi-gemony?
Tokyo may need to consult more with our ally's ally on this too, for we are the one who lose more than others.

"What angers me about Japanese conservatives is that they offer no constructive ideas for how to live with China."

Is it just me that you are either not looking for the counterargument or you have restricted the term "Japanese conservative" in vary narrow groups?

"Japan has no choice but to learn to live with China. Mr. Fukuda understands that. The Japanese business community understands that. Most of the Japanese people understand that intuitively. Why don't the conservatives realize that?"

Because the other side may not think the same way as "we have no choice but to live with Japan".
Anyway the conservatives are not thnking about starting the cold war.

Their objective is making Japan more "normal"(a topic you have written in another post,but I'm not going to that now)and wish to be present at the creation,rather than being a bystander.They also don't want to be a pariah of yesterday,today's cash dispenser.
In another word,they want to Japan to be a player in the major league of realpolitik of the East Asia,not in the knitting circle as some in Washington and Beijing want them to be.

Aceface