Now time for Japan to have closer links with regional neighbours

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 April, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 April, 2015, 12:01am

The US-Japan security treaty signed in 1951 provided military protection to Japan by the US in the event of an external invasion.

In return, Japan was only allowed self-defence forces, and obliged to provide territorial space for the US military presence and prohibited from providing such facilities to other powers without the consent of Washington.

To some extent, this treaty has compromised Japan's sovereignty.

It was obviously an unequal treaty, given that it was signed by a country which had surrendered to the US at the end of the second world war. In 1951 it had little choice but to accept the terms.

For historical reasons, Tokyo has had a difficult relationship with its neighbours based on mutual mistrust. Its most trusted ally and guardian is a long way from Japan. It would therefore make sense for it to now try to forge closer strategic ties to its neighbours and to China in particular. This may seem a crazy idea in the eyes of many Japanese and the US, but I think it makes sense.

Firstly, there is no such thing as a permanent friend or enemy in geopolitics. Japan attacked Pearl Harbour and in 1945 the US dropped the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There are many examples in recent geopolitical history where even bitter enemies become friends.

It is time for Japan, Korea and China in particular, and other East Asian countries in general to mend their differences and mutual distrust which go back to the time of Japan's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. China is geographically close to Japan and shares many common historical, linguistic, cultural, religious and other values.

The synergy of the two countries cannot easily be matched by any other strategic partnerships between any two countries.

With such a strategic partnership, Japan would not need to be constantly worried about possible attacks by North Korea.

Unlike the US-Japan security treaty which was forced upon the country, Japan is now in a position to enter into a similar partnership with China on equal terms.

A. W. Jayawardena, Kennedy Town