• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 4:05am

Japan seeks firm stance with US against China

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 February, 2013, 9:07am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 February, 2013, 3:03pm

Japan’s new conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday opened a visit to the United States in which he hopes to show a firm, unified line to an assertive China and a defiant North Korea.

Abe arrived in Washington to meet Friday with President Barack Obama at a time of growing tensions between Japan and China, which is seen as challenging Tokyo’s control over strategic islands, and days after a nuclear test by Pyongyang.

Fresh from a convincing December election victory and with high approval ratings, Abe has taken small steps toward a harder Japanese stance including moving to step up military spending by the officially pacifist state.

Danny Russel, Obama’s top advisor on Asia, said the United States wanted a diplomatic solution to ease tensions but also reiterated a veiled warning to China over contested islands in the East China Sea.

Obama “remains supportive of the peaceful efforts to find diplomatic resolution to outstanding issues of territorial claims,” Russel told reporters on a conference call.

Obama has also “been clear in the United States’ opposition to coercive actions or unilateral steps that threaten the stability of the region,” he said.

Russel said that the United States wanted to avoid “miscalculation” between China and Japan, saying that the world’s second and third largest economies were leading a region that is “the driver of growth and dynamism.”

Abe’s visit comes one month after then secretary of state Hillary Clinton stepped up the tone, warning Beijing not to challenge Japan’s control over the islands known as the Senkakus in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese.

The remarks by Clinton, a forceful advocate for a greater US focus on Asia, triggered a reprimand from China but heartened Abe’s government which has counted on a united front with the United States.

In an interview with The Washington Post ahead of his trip, Abe voiced hope that the US alliance - and the presence of 47,000 American troops on Japanese soil under a security treaty - would send a message to China.

“It is important for us to have them recognise that it is impossible to try to get their way by coercion or intimidation,” Abe said.

China contests Japan’s historical claims in the area and voiced anger after Japan last year nationalized the islands, a move Abe’s predecessor said was meant to avert a more provocative proposal.

Officials said that the two leaders would also look to show a common front on North Korea, which carried out its third nuclear test on February 12 despite pressure from virtually all nations including its main ally China.

Abe, who previously served as prime minister from 2006 to 2007, has throughout his career been known as a hawk on North Korea and has been hesitant over periodic attempts by Washington to reach out to the communist state.

Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party swept out of power the left-leaning Democratic Party of Japan, which initially had a rough relationship with Obama by pushing for the withdrawal of more US troops from crowded Okinawa island.

Robert Hathaway, director of the Asia program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, expected Obama to be forthright in public comments but to talk privately to Abe about avoiding miscalculations that could send tensions soaring with China.

“This is less a visit about tangible deliverables, of which I expect there will be relatively few of prominence, and more about the symbolism of reinforcing the strength of the US-Japan alliance,” he said.

Abe, who faces upper house elections in July, is likely to speak to Obama about whether Japan will join talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a US-backed free trade pact bitterly opposed by many Japanese farmers.

White House official Michael Froman said that any nation that enters negotiations would be expected to put “everything on the table.” Abe, during his campaign, said that certain sectors should be exempt.



Related topics

More on this story

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

This is exactly what the Japanese want. What were they going to expect when they nationalize the DY islands? China standing by, keeping numb? They know by nationalising the DY islands they will force Beijing to a wall and Bejing will have no choice but to contest the DY islands. Then they can cry wolf and smear China, the US will then have no choice but to constantly voice its support for Japan. The ultimate goal is like what Abe claim just recently that the LDP existence after WWII was motivated by the want for a full military. Drum up the China treat by picking a fight with China than blame China for bullying, force the US in and ask for more from the US, hoping that the US may find it too risky & costly to go fight for Japan with China for the DY islands and ultimately get the US support for Abe and his gang of cronies to rewrite their constitution to re arm themsevles. Not to mention many voices in US support the Japanese re arming themselves so that a stronger Japan can take on China head on, so the US doesn't have to play a direct role if conflicts break out.
The so called Peaceful Japan after WWII is a hoax, since they were bind by the US from waging wars in the first place. Will they be that obdient and peaceful when they re arm themselves? The Irony is once the Japanese remilitarized who can gurantee that their new toys will only point to China/NK/Russia? Once they get strong enough don't be shock that some of them will be pointed at SK & US
If China is terrorizing its neighbours with its growing army, then Chinese troops will be on those islands already and shots will have been fired, blood will have been shed you know like how Western troops is terrorizing Iraqi's for 10 years where the SDF of Japan is playing the role of support.
The only argument that China is the bully is only based on China's size, with the usual China bashing from the western media. The Pinoy first pull the guns out, now they whine they are being pushed around by China, acting like a victim. The Viets say that Chinese ships cut off the cables on its oil exploring vessels, which is exactly what those Viets did to Chinese ships back in 1993.
O I forgot the radar incident which is hype out of proportion as it occurs much more frequently than you think, which Japan so far fail to produce anything at all to back its claim, is bullying? Dam even some in the LDP is questioning whether the Radar incident is true or not. Ha?
When China does what the West does to Iraq to its neighbour than China is a muderous bullying **** you know like the USA, UK, etc.
FYI I might just prefer Japan having kept its army so it can waste resources to build killing machines instead of developing its economy and most likely those toys will be used on the place that nuked them twice, wouldn't it be in China's evil interest to have Japan & US being enemies instead of a master and servant relationship?
Obama has also “been clear in the United States’ opposition to coercive actions or unilateral steps that threaten the stability of the region,” I agree with many President Obama but I do not agree President Obama’s claims that China’s act is coercive. I do not think the United States has learned from the history.
If one give on inch of rope, then, Japanese want a mile. So, if we let Japanese go this time, then, they want Guan back from the United States next times. Don’t forget who bombed the Pearl Harbor. Well, the zebra never loses its stripes.
Jennie PC Chiang/江佩珍 02/21/13 美國
What happened?
Are we reading this @#$%%^&*(&^^#%^
because Google refused to translate your Japanese draft
From what I can decypher,
this seems like some unexecuted war plan
displayed in the Yakusuni shrine
Sounds like stupid37 is saying that
China must not claim victory in WWII,
by usurping the benefits of Uncle Same’s two atomic bombs on Japan
and that China must drop its own nuclear bomb on Japan
for Japan to learn its place in history
Well, any suggestion which Japanese location?
I think it better for HK to side with US on which the settlement of 'milk powder catastrophe' is depending
Well, I'm just reiterating a popular opinion elicited from 'universal suffrage'
And why exactly should Japan be fore to stay in a weak situation without an army of its own and force to wish USA will protect it, while China is arming itself and terrorizing its neighbors with its growing army? If Japan had not been force to abdicate completely because two nuclear bombs were dropped on its territory ( only time in all history the nuclear bomb was used), it would have kept the right to be militarized, just as Germany did and maybe today it wouldn t to play a game but could just face China. Would that be preferable to you?


SCMP.com Account