Japan as an international actor and Japan’s relationship with its neighbor

The principal motto of Japan’s foreign policy, similar to any other nation is to ensure its national security and economic well being. The following factor contributed much to Japan’s supremacy in the North East Asia during the later half of the 19th century: First of all, with the victory of Sino-Japanese war (1894-95), Taiwan was integrated as a Japanese colony. Secondly, Korea became a protectorate and, ultimately a colony, following the Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese war. Thirdly, Britain became the ally of Japan during the World War I.

In fact, Japan joined the Allied forced during the First World War. Fourthly, Japan incorporated Manchuria within its geographical boundary in 1931. Fifthly, Japan embarked upon a policy of naked aggression during it eight-year war with China (1937-44). Sixthly, Japanese war partially able to create a greater East Asia prosperity sphere. Lastly, at times during World War II much of the Sought East Asia, Eastern China, and huge area of Western Pacific were under Japanese control. They even showed a tremendous courage by attacking Pearl Harbor in the United States which was already a super power at that time.

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After the end of the World War II Japan and America were arch rivals. With the humiliating defeat of Japan in the Second World War, the nation was virtually occupied by General Douglas MacArthur of the United States from the year 1945 to 1951. Japan was compelled to restrict itself from the maintenance of any military units. In Article 9 (1947) of the Japanese constitution the nation is strictly restricted from the use or maintenance of any military force whatsoever. But the on-set of the cold war has totally changed the above circumstances.

With the US-Japan mutual security treaty in 1951, Japan and America, both consider each other, as there trusted ally. By this treaty, Japan is recognized as a major US-base in the Western Pacific. As a matter of stark reality, while the Article 9 of the Japanese constitution (1947) prohibited Japanese military spending by any amount, the same has, after the treaty of 1951, been raised a little bit and limited to one percent of GDP. The Yoshida Doctrine signifies the US responsibility to protect Japan in case of any military aggression on the later.

Thus, it marked the policy of Japanese interdependence on the United States in her foreign affairs. From 1950 to 1953, during the Korean crisis, Japan was used as a significant strategic base by the United States. Similarly, during their long war with Vietnam, Okinawa, a small island, was used as a strategic base by the United States. However, the Japanese people recognized the US intervention in the Japanese territory as a loss of the nation’s sovereignty at the hands of the US. Hence, in the year 1971, the US left the island of Okinawa and, thus, the territory was recognized as an integral part of Japan.

During the 1980s, due to continuous pressure from the US and some other Western Powers, Japan agreed to play a much crucial role in maintaining peace in the storm-centers in Asia. Clearly, along with the US, Japan accepted to share the burden of responsibility to protect and preserve a peaceful environment in this region. In the mean time, the US has rightly realized that Japan would be her major ally for facing any Asian crisis. Thus, in the year 1987, all the restrictions on Japan’s defense spending was abolished.

Article 9 was drafted newly allowing Japan to increase her military strengths in order to protect her interest along with plating a crucial role as an US ally in any Asiatic hostile affairs. By the time Japan was also approved as a permanent member in the UN peace keeping and other operations. Japan now ranked as a worlds fifth nation on military spending. This simple data signifies Japan’s power being a major ally of the US. Economically, too, Japan is ranked as the world’s second largest economy with GDP reaching $4. 66 trillion in the year 2004. The foreign investment reached around more than $325 billion for the period 1990-2003.

Japan is recognized as a principal entity in international economic institutions like IMF, WTO, G-7, G-8, World Bank, and so on- undoubtedly it is rightly recognized as the supreme power in the Asian continent. China has been undergoing a dramatic transformation to a market economy. As a result, it currently is the world leader in terms of economic growth, industrial expansion, and exports. “It contains an array of potential customers that far exceeds the markets in Europe or the western Hemisphere, and it is rapidly emerging as a new epicenter for industry, commerce, and finance” (Yu, p.

15). In addition, the so-called ‘Greater China’ has substantial amounts of technology and manufacturing wing in Taiwan; outstanding entrepreneurial, marketing, and services acumen in Hong Kong; a fine communication network in Singapore; and a tremendous pool of financial capital in all three. When these resources are combined with the very large endowments of land, resources, and labor, China is already a major superpower in the global economy. The Chinese government is still mainly involved in the ownership, if not the operation, of enterprises.

In the addition to several private ventures, the government owns a great variety of businesses ranging from the central government’s giant steel mills to the local government factories. Most of the trading companies which are engaged in a variety of commercial, banking, and manufacturing activities are owned by the government. Most foreign investments are in the form of joint-ventures with the national government. However, although the term is ‘joint venture’, the foreign investors in such ventures are minority partners and Chinese government takes on the main charge.

Such investments are sometimes risky, however, because government companies being cogs in the central economy do not operate to turn a profit or compete. The concept of bankruptcy and the consequences of poor performance are alien to the state companies. Hence, dealing with the Chinese government is not an easy task as there can always be uncertainty regarding contracts in subsequent future. When Chairman Deng launched the economic revolution, deep splits emerged within the Communist Party over the pace and extent of these ambiguous reforms.

Deng had to overcome the resistance of the Communist Party hardliners in provincial governments. The resulting dilution of central government control – and the mounting tension between Beijing and the provinces – has become a serious problem that requires tough discipline to keep the economy in check. Moreover, People’s Republic now is making it clear that it wants to participate actively in determining the future direction of the economy of Hong Kong which has been often referred to as the gateway to China, and one of the most aggressive pro-business economies of the world.

An improvement in relations with the outside world was one of the important features of Deng’s program of reform better known as Gaige Kaifang (reforms and openness). It implies modernization in four sectors – agriculture, industry, science and technology, and the military. According to him, the process of this modernization could be achieved by ‘socialist market economy’. This means that, China was in the primary stage of socialism and the bounden duty of the Chinese Communist Party was to achieve “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.

Of course, this changed policy implies shift from original Marxian dogma. But, Deng believed that economic modernization in China required some sort of practical deviation from the ideology of Marxian-Leninism. According to him, socialism does not mean shared poverty – there must be rapid economic development for which ‘market forces’ must be given necessary values. Thus, the Chinese government encouraged private investment and, even, foreign enterprises in the Chinese economy.

Since his time, agricultural reforms increased peasants’ products and the increase in their purchasing power which ultimately stimulated industrial activities. Thus, Deng’s economic policy has strong resemblances with Lenin’s ‘New Economic Policy’ (NEP) which was adopted soon after the revolution of 1917. With a revolutionary zeal, Lenin initially sort to introduce an economic policy in the Marxian line. But, due to practical reasons, he had to make some compromises with capitalism in order to strengthen economy. Perhaps, Deng also took lessons from Lenin’s experience.


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