Articles

JCIE's Hitoshi Tanaka: Changes in Japan's Foreign Policy


January 14, 2010

SPEAKER:
Hitoshi Tanaka
, Senior Fellow, Japan Center for International Exchange

PRESIDER:
Gerald L. Curtis
, Burgess Professor of Political Science, Columbia University

Hitoshi Tanaka, formerly Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and now at the Japan Center for International Exchange, spoke about the new DPJ government and the implications for the U.S.-Japan alliance.

On domestic issues, the DPJ had a relatively easy time finding common ground with its coalition partner, the Social Democrats, Mr. Tanaka began. Foreign affairs were another matter. The DPJ hoped to focus on domestic matters at least until after the upper house elections this coming summer. As it turned out, however, the DPJ has been obliged to address a handful of foreign policy issues early on.

On CO2 targets and other environmental issues, the DPJ actually had an advantage over the LDP, "because clearly, the change of the government is indeed creating a situation where you don't have to give too much consideration to vested interests," he said. Concerning the refueling operations in the Indian Ocean, the DPJ had less room to maneuver, being essentially captive to its long-held position of opposition. As for the debate over relocating the Futenma base on Okinawa, the party "decided to postpone it"--probably the right thing to do, in his view, because pressing too hard on the issue would jeopardize the coalition with the Social Democrats.

DPJ politicians were trained on domestic matters during the legislative process, but "they fatally lack the sort of experience, expertise, to deal with the foreign countries," he said. Though the party says it wants to reduce "excessive dependency on bureaucracy," "clearly, without professional support from the bureaucracy," decision-making on foreign policy "would become very, very tentative." All this has led to "the somewhat troublesome state of affairs regarding the U.S.-Japan relationship."

Based on his own experience during 37 years in the foreign service, including leading roles in fashioning the 1996 U.S.-Japan security declaration and the 1996 agreement on reversion of Futenma to Japan, "when I talk to the leadership of DPJ, I recommend a couple of things," Mr. Tanaka said.

"First, I urge that the government produce a consistent, broader concept regarding Japanese diplomacy. Prime Minister Hatoyama talks about equal partnership with the United States, some distance to the U.S. At the same time he talks about the creation of an East Asia Community"--but the relationship between these two ideas has yet to be explained.

Further, Mr. Tanaka said, the DPJ must recognize that "given the fact that East Asia is going to be the center of growth, the stability of East Asia is going to be crucial for the future of Japan." Many things get in the way of East Asia's prosperity, from political freedom, income disparity and treatment of ethnic minorities to "inefficient use of energy, environment and untransparent military buildup on the part of China"; the government must address these issues. Finally, the DPJ must understand that "a strong U.S.-Japan alliance is vital," and that "strengthening the relationship between Japan and the United States can perfectly go along with the concept of a much stronger, much more intimate relationship of Japan with East Asia."

Between now and November, when President Obama visits Yokohama for the APEC Summit, there should be "a deep conversation between the two countries in relation to the meaning of the U.S.-Japan alliance." Mr. Tanaka was involved in such a dialogue in 1996, when "we sat and we talked about the meaning of the U.S.-Japan security alliance after the end of the Cold War," he said. "Now, we have an entirely different situation. This is a unique situation where you have a different system in the region, meaning that China runs a communist government. But at the same time our interdependency with China grows." China's potential growth rate is 10 percent; India's, 8 percent. "The Lehman shock clearly demonstrated that for the future of prosperity of us, of Japan, of the United States, it’s vital for us to have a stable China, constructive China, stable East Asia. Under that circumstance, what does the U.S.-Japan security alliance mean? That needs to be debated."

Though the creation of defense policy guidelines has been postponed to the end of 2010, in the meantime "this question of the U.S.-Japan security alliance needs to be linked to Japan's own defense policy," Mr. Tanaka continued. "Let us not have taboo," but "face up with" issues not only about East Asia, but also about base facilities in Japan and nuclear and non-nuclear principles.

The call for an East Asia Community is not new, he said. Kim Dae-jung talked about it, as did Prime Minister Koizumi. However, "the East Asia Community is a long-term operation, a long-term objective." The European Union began over 60 years ago as a cooperative market for coal and steel, "and it has come a long way." What we should do now, and immediately, is create "a design for the future possibility of an East Asia Community."

"I propose to have what we call multilayered functional architectures" in East Asia, with membership differing based on specific functions, Mr. Tanaka explained. There would be four layers of cooperative security mechanisms:
  • A bilateral U.S.-Japan security alliance, which would be "a hard defense alliance" to "create a deterrence against any future aggression by anyone";
  • "An inclusive trilateral dialogue, such as Japan, the U.S. and China," which would reduce unpredictability, build confidence and enhance the transparency of China's military budget;
  • "Sub-regional setups," which would build for example on the six-party talks on North Korea; and
  • Lastly, on the regional level, "some type of joint operations in East Asia" that would address "nontraditional security issues" like disaster relief, counterproliferation and counterterrorism.
In the realm of economics, "I would like to see an East Asia free trade area," he declared. "The United States may say that we are not invited in that. Probably not, because if you look at trade investment, it’s a global system, and you have the European Union, you have NAFTA. You may have East Asia, a free trade area, as well."

Thirteen years ago, Mr. Tanaka said, he sat down with Kurt Campbell, his counterpart at the State Department, and told him that the burden of American military bases on Okinawa "must be seen in a much broader perspective." Similarly today, "I think it’s time for us to talk very seriously about the possibility or nonpossibility of creating a new type of relocation plan in relation to Futenma," but only in the broad context of the overall U.S.-Japan alliance.

***

Gerald Curtis of Columbia University started off the Q&A:


Are seven Social Democrats in the coalition really keeping Hatoyama from doing what he wants to do on Futenma and the U.S.-Japan security treaty? Is this desire to improve relations with China partly a desire thereby to downgrade the importance of the U.S. in Japan’s global strategy?

The DPJ campaigned and won election on the basis of being different from the LDP, replied Mr. Tanaka. "So, to some extent the DPJ themselves wanted to downgrade the relationship with the United States at the outset, as an extension of their being an opposition party." Now that they are the party in power, "we would have to give some time to them to see the real world."

On the second question, the DPJ understands that "a strong U.S.-Japan alliance is our asset to make sure that China behaves in a constructive way." The Hatoyama cabinet and cabinet office lack people with strong experience in foreign affairs, "but yet as time goes by that will be strengthened, so be patient."

In a post-Cold War world, where the threats to peace and security in the region are not going to be dealt with by Marines going out to the front line and fighting against an invasion of forces, do the U.S. and Japan really need this much of a military presence in Okinawa and in Japan? Or is this a matter of Pentagon convenience and saving costs?


Given technological progress, "I think clearly there need to be constant efforts for consolidation, reduction of troops in Okinawa," said Mr. Tanaka. China and Taiwan is relatively calm but the situation with North Korea is tense, and "the other fact is China is growing, Chinese military expenditure is growing." Yokosuka is the home port of U.S. vessels that are operating in the Indian Ocean "for the sake of stability in the Middle East" and other regions. "So it's a bit premature for us to talk about the situation in East Asia getting less tense."

"We have to remind you that there has been a real change in the government," he added. "There is a change of policy. But for the sake of the benefit of the United States and Japan, let us sit down and talk. If the United States refuses to talk and sticks to one statement--fulfill the obligation under the agreement--then the end result may lead to much worsening of the U.S.-Japan relationship, I’m afraid."

Audience members posed their own questions:


Do you feel the Marine base in Okinawa will benefit Japan because of concurrent terrorism? And will the Okinawan people protest on that issue?

"I do think that some Marines and [the Marine Corps] facilities do indeed contribute to the creation of deterrence against possible aggression from North Korea, for instance," and to an ability to respond rapidly, Mr. Tanaka responded. "So, yes, the concentrating in Okinawa, the various facilities, and the existence of the Marines has indeed contributed to the enhancement of security in Japan and in Indonesia as well. But the whole point is can it not be replaced by some other devices? That’s what needs to be explored as well."

Do you feel that the quality of exchange of critical intelligence information about the situation in East Asia meets your needs and meets the U.S. needs? How would you describe the state of honest sharing of information between the U.S. and Japan?


The U.S. and Japan may not have the same degree of sharing of information as do the U.S. and the UK, which is very intense, and "that is probably one area we need to develop," Mr. Tanaka said. "It’s not just a question of willingness to provide intelligence, but yet it is a question of the protection of those secrets, so there are differences in terms of methodology, legal framework--and also, it may not be an easy issue."

--Katherine Hyde

January 14, 2010

SPEAKER:
Hitoshi Tanaka
, Senior Fellow, Japan Center for International Exchange

PRESIDER:
Gerald L. Curtis
, Burgess Professor of Political Science, Columbia University

Hitoshi Tanaka, formerly Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and now at the Japan Center for International Exchange, spoke about the new DPJ government and the implications for the U.S.-Japan alliance.

On domestic issues, the DPJ had a relatively easy time finding common ground with its coalition partner, the Social Democrats, Mr. Tanaka began. Foreign affairs were another matter. The DPJ hoped to focus on domestic matters at least until after the upper house elections this coming summer. As it turned out, however, the DPJ has been obliged to address a handful of foreign policy issues early on.

On CO2 targets and other environmental issues, the DPJ actually had an advantage over the LDP, "because clearly, the change of the government is indeed creating a situation where you don't have to give too much consideration to vested interests," he said. Concerning the refueling operations in the Indian Ocean, the DPJ had less room to maneuver, being essentially captive to its long-held position of opposition. As for the debate over relocating the Futenma base on Okinawa, the party "decided to postpone it"--probably the right thing to do, in his view, because pressing too hard on the issue would jeopardize the coalition with the Social Democrats.

DPJ politicians were trained on domestic matters during the legislative process, but "they fatally lack the sort of experience, expertise, to deal with the foreign countries," he said. Though the party says it wants to reduce "excessive dependency on bureaucracy," "clearly, without professional support from the bureaucracy," decision-making on foreign policy "would become very, very tentative." All this has led to "the somewhat troublesome state of affairs regarding the U.S.-Japan relationship."

Based on his own experience during 37 years in the foreign service, including leading roles in fashioning the 1996 U.S.-Japan security declaration and the 1996 agreement on reversion of Futenma to Japan, "when I talk to the leadership of DPJ, I recommend a couple of things," Mr. Tanaka said.

"First, I urge that the government produce a consistent, broader concept regarding Japanese diplomacy. Prime Minister Hatoyama talks about equal partnership with the United States, some distance to the U.S. At the same time he talks about the creation of an East Asia Community"--but the relationship between these two ideas has yet to be explained.

Further, Mr. Tanaka said, the DPJ must recognize that "given the fact that East Asia is going to be the center of growth, the stability of East Asia is going to be crucial for the future of Japan." Many things get in the way of East Asia's prosperity, from political freedom, income disparity and treatment of ethnic minorities to "inefficient use of energy, environment and untransparent military buildup on the part of China"; the government must address these issues. Finally, the DPJ must understand that "a strong U.S.-Japan alliance is vital," and that "strengthening the relationship between Japan and the United States can perfectly go along with the concept of a much stronger, much more intimate relationship of Japan with East Asia."

Between now and November, when President Obama visits Yokohama for the APEC Summit, there should be "a deep conversation between the two countries in relation to the meaning of the U.S.-Japan alliance." Mr. Tanaka was involved in such a dialogue in 1996, when "we sat and we talked about the meaning of the U.S.-Japan security alliance after the end of the Cold War," he said. "Now, we have an entirely different situation. This is a unique situation where you have a different system in the region, meaning that China runs a communist government. But at the same time our interdependency with China grows." China's potential growth rate is 10 percent; India's, 8 percent. "The Lehman shock clearly demonstrated that for the future of prosperity of us, of Japan, of the United States, it’s vital for us to have a stable China, constructive China, stable East Asia. Under that circumstance, what does the U.S.-Japan security alliance mean? That needs to be debated."

Though the creation of defense policy guidelines has been postponed to the end of 2010, in the meantime "this question of the U.S.-Japan security alliance needs to be linked to Japan's own defense policy," Mr. Tanaka continued. "Let us not have taboo," but "face up with" issues not only about East Asia, but also about base facilities in Japan and nuclear and non-nuclear principles.

The call for an East Asia Community is not new, he said. Kim Dae-jung talked about it, as did Prime Minister Koizumi. However, "the East Asia Community is a long-term operation, a long-term objective." The European Union began over 60 years ago as a cooperative market for coal and steel, "and it has come a long way." What we should do now, and immediately, is create "a design for the future possibility of an East Asia Community."

"I propose to have what we call multilayered functional architectures" in East Asia, with membership differing based on specific functions, Mr. Tanaka explained. There would be four layers of cooperative security mechanisms:
  • A bilateral U.S.-Japan security alliance, which would be "a hard defense alliance" to "create a deterrence against any future aggression by anyone";
  • "An inclusive trilateral dialogue, such as Japan, the U.S. and China," which would reduce unpredictability, build confidence and enhance the transparency of China's military budget;
  • "Sub-regional setups," which would build for example on the six-party talks on North Korea; and
  • Lastly, on the regional level, "some type of joint operations in East Asia" that would address "nontraditional security issues" like disaster relief, counterproliferation and counterterrorism.
In the realm of economics, "I would like to see an East Asia free trade area," he declared. "The United States may say that we are not invited in that. Probably not, because if you look at trade investment, it’s a global system, and you have the European Union, you have NAFTA. You may have East Asia, a free trade area, as well."

Thirteen years ago, Mr. Tanaka said, he sat down with Kurt Campbell, his counterpart at the State Department, and told him that the burden of American military bases on Okinawa "must be seen in a much broader perspective." Similarly today, "I think it’s time for us to talk very seriously about the possibility or nonpossibility of creating a new type of relocation plan in relation to Futenma," but only in the broad context of the overall U.S.-Japan alliance.

***

Gerald Curtis of Columbia University started off the Q&A:


Are seven Social Democrats in the coalition really keeping Hatoyama from doing what he wants to do on Futenma and the U.S.-Japan security treaty? Is this desire to improve relations with China partly a desire thereby to downgrade the importance of the U.S. in Japan’s global strategy?

The DPJ campaigned and won election on the basis of being different from the LDP, replied Mr. Tanaka. "So, to some extent the DPJ themselves wanted to downgrade the relationship with the United States at the outset, as an extension of their being an opposition party." Now that they are the party in power, "we would have to give some time to them to see the real world."

On the second question, the DPJ understands that "a strong U.S.-Japan alliance is our asset to make sure that China behaves in a constructive way." The Hatoyama cabinet and cabinet office lack people with strong experience in foreign affairs, "but yet as time goes by that will be strengthened, so be patient."

In a post-Cold War world, where the threats to peace and security in the region are not going to be dealt with by Marines going out to the front line and fighting against an invasion of forces, do the U.S. and Japan really need this much of a military presence in Okinawa and in Japan? Or is this a matter of Pentagon convenience and saving costs?


Given technological progress, "I think clearly there need to be constant efforts for consolidation, reduction of troops in Okinawa," said Mr. Tanaka. China and Taiwan is relatively calm but the situation with North Korea is tense, and "the other fact is China is growing, Chinese military expenditure is growing." Yokosuka is the home port of U.S. vessels that are operating in the Indian Ocean "for the sake of stability in the Middle East" and other regions. "So it's a bit premature for us to talk about the situation in East Asia getting less tense."

"We have to remind you that there has been a real change in the government," he added. "There is a change of policy. But for the sake of the benefit of the United States and Japan, let us sit down and talk. If the United States refuses to talk and sticks to one statement--fulfill the obligation under the agreement--then the end result may lead to much worsening of the U.S.-Japan relationship, I’m afraid."

Audience members posed their own questions:


Do you feel the Marine base in Okinawa will benefit Japan because of concurrent terrorism? And will the Okinawan people protest on that issue?

"I do think that some Marines and [the Marine Corps] facilities do indeed contribute to the creation of deterrence against possible aggression from North Korea, for instance," and to an ability to respond rapidly, Mr. Tanaka responded. "So, yes, the concentrating in Okinawa, the various facilities, and the existence of the Marines has indeed contributed to the enhancement of security in Japan and in Indonesia as well. But the whole point is can it not be replaced by some other devices? That’s what needs to be explored as well."

Do you feel that the quality of exchange of critical intelligence information about the situation in East Asia meets your needs and meets the U.S. needs? How would you describe the state of honest sharing of information between the U.S. and Japan?


The U.S. and Japan may not have the same degree of sharing of information as do the U.S. and the UK, which is very intense, and "that is probably one area we need to develop," Mr. Tanaka said. "It’s not just a question of willingness to provide intelligence, but yet it is a question of the protection of those secrets, so there are differences in terms of methodology, legal framework--and also, it may not be an easy issue."

--Katherine Hyde
Topics:  Policy

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