The Yomiuri Shimbun
11:59 pm, January 04, 2015
The Yomiuri Shimbun This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. While Japan achieved a miraculous reconstruction and joined the leading democratic nations of the world, the country has faced severe challenges, including prolonged deflation and a rapidly aging population in recent years. Over this year, The Yomiuri Shimbun will look back at the past seven decades to explore the path Japan should follow in the future. The first part of the series features interviews with prominent names from various fields.
Every country now faces a really new situation because what we considered the international order after 1945 has been totally changed. So Japan, like every other country, has to think through what it means by international order, because conflict with modern weapons is utterly destructive. Nobody knows that better than Japan.
We [the United States] are coming from a period when it was thought that we could remake the government of every other country based on a wrong analysis of the Occupation in Japan and Germany. We did not remake Japan. Japan adapted itself, but within its traditional values.
Japan used the authority of the American occupation regime to modernize more fully and to recover more rapidly than it could have by purely national efforts. It renounced war as an instrument of national policy, affirmed the principle of constitutional democracy, and reentered the international state system as an American ally.
It was a low-key one. More visibly concerned with economic revival than with participation in grand strategy. For nearly seven decades, this new orientation has proved an important anchor of Asian stability and global peace and prosperity.
It was always inevitable that as Japan became economically stronger it would play a larger role in its own security and international security.
It is my analysis of the choices that Japanese are likely to see in front of them. One choice is continuation of the American alliance; second is a movement more to a China-influenced Northeast Asia; and the third is a more national policy. The choice will be Japan’s.
Now what role and how to do that — that is a different issue needing discussion. I think Japan can become a “normal” country, and conduct a restrained foreign policy. If it conducts an aggressive foreign policy, that could be a matter of concern.
Prime Minister Abe will be in a position to contribute to new relationships with countries of Northeast Asia and to foster the alliance with the United States.
I believe the current Chinese leadership — the Xi Jinping leadership — will continue, and will probably strengthen itself. It is in the process of undertaking major reforms. They are also more active in the area of foreign policy than some of the previous leadership. I welcome friendly relations between China and Japan. I believe that the two countries will find a way to improve their relationship.
Prime Minister Abe is a powerful leader. The return of strong national leadership under PM Abe gives Tokyo new latitude to act on its assessments.
‘Japan, India could balance China’
It is the wrong analysis to say that America is physically declining. I think American relative physical power vis-a-vis the rest of the world has never been greater than it is now. When I was in government, we thought of the Soviet Union as a country of equal strength. That is not the case today. The Chinese themselves say that militarily and physically we are stronger than they are.
The problems we have are the divisions within the United States. Another sort of philosophical problem is that through most of its history America was secure from foreign threats, and therefore we developed the idea that in foreign policy all our preferences could be pursued simultaneously. We have now learned there are limits.
I would say the major topic is international order and balance of power is a component of international order.
There is a difference in terms of the balance of power in Asia as compared to Europe. The Asian states are much larger and more powerful. In Europe it was a combination of relatively smaller states. Secondly, the number of states in Asia is much smaller than in Europe. So the balance is harder to define.
Another difference is that in Europe there was England as a kind of balancer. What I mean by a balancer is a country capable of establishing equilibrium by shifting its weight to the weaker side. In Asia there is no balancer.
If you look at the countries around China, they are powerful enough to balance it together with the United States. But if you put India and Japan, those are two really powerful countries. But the relationship should be based on cooperation, not military factors, primarily.
I think the U.S. should treat itself as an Asian [Pacific] country. But I am against the encirclement of China and I am against a policy that builds everything on a link between China and the United States.
We [the United States] have to take into account the views of other countries. We can no longer think of foreign policy as simply putting forward an American program. There are some things that we should do, if necessary, alone. There are some things we should only do with allies. And there are other things that we should not do at all. We should not try to change the domestic structure of a country by military force.
How countries can adjust the relationship of their societies in the light of the different cultures and new realities — that is the big challenge. I am not saying I have the answer. I have understood the problem.
What I try to do in my book [“World Order,” which was published last autumn] is to say: “Watch out! This could get very dangerous if you are not thoughtful. If you [the leaders] are thoughtful, then you can create a new world.”
Interviewer: Keiko Iizuka, Yomiuri Shimbun Washington bureau chief
Henry Kissinger, 91
Born in Germany, Henry Kissinger became national security adviser to U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1969 after working as a professor at Harvard University. In 1971, he secretly visited China to restore diplomatic relations with that country. In 1973, Kissinger became U.S. secretary of state and received the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to peacemaking in Vietnam. His latest book, “World Order,” was published in September last year.Speech
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