Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Tadae Takubo

【#279】Abe Should Be a Japanese Churchill

Tadae Takubo / 2015.01.05 (Mon)

December 29, 2014

     While reviewing the international situation in the past year, I anew feel the importance of 19th century Japanese naval commissioner Katsu Kaishu’s words “Think Globally, Act Locally.” On December 25, the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals hosted its long-awaited international symposium titled, “70 Years after World War II: How Should We Cope with the Tectonic Shift in the Global Geopolitics?” inviting strategists from the United States, China and India. I do not want to pry the reason of last-minute cancellation of attendance by the invited Chinese political scientist. The key point is that private sector geopolitical scholars who can freely express their opinions discussed global perspectives at the symposium, going beyond positions of government bureaucrats dealing with issues for the immediate future.

Declining U.S. leadership
     As a commentator at the symposium, I think that the international order has gradually changed in three phases since the end of World War II. In the first phase, the United States confronted with the Soviet Union amid the so-called Cold War. In the second, the United States led a unipolar world after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the third and present phase, the United States is losing its leadership amid a relative decline in its power (a relative increase in the power of China, India, Brazil and others) as China seeks to develop from a regional power into a global power.
     The United States under the Obama administration in the remaining two years is unlikely to comeback as the policeman of the world. Then, the U.S. administration has no choice but to retain the double-track policy of enhancing relations with Japan and other allies while avoiding any military clash with China. China for its part will try to build a new model of major country relationship with the United States while enhancing economic relations with neighbors and promoting intimidating diplomacy against them occasionally.

“Nuclear umbrella” fantasy
     Japan should deal with China while continuing to enhance relations with the United States. In fact, Japan’s Abe administration is doing so. But the problem is the U.S. stance. At the symposium, Arthur Waldron, professor of international relations at the University of Pennsylvania, questioned if the United States would defend its alliance with Japan even by using nuclear weapons when Tokyo comes under attack. I think this question is profound from the viewpoint of realism.
     Do you think any country would use nuclear weapons for other purposes than its own defense? What would be Japanese politicians’ answers to this question? Japan should continue to question how it should respond to China’s military threats and whether the United States would help Japan even on the brink of emergency.
     Government bureaucrats do not discuss such questions. For those who are always considering how to address problems for the immediate future, these questions may be too unrealistic. Japanese politicians are preoccupied with bureaucratic approaches, irrespective of whether they are aware of such preoccupation. The late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the late French President Charles de Gaulle had been thinking globally based on philosophy. I would like Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to be a Japanese Churchill.

Tadae Takubo is Vice President, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.