Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Tadae Takubo

【#981】Can We Declare China Is Not a Threat?

Tadae Takubo / 2022.11.09 (Wed)

November 7, 2022

On November 3, the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals held a symposium titled “International Order after Shinzo Abe,” inviting French historical demographer and family anthropologist Emmanuel Todd. Known for having predicted the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union in his book, “The Final Fall,” Todd drew a large audience and consistently gave opinions beyond common sense of Japanese.

Some reinforcement required to shore up Todd theories

First, Todd took up the threshold for the Ukraine war that began on February 24. Although Russian military aggression against Ukraine is generally viewed as the threshold for the war in the West, Todd claimed that provocations by the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies compelled Russia to invade Ukraine.

Unless an aggression is identified at the time of the violation by force of existing orders, however, debate on cause-and-effect relationship may be retroactive without any limitation, with no conclusion being reached. Although Japan’s Pearl Harbor attack was generally interpreted as the threshold for the Pacific War, Japan may claim that provocations before the Pearl Harbor attack left Japan with no choice but to stand up. But debate will become endless.

Todd made extremely bold remarks on major-power diplomacy. Although everyone in Japan talks about Chinese threat, Japanese do not have to worry about China, which would become unable to be managed demographically as a country, Todd said. Japan should try to enhance relations with Russia that has a brighter future than China, he added.

Generally speaking, a new international order that is being shaped features China’s rapid growth in all national sectors including politics, economy, military and technology. At the latest Chinese Communist Party congress, General Secretary and President Xi Jinping established a dictatorial leadership comprising only his followers and clearly threatened to use force against Taiwan. China is expanding its influence over the border area with India, the Indian Ocean, the South and East China Seas and the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. I doubt if any nation other than China can declare China is not a threat.

And yet, Todd gave an extremely pessimistic theory about China, noting that China’s total fertility rate is as low as 1.3. In contrast, he came with an optimistic theory about Russia, pointing out that the infant mortality rate in Russia has turned down since 1970. More reinforcement may be required to shore up these Todd theories.

Japan urged to go nuclear

Todd recommended Japan to improve relations with Russia instead of China. In fact, Japan has been plagued with bitter experiences with the Northern Bear. Historically, Japan has been troubled by military threats from Russia. Japan made a mistake by carelessly asking Russia to mediate an end to the Pacific War. Russia invaded Manchuria and the Kurile Islands, violating a neutral treaty; illegally continues to occupy Japan’s Northern Territories and detained Japanese prisoners of war for forced labor in Siberia that caused hundreds of thousands of victims. These are some of many issues that generate Japan’s acute feelings about Russia.

Todd also urged Japan to arm itself with nuclear weapons. No particular rebuttal came from the audience partly due to time constraints. At the turning point of the international order, views about nuclear weapons may be changing.

Tadae Takubo is Vice President, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, and a professor emeritus at Kyorin University.