Monday, June 21, 2010

The news from France is very bad

On June 17, 1940, France surrendered to Nazi Germany. Prime Minister Winston Churchill took to the airways to announce the defeat and remind his fellow Britons that they had "become the sole champions now in arms to defend the world cause."

The next day, he delivered what many consider one of the finest speeches in the English language, This was their finest hour, to inspire his countrymen to fight on, because if they failed "then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made even more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science."

Seventy years later, to the day, the cabal of Japanese and American Alliance managers met to reassure themselves that they had not been and will not be defeated.  None of the speeches were as eloquent or inspiring as Churchill's. However, they were given with the same level of alarm and crafted to be reassuring to the audience, especially the keynote by Parliamentary Vice Minster for Defense Akihisa Nagashima.

Below is the text of the speech as prepared by Mr. Nagashima. He expounded on the imortance of the Alliance with bold, excellent English. His focus was on what the Japanese Self-Defense Forces could do for the Alliance and for the international community. He talked as if this was all possible. In another post, I will try to examine if it is.

Japan's Adventure Spirit
The contents of this speech are the personal opinion of Vice Minister Nagashima. 

Thank you very much for a kind introduction. I am excited to be here in Washington D.C. in which I lived for five years as a student at Johns Hopkins SAIS, a research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a father of two American-born daughters. I’m so glad to see many familiar faces among the guests. It is my honor and privilege to speak in front of these distinguished participants about our pacific alliance on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and 150th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. Treaty on Amity and Commerce.

Today, I would first like to briefly touch upon the history of the encounter of these two Pacific nations. Second, I will talk about the value of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, in other words, what I think the alliance should achieve. Third and last, I would like to discuss what my country should do to further strengthen the alliance.

Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida is known as a great statesman of Japan’s Showa Era and the architect of the Post-war Japan. In his famous book titled “The 100 years that defined Japan,” Mr. Yoshida says it was “adventure sprit” of the Japanese people that guided Japan through a rocky, and yet successful national transformation that was the Meiji Restoration. According to the book, that adventure sprit typically manifested in the 1860 voyage of the Kanrin-maru to the United States. This voyage was for a Japanese delegation that carried the instrument of ratification of the Japan-U.S. Treaty on Trade and Amity. This event made the Kanrin-maru the first steam-engine vessel operated by Japanese skipper and crew to sail across the Pacific Ocean.

Until not many years ago, Japan had not had even a glimpse of Western steam-engine ships, and it had been only several years since the Japanese began learning modern navigation. Mr. Yoshida asserts that the story of the Kanrin-maru symbolizes the spirit of modern Japan. Once having its country pried open by the Western powers, the Japanese showed remarkable brevity with which to deal with the “shock from the Occident.”

Aboard the Kanrin-maru were 11 Americans, including U.S. Navy Lieutenant John Brooke. It was Lieutenant Brooke who encouraged and assisted the inexperienced Japanese crew members throughout this trans-Pacific voyage. This is arguably one of the first examples of Japan-U.S. cooperation. In the intervening years, Japan and the United States fought an epic battle in the Pacific that claimed the lives of 2.5 million people on both sides.

After the war and ensuing American occupation, Japan and the United States formed an alliance that continues to this day. The longevity and resilience of the Japan-U.S. alliance are the product of hard work by people of many generations on both sides of the Pacific, yourselves included, to which I am eternally grateful.

2. 日本にとっての日米同盟の意義:日米同盟は何を達成すべきか
The Japan-U.S. Alliance was made in the specific context of the Cold War, which came to an end two decades ago. The Alliance, however, is hardly a relic of a bygone era.

During the time when the Alliance was said to be drifting in the aftermath of the Cold War, Japan and the United States worked hard to set new priorities and reaffirm the critical importance of the alliance. Whenever the Alliance faced difficulties, we have always come out stronger. And the alliance has been and remains a critical contributor to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific.

2-1. 日本の地政学上の位置から来る同盟の根源的意義
The fundamental and enduring value of the alliance for Japan rests in its geo-political setting, a reality no country can escape from.

Japan is a maritime state situated on the eastern tip of the vast Asian continent and the western rim of the Pacific Ocean. It is about the size of the State of Montana and stretched over 3,000km of an archipelago that comprises over 6,800 islands of various sizes. The length of the coastline totals at 30,000km, surpassing that of the United States. Surrounding waters have long provided natural barrier against external aggressions, but in the age of long-range strikes, Japan’s inherently shallow strategic depth is shrinking further. Moreover, Japan has scarce natural resources and its prosperity is heavily dependent upon the uninterrupted flow of commodities via sea lines of communication.

Japan’s immediate neighbors on the continent include two major nuclear powers, China and Russia. Although Japan and these countries are committed to peaceful, cooperative bilateral relations, there still are differences in terms of political values as well as in the conduct of international relations. Both countries also have illegitimate claims over Japanese sovereignty.

Another neighbor of Japan is a garrison state that continues to pursue its nuclear ambitions in defiance of the collective will of the international community. With its conventional and unconventional military capabilities as well as erratic and violent behavior, North Korea continues to pose clear and present danger to its neighbors.

While harboring security risks and concern for Japan, East Asia has become a major strategic center of gravity with the world’s most dynamic economies that have enjoyed robust and sustained growth for decades. According to the United Nations’ latest estimate, economies of East Asia are expected to grow by more than 7% this year, surpassing all other regions worldwide.

The United States, a Pacific nation with the World’s largest economy and military, therefore continues to have a high stake in remaining a “resident power” in the Asia-Pacific and ensuring peace and stability of the region. While Japan maintains credible military strength for national defense, it is only natural for Japan, and also in the interest of both Japan and the United States to maintain a bilateral security alliance to provide the foundation of the regional security.

2-2. 「中国の台頭」をマネージする
Another aspect of the value of the alliance for Japan regards one of the most significant trends of our time: The re-emergence of China as a great power.

The Japan-U.S. alliance should work to make sure that the rise of China will progress towards a peaceful and prosperous future for Japan, the United States, China, and the world. Three decades of remarkable economic growth, averaging close to 10 %, have made China an economic powerhouse and a key engine of world economy. Both between Japan and China and the United States and China, economic inter-dependency has been on a steady rise. It is no wonder that a prosperous China presents Japan, the United States and the world with a huge opportunity for sustained growth and prosperity.

On the other hand, there are significant differences between China and the free world over socio-political values such as liberal democracy and respect for human rights. Moreover, China’s economic rise has and continues to bring about dramatic growth of its military power. There remains a serious lack of transparency regarding many aspects of China’s military modernization and expanding sphere of military activities.

In particular, China’s growing Anti-Access/Area Denial capabilities are already presenting serious challenges to U.S. capacity to fulfill its security commitment in the Western Pacific. We are also concerned about China’s coercive behavior towards its neighbors backed by its rapidly expanding military power, which has already manifested in areas such as the South China Sea and the East China Sea. I am convinced that Japan and the United States are not the only countries in the Asia-Pacific who share these worries. Working through the alliance, Japan and the United States can guard against potentially negative aspects of China’s emergence. Only by having a credible hedging strategy and capacity, can Japan and the United States effectively engage China to encourage its responsible behavior.

2-3. 「価値の同盟」としての意義
Let me talk about the other thing that tells us about the importance of our Alliance, which is the fact that this alliance is not just an interest-based alliance but also a value-based alliance. I think this facet of the alliance is very important and all the more so in the current era.

Liberal democratic values and principles survived, and prevailed in the Cold War. But the world is still hardly unanimous in embracing these values and principles. Rather, in the age of what Fareed Zakaria calls “the rise of the rest” and emergence of non-democratic economic powers, we hear talks about the ascendancy of “authoritarian state capitalism model,” “contested modernity,” “The Beijing Consensus,” so on and so forth. These notions purport to suggest the viability of alternatives to the values and principles that the free world has defended and promoted.

With all the talks about alternative values, it is my strong belief that parliamentary democracy, civil liberty, the rule of law, and respect for human rights are among the values that all humanity should embrace and strive for. The Japan-U.S. alliance brings together the moral strengths of the two powerful democracies. The continued success of the Japan-U.S. alliance in promoting the world’s peace and stability will speak to the powerful allure of liberal democratic values and a world order built around them.

3. 日米同盟強化のため我が国がなすべき努力
Let me move on to the final part of my presentation: what I think Japan should do to strengthen the alliance. First is to maintain and strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities. Second is to work closely with the United States to building a cooperative, tailored regional posture, as suggested in QDR2010. And third is to enhance Japan Self-Defense Forces’ engagement in international peace operations.

3-1. 日本自身の防衛努力
Let me talk about the first. To ensure an effective Japan-U.S. alliance, the first order of business for Japan is to maintain its own robust defense capabilities.

The Government of Japan is now in the process of reviewing the National Defense Program Guidelines. This document outlines Japan’s strategic environment, sets overall directions of defense strategy, defines priority mission and capability areas, and provides guidance for subsequent force structure design. The review process is proceeding towards the conclusion at the end of this year. As a Parliamentary Vice Minister in charge of the review within the Ministry of Defense, I have been working closely with civilian and military professionals to figure out how best to prepare our forces for the security environment of today and tomorrow.

3-2. 新しいRegional Posture
Second is building a new regional posture. With emerging Anti-Access/Area Denial capabilities in the Western Pacific, balance of military power in the region is undergoing a significant change. Japan should work closely with the United States to craft a combined and tailored regional posture with an optimal mix of U.S. and Japanese roles, missions, and capabilities.

In addition to our capabilities, which represent its static aspect, the new regional posture should also emphasize its “dynamic” elements, which include sustained and coordinated ISR activities by U.S. and Japanese forces as well as combined training with well-designed formats and frequencies. Such regional posture should serve to restrain potential adversaries’ coercive behavior, deter their armed aggressions, and defeat them should deterrence fail.

Japan-U.S. bilateral consultations on new regional posture, which will also inform Japan’s NDPG review process, should include U.S. AirSea Battle concept. This is a concept that appears in QDR2010 as an initiative to address A2/AD threats. I believe Japan has much to contribute in the development and prosecution of the AirSea Battle concept in the Asia-Pacific context. Forward-stationed and rotationally deployed U.S. forces in this region remain a critical component of the regional posture. In this regard, the relocation of Marine Air Station Futenma is very important to ensure the stable stationing of U.S. Marines in Japan.

On May 28th, foreign and defense ministers of Japan and the United States issued a joint statement regarding the Futenma relocation. Prime Minister Kan and his new administration are committed to implement the agreement. In addition to Futenma, the May 28th Joint Statement discusses possible expansion of the joint use of military facilities including Guam by Japanese and U.S. forces. I would expect to see increased joint activities of the two forces in various places throughout the Western Pacific.

3-3. 自衛隊のGlobal Engagementの強化
Third and lastly, Japan should further promote JSDF’s engagement in international security activities. Japanese and U.S. governments have repeatedly affirmed their commitment to enhance cooperation in efforts to address global security issues. Recently, international peace operations such as UN peacekeeping were promoted from the Self-Defense Forces’ secondary mission to main mission.

I know that some U.S. experts are suggesting that Japan should forgo “out-of-area” operations and focus on the alliance’s core mission, which is the defense of Japan. Behind this idea is dissatisfaction over what these experts regard as the limited nature of SDF’s overseas activities, which they think is hurting the “strategic relevance” of the alliance. I know these suggestions are made out of sincere support of the alliance, to which I am very grateful. However, I believe that the SDF should not retreat from their overseas engagement that has gradually but steadily grown since the end of the Cold War.

Admittedly, SDF’s international security portfolio does have room for improvements. Such improvements, including those require legislative actions, cannot be done in the context of national defense missions. Japan is among the major beneficiaries of the world’s peace and stability and therefore must not shrink from sharing responsibility in addressing security concerns beyond its periphery. In this regard, I think Japan should seek to re-energize the activities of Maritime Self-Defense Force in the Indian Ocean, which forms an integral part of vital sea lines of communication for Japan and the world.

4. 結語
In closing, let me refer to Prime Minister Kan’s address in Japanese parliament delivered on June 11th,since my trip this time marks the first U.S. visit by a member of senior political leadership of the new Japanese administration led by Prime Minister Naoto Kan. During the address, Prime Minister Kan said Japan’s foreign and national security policy should be responsible and the conduct of foreign policy should be based on realism. The Prime Minister specifically said that “the Japan-U.S. alliance is international common goods that underpin not only Japan’s security but also stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific.”

He underlined his intent to steadfastly deepen the alliance. I am glad to tell you that the government of Japan is fully prepared to advance the Japan-U.S. security alliance to higher stages. It is my aspiration that Japan assumes full responsibilities by taking more risks to deepen the security cooperation of our Pacific Alliance, with the “adventure spirit” which we inherit from our ancestors. I very much look forward to working to that end with your continued support, which this alliance has always enjoyed and continues to need for its vitality and resilience.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. In reading it though, I could not shake the feeling that someone at the State Department had prepared some talking points that people would like to hear come from a Japanese mouth, especially a DPJ one. While rude to Mr Nagashima, I really did not find anything challenging in this - I suppose the last 9 months was after all nothing more than Hatoyama incited foolishness.


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