Japanese Moral Authority in Asia
Yesterday I was requested to come to the British Embassy for an interesting meeting. I never turn down the British military or Foreign office so of course I made space in the schedule. Britain is an incredibly important ally globally, and I greatly respect the Brits after going to combat with British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cherished memories with good men and women.
What became clear from the meeting is just how important the UK views Japan as a partner. Clearly there is a strong and growing relationship with mutual respect, and I sense the same from the Japanese side toward the UK, USA, and Australia, among others, including Thailand.
After the Embassy meeting, last evening I had dinner with some very influential Japanese people, and an American PhD candidate whose Japanese is fluent. Our collective views on Japan's future are similar.
I proposed a thought to the group over dinner. My views are informed after many years spent in 21 Asian countries and about 71 countries globally.
There is a view that Asia hates Japan. This is false. Only four countries do not like Japan: North Korea, South Korea, China, and Japan. Other countries, such as Thailand, widely admire Japan for their accomplishments, culture, and moral leadership.
My proposal over dinner is that Japan is positioned to become not just A moral leader in Asia, but THE moral leader in Asia.
Respect for Japan is that widespread, and it is not based on some slick advertising campaign, but on deeds of Japanese and Japan. To my pleasant surprise, others at the table felt similarly, and one influential Japanese author at the table said that he thinks Japan can become the United Kingdom of the Pacific. I agreed emphatically.
In fact, what I see coming from important sources in the UK, USA, and Japan, is a triangle of important cooperation that is strengthening.
I also proposed that I think China has made a strategic error with their ADIZ, new islands, and bully tactics. PRC jumped the gun 10 or 15 years too early, and now Japan is strengthening ties with Australia, USA, UK, Philippines, Thailand, India, and others. PRC can bully any one of us, but PRC has little chance against all of us.
Basically PRC should have kept quiet about their intentions for another 10-15 years. China is arrogant and, interestingly, show impatience with their intentions. China is known for patience, but not this time.
Example: That so many of our block (such as UK/Japan/USA/Australians) are now sharing tables together and learning how to build our cooperation, is a setback for China. Even today, Japan, Australia and the USA are conducting first-ever military exercises in Australia.
There might be a long road ahead to rewrite Article 9 in the Japanese Constitution, but whatever the case our block already is on that road. And it has been made crystal clear to me from serious Americans and serious British that the US and UK welcome Japan rewriting Article 9.
Another idea for the future might be for Japan to be invited into Five Eyes. Of course this would require consent from all Five Eye nations to make it Six Eyes, yet given the direction of things...this has entered within the realm of imagination. This would be a significant setback for China, and could be a massive advantage for Five Eyes -- or Six Eyes.
Whatever the case, Japan is poised to take an ever-larger roll in leading Asia into a brighter future. When Japan talks, people listen, and we all need moral authority over here.