Japan and the US reunited after no separation

by Chris Zappone

The incoming Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama have agreed to a January meeting aimed at strengthening ties between the two countries.

Abe and Obama want to contribute to peace and stability in Asia. (Read: further coordinate their efforts to contend with China’s military adventurism.)

they will arrange to hold a summit in January to confirm the two countries will work to tackle issues in the region, with an eye on China’s maritime ambitions and North Korea’s rocket launch.

Abe wants to bolster ties with the US after the three-year interregnum when the opposition Democratic Party of Japan was in control and taking up the issue of the US military in bases in Japan. The ironic thing about Abe is that, in his ideal world, Japan would have more autonomy from the US because of the undisputed strength of Japan.

Already the Chinese communists are already warning Abe to walk a narrow line over the Senkaku-Diaoyu Island dispute and matters related to Japan’s imperial history in Asia.

Visits to war-related Yasukuni Shrine by Japanese prime ministers, the territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands, and issues related to Japan’s Constitution are fundamentals, the paper said.

None of these issues should be allowed to remain vague, it said, warning against Japan’s perceived nationalism and its possible tilt to the right.

The US, of course, is happy to deal with Abe. According to this article Abe’s victory would be:

a “net positive” for the United States and could in fact stabilise Japan-China ties.
“The view in Beijing is that their pressure tactics are working on Japan and I think it’s important to disabuse them of that,”...said one expert.

However, the question is if Japanese nationalism of Abe’s flavor can be directed. Can the US urge and support stronger Japanese resolve over the Senkaku Islands while extracting restraint from the Japanese over a separate island dispute with South Korea? My feeling is that a nationalist urge would see Japan press its case equally with the Chinese, and South Koreans who also a key US ally. If the Japanese hold the line with the Chinese but dial down the dispute with the Koreans, then I would say you are starting to see a very faint border drawn between the US alliance in East Asia and China, as you know, this blog is all about emerging Cold Wars in the 21st Century.