May 28, 2005

AXIS OF GOOD FILES

Why Japan needs our friendship (Greg Sheridan, May 28, 2005, The Australian)

THREE dramatic stories in Tokyo's newspapers this week paint the picture of Japan's present extraordinary flux and why the Japan-Australia strategic partnership is set to deepen.

"Wu snubbed Koizumi," blared The Japan Times. It recounted the incredible incident of China's Vice-Premier Wu Yi, who first asked for a meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, then cancelled at the last minute and went home in a huff. At first Chinese officials, with their scrupulous regard for the truth, said this was because of urgent business at home. Later they said it was because of insensitive remarks by Japanese leaders.

The Chinese say they are offended by Koizumi's annual visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japan's war dead, including some war criminals. But this issue, along with a string of others, seems to be more a pretext for China running an anti-Japan campaign.

The second telling story appeared on the front page of The Asian Wall Street Journal under the headline: "Bank earnings in Japan signal crisis has ended." The return to high profitability for Japan's banks, the paper said, signalled that the financial crisis, which had induced a decade of economic stagnation, was over.

And finally, in Tokyo's Metropolis magazine, a story was titled: "Where are the people?" It reported that the number of Japanese children under 15 has fallen for 24 years in a row.

There you have the three dominant features of Japan's national posture today: deepening strategic competition with China, enduring and underestimated Japanese economic strength, and a looming demographic crisis that will ultimately impose severe limits on Japan's strategic strength.

What has all this to do with Australia? These are among the factors impelling Japanese leaders to seek a closer strategic engagement with Australia.


Posted by Orrin Judd at May 28, 2005 12:00 AM
Comments

One would think that the ChiComs, when dealing with Japanese, would appreciate things like 'face', 'saving thereof' . . .

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at May 28, 2005 2:22 AM

The return to high profitability for Japan's banks, [The Asian Wall Street Journal] said, signalled that the financial crisis, which had induced a decade of economic stagnation, was over

We shall see.
Since consumer spending hasn't picked up in Japan, it seems unlikely.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 28, 2005 5:34 AM
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