John R. Houk
© September 29, 2011
There are three (maybe four if one looks at Australia) big players in Asia-Pacific geopolitics: China, Japan and USA. China and Japan are Asian and the USA is the North America Super Power that has a big stake in Asian-Pacific geopolitics.
The decade long Global War on Terror (GWOT) has somewhat obscured the reality that China is a Communist dictatorship that has had an ongoing successful upgrade on their economy and military. China’s upgrading of its geopolitical status in a strong economy and a modernization of its military has shown China is willing to be more and more confrontational with its neighbors.
In my opinion China’s geopolitical growth has made Japan (the old WWII nemesis) important to American National Interests. Japan still has a strong economy although some believe a diminishing economy. Japan has a modern military yet its military is greatly tied to the WWII victor’s in the USA.
I personally have focused on the geopolitics of a militant Islam that threatens Western culture and have little knowledge of the specifics of Asian-Pacific geopolitics. Every once in a while I run across an article should alert me and you about a Chinese geopolitical agenda. One such article I found at AEI by Michael Auslin entitled “The Bleak Future of Sino-Japanese Relations”.
The Auslin title suggests that “Sino-Japanese” relations will remain strained; however Auslin planted some seeds that imply there are those in the Japanese government and military that may see things through different lenses. That implication suggests a slight moving away from American influence because China and Japan have mutual economic-natural resource needs that when withheld from each causes a prick in each of their sides. (If I am pricked, do I not bleed?)
The question for America has to be: How much can America trust Japan as an ally in the future as Japanese National Interests might gravitate toward a closer symbiotic relationship with China? Does America need to encourage Japan to focus more on their military defense needs rather than American power making up the military defense difference for Japanese security? If a self-militarizing Japan occurs that could act as a military competitor with China, allow America to view Japan as an effective counter-measure to China’s modernizing military? If Japan effectively modernizes into a more than competent geopolitical military power, might that militarization lead Japan down the path of asserting their National Interests in the Pacific viewing America as more of a global competitor and less of a friendly ally?
In other words are the unknown variables of militarizing Japan as a buffer to China in the future a good or bad thing?