Former United States ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer, speaking at a symposium in Tokyo on Wednesday, said that the escalating tensions between China and Japan over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands might reach “disastrous results” if emotions are not kept in check. He referred to the current territorial situation as “tinderboxes that can be lit quickly.”
He suggests that a healthy US-Japan alliance can lead to calmer heads that can focus on thinking of ways to resolve the issue in a peaceful manner. He also cited the current mutual defense treaty between the two countries as something that has to change and adapt to the times. While it is clear that the United States has an obligation to come to Japan’s aid and that Japan is not “required” to return the favor, he said “the world has changed.” It is this precise reason why Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing for his country to take a more active role in global security matters by proposing to lift the self-imposed ban to exercise “collective self-defense.” Part of participating in global peacekeeping is also strengthening Japan’s defense capabilities, especially with threats from China‘s assertive military presence and North Korea‘s still existing nuclear and missile programs.
Meanwhile, former Japanese envoy to the United States Ichiro Fujisaki, speaking at the same symposium, says that the US’s oft-repeated statements that the issue over the Senkakus is part of their bilateral security treaty has been a deterrent rather than a helpful one. He also said that it is not a matter of transparency when it comes to China’s continued sending of patrol ships and aircraft near Japan’s waters and airspace. He said that what’s bothersome is the sheer size and volume of China’s military spending.
[ via Global Post ]
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