Japan's Role in a New World Order

Courtesy Reuters

In July 1972, amid mounting public clamor for "a change in the political current," Kakuei Tanaka became Prime Minister of Japan. He pledged a policy of "resolution and action." Two months later, in the course of a five-day visit to China, Tanaka turned Japan's China policy completely around.

This dramatic shift, with the earlier visits of President Nixon to Peking and Moscow, has prompted Japanese observers to pose a host of questions. Have we witnessed simply an agreement to open diplomatic relations between the governments of the two big powers in Asia, or are we looking at the still dim outline of a new "Tokyo-Peking axis"? Should not Japan now review completely her other foreign policies, which have been excessively dependent on the United States, and go her own way hereafter amid a general easing of tensions in East Asia? With rapprochement in the air, why does Japan need a special security relationship with the United States? Can Japan achieve a successful, independent foreign policy without becoming a big military power? What sort of impact will Japan's rapprochement with China have on Japan's relations with Southeast Asia and the two Koreas? What effect will recent Japanese moves have on the Soviet-American-Chinese triangle and on the constraints which operate on each of these relationships? Has the fragile balance of power among these three been upset?

Of all the Japanese national sports, judo is perhaps the best known throughout the world. In judo, beginners are first required to undergo thorough training in mastering the passive art of being "thrown down." This defensive technique is intended to enable one thrown by his opponent to fall without being hurt, so that he is ready for the next action. Only after one has attained sufficient adeptness at that art is he allowed to learn a full variety of offensive tactics.

As if in compliance with this art, Japan's postwar diplomacy has always been passive, and has seldom played a positive role on its own in the arena

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