Monday, 10 November 2014

APEC Without Japan

APEC Without Japan is Better for Regional
Stability and Security

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit 2014 gathers this week in Beijing, China, against the backdrop of deep tensions between host China and neighboring Japan over the Diaoyu Islands and Japan’s continual honouring of her war-time war criminals at a Shinto Shrine. Oft-times over the recent decades, Chinese unhappiness at Japanese recalcitrance have raised unnecessary concerns of military confrontations between the emergent largest and the 3rd largest economies. Japan has never apologized for its initiating role in World War 2 in the Asia Pacific nor for her brutalities and war-time atrocities, including Chinese genocides, in the countries she conquered.   

APEC is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies that seeks to promote free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region. It was established in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional trade blocs in other parts of the world; to fears that highly industrialized Japan would come to dominate economic activity in the Asia-Pacific region; and to establish new markets for agricultural products and raw materials beyond Europe.

APEC Members account for approximately 40% of the world's population, approximately 54% of the world's gross domestic product and about 44% of world trade.

The APEC 2014 Summit will be attended by leaders from the forum's 21 member countries. The 2014 APEC Summit has also engrossed the attention of the world business community. According to the Fortune magazine, 130 out of the world’s 500 leading companies have sent key senior representatives to a Business CEO Forum to be held in conjunction. The Summit’s key topics include regional economic integration and the creation of the Asia-Pacific free trade zone; support for innovative development and economic reforms; promotion of integrated partnership and infrastructure development. A number of discussions will be devoted to global economy: its sustainable development, the future of the global financial system; struggle against growing economic inequality, and public-private partnership.

Thinking the Possible – APEC Without Japan
Economic relations between Japan and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region have become extremely significant. For example, the economies of the APEC region account for more than three-quarters of Japanese trade. Also more than 40% of Japanese Direct Investments are in the APEC Region, and thousands of Japanese also lived in APEC countries.

APEC is important to Japan.  Japan is the 3rd largest economy and the eighth most populated nation in the world. Its role in the international community is also considerable as a major aid donor and a source of global capital and credit.

In a Joint Statement released last Friday, Japan continued to deny Chinese sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands, and merely “acknowledging differing views” over Diaoyu status.

According to Japan's state minister of defence Akira Sato: "The Senkaku islands are an inherent part of Japan". Never mind that it was on Chinese Maritime Charts in early 13th century; but conspicuously absent on both the 1783 Japanese Maritime Charts & 1876 Official Imperial Japan Map. Japan occupied Diaoyu in 1895 after the 1st Sino-Japanese War, making it part of Okinawa, and renamed it Senkaku in 1900. 
So HOW is Diaoyu (Senkaku) an "inherent" part of Japan?

In fact, it was the United States (US) who in 1951 appointed Japan to help administer Diaoyu; and in 1971, the US made Japan the Official Administrator of Diaoyu. Indeed, this would not be necessary if Diaoyu had actually belonged to Japan. The US should have honoured its own terms for Japanese WW2 surrender regarding the return of all non-Japanese territories seized and occupied by Japan.

Tensions also remained strained from the regular annual visits by Japanese top politicians, including its Prime Minister, to Tokyo Yasukuni Shinto shrine honoring Japan's war dead, including executed war criminals. Such actions are evidence of Japan’s lingering expansionist militaristic tendencies as well as demonstrate Japanese insensitivity to China’s, the US’ and the APEC Countries’ suffering during the Pacific War started by the Japanese.

The Yasukuni Shrine's museum and its web site have actually made statements blaming the United States for "forcing" Japan into World War II and claiming that Japan went to war to create a "co-prosperity sphere" for all Asians. This was the same justification used by the wartime imperial Japanese regime.

The continual visits to the Yasukuni Shrine by Japanese Leaders also insult the memory of the 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and marines killed on the USS Arizona during the Japanese cowardly surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.  Their bodies are entombed in the USS Arizona Memorial, located at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii.

It is clear that Japanese persistent recalcitrance over Diaoyu Islands would merely postpone the Day of Confrontation between her and China. This does NOT augur well for APEC as a zone of peace and stability for economic growth and prosperity.

The resolution of Diaoyu island is key to regional security in ASEAN and the Western Pacific. US credibility is at critical stake unless the she corrected her administrative error and returns Diaoyu to its rightful owner, China. The US should honour its own terms for Japanese WW2 surrender regarding the return of all non-Japanese territories seized and occupied by Japan.

It is difficult to foresee any credible role for Japan in APEC, or in the whole world, unless her impugned integrity and shameless injustice over Diaoyu is reversed together with her militaristic mindset regarding her neighbours. Japan can of course continue to play bilateral roles outside APEC with individual APEC countries.




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