Japan-World Trends [English] The author of this blog will answer to your questions and comments. And this is the only place in the world where you can engage in free discussion with people from English, Japanese, Chinese and Russian speaking areas.


June 10, 2020

An appeal for a union of the middle powers in the world

(This thesis originally was published by the English-Speaking Union of Japan at https://www.esuj.gr.jp/jitow/595_index_detail.php#english)

As the U.S.-China tensions have been further aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic, the mood in Japan is to see the U.S. being at fault for its apparent insistence on maintaining its hegemony in competition with China. However, if you watch the totalitarian bent of China's People's Congress, you will understand the need to restrain China. In addition, China's strength is overrated both by itself and others. If further restricted from acquiring advanced technology, China will suffer a serious handicap because of its out-dated semiconductor production technology. Way back in my career, I was once in charge of "COCOM" (The Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls), which was the international arrangement to restrict the transfer of advanced technology to the Soviet Union, and have a realistic feel for the effects that such restriction of technology transfer would have.

Nevertheless, Japan remains in a delicate position between the United States and China. This is because U.S. forces in the Far East are becoming increasingly vulnerable to attacks from China. In the event of a U.S.-China contingency, the U.S. military bases in Japan and Guam will most likely be destroyed by massive missile attacks from China. To avoid destruction by Chinese missiles, U.S. aircraft carriers will most likely stay out of the Far Eastern waters. This scenario was mentioned in the book, "The Kill Chain" by Christian Brose, a military expert, and most of the recent simulations show that the U.S. military is inferior in power in the region. To offset this imbalance, it would seem necessary to deploy a large number of medium-range missiles in Japan, Guam, and on U.S. nuclear submarines so as to enable preemptive strikes on Chinese bases in the event of a contingency. However, there would remain the possibility of China making preemptive and retaliatory strikes on the U.S. military bases in Japan.

On the other hand, should the U.S. move to join hands with China and agree to "do as they please", Japan would be left in the lurch, as powerless as the proverbial fish on the cutting board.

If we look at the European Union, we notice a very important event. On May 18th, Chancellor Merkel and President Macron agreed in principle to issue a single EU bond to create a 500 billion euro post-Corona European Recovery Fund. This would allow the EU member countries, despite their disparate financial conditions, to issue a single EU bond with the economic power of Germany as collateral. Thus they would be able to increase their debt on far more favorable conditions than issuing bonds of their own. This is a hidden strengthening of the EU integration, and is in effect, a Germanic buy-out and integration of the Latin regions. However, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries may oppose the agreement.

The reason why this is interesting is that the influential EU (in essence, Germany), but not the U.S., China or Russia, with its commitment to democracy and the market economy, will gain power. As the U.S. is blatantly pursuing its own national interests and no longer actively advocating democracy, and the rift between the U.S. and Europe widens, it is particularly significant in providing a framework for "new non-aligned" alliances of medium sized developed countries that Japan could join. Incidentally, the combined GDP of small and medium sized developed democratic countries is about $24 trillion, which slightly exceeds that of U.S.

Of course, EU countries are diverse and not easy to rein in. They may treat us Japanese, who have a simpler way of thinking, with tact and may, in fact, end up taking advantage of us. Moreover, we probably cannot put too much hope on the diplomatic prowess of the current Abe and following administrations.

Still, as a start, why not consider holding a Zoom summit with the leaders of such countries as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, France, Benelux, and the Nordic countries?