The Japanese have no desire to choose between the United States and China, but given their deep political differences and the threat to their own security, Tokyo will have to choose America, which could jeopardise its relationship with its big Asian neighbour. This will be one of the main challenges for Japan in the coming years, said Akihiko Tanaka, President of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, who spoke at a roundtable at the Valdai Discussion Club on February 7.
The confrontation between the USA and China poses serious challenges for Japan, because, on the one hand, Japan’s liberal democratic system gravitates toward the American model, while on the other hand, the Japanese and Chinese economies are very interconnected. Therefore, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is actively engaged in diplomacy and is building partnerships with both countries, as well as with Russia, India, Iran and other international players.
However, Japan, according to Tanaka, seeks to protect its national interests using economic means. Its main motivation is to achieve maximum security and create a situation in which not a single regional or global player becomes overly self-confident in its military power. Therefore, the Japanese would not allow the Americans to deploy nuclear weapons on their territory and will contribute to the speedy end of the cold war between the United States and China. The main goal of Japan, as Mr. Tanaka stressed, is “to create a multilateral system when all parties would be restrained in their conflict behaviour.”