Journalist Richard Halloran spent 10 days in Japan talking to government officials, diplomats, business executives, military officers, scholars, journalists, and private citizens, and came away with a conclusion that really should surprise no one at all. If the recent anti-Japanese protests in China and South Korea were intended to influence Japanese attitudes and behavior, he notes in this article in the Japan Times, they succeeded—by hardening Japanese attitudes against both those countries.
Halloran also notes:
The Chinese rallies, during which the police did not intervene, were intended to drive a wedge between Japan and the U.S. Instead, said another Japanese diplomat: “We must do everything we can to strengthen our alliance with the United States.”
China’s actions were intended to dissuade Japan from building up its armed forces and becoming a “normal nation.” Instead, they have accelerated moves to revise the famed Article 9 of the Constitution, the “no-war clause” that forbids Japan from using military power.
For the last three years, the Japanese economy has been growing faster than at any time since the “bubble” of the late 1980s. Recovery started in 2002, slowed last year, and is on track again this year. Consumer spending is strong; employment conditions are improving throughout the economy. Toyota recently announced a plan to hire more than 3,000 people, the first time in 14 years that it has hired that many new employees.
Trade with China is one reason that the news out of Japan these days is positive. Last year China displaced the United States as Japan’s major trading partner. Japan has the advantage over U.S. and European manufacturers of proximity to the booming Chinese market. Another reason is that Japan has finally found the right set of policies to clean up its banking mess….
So Japan is back, this time with China, another country whose institutions are different from ours. Despite recent anti-Japanese riots, the future will bring China and Japan closer: Japan has technology; China has resources and skilled labor. As its Asian ties keep spreading (most recently to India), Japan has less incentive to placate American interests, whether in Washington or on Wall Street.