No sooner said than done, it seems, for earlier this week I pointed out that Japan and China have good reason to sit down and talk to each other. Well, the truth is, they have been, quietly, even to the point of Mr. Abe and Mr. Xi quietly pulling away during the last big conference in Indonesia to have a quiet conversation(our thanks to Mr. E.O. for sharing this):
The quiet little secret here, one that needs to be emphasized, is that little secret of Japanese investments in China, notwithstanding the disputes between the two countries over those little rocky islands in the Pacific. And where quite little informal talks between Mr. Xi and Mr. Abe occur, one can be almost certain that more formal and public summits will not be far behind.
When Mr. E.O. sent me this article, he also asked a very important question in his email: How long before Japan slips away from the USA? In the context of that question, consider this paragraph:
"The Finance Ministers will discuss “Chinese and Japanese economies, bilateral financial cooperation and global financial cooperation,” said a brief notice on the Ministry website, signaling the desire of both nations to mend frayed ties and promote a cautious rapprochement." (Emphasis added)
For those who have been following the development of the BRICSA bloc, this fits a now-familiar pattern: first, the talks about "bilateral" financial and trade agreements followed by (2) the expansion from there to wider bases of agreement and cooperation. Most of the "unity" within the BRICA bloc is precisely along the lines of a tapestry of such bilateral agreements between its member and associated nations. That Japan and China, two out of three of Asia's biggest economies(India being another, and Indonesia an up-and-comer), are entering such talks indicates that perhaps the BRICSA nations would like to see Japan incorporated into the emerging "New Silk Road" economic bloc. In this respect, the eventual visit of Mr. Putin and Mr. Abe will doubtless also discuss these potentialities. For a sluggish Japanese economy, the new markets might, indeed, be a godsend.
This, coupled with Mr. Abe's rearmament plans, highlight Mr. E.O.'s question and Japan's long-term geopolitical prospects in rather dramatic fashion. There is still no love lost between some ordinary Japanese and some ordinary Chinese, but the economic and geopolitical realities are changing, and China and Japan will both have to change with them, and as they change, neo-con insanity or no neo-con insanity, America's will have to change as well. The bottom line here is that Japan cannot, nor should it be, treated any more as an American satrapy, as a "sure thing" for American politics and policy in the region. The other unpleasant truth is that the pace of this change will depend less and less on Washington, and more on the pace with which Beijing and Tokyo sort out there differences and identify areas of mutual concern and fields for cooperation. And, as I have predicted before, eventually we should expect Tokyo (as we should also expect Berlin) to insist on permanent seats in the UN Security council, and a revision of the voting procedures in that body, for rest assured, the dance between Tokyo and Beijing(and, let us not forget, Moscow), is not over. It's just beginning. It is time for American foreign policy to adjust, and adjust quickly, with appropriate long-term strategy and policy, for a multi-polar world. The uni-polar one is over. And, I am bold to suggest, this will require not new "trade agreements" negotiated in secret and imposed from above, but a retrenching of manufacturing into North America. America has to learn how to make and exporti things other than drones and war once again, because the rest of the world will pass us by, just as it passed by the British Empire while it was policiing the seas.
See you on the flip side.