Looking to Japan

Philippine officials are saying that they are looking to Japan as a counterbalance to a more assertive China, especially as territorial disputes with Beijing roil the South China Sea. Read this Reuters report. Is a balance-of-power arrangement emerging in East Asia? Could a “mini Cold War” emerge, possibly leading to conflict and tensions within ASEAN?


2 thoughts on “Looking to Japan

  1. Megan Craighead (@MeganCraighead)

    While such a move cannot be described as being outrageous, it certainly deviates from past behavior. Hedging against China with the US has long been a tendency of the Phillippines and other ASEAN states, hedging against China with Japan is not. Presumably, this behavior could be more provocative on a regional stage than appealing to the US, which has almost become an established norm. Japan may have more of an interest in the South China Sea than the US, which might lead one to think that they will try to pressure China more. That could be seen as positive. However, many states within the Asia Pacific region, including China, have had, and continue to have, significant issues and tensions with Japan. Such a move could therefore only work bilaterally, and might not necessarily bolster up the confidence of the region as a whole. In this region, it seems that the best path is generally through multilateral agreements or organizations, as these are the least likely to offend a given nation. The Philippines reaching out to Japan might also serve to stir up the tensions between China and Japan even more, which have been at a height recently. Its never a good thing to be called a pot stirrer, especially in a region that has many issues that could easily erupt.


    Recently, China’s aggressive diplomatic expansion do cause a general anxiety among the neighbor countries. The new edition of China Passport included all the dipute areas into China’s map, which caused a series of condemns from nearby countries, including Vietnam and Philippines. Starting from the last month, the PRC residents who hold the new version passport went into Vietnam had to wait a longer time for the immigration check and the Custom of Vietnam will not leave record on the new passport. The issues intensified the relationship between China and neighbor countries, which stimulate the countries’ willingness to bandwagon a stronger power to balance China’s rise, for example, to search help from Japan and United States.


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