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2009年8月26日 (水)

アジア外交 膨張する中国とどう向き合う

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 26, 2009)
China, Asia policy vital part of election debate
アジア外交 膨張する中国とどう向き合う(8月26日付・読売社説)

In the campaign for Sunday's House of Representatives election, the contending political parties have all touted their policies on Asian issues, but what voters really want to hear about is how the parties intend to fulfill their campaign promises and what actions the parties will take to solve the problems at hand.

In its manifesto, the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan promises to create an East Asia Community. The central plank in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Asia platform is to tie Japan's economic growth to that of Asia. New Komeito, the LDP's ruling coalition partner, also touts the promotion of economic integration in Asia.

East Asia consists of several countries with a broad spectrum of political systems. It is a realistic choice to move toward economic partnership among them as a first step toward closer integration. Sixteen countries, including India and Australia, plan to soon start discussing an East Asian economic partnership agreement.

There are many problems to overcome to achieve such an agreement. Negotiations between Japan and Australia on a free trade agreement faltered over liberalization in the agricultural sector. Negotiations with India and South Korea also are sluggish and have made little progress.


Farm policy vs trade policy

The DPJ modified the expression in its manifesto concerning a Japan-U.S. free trade agreement after opposition from agricultural organizations. It is difficult to harmonize domestic agricultural policies and trade liberalization.

If political parties intend to promote the idea of creating an East Asia Community or the importance of economic partnership, they should clearly explain to voters how they will overcome these obstacles.

Among Asian issues, of particular importance is Japan's relationship with China in light of China's emergence as both an economic and military superpower. All the parties call for strengthening ties with China, but none outline specific measures for accomplishing this goal.

It is natural for Japan to develop closer economic ties with China, but the nation must consider ways to safeguard its intellectual property rights and protect itself against the kind of widespread production of knock-off merchandise and pirated DVDs rampant in China.

As Japan largely depends on China for its food, it also is important to ensure food safety. There has been no progress in clarifying what happened in the food poisoning cases involving frozen gyoza dumplings made in China.


Numerous pressing concerns

In addition, there are many other pressing issues between the two countries, including treaty negotiations for a joint gas field development project in the East China Sea and securing a stable supply of rare metals from China.

China's rapid military buildup also is a vital issue for East Asia.

China's defense spending has grown by double-digit percentages for 21 consecutive years. Chinese naval vessels are expanding their operational areas south into the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. China makes no secret of its intention to construct an aircraft carrier.

It is necessary to tenaciously urge China to be more open about its military policy, including the reasons behind its military buildup--whether, for example, it is only for national defense or for securing sea lanes.

In addition to relations with China, there are other points of contention over Asian policy in the election, including how to handle the threat of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. There is limited time before voting day, but we hope that the political parties will deepen their debate over foreign policy in Asia to address these vital issues.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 26, 2009)
(2009年8月26日01時23分  読売新聞)


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