Mon, Sep 25, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Japan eyes anti-Chen rallies with trepidation

By David Huang 黃適卓

About a week ago, I traveled to Japan to attend the Second Future Forum on Taiwan, Japan and the Asia-Pacific. Many participants, including Japanese parliamentarians Hagiuda Koichi and Kenichi Mizuno, expressed grave concern about the red-clad throng participating in the campaign aimed at ousting President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Koichi, of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), said that seeing the anti-Chen demonstrators taking to the streets in red -- a color that long was a political taboo in Taiwan because of its association with communist China -- makes Japan worry that Beijing is interfering in Taiwan's internal affairs and wonder if Taiwan will begin to lean toward China and become anti-Japanese.

Japan's concerns are a reflection of the fact that after the government failed to take legal action -- and the US and Japan's failed to voice concern or criticism -- to stop former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) from visiting China last year, Beijing has become an important factor restricting the development of Taiwan's domestic and external politics.

A case in point is the pan-blue camp's boycott of the arms procurement budget that is so crucial to Taiwan's defense capabilities and security in the Asia-Pacific region. The red-clad throng's campaign to oust Chen is proof that China-leaning forces are penetrating Taiwan like a virus that has eroded the nation's immunity to totalitarianism and communism.

They are trying to destroy Taiwan's national defense by blocking the arms procurement budget in the legislature. They are using the political process to revamp themselves into a new pro-China force and destroy the country's psychological preparedness. They are preparing the way for an all-out war against the government, which is on good terms with both the US and Japan.

From the perspective of geopolitical strategy, the Taiwan Strait is vital to Japan's global trade. Taiwan's position in the middle of the island chain of defense makes it a crucial link in the US-Japan security framework. The question of whether or not the government leans toward China or chooses to cooperate with the US and Japan will not only decide the future of Japan's economy but also play a decisive role in its Asia-Pacific strategy.

Once Taiwan is ruled by a pro-China government, is annexed by China or fails to counteract China's economic attraction, Japan will be forced to compromise with Beijing, be it from an economic or a regional political perspective. Taiwan's development affects Japan's core interests in the areas of regional stability and national security.

Faced with China's non-peaceful rise, Japan and Taiwan must rely on each other to protect both their democracy and security. However, in addition to support and assistance from the US, Japan and its democratic allies, must also protect their own democracy and freedom.

If we think that alliances are the only way to solve the political crisis and therefore decide to join the pro-China, red-clad anti-Chen campaign, we may find that the price is a loss of collective security guarantees. We may become the toy of a totalitarian state, which would turn us into a potential enemy of the US-Japan security alliance.

Domestic factors determine foreign policy. With Shinzo Abe taking over as Japan's prime minister and strengthening US-Japanese security cooperation, we should tread carefully lest we arouse US and Japanese concerns, and possibly even cause them to misjudge our intent.

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